Let’s see. Let me list all the things I really hate. Taxes, the Government, brussel sprouts, being called by my last name only, and when I plunk down four bucks on a completely wasted Spider-Man Annual.
What was Marvel thinking? Maybe they weren’t thinking. Perhaps the very idea of getting Chew writer John Layman proved to be so awesome that the “House Of Ideas” neglected to read his script. The best part (yes, that’s sarcasm) is that this story, titled Identity Wars, not only wastes Spider-Man Annual #38 but also manages to kill the next Incredible Hulks annual and Deadpool annual as well. Thanks Marvel, next time how about serving all this up with a swift kick to the nuts.
The “story” centers on a parallel universe (real original there Marvel) where Spider-Man is called The Spider and is basically Bruce Wayne mixed with Steve Jobs. Our Peter Parker, plus Bruce Banner and Deadpool, who just happen to be in the building, get shot into this parallel universe where the other Peter Parker owns a major science conglomerate. There are no other superheroes and Tony Stark is fat. When our Spider-Man arrives he rescues The Spider and agrees to take over for him while he heals. What follows is a rambling series of panels making up a story that goes nowhere.
Spider-Man Annual #38 attempts to be a What If, but it’s too cliché to succeed. The story of another Spider-Man might have been interesting, especially with the added idea of Peter Parker being a huge success. Instead Laymen bogs it down with too many moments designed to make you say “Oh Snap”, or something to that effect. For instance, the idea of Ben Parker being a dick, or Aunt May being afraid of Peter, or J. Jonah Jameson loving Spider-Man, etc. There’s no base to these plot details, they’re just thrown in to get a reaction. As the story drags on it becomes increasingly harder to care about it or the characters involved. I wanted Spider-Man to get back to his own universe, but more so the godforsaken comic would be over than anything having to do with the story.
Lee Garbett’s art is decent enough but kind of one note. I was thinking that really strong art could have made Annual #38 a lot better, but alas it was not to be. Garbett’s faces look strikingly similar and for some reason he makes Bruce Banner look like Sam Winchester from Supernatural. The Bruce Banner aspect of Annual 38 is an epic mistake simply from a continuity perspective. Banner, now living in the parallel universe with no Hulk, tells our Spider-Man he doesn’t want to go home because he loves not turning into the green skinned goliath. That pretty much flies in the face of everything going on in the Incredible Hulk right now. The separation between the normal reality and a What If reality would be fine, except the Annual starts at Peter’s new job. So there’s continuity in one part of the story and not another? It’s just one of the many things that makes Spider-Man Annual #38 a waste of money and time.