Spidey Speculation on...Spider-Island!

Posted by Mike McNulty, a.k.a. Stillanerd 27 July 2011

I confess, I am very bad at making predictions, particularly when it comes to the outcome of stories. Spider-Man comics, in particular, seem to result in some rather dubious whoppers on my part; these ranged from thinking that Carlie Cooper was really Menace instead of Lily Hollister, and that the Lizard would father a bunch of human/reptile hybrids during "Shed." Heck, I’m still waiting for Aunt May’s new husband, J. Jonah Jameson Sr., to kick the bucket even after I erroneously thought he would die in Amazing Spider-Man #600.

But for some reason, I keep guessing at what I think is going to happen next despite my lousy track-record at prognostication. So when we an apparently huge Spider-Man related event called “Spider-Island," that temptation to guess at what will happen has lured me once again despite my better judgment. So with that, here are some of my wild speculations for what I think could happen during the course of “Spider-Island.” Just take them with a grain of salt (okay, perhaps a with whole salt-shaker). Heck, by the time you read this, some of these details we'll already know considering the prologue for "Spider-Island" (Amazing Spider-Man #666) comes out today (Wednesday, July 22, 2011). But why should a little thing like that stop me?

THE STORY

Now everyone who has been paying attention to what’s been going on in The Amazing Spider-Man for the past couple of months knows that long-time Spider-Man villain, Miles Warren, a.k.a. The Jackal, has used genetically modified bedbugs to give virtually everyone in New York City the powers of Spider-Man, including some powers he doesn’t have like his now disabled spider-sense and organic webbing. We've also seen quite a few images of characters like the Shocker have six arms, not unlike what happened to Peter when he tried to get rid of his powers way back in Amazing Spider-Man #100. So if all these people have the same powers as our friendly neighborhood web-slinger, how will this affect him?

To me, the most likely direction to go is that Spider-Man will be held responsible for these mass outbreaks of spider-powers. After all, as far as anyone knows, he was the original person with arachnid-like abilities so the public would think he’s the cause for the infestation. But another reason he could be blamed is, thanks to the Jackal forming his own spider-powered gang wearing Spider-Man outfits to go on a crime spree in New York, which might make the public think Spider-Man is their leader. This gives Peter a reason to go after the Jackal apart from saving the city, because he’ll also have to try and clear his name.

However, if some preview images are anything to go by, Peter gets one unforeseen benefit out of this: he can use has powers without having to be Spider-Man and without having to reveal to his girlfriend, Carlie Cooper, or anyone else who doesn’t know he's Spider-Man by pretending he's one of the infected, allowing him to be “plain old Peter Parker” without having to hide his abilities. (It also may bring Peter and Carlie closer together, which may cause his ex, Mary Jane Watson, to regret her decision to not get back together with Peter as she starts to think she’s become less an important part of his life. It's also implied, based on the solicit for Amazing Spider-Man #671, that MJ will be one of the few characters who won't get spider-powers until the final chapters, probably in the climax of Amazing Spider-Man #670.) Peter may even go as far to think that there’s no reason for him to actually be Spider-Man anymore since he wouldn't have to bare the burden of responsibility of being the only one with spider-abilities. Besides, who is he to decide who gets to keep their powers and who doesn’t?

Until, of course, something does happen in which forces Peter to find a way to get rid of them. My guess? The spider-powers begin to mutate. As several preview images suggest, not only are people starting growing extra arms, but they're also growing eyes, fangs and (which is probably everyone's nightmare) excessive body hair. In short, they are mutating into giant spiders. Furthermore, I think the powers will also become contagious, and people will start getting them without being bitten by the Jackal's genetically modified bedbugs. This explains why Mayor J. Jonah Jameson will have to quarantine New York City since having these spider-powers could essentially turn very one on the planet into "wall-crawling menaces."


THE MAIN VILLAINS

The first question that automatically comes up is how is the Jackal still alive? Long-time fans seemingly saw him die during the infamous Clone Saga back in the 1990s. Well, the word “clone” should give us a clue. Perhaps the Jackal cloned himself yet again, only he’s now developed the technology so that, like Mr. Sinister and his Marauders from the X-Men, any time the Jackal dies, his memories, personality, and consciousness get “downloaded” into a new clone body.

The second question that automatically comes up is: why would the Jackal give virtually everyone spider-powers? Well, the Jackal IS a mad scientist, after all, one who is also so obsessed with Spider-Man that he not only cloned him multiple times but also once tried to create a whole army of "Spider-Clones." He’s repeating something similar here, only this time giving people the powers of Spider-Man. As the "Infested" back-ups and the preview for issue #667 suggest, he’s attempting amass his own personal army of “Spider-Criminals,” complete with giving them matching Spider-Man outfits and having two “Man-Spider” like characters called “Tarantula” and “The Spider-King” as his personal enforcers.

And just who are “Tarantula” and “Spider-King“ you might ask? Well, it’s pretty much a given that “Tarantula” is actually Peter Parker’s clone Kaine resurrected and further mutated; after all that’s what Kaine was dubbed at the end of The Grim Hunt when he was resurrected. As for the other one? Well Marvel's Spider-Man Editor, Steve Wacker, over on the Comic Book Resources message boards, teased that we're just assuming one of these new “spiders” is male. If his hint was suggesting that this “new spider” is actually female, my immediate guess is that it will be a clone of Gwen Stacy--more specifically the first clone of Gwen Stacy just as Kaine was the first clone of Spider-Man. Gwen, like Spider-Man, was another one of the Jackal’s obsessions, and in the promotion of the Spider-Island: Deadly Foes one-shot, it's hinted that a Gwen Stacy clone would make an appearance.

A third villain could also make an appearance, one who is another creation of the Jackal and was, at one time, believed to be his clone: Carrion. After all, he, along with the Hobgoblin and the Jackal, was shown on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #647 and thus far he has yet to make an appearance. Then again, it's possible that he could be a villain who makes an appearance after "Spider-Island."

There also may be one other person besides the Jackal who is behind the “Infestation.” It’s hinted in the solicitation for Amazing Spider-Man #669 that it’s someone from “Peter Parker’s past,” and I cannot help but think this person is also the mysterious scientist employed by Horizon Labs who is working in "Lab 6." Now some have theorized that the Jackal himself is “number 6,” but then that begs the question as to why the head of Horizon, Max Modell, would hire someone like the Jackal in the first place. Rather, it would make sense if it was someone who looked a lot more trustworthy and, for the sake of the story, someone who would come as an absolute shock to the readers.

There are two come to mind for me, and the first would be Harry Osborn (who, as readers know, has gone into hiding since Amazing Spider-Man #647). He has some scientific knowledge, after all, and a history of villainy what with him being the second Green Goblin. It also would make for a nice thematic echo to the Clone Saga, since it was the original Green Goblin, Norman Osborn, who aided the Jackal during that saga in the first place. The problem, however, is that Harry is not nearly as brilliant a scientist as Peter or his father; and why would he go along with the Jackal’s schemes in the first place when he wants nothing to do with anything related to Spider-Man now? And why, considering how he’s trying to stay in hiding in order to protect his newborn son, Stan, would Harry now be doing something so high-profile?

Which leads to the second possibility which would be even more of a shock: Ben Reilly.

While it certainly sounds far-fetched, what better person to work for the Jackal who could provide all sorts of insight with regards to Peter’s spider-powers than a “perfected” clone of Peter Parker himself? But how would he have survived? And why would he be evil? Well, if the Jackal can now “download” the brain patterns a clone into another clone upon death, perhaps the same thing happened to Ben. And, if he has been a prisoner of the Jackal this whole time prior to being hired at Horizon Labs, perhaps the Jackal brainwashed poor Ben into helping him. This could also partially explain the teaser image from this year’s ComicCon showing the Scarlet Spider hoodie on fire, wouldn’t it? Not to mention be something that leads into 2012.

THE SUPPORTING CAST

As suggested in the cover for Amazing Spider-Man #672, it looks like Peter will team-up with a spider-powered Mary Jane to stop the plague of mutated spider-people. The image itself looks as though they are on the top of the Empire State Building, which leads me to guess that Peter, seeking the highest point in Manhattan, is attempting plant a device which will disable spider-powers not unlike an EMP. After all, he created a similar device before to stop Alistair Smythe’s Insect Army back in Amazing Spider-Man #654, which accidentally cost him his own spider-sense. It's likely that, for the creation of this new device, he'll get help from his fellow Future Foundation team member, Mister Fantastic.

However, when Peter activates this new jamming device, he'll be be above the energy wave…and so will one other person. Yep, I'm going out on a limb to suggest that, at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #673 (which is the "epilogue" to "Spider-Island") it will be revealed that MJ somehow still has her spider-powers, which could make both her and Peter’s life a lot more complicated to say the least. Especially if their team-up during "Spider-Island" has also started to re-kindle their feelings for one another.

Another consequence (which has been hinted in the solicit for Amazing Spider-Man #670) is that a long time supporting character will make the “ultimate sacrifice” in the story and, believe or not, the list is quite limited. J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Roberton and Mary Jane, given their current roles, are most likely safe. So is Aunt May, who along with her new husband, J. Jonah Jameson senior, has conveniently moved from New York to Boston (as of Amazing Spider-Man #665). And since Flash Thompson is the new Venom and Betty Brant is his girlfriend, they’re likely safe as well.

That leaves only one long time supporting character who has been getting some panel time as of late: Randy Robertson.

Currently, he is one-third of a twisted love triangle involving Daily Bugle reporter, Norah Winters, and the new Hobgoblin, Phil Urich, and it appears that in "Spider-Island," this triangle is about to come to a head. The Deadly Foes ones-shot tells us that the Hobgoblin and a spider-powered Randy will finally come to blows and I think it’s safe to say that the outcome will be that Randy will send the Hobgoblin flying for the hills--but not without cost. My guess is that Randy will have sustained a lot of internal injuries and, before he can properly recover, he has to protect Norah and several other New Yorker from an attack by “man-spiders” and die in the process.

Now while it seems like it would be a rather crass thing killing off another long time member of Spidey’s cast for the sake of an event, it actually would advance a few stories. One is that, due to the death of his son, Robbie and Jonah’s friendship has more in common in that they’ve now lost loved ones to tragic deaths. It also allows Phil to use the opportunity to move in on a grieving Norah and seduce her now that his “competition” is out of the way.


THE AFTERMATH

If whoever the scientist in Lab 6 is proved to be connected to the Jackal and "Spider-Island," this could spell some serious trouble for Horizon Labs and they'll need to salvage their reputation and recover financially. This would potentially affect Peter’s position at the company, as well as perhaps resulting in a restriction of his flexible schedule, making it difficult if he is to to both keep his job and be Spider-Man. It would also mean that Horizon would now put all their chances on their orbiting space station--the same one John Jameson is on--to prevent the company from foreclosure from. And of course, we already know that Doctor Octopus and the Sinister Six apparently have designs on that down the road.

By contrast, someone who might actually gain in popularity as a result of "Spider-Island" would actually be Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, as he can easily spin what happened as being all Spider-Man's fault. And the public, because they had to deal with spider-powered criminals and mutant-spiders and the like, would easily buy it. Never mind that Spidey, once again, saved the city and possibly the world--as I mentioned earlier, there will be some who will conclude that he was the "source" of the "contagion" because he was the first person to have spider-powers. This would also tarnish his reputation as an Avenger, and while he would still be a member, it's possible he'll be restricted to the New Avengers rather than being part of the main team.

Also, I imagine that, despite Peter getting rid of the spider-powers, there will be some characters who will still have them. Mary Jane, I’ve already mentioned, but another one could very well be Anya Corazon, the current Spider-Girl. It may not result in having her series be re-launched considering how it was only canceled after 8 issues, but it might mean her joining (along with possibly Firestar, Gravity and others) the cast of Avengers: Academy. Or perhaps, in another long-shot idea, she teams-up with Jessica Drew and the newly powered MJ in a group of Spider-Women headed by the new Madame Web, Julia Carpenter?

I also believe that if "Tarantula" is actually Kaine, he’ll somehow stay in that monstrous form. But “Spider-King,” if "he" is indeed Gwen's clone, would become human again. After all, what better way to complicate Peter’s life going into 2012 than to have the return of a person who was cloned after his lost love? And of course, there’s whoever was working for the Jackal during "Spider-Island" who could still be on the loose.


So, will any of these guesses on what to expect from Spider-Island bare out? Will my lousy track-record continue? We'll know soon enough, won't we?


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