by Taylor Anderson
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
You know those Russian dolls where you find smaller and smaller dolls inside one another until you’re left with just a tiny, little one? Sure you do — everyone knows about them even if they might not know that they’re called Matryoshka Dolls. Well what’s the opposite of these dolls? One where the dolls somehow continue to get bigger and bigger in some brain-twisting way that defies physics and space? I doubt there’s a name for such a doll, but if there was one, it would be called Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 299.
This issue is marked by the singular theme of go big, then go even bigger, just don’t fucking go home. The issue starts quietly enough but soon explodes (literally) into a three-way brawl between Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Hawkeye. That in and of itself is the type of fight that usually takes top billing in any one issue, but that’s not the case here. Writer Chip Zdarsky keeps upping the ante time and again in this issue. Soon after his superhero showdown, Spider-Man gets pulled into a brawl with some second-rate villains and some second-rate avengers in a battle royale that’s as destructive as one might expect.
If this wasn’t enough, suddenly Tinkerer makes his grand appearance in some sort of dinosaur-like tentacle robot.
A fight ensues, the Vision shows up for a hot second and it’s later revealed that the Tinkerer is actually living inside of the robot body of his brother. All of this is to say that this issue doubles down on chaos and then orders a second helping. It’s over-the-top and completely nuts and at first that’s a little off-putting. However, once I realized this was the point of the issue, it became fun to just run with the madness. This isn’t to say this kind of lunacy is sustainable, but for one issue, it makes for a hell of a time.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?
As much of a Zdarsky fan as I am… as much of a Spider-Man fan as I am… this comic continues to not work for me. The tone is off just enough, the dialogue is off just enough that it pulls me out of the story every time. The fight scene with Black Panther and Spidey (and Hawkeye) felt wrong, from the start to Spider-Man’s reaction, to Black Panther, to everything. It started for me early – it never felt quite right. And then the reveal to Jonah – that whole story that everyone else loved…
It looked like Spider-Man and Jonah. It felt like two different people. And here is the same thing, it looks like Spider-Man and Black Panther, but it feels different. I think the best scenes are with Pete’s “sister” because I don’t have a frame of reference in my head as to how she should sound, so it seems authentic to me.
I think the story is engaging enough. I’ll keep reading it. It just feels off to me.