Spider-Man #238
SPIDER-MAN #238 takes an exciting premise but falls flat in a somewhat uneventful story. Brian Michael Bendis writes a pretty funny and interesting script, but it can't make up for the plot. Not even Brian Reber's superb coloring can save the book from the story's dull nature.
79 %
Ho Hum Heist

As we get closer to May’s grand finale, Brian Michael Bendis’ last issue on SPIDER-MAN approaches. While it’s only two months away, we don’t make much progress in this issue. In SPIDER-MAN #238, Bendis puts much of the spotlight on Aaron Davis’ motley Sinister Seven. This issue shows a relatively rare occurrence in superhero comics: the bad guys successfully pull off a heist, despite our main character’s intervention.

Bendis writes a somewhat average story in SPIDER-MAN #238, lacking much action or character development. While it’s fun seeing these disparate villains interact, it also feels dangerously close to a placeholder issue. Only one plot thread progresses in this comic, which feels strange considering that Bendis’ run ends in two issues. I don’t feel an impending sense of completion even though next issue is the penultimate story. Thankfully, Brian Reber’s stellar color work saves SPIDER-MAN #238 from mediocrity.

The Spider Strikes in SPIDER-MAN #238

Last issue, The Spider revealed his true identity to Miles: he is Miles’ uncle, Aaron Davis. We also learned that Miles’ friend, Bombshell, was blackmailed into working with her abusive supervillain mother. In SPIDER-MAN #238, Davis gathers his Sinister Seven to finally pull off a heist that’s been spoken about for multiple issues. While Bendis regularly tells decompressed stories, this time the payoff doesn’t quite suit the setup. Basically, the villains sneak onto a decommissioned helicarrier during a small window of time when no one physically guards it. They easily disable the security protocols and start piloting the helicarrier. Miles shows up after being tipped off by Bombshell and takes out Hobgoblin, but Red Hulk shows up and mistakes Miles for The Spider and fights with him. The helicarrier eventually gets away.

Spider-Man #238
SPIDER-MAN #238 page 4. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I like heist stories. It’s quite interesting seeing the intricate plans being made and the ways the thieves try to bypass security. Whether it’s OCEANS 11 or ANT-MAN, there’s usually some suspense or action. In this issue, the Sinister Seven just enter an empty helicarrier and use their powers for a few panels to hack into or destroy the security measures. There are no guards they have to take down. It would have been more interesting if Red Hulk was there and they had to sneak past him. Instead, Spidey shows up and takes down Hobgoblin with ease. After this, he gets caught by Red Hulk. Sandman then knocks Spidey and Hulk off of the helicarrier. I felt no suspense reading this issue. Heist stories should be suspenseful. Sure, the villains got away, but in one of the least exciting ways possible.

The Sinister Quips

A Dysfunctional Family Reunion in SPIDER-MAN #237

One detail I do enjoy about Bendis’ script is the banter amongst the Sinister Seven. If there’s one thing Bendis knows how to do, it’s to write quippy C-list villains. It’s something Bendis brings to just about every book he writes. It never gets old reading villains bicker and joke with each other. It makes them feel like real, fleshed out characters.

In SPIDER-MAN #238, Hobgoblin attempts to get the group to back out of the heist because, in a panic last issue, he spilled the beans to Red Hulk while casing the joint. It’s fun reading Hobgoblin stumble over his words and act like a frightened, bumbling buffoon. Plus, reading the characters’ flippant dismissals of Hobgoblin’s suggestions is pretty funny. It’s not much, and it’s not even as funny as Bendis’ quippy villains in THE DEFENDERS or NEW AVENGERS, but it made me smile, which makes up for the dull plot a bit.

Reber’s On-Point Color in SPIDER-MAN #238

Spider-Man #238
SPIDER-MAN #238 page 3. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I’ve given artist Oscar Bazaldua a fair amount of praise in my prior SPIDER-MAN reviews. I figure this month I should give Brian Reber his due. The colorist is often forgotten over the penciler, even though they’re equally as important. In SPIDER-MAN #238, Reber does a fantastic job coloring the villains and their surroundings. In the opening, the Sinister Seven go over their plans in a dingy, abandoned warehouse (a staple for comic book villains). Reber makes the warehouse just seem gross. The dull green from the helicarrier hologram lights up the room in a sickly glow. The warehouse looks covered in filth.

In addition, the villains’ costumes are all pretty colorful. The colors pop without seeming too bright and oversaturated. Electro is clearly in a bright outfit, but she doesn’t look out of place with Sandman, who is in muted colors.

Final Thoughts on SPIDER-MAN #238

SPIDER-MAN #238 could have been an exciting book. It featured a heist involving multiple villains, Miles Morales, and a Hulk. Instead, it is just plain dull. If you’re already following the book, there’s no need to skip this issue, but if you’re looking for a stand-alone Spider-Man book to read, pick up last month’s issue. I’d bet a lot, though, Bendis will be back in top form for the next two issues with the finale approaching.

Brian Michael Bendis Concludes His Run With DEFENDERS #10

One Comment

  1. Sam Mc

    April 1, 2018 at 4:16 am

    Great review, I really enjoyed it..


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