(Marvel Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written by David Morrell
Artwork by Klaus Janson
Color Artwork by Steve Buccellato
The second part of David Morrell and Klaus Janson’s wonderfully poignant “Frost” story in Amazing Spider-Man #700.2 seems to be surrounded by controversy. Writer Morrell is not at all happy with the version of his script Marvel decided to print in this issue. Disappointed with alterations and changes made to his story, Morrell cited changed, deleted, redundant and contradictory captions as well as the addition of weak jokes among the chief reasons for his disapproval with Marvel. Morrell goes on to explain that he sent three pages of corrections to Marvel after reading an earlier version of the script and was assured that his changes were made. However for reasons unknown at this time, Marvel ultimately ended up printing, what Morrell refers to as “the terrible version” of his script and in his opinion, “destroying the poignant tone of part one” which he had no objections to. The whole experience has caused Morrell to turn his back on writing for comic books ever again but he harbors no blame toward the editors who worked on the book, regarding the ill-fated event as “a corporate thing. No one knows who did what.”
All of this inharmoniousness is indeed unfortunate because, all things considered, this is still a darn good comic book. Visually, Klaus Janson creates some absolutely stunning pages in this issue, notably there is a two page spread featuring most of Spidey’s more notorious foes straight out of Peter’s nearly frozen and delirious head, the villains ambush our friendly neighborhood wall crawler and assail him with snowballs. It would be a rather whimsical scene if it wasn’t the product of Peter nearly freezing to death. Janson is such a meticulous storyteller in his own right that this book scarcely requires narration of any kind to convey its message.
The issue begins with Spidey trying his heroic best to get to Aunt May, who he knows through his spider sense is in some sort of distress, however the great responsibility that comes with his great power will not allow him to pass by the various emergencies he encounters along the way without intervening. After all, this is what a hero does but with the added danger of severe cold to over-exertion he is pushing his body and mind to their very limits. It is only through his super-human determination and the hallucinatory apparition of his Uncle Ben urging him on that he derives the needed inspiration and resilience to accomplish the overwhelming mission before him. This is a tale of inner strength, an ode to digging deep within one’s self to find that hidden reserve of vital force at the core of who we are and gaining the ability to do the impossible in the everyday events that sometimes become extraordinary. That’s what Spider-Man has always exemplified to me and this story captures that essence of what makes a hero without using a single super-villain. David Morrell claims that this version lost some of its original poignancy but I think what remains is poignant and inspirational in spite of a few weak jokes and erroneous captions, I say the heart of what he and Klaus Janson have created is indomitable and that is a story of the triumph of the human (or super-human) spirit.
Overall issue #700.1 is the stronger of the two books but this issue is buoyed by the strength of the first. The compromised script may have lessened the impact of Morrell’s intended narrative but it ultimately becomes a question of degrees, until we can read the unaltered version, which is rumored to be slated for inclusion in a collected version, I believe the story we have stands on its own merits. I found it poignant, hopeful and uplifting at a time when we can all use some life affirming diversion. This may not be the ending Morrell wanted us to read but I whole-heartedly recommend this version to everyone who enjoyed the first part of this wonderful tale and to those who missed it, I suggest getting both issues and reading the story in its entirety with an open mind. I think you’ll enjoy it. So until next time, remember comic books make really great Christmas gifts, see you at the comic book store. (4/5)
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