Although the "Siege" one-shots (bar Loki’s) haven’t felt especially important to the series, they have, at least, been a generally good read. And Brian Reed’s "Siege: Spider-Man" continues that trend.
The story, such that it is, sees Spider-Man taking on Osborn’s “Dark Spider-Man,” otherwise known as Venom. Although I’m not especially fond of the Mac Gargan version of the character, Reed plays him well off Spidey, evoking a rivalry that goes back many years without trying to explain the complex history of the Scorpion and Venom inter-relationship. As the writer of the wonderfully-titled “Sinister Spider-Man” miniseries, Reed has a lot of experience with this version of Venom; similarly, a strong guest-appearance by Ms. Marvel also plays to his association with her.
Indeed, if anything, Ms. Marvel probably should have received a co-headline. The issue is, in part, about her ongoing and developing relationship with Spider-Man, which Reed introduced over in her solo series. This, in fact, was one of the better elements of the series in its closing stages, so it’s nice to see that the subplot hasn’t been wiped entirely from existence simply because the series has been canceled. The interaction between Spidey and Danvers feels natural and sparky, bringing out a side of Carol that rarely gets shown.
In the past, Reed has been known to over-complicate his plots, which I found disengaged me. This issue, however, focuses on the straightforward superheroics, leaving more time for character interaction, and is all the better for it. There are a few moments in the issue that are genuinely surprising, particularly how Carol decides to deal with Venom at their first meeting. If there’s any flaw with the writing, it’s that there’s very little reason for this story to be happening during Siege. Transposed to New York, it would have actually made for an above-average issue of "Amazing Spider-Man."
Marco Santucci handles the art well, giving the action and locations the scale they require. Much of the issue takes place in a fairly suburban location, so it helps that the heroes and villains look larger-than-life without seeming like they couldn’t belong in the same world as those around them. There’s a touch of McNiven to his version of Spider-Man, while Danvers is given the right combination of confidence and grace to make her a compelling character.
Reed, as a writer, is someone who can turn out excellent books on occasion, which makes his sub-par work feel all the more disappointing. This issue, thankfully, is one of the former examples and although it isn’t very Siege-centric, fans of Spider-Man (or Ms. Marvel) should definitely give it a look.