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Spider-Island: Closing the Web

The creators steering Spider-Girl, Shang-Chi and Cloak & Dagger talk about bringing their Spider-Island adventures to a close

By Tim Stevens                                

While Spider-Man may be at his wit’s end with the epidemic ravaging New York City in Spider-Island, he does not struggle alone. Three limited series—SPIDER-ISLAND: THE AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL, SPIDER-ISLAND: DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU, and SPIDER-ISLAND: CLOAK AND DAGGER—focus on capturing how the madness affects other heroes in the city as well.

“It's Manhattan,” explains SPIDER-GIRL writer Paul Tobin, “It's always brimming with familiar faces. Of course, some of those familiar faces might be playing unfamiliar roles, but that's all part of the grim fun of Spider Island.”

SPIDER-ISLAND: THE AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL #3 preview art by Pepe Larraz

That would be in keeping with the theme of Spider-Island, which has seen most of New York City’s population gaining spider abilities, and that’s hardly the only example of life going pear shaped in the Big Apple.

In SPIDER-GIRL, for instance, Tobin and artist Pepe Larraz put the titular hero in a position to team-up with two unlikely allies she would rather be busting than helping: The Kingpin and Hobgoblin. However, with Manhattan isolated and her old enemies the Society of Wasps dedicated to wiping the population out, Anya Corazon’s new “friends” represent the lesser of two evils.

“I think the alliance is a mixture of desperation and realization,” Tobin asserts. “Does she like The Kingpin? No. Does she trust him? No. Does she think he can help her do what needs to be done? Yes. Does she really have any choice if she wants to help save Manhattan in the wake of Spider Island? No. Not really. She has this side that knows when she has to push her own boundaries for the greater good. In effect, she has the responsibility to protect, and it can lead to some decisions she wouldn't want anyone else to have to face.

“Anya hates Hobgoblin. She needs to ally herself with Kingpin, and Hobgoblin is a hideous part of that deal. They are never going to be friends. She's never going to like him, and he's always going to be a killer. It creates a wonderful friction whenever he's interacting with Spider-Girl, who would sacrifice her life for someone that Hobgoblin wouldn't bother to spit on.”

While villains become allies for Spider-Girl, in the pages of SPIDER-ISLAND: DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU from writer Antony Johnston and artist Sebastian Fiumara, Shang-Chi finds himself fighting people who would otherwise be friends. The martial arts master has to battle and survive against the one group of martial artists that may be more than his equal: Iron Fist and the Immortal Weapons.

“[The Immortal Weapons] have those supernatural qualities, whereas Shang-Chi is entirely human,” Johnston notes. “I think that makes for a great dichotomy.”

SPIDER-ISLAND: THE AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL #3 preview art by Pepe Larraz

Even with spider powers evening the odds, the mystery of why the Immortal Weapons have gone after Shang-Chi must be solved, both for his own good, and the safety of New York City at large.

“The implications if Shang-Chi fails to get to the bottom of this mystery are pretty dire, and widespread,” Johnston warns. “Suffice to say that Shang-Chi remains important to Spider-Man, and Spider-Island, as a whole.”

Alliances also come into question in the pages of writer Nick Spencer and artist Emma Rios’ SPIDER-ISLAND: CLOAK AND DAGGER. Here, readers witness the duo pulling in opposite directions: Cloak towards nonprofit super heroics and Dagger secretly embracing “normalcy” at night school. The partnership should survive, observes Editor Alejandro Arbona, but it will be no easy task.

“In this series, we started out with each of them struggling with profound emotions and wants that are familiar to all of us, and that’s what informed and grounded their attitudes as super heroes,” he states. “If anything, we’ll end up with a partnership that’s far more unified than it was in issue #1, but unified by hardship and difficulty.”

The biggest source of that hardship will no doubt be the mob boss and survivor of the same experiment that made Cloak and Dagger who they are, Mister Negative.

“Mister Negative couldn’t have made his play at a worse time,” Arbona reveals. “With the island of Manhattan reduced to a deadly biohazard and a pitched war zone, Negative sets this challenge before Cloak and Dagger. By the time the third and final issue wraps, you’ll see it won’t just be Tandy who’s in danger at the hands of Mr. Negative. It’ll be the whole world that’s in danger from forces unknown.”

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