The terrorist organization the Secret Empire, are recovering from their latest battle with various costumed superheroes, most notably; Spider-Man, Punisher, and Moon Knight. Their new plan is to build an army of well armed and sophisticated cyborgs. Midnight aka Jeff Wilde, is their first test subject, and his first mission is to free former Wrecking Crew member named Thunderball. Jeff Wilde also happens to be the former sidekick of Moon Knight, and he was badly injured during the battle with the Secret Empire. He now wants revenge on Moon Knight for abandoning him, and leaving him to be tortured and made into a cyborg by the Empire. -summary
Spider-Man: Round Robin - The Sidekicks Revenge, is the trade paper back of the original 6 part series that was released back in 1991, and it reprints Amazing Spider-Man issues 353 - 358. During that time, Spider-Man was no doubt Marvel's hottest commodity, and his series was being released twice a month. This particular series which was written by Al Milgrom was clearly one of those filler arcs, that were tossed out there until something big came along. Strangely enough, two issues later we would see the full appearance of Venom's offspring Carnage.
This story is very well paced and it kicks off the action immediately. Make no mistake, action is what this arc is all about and nothing more. Now there are small traces of themes thrown out there such as; power and responsibility, along with betrayal and guilt. But the latter two lose their meanings I think due to the constant reiteration, and no one really seems to come out either better or worse. This is just your average good vs. evil story that could be easily forgotten once the book is put down.
Things kick off when Midnight is ordered to attack a police station to free Thunderball aka Eliot Franklin, and here he encounters young superhero Dark Hawk. The battle escalates until Spider-Man joins the fray, and the plot moves from there. As the story continues, other characters become involved; Moon Knight, Night Thrasher and Nova of the New Warriors, and soon the gun toting Punisher. Their goals become obvious as they all set out to demolish the Secret Empire once and for all. There are subplots taking place, in the forms of the constant bickering in the Empire's ranks involving the Council of Ten, on who should succeed their leader who was murdered in prison, in addition to Midnight plotting on killing the runner up for the position, who happens to be Number Seven, and taking control of the Empire himself. There are various things taking place and some are easy to spot coming, while maybe one will have you scratching your head.
The battles are mainly the superheroes running through gauntlets of grunts provided by the Empire. Soon, things pick up when Milgrom dives into the pages of Ironman and the Fantastic Four, to bring in the armor clad trio the Seekers. I was never interested in this group, but they brought some entertainment value into the battles. Eventually, everything comes to its climax, and the reader is treated to one huge showdown between all of the superheroes in this arc and the Secret Empire. There are some good match ups and a few funny lines delivered here and there, and the arc ties up everything by the end.
The only other problem that I can think of, besides the story being purely action oriented, is that it was clearly meant to be very simple and well... fun. Everything felt incredibly easy for the heroes, as they went through just about everyone with ease. It never felt like for one second any of them weren't going to make it. The Secret Empire came off looking like incredibly weak stock bad guys. This also goes for Midnight and the other super villains. Despite his improvements, Midnight never felt like someone who should be taken serious.
Mark Bagley did a nice job with the artwork, and the reader will be treated to plenty of nice action panels, with loads of hand to hand, weapon based combat with sticks, and the Punisher wreaks havoc with guns blazing taking guys out so bad, that even Spider-Man comments negatively against it. The character designs and backgrounds are neatly done with properly drawn out lines, however, I just couldn't help notice how just about everyone was the same size. The colors are pretty good for the most part, but there are a few miscolorings along with darker shades here and there. The flaws here are minimal, so there's nothing to go ballistic about. I also felt the dialogue bubbles were easy to follow.
Overall, this is a decent Spider-Man story, and the multiple guest stars does help things out a bit. But I recommend not coming into this looking for anything deep. This is just your good ole fashion slugfest, that goes by rather quickly. I read this book a few times and it doesn't feel like it's six issues at all. Definitely recommended to serious Spider-Man fans. However, if you're looking for something really good by Marvel then there's other titles to choose from.
Pros: -Nice artwork and action packed, very well paced, many guest stars
Cons: -Nothing but a mindless action arc
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