Marvel Comics have given us dozens of amazing, incredible and fantastic stories over the years. Sometimes though, these stories can get very dark and serious and take us to some very real places. Then, every once in a while they’ll give us something that’s just plain fun.
The 2019 “Spider-Man Annual” comic was just released, and rather than focusing on the classic Peter Parker version of Spidey we all know and love, this issue focuses on Peter Porker, better known as Spider-Ham. The character who became popular thanks to last year’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse brings a whole new level of wacky, fourth wall-breaking fun to this annual. Think a much cartoonier version of Deadpool.
Spider-Ham exists on another Earth, where everyone has an animal alternate. The story sees his rogues gallery controlled by the hypnotising Ringmaster before vanishing to another dimension. It’s loaded with animal puns, wacky humor and amazing references to other Marvel projects.
The aforementioned animal alternates are all over the pages of this comic, including Spider-Guin, J. Jonah Jackal, Duck-tor Doom and more.
The comic actually consists of two different stories. The first comes from writer Jason Latour and is titled “Boared Again.” If that title sounds familiar, it’s probably because it’s a reference to the classic Daredevil story arc “Born Again.” Another hilarious reference and animal pun in this comic.
This story even features a reference to Disney parks, both in the US and in Europe, as well as a reference to a totally unrelated but still very popular video game, movie and tv franchise. Another panel crams in the animal puns by featuring a tv listing while an adjacent panel features a subtle reference to the MCU while making a not-so-subtle additional animal pun. Notice the “Plum Vodka,” a reference to those plum Bucky never got to enjoy in Captain America: Civil War.
Jumping back to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the second story in this comic comes from the writers/producers of the animated film: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, in conjunction with Latour. The group continues to cram in the jokes in this second story.
While a war rages in the streets between our classic Marvel heroes and their animal counterparts, Spider-Ham steps into a bar where he grabs a drink with Howard the Duck. The pair has a very deep conversation, the subject matter of which is actually incredibly dark, but of course they manage to do it in hilarious fashion, even going as far as to reference the fact that no one ever really dies in a comic book.
Countless animal puns flash in the background of this story, including Meows Morales, who actually gets a couple of lines in. Porker and Howard even discuss the 1986 film Howard the Duck.
Overall, “Spider-Man Annual 2019” is amazingly funny and a lot of fun to read. I particularly enjoyed “A Secret Roar Rages?” for its hilarious fourth wall breaks and other jokes.
The art in both of these stories, while slightly different in each, was incredible. The bright colors and cartoonish style makes it that much more fun to read. Typically, this style of art isn’t my favorite in comics but with characters and stories like this, it couldn’t be more perfect.
“The Spider-Man Annual 2019” is available now.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”