Backlash/Spider-Man #1-2

Synopsis: Venom is seeking a woman called Taboo who seems to possess a symbiote. He teams up with a villain called Pike who’s also after Taboo. Taboo and her lover Backlash (who work for an organisation called PSI) have travelled to New York and go their separate ways for awhile. Whilst visiting her father’s grave Taboo is targeted by Venom. Ben Reilly in seeing this becomes Spider-Man and helps her out, but Pike shows up and threatens the life of a baby. Spider-Man saves the child giving Venom and Pike time to abduct Taboo.

Backlash in investigating the scene comes across a piece of Venom’s symbiote which Ben pulls him away from since it’s dangerous. Backlash and Spider-Man later return to the same scene and engage in a brief battle before resolving to work together.

Meanwhile Venom is angered to discover Taboo doesn’t have a symbiote afterall and refuses to kill her since she is therefore an ‘innocent’. Tabooreveals Pike intended Venom to kill her so he could claim the credit and profit from her death but Venom isn’t sure he believes this.

Back with Spidey and Backlash, a PSI scientist has rigged up a device which uses the separated piece of Venom symbiote as a tracking device. Also trailing an associate of Pike’s the heroes discover Pike and Taboo in a cathedral where they engage him in battle (Venom joining the fray). During the battle Venom attempts to reclaim the separated piece of symbiote but Pike knocks him away and bonds with it becoming incredibly powerful.

Calling a truce with Venom, Spider-Man, Backlash and Taboo lead Pike to the bell tower and use the vibrations from the bell to spate Pike from the symbiote. Pike then grabs Taboo and threatens to set off a fusion detonator. Venom knocks them over the balcony, with Taboo being saved, Pike falling and the detonator exploding, destroying the cathedral.

In the aftermath of the blast Backlash and Taboo depart as Spider-Man emerges from the rubble.

TBH this wasn’t that great. I mean maybe if I knew anything about Backlash or had emotional investment in him and his associated characters I might’ve liked this more but as was all the Backlash characters were just kinda there for me.

Pike was just generic as can be and had a Deadpool rip-off look to boot. Taboo seemed like she could be a tough customer and have cool powers but to all intents and purposes she was a damsel-in-distress and the story wasn’t good enough to excuse that.

The art became kinda poor towards the end of the story with the dialogue needing to convey what’s going on more than the images making it clear. In particular the ending really seemed rushed.

Ben was pretty bland along with most of the characters.

Most of the time the art was at best generic 90s schlock and at worst kinda bad and uninspired. There was a shot of someone’s feet which were done so poorly the person in question seemed to be standing on tiptoes.

There was also some continuity discrepancies with Ben and Venom BUT I can let those slide because these sort of cross-company crossovers happen in their own little alternate universes anyway so whatever.

This all being said at times Ben Reilly’s Spider-Man costume looked kinda nice. And most especially this had some genuinely good Venom art. It’s no Mark Bagley, but of all the ways Venom was depicted in the 90s, this was pretty stand out and did a nice job. It sort of recalled McFarlane in many ways.

I’ll be generous and give this a C.

Spider-Man 2099 Volume 2 #1
Haven’t done one of these in awhile.
Synopsis: Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099, is stranded in the past/our present. He’s working for Alchemex, which in his future will become a big evil corporation headed by his father Tyler Stone. In the present day though it’s run by it’s founder Liz Allan (mother of Normie Osborn, former wife of Harry Osborn and former daughter-in-law of Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin). Miguel works with his grandfather Tuberius Stone who is kind of a tool.
Miguel gets himself an apartment and discovers the cleaning lady is Tempest, a woman he previously rescued from some muggers (not that she was grateful). As he heads into work at Alchemex he learns from Tiberius that the two of them are going to sell some Spider Slayer robots to the war torn nation of Trans Sabal, which Miguel is morally outraged by. Just then though a high tech agent from the organisation T.O.T.E.M. (Temporal Oversight Team Eliminating Mistakes) appears intent upon killing Spider-Man 2099 since he doesn’t belong in the present day and returning him to the future is out of the question.
The fight leads to Liz Allan’s office and upon spotting her the T.O.T.E.M. agent cuts a deal with Spider-Man. In exchange for letting him kill Liz he’ll convince his superior’s to let Miguel go free. Miguel initially seems to agree to this but at the last minute uses his webbing to redirect the agent’s blast so that the agent kills himself instead.
After Miguel departs (having told Liz his name is ‘S-Man’) Liz tells her assistant to see if any windows ave been broken into and then bring her a list of everyone who visited Alchemex recently and everyone who works for the company. She figures that since the windows are sealed and since Spider-Man or ‘S-Man’ would only enter via the windows, if the windows are unbroken it must mean ‘S-Man’ was already in the building which means either he was a visitor or he works for the company.
And if she’s going to have a superhero on her payroll Liz Allan wants him superheroing for her!
Spider-Man 2099 is a character and a comic which I am familiar with but not overly so. I have yet to read the entire original run but hope to do so eventually. What little I have read I have very much enjoyed though and if nothing else I really like how Miguel O’Hara is a more cynical and less moralistic Spider-Man than Peter Parker. Whilst he’s no Kaine as Scarlet Spider, Miguel will not hesitate to kill if necessary and whilst I don’t endorse such practices in most superheroes (including Spider-Man) as a character trait it’s something enjoyable to read about. As was his less than responsible personality traits, e.g. his decision to not care about Tempest (the cleaning lady in his apartment building) because he has his own problems. These less than savoury traits make Miguel and Peter very different characters and the contrast between them is fun.
Also the 2099 costume has always been visually great!
Critically speaking I found this book respectably solid. I wasn’t blown away or anything but I was satisfied. There were some problems however.
I did not read the backup story from ASM V3 #1 featuring Spider-Man 2099 but I did half read/half simply read about  the goings on with Spider-Man 2099 during Superior Spider-Man. To Slott’s credit (which I rarely give him) the innovation that Liz Allan created the future mega-corporation Alchemex in the 2099 future was pretty in genius and a wonderful way to tie the 2099 mythology closer into the original Spider-Man’s mythology. And I will even give Slott credit for introducing Miguel’s no good grandfather Tiberius Stone through H.O.R.I.Z.O.N. labs.  
I knew what I needed to going into this first issue basically and a lot of the necessary backstory was contained within the recap page for the issue anyway. In a nice little touch Miguel O’Hara’s holographic ally Lyla acted as the narrator for the recap page so it wasn’t just dry narration.
However, exposition is probably the biggest problem with the book. Often criticisms regarding exposition in media boil down to either there being too little (especially in modern comics) or more frequently too much. With this issue, weirdly it was a bit of both.
There are some pages in the issue where it reiterates what we’ve been told in the recap page and in a way which isn’t as clunky as say 1990s exposition, but is still not as natural or organic as it could be. I think those are nitpicks in the grand scheme of the issue but they’re still problems worth talking about. Like there was a scene with Tempest where Miguel sort of prods her to ask him what he does and the main point of the scene seemed to be to provide an excuse for Miguel to exposit some of his current status quo.
Scenes like that are unnecessary, but there are other aspects of the book which had I not been aware of the recent goings on in Superior I’d be very lost without. Chief among these was Liz Allan being the head of Alchemex and previously witnessing an encounter between Spider-Man 2099 and the present day Spider-Man. Sure I   knew all that going in but there really was nothing to tell a new reader that in the recap page or the internal story exposition. Maybe I’m making too much about this than needs be, I dunno.
This sort of extended to the character of Tempest. For the most part Tempest’s previous encounter with Miguel was exposited pretty well and her character’s weird apathy is intriguing. But having not read her appearance in ASM V3 #1 I was kind of confused by some of her interactions with Miguel. Miguel’s thought captions imply he met her and rescued her from some muggers but it doesn’t say whether he did that as himself or as Spider-Man 2099. And I kind of need to know that because it changes the context of the scene where they interact.
Is this Tempest’s first meeting with Miguel or not, because there seemed to be a bit of familiarity there which might’ve made some of the clunky exposition come off more natural. But if it wasn’t they’re first encounter then Miguel’s dialogue and actions seem kinda weird in that scene. Tempest’s personality changes depending upon this context too as if she knows Miguel and he’s rescued her then she comes off as standoffish, maybe even a bit of a jerk to the guy who helped her but started to warm up to him a little at the end of the scene, which adds to some of her intrigue. But if it was Spider-Man who saved her then it means Miguel is a stranger to her and she just acts as a nonplussed manual labourer who just wants to do her job and not chitchat, but who again warms up to Miguel a tiny bit at the end.
One makes Tempest intriguing and raises our eyebrow. The other makes her more normal and realistic, which isn’t a bad thing but it doesn’t start a guessing game in our heads about her if you see what I mean.
There is also the fact that SOME of the slightly clunky exposition we get in the issue wasn’t told to us in the recap page when it could’ve been put into that recap page and saved us some time and made room for additional things in the issue. 
And of course, if you don’t know about Miguel’s powers or even what the future of 2099 is like the issue sadly really doesn’t help you out at all.
The other problems I had with the story lie with Liz, but I admit one of them is just a personal thing. Liz is being written as more hard edged and morally grey. I don’t like that because I like Liz being nicer and friendlier, someone Peter and MJ could still hang out with in their social circle. Now, I’m not saying this direction for Liz is out of character or inherently bad or anything, it’s just not something I want to see. Nor are the possible hints of her and Spider-Man 2099 hooking up, although I’ll reserve judgment on that.
The only other real problem with the issue was Liz’s reasoning that if Spider-Man or ‘S-Man’ entered the building he’d do it via a window and since all her windows are sealed he’d have to break one to get in, therefore if there are no broken windows he must either be a visitor or someone on her payroll.
I…can sort of see the logic but…I dunno, couldn’t Spider-Man bypass her security or something, or come in via the vents maybe or enter through other means. And this is besides the fact that the person she’s dealing with isn’t actually Spider-Man so for all she knows ‘S-Man’ honestly does have some other means of entering the building.
This being said Liz can only think and judge the situation on the basis of the information she has. ‘S-Man’ uses webbing and seems very similar to the Spider-Man she knows so without further info it’s a reasonable assumption that his abilities are those of the original Spider-Man and since she believes her security to be full proof to the point where the only way in is via the window basically her logic sort of does hold up.
Those are all the negatives but what about the positives?
Will Sliney’s art is actually really nice and crisp. Even in the Superior #31 backup strip he did there were moments where I felt the art really shone despite the shitty story and despite it having hiccups here and there. I especially like the gag page with the tux and this tiny touch when Miguel is in a ventilation duck and his cape is drapes over one of his sides.
Miguel’s personality is clearly conveyed to the reader as I mentioned above.
Lyla is funny. Actually a lot of characters have some funny little one liners in this story, even the T.O.T.E.M agent. And there are some nice gags even outside of the dialogue.
I like the holographic clothing conceit.
The T.O.T.E.M. agent’s gimmick of being able to tell people’s futures is kind of neat and eerie, like when he gives someone condolences for the death of their yet to be born child.
The action scenes (considering this is a modern day superhero comic and sadly the standards have grossly slipped) are decent enough. They include the best gag of the issue plus a pretty neat and clever way for Miguel to defeat the T.O.T.E.M. agent.
The story is simple, slick and easy to follow as well as being nicely self-contained. There are subplots being set up for sure but this isn’t like a Bendis paced story or anything.
Tempest is intriguing.
Lyla is in the series! Lyla was maybe the second most important character from the original 2099 series (at least from the issues I read) and she is fun and funny, sort of Miguel’s Alfred some ways.
There was nothing offensive about this story. I know that’s a weird pro of a story but with modern Spider-Man stuff I frankly find so much crap to hate that whenever I read an old or new Spider-Man story which is inoffensive I have little choice but to bump it up qualitywise.
So all in all this was a nice little issue which had some tiny quibbles but I’d recommend it.
I HATED Superior but this was honestly good enough that I might just more thoroughly look over all the 2099 stuff in that series and would recommend you do the same before reading this series.
A-

Spider-Man 2099 Volume 2 #1

Haven’t done one of these in awhile.

Synopsis: Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099, is stranded in the past/our present. He’s working for Alchemex, which in his future will become a big evil corporation headed by his father Tyler Stone. In the present day though it’s run by it’s founder Liz Allan (mother of Normie Osborn, former wife of Harry Osborn and former daughter-in-law of Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin). Miguel works with his grandfather Tuberius Stone who is kind of a tool.

Miguel gets himself an apartment and discovers the cleaning lady is Tempest, a woman he previously rescued from some muggers (not that she was grateful). As he heads into work at Alchemex he learns from Tiberius that the two of them are going to sell some Spider Slayer robots to the war torn nation of Trans Sabal, which Miguel is morally outraged by. Just then though a high tech agent from the organisation T.O.T.E.M. (Temporal Oversight Team Eliminating Mistakes) appears intent upon killing Spider-Man 2099 since he doesn’t belong in the present day and returning him to the future is out of the question.

The fight leads to Liz Allan’s office and upon spotting her the T.O.T.E.M. agent cuts a deal with Spider-Man. In exchange for letting him kill Liz he’ll convince his superior’s to let Miguel go free. Miguel initially seems to agree to this but at the last minute uses his webbing to redirect the agent’s blast so that the agent kills himself instead.

After Miguel departs (having told Liz his name is ‘S-Man’) Liz tells her assistant to see if any windows ave been broken into and then bring her a list of everyone who visited Alchemex recently and everyone who works for the company. She figures that since the windows are sealed and since Spider-Man or ‘S-Man’ would only enter via the windows, if the windows are unbroken it must mean ‘S-Man’ was already in the building which means either he was a visitor or he works for the company.

And if she’s going to have a superhero on her payroll Liz Allan wants him superheroing for her!

Spider-Man 2099 is a character and a comic which I am familiar with but not overly so. I have yet to read the entire original run but hope to do so eventually. What little I have read I have very much enjoyed though and if nothing else I really like how Miguel O’Hara is a more cynical and less moralistic Spider-Man than Peter Parker. Whilst he’s no Kaine as Scarlet Spider, Miguel will not hesitate to kill if necessary and whilst I don’t endorse such practices in most superheroes (including Spider-Man) as a character trait it’s something enjoyable to read about. As was his less than responsible personality traits, e.g. his decision to not care about Tempest (the cleaning lady in his apartment building) because he has his own problems. These less than savoury traits make Miguel and Peter very different characters and the contrast between them is fun.

Also the 2099 costume has always been visually great!

Critically speaking I found this book respectably solid. I wasn’t blown away or anything but I was satisfied. There were some problems however.

I did not read the backup story from ASM V3 #1 featuring Spider-Man 2099 but I did half read/half simply read about  the goings on with Spider-Man 2099 during Superior Spider-Man. To Slott’s credit (which I rarely give him) the innovation that Liz Allan created the future mega-corporation Alchemex in the 2099 future was pretty in genius and a wonderful way to tie the 2099 mythology closer into the original Spider-Man’s mythology. And I will even give Slott credit for introducing Miguel’s no good grandfather Tiberius Stone through H.O.R.I.Z.O.N. labs.  

I knew what I needed to going into this first issue basically and a lot of the necessary backstory was contained within the recap page for the issue anyway. In a nice little touch Miguel O’Hara’s holographic ally Lyla acted as the narrator for the recap page so it wasn’t just dry narration.

However, exposition is probably the biggest problem with the book. Often criticisms regarding exposition in media boil down to either there being too little (especially in modern comics) or more frequently too much. With this issue, weirdly it was a bit of both.

There are some pages in the issue where it reiterates what we’ve been told in the recap page and in a way which isn’t as clunky as say 1990s exposition, but is still not as natural or organic as it could be. I think those are nitpicks in the grand scheme of the issue but they’re still problems worth talking about. Like there was a scene with Tempest where Miguel sort of prods her to ask him what he does and the main point of the scene seemed to be to provide an excuse for Miguel to exposit some of his current status quo.

Scenes like that are unnecessary, but there are other aspects of the book which had I not been aware of the recent goings on in Superior I’d be very lost without. Chief among these was Liz Allan being the head of Alchemex and previously witnessing an encounter between Spider-Man 2099 and the present day Spider-Man. Sure I   knew all that going in but there really was nothing to tell a new reader that in the recap page or the internal story exposition. Maybe I’m making too much about this than needs be, I dunno.

This sort of extended to the character of Tempest. For the most part Tempest’s previous encounter with Miguel was exposited pretty well and her character’s weird apathy is intriguing. But having not read her appearance in ASM V3 #1 I was kind of confused by some of her interactions with Miguel. Miguel’s thought captions imply he met her and rescued her from some muggers but it doesn’t say whether he did that as himself or as Spider-Man 2099. And I kind of need to know that because it changes the context of the scene where they interact.

Is this Tempest’s first meeting with Miguel or not, because there seemed to be a bit of familiarity there which might’ve made some of the clunky exposition come off more natural. But if it wasn’t they’re first encounter then Miguel’s dialogue and actions seem kinda weird in that scene. Tempest’s personality changes depending upon this context too as if she knows Miguel and he’s rescued her then she comes off as standoffish, maybe even a bit of a jerk to the guy who helped her but started to warm up to him a little at the end of the scene, which adds to some of her intrigue. But if it was Spider-Man who saved her then it means Miguel is a stranger to her and she just acts as a nonplussed manual labourer who just wants to do her job and not chitchat, but who again warms up to Miguel a tiny bit at the end.

One makes Tempest intriguing and raises our eyebrow. The other makes her more normal and realistic, which isn’t a bad thing but it doesn’t start a guessing game in our heads about her if you see what I mean.

There is also the fact that SOME of the slightly clunky exposition we get in the issue wasn’t told to us in the recap page when it could’ve been put into that recap page and saved us some time and made room for additional things in the issue. 

And of course, if you don’t know about Miguel’s powers or even what the future of 2099 is like the issue sadly really doesn’t help you out at all.

The other problems I had with the story lie with Liz, but I admit one of them is just a personal thing. Liz is being written as more hard edged and morally grey. I don’t like that because I like Liz being nicer and friendlier, someone Peter and MJ could still hang out with in their social circle. Now, I’m not saying this direction for Liz is out of character or inherently bad or anything, it’s just not something I want to see. Nor are the possible hints of her and Spider-Man 2099 hooking up, although I’ll reserve judgment on that.

The only other real problem with the issue was Liz’s reasoning that if Spider-Man or ‘S-Man’ entered the building he’d do it via a window and since all her windows are sealed he’d have to break one to get in, therefore if there are no broken windows he must either be a visitor or someone on her payroll.

I…can sort of see the logic but…I dunno, couldn’t Spider-Man bypass her security or something, or come in via the vents maybe or enter through other means. And this is besides the fact that the person she’s dealing with isn’t actually Spider-Man so for all she knows ‘S-Man’ honestly does have some other means of entering the building.

This being said Liz can only think and judge the situation on the basis of the information she has. ‘S-Man’ uses webbing and seems very similar to the Spider-Man she knows so without further info it’s a reasonable assumption that his abilities are those of the original Spider-Man and since she believes her security to be full proof to the point where the only way in is via the window basically her logic sort of does hold up.

Those are all the negatives but what about the positives?

Will Sliney’s art is actually really nice and crisp. Even in the Superior #31 backup strip he did there were moments where I felt the art really shone despite the shitty story and despite it having hiccups here and there. I especially like the gag page with the tux and this tiny touch when Miguel is in a ventilation duck and his cape is drapes over one of his sides.

Miguel’s personality is clearly conveyed to the reader as I mentioned above.

Lyla is funny. Actually a lot of characters have some funny little one liners in this story, even the T.O.T.E.M agent. And there are some nice gags even outside of the dialogue.

I like the holographic clothing conceit.

The T.O.T.E.M. agent’s gimmick of being able to tell people’s futures is kind of neat and eerie, like when he gives someone condolences for the death of their yet to be born child.

The action scenes (considering this is a modern day superhero comic and sadly the standards have grossly slipped) are decent enough. They include the best gag of the issue plus a pretty neat and clever way for Miguel to defeat the T.O.T.E.M. agent.

The story is simple, slick and easy to follow as well as being nicely self-contained. There are subplots being set up for sure but this isn’t like a Bendis paced story or anything.

Tempest is intriguing.

Lyla is in the series! Lyla was maybe the second most important character from the original 2099 series (at least from the issues I read) and she is fun and funny, sort of Miguel’s Alfred some ways.

There was nothing offensive about this story. I know that’s a weird pro of a story but with modern Spider-Man stuff I frankly find so much crap to hate that whenever I read an old or new Spider-Man story which is inoffensive I have little choice but to bump it up qualitywise.

So all in all this was a nice little issue which had some tiny quibbles but I’d recommend it.

I HATED Superior but this was honestly good enough that I might just more thoroughly look over all the 2099 stuff in that series and would recommend you do the same before reading this series.

A-

mrsspidermanmaryjanewatsonparker

mrsspidermanmaryjanewatsonparker:

MJ: You like your work?

Carlie: Sure. Gives me a chance to play scientist and help the cops put away bad guys. The department’s always looking for good people. Pay’s not too bad either…

Career Paths

Amazing Spider-Man #4/Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man #4

Tom DeFalco and Todd Nauck

Ladies and gentlemen: I give you Carlie Cooper herself in her best appearance to date (mostly because she’s just a cop and not a love interest, although there are…other reasons). Also I’d normally have a certain violent reaction to the fact that Peter joined the force because of Carlie Cooper but DeFalco is writing it, Nauck is drawing it, she’s in like 2 pages and then never spoken of again. It’s a glorified cameo I can live with this. And that is all I shall say about that character (for now; she is on the list).

Oh okay one last thing, I admire DeFalco for not being petty and incorporating more modern aspects of continuity into his stories. Lesser writers would simply dismiss almost everything after thier own work (*coughrogersterncough*) and since DeFalco’s MC2 universe literally spins off from the idea that the events of his 1990s ASm run ended differently he could all too easily have done that. But no, he includes Carlie Cooper here, introduced Arana into Amazing Spider-Girl and he even happily used elements of JMS’ run when fleshing out the origin of the Black Tarantula.

Let’s move onto the issue proper. You know, one of the things people bang on about Spider-Man is that for him to be ‘relatable’ or for him to ‘truly be Spider-Man’ he NEEDS to have money problems (he doesn’t, but that’s beside the point). Well, guess what folks? Making Peter a dad which would as we all know would DESTROY SPIDER-MAN AS WE KNOW HIM, accomplishes just that, as this story demonstrates. For those who don’t know….um, babies are damn expensive. Boom. Spider-Man with money problems just like these folks always wanted. Only now they’re even more serious as his family is now at stake due to his financial issues making us care more about those problems. And in this issue DeFalco provides a relatively realistic and adult conversation about finances with these two characters where they weigh up all of thier options and consider how much they can afford vs. the impact it might have on their lifestyle. A prime example of this is with Mj considering going back to modelling.

 

Right from the get go DeFalco addresses a ‘problem’ people have with Mary Jane: her modelling career. I’m mixed on it myself. It never bothered me the way it has other people but at the same time given the choice I’d rather she have a different job such as a psychologist, actress, business woman, etc. Here DeFalco for those who DISLIKE it uses the baby as a way to address that ‘problem’ by saying that Mary Jane would willing do the modelling gig to pay for her child’s well being but that she and Peter are unwilling for her to do it for the amount of time it’d take her away from her child.

 

Now despite this conversation, this issue is again one which doesn’t necessarily NEED them to be parents to work, but it does help. It adds more stakes to the story and again Peter and Mj are more sympathetic to the crook because of the story he spins them about trying to support his family which they are both sympathetic too given their own similar situation (although Peter is more cynical, and rightly so).

Equally, like last time, I see it as ‘what if we just got a Spider-Man series where he happened to be a dad’ as opposed to ‘every issue must involve Spider-Man AND Mary Jane AND tie into the MC2 universe AND involve them being parents’. Like this issue really does feel like it would be a run of the mill issue in an era where Peter as a parent was the norm. It actually feels very, very, very similar to DeFalco’s 90s characterisations of Peter and Mary Jane albeit updated for modern times. In fact I might go as far as to say this is DeFalco at his absolute most naturalistic and modern dialogue wise, whilst still absolutely capturing Peter and MJ as characters (although MJ is a bit naive, but maybe motherhood has soften her or something, I’ll let it slide).

I must say though, this issue is a very good showcase for Peter and MJ as a couple though as they’re shown to really be a team here and you get the vibe (even if you haven’t read all those married stories) that they’ve been together for a long time and are a unit.

Additionally this issue unlike issue #3 DID do the job of being a Spider-Girl prequel very well as it gave us the origin of Peter’s job as a CSI cop. That job has now and forever been possibly the PERFECT career for Spider-Man. Yes, it would superficially make him a lot like the Flash but you know what it fulfils his dream of being a scientist whilst also allowing him to put away bad guys safely. Between that and the walking stick he’ll adopt later in life he is practically the Captain Stacy of the Spider-Girl series.

Also this is the chronological first appearance of a minor (yet important) supporting player in Amazing Spider-Girl, Detective Drasco. Drasco will be a corrupt cop whom I believe knows Peter Parker but more importantly works for the Hobgoblin.

Apart from that what else is there to say about this issue? It’s hilarious because the ‘villain’ is so inept and Peter and Mary Jane treat him so nonchalantly. And also the art by Todd Nauck (who, if you didn’t know is actually a fan of the marriage and has said in passing that he’d be happy to work on a story undoing One More Day) is just beautiful as is the colouring. I wish we could have this regularly instead of the shite that is Humberto Ramos (or Ryan Stegman, actually Stegman is great I just prefer Nauck).

Sadly this was the last instalment of this wonderful little series (although it was replaced with the Spider-Girl series proper so it wasn’t a bad trade-off). If you’ll allow me to eulogise it for a moment in re-reading this, it frankly not only reminded me how much I love the MC2/Spider-Girl series and Tom DeFalco but yeah, how much I miss the marriage and the adult characterisations of Peter and Mary Jane, to say nothing of being pissed off that due to narrow-mindedness we’ve been denied (for now) the chance to see Peter and Mary Jane go to the next step and be parents.

mrsspidermanmaryjanewatsonparker

mrsspidermanmaryjanewatsonparker:

RHINO: I can always earn more money. Y-you don’t tell Spider-Man?

PETER: No. I won’t tell Spider-Man.

Common Ground

Amazing Spider-Man Family #3/Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man #3

Tom DeFalco and Todd Nauck

This is another story which DeFalco hits out of the park. Now I fully admit this is a story which honestly didn’t necessarily NEED Peter as a parent to tell. In fact I’d go as far as to say that really it didn’t serve the entire purpose of Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man as a series by showcasing the past history of Peter and MJ in the MC2 universe. This story could’ve been told inside or outside the MC2 universe, before or even after OMD. As ashamed as I am to admit this it doesn’t even need Mary Jane in it at all although it is still nice she is here. The reason I say all this simply because really this is a story which zeroes in on Peter Parker as we’ve always known him and one of his enemies. It’s about those two character specifically and thier whole histories together are almost irrelevant beyond the fact that they have been enemies in the past. Does that mean this story is bad? Hell no!

First of all the Rhino is awesome. A classic villain. And ironically enough he was the villain Peter and Mary Jane went to see on thier ‘first date’ waaay back in Amazing Spider-Man #43 (the issue immediately after MJ’s iconic entrance). What this story gives us is a absolutely brilliant look at the Rhino as a human being (and it beat BND to the punch by a year or two I beleive) and showing us actually he isn’t a black and white villain (heheheh, I suppose he’s always been ‘grey’; get it, get it????? Wait come back!). The story mainly achieves this through the same method which up until now the entire Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man series has been employing. That is of course showing parallels between the Parkers and other individuals.

In the previous instalments those parallels hinged upon thier new parenthood and in all honestly did involve Peter AND Mary Jane more effectively (hence justifying the ‘ and Mrs.’ part of ‘Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man’) but this issue decides to simply be about Peter, albeit still involving Mary Jane. Now in fairness that criticism holds water if you look at the series strictly as a series about Peter AND MJ or Peter and Mj as parents or as a simple MC2 prequel. If you look at it as a Spider-Man series wherein Peter happens to be married to MJ and is a dad (i.e. basically what DeFalco wanted to happen back in the 1990s when he introduced the baby plotline) then it is more acceptable. And the reason Why it’s more acceptable is simply because why should every issue be about the baby, or thier parenthood, or thier marriage? During the marriage not every issue was ABOUT it, it was still ultimately a book about Peter Parker’s life but he happened to be sharing that life with MJ now.

Speaking of MJ let’s talk about that opening narration. Now for all I’ve just said about how this story doesn’t NEED a parent Peter Parker it does still use that status quo, at least as a starting point. It shows us the impact that parenthood, maturing and aging has had on the Parkers. Mj’s opening narration about how years ago sh’ed be clubbing it up on a Saturday night but now hits the sack before midnight demonstrates this. It is somewhat double sided dialogue.

On the one hand haters are going to extrapolate a whole load of bullshit from her line of “behaviour I’d rather forget” and probably paint her in a bad light based upon that. Thing is when you’re young you do do stuff which in hindsight is embarrassing no matter what it is. Confession time: A few years ago when I first drank tequila I basically line-danced with a bunch of strangers on a podium whilst removing my shirt, hitched a ride on a golf buggy and challenged a woman to a drinking contest only to later discover she might have been pregnant….and it was all on film….and then on facebook. I’m not proud of that and would rather forget it happened (though it does make for a good story). In MJ’s case her narration shows us that DeFalco really understands her character and more than this, shows that he get’s how she has progressed and grown up over time.

Now a certain crowd of fans will point to that first line in this story and go “You SEE the marriage/making them parents was a bad thing because now they’re old and BORING”. It is true that MJ and (I guess Peter) would become more mature with the marriage and a baby. That doesn’t equal ‘boring’. I mean for God’s sake this was never (despite some people’s warped opinions) a series about what it is to be young like it’s some kind of grand Channel 4 drama (sorry, you might not get that if you live outside of the UK). The fact was that we first encountered Peter and MJ when they were young and therefore saw them doing things young people tend to do. But that didn’t mean this series was ever ABOUT that; that’s like saying Power Rangers or ninja Turtles was ABOUT being a teenager when they weren’t, they just HAPPENED to be teenagers. I mean who was ever buying Spider-Man to see MJ hit up the clubs? Who honestly cares it isn’t happening now? Point is yeah, MJ is not engaging in the same activities she did in her youth and stereotypically a lot of people would label that as ‘boring’. But the fact is if she and Peter are still endearing and compelling as older characters then what is the problem? Mj displays some of that endearing quality about her in fact in this very issue when she actively diffuses a potential super powered fight; bad ass.

Looking back at the fact that this story doesn’t NEED MJ or the fact that she and Peter are parents, this issue does nevertheless do some nice little touches with them as parents. The fact that thier in the hospital for a cold is a mundane and realistic aspect of life which Spider-Man is very very good at. Indeed it’s part of the charm of the Spider-Man franchise. We also get a nice bit of insight into MJ’s new mentality as a mother as she feels both guilty about May being unwell and also upset that her child is suffering. It’s an obvious thing because ALL mothers would be like that but it’s something NEW to Spider-Man. Now something OLD to Spider-Man are thier concerns about money briefly raised in this issue but that’s something I’ll discuss next time. A final point about the hospital setting is that it uses Aunt Anna in a small but nice little role by giving her a single line which does a lot of good characterisation work. When she mentions that May’s illness is nothing to worry about and MJ and her sister used to get it all the time, not only is it showcasing the kind of status quo we could have had if the baby had returned (Anna as the wise old mother/grandmother figure which was also relevant in the last issue) but it also shows us that she was there supporting MJ’s family when they were kids. In this sense we can read into just how close Anna and MJ were and also see how good DeFalco is at the ol’ continuity as he (unlike other writers) remembers MJ has a wider family circle of her own beyond Peter.

Before I go on to talk about the heart of this issue I’d like to make a final point about DeFalco’s writing style. Many people say DeFalco is stuck in the past in terms of his writing style and it’s a flaw I will admit he has; and I say that as a fan of his (although it never bothered me because certain conventions of modern comic writing style piss me off royally). BUT I think there is this mentality that his dated writing style on Spider-Girl is something he can’t help, like he isn’t good enough to write beyond that. That is a lie. Right here (and in fact other stories like the previous issues) he demonstrates a different, more modern and even more mature writing style which he is employing since these stories themselves are a bit more mature than in Spider-Girl.

By that what I mean is that Spider-Girl is a series about a teenage girl growing up but Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man is a series about two adults raising a child and therefore they deal with more adult concerns which warrants an older writing style. Essentially DeFalco’s ‘dated’ style on Spider-Girl is something he does deliberately because he’s catering to fans of a bygone era in many ways. In fact that whole series in many ways deliberately bucked trends of modern comic book conventions.

Now, let us discuss the heart of the issue, the Rhino and Peter themselves. First of all well done to DeFalco for remembering the Rhino is in fact (and has always been) Russian. Often he’s characterised as just a generic brute (or a guy from New Jersey for some reason???????). That being said I do not think he’s ever spoken with an accent that thick before. I did however like that DeFalco established the Rhino as having removed his suit. This story is about showing the humanity and real person behind the Rhino and that shines through much better when he looks like a normal person as opposed to a guy in a giant zoo outfit.

Another nice touch is seeing DeFalco doing his patented ‘give the villain mama issues’ thing. For those who do not know DeFalco gave Doc Ock and Electro origin stories in the 1990s and in each case he told us that they kind of wound up the way they did because of their relationships with their mothers; they were both mamma’s boys. In this way they’re dark reflections of Peter since he’s a mamma’s boy and both stories were essentially “How would Peter have turned out if Aunt May was taken to an 11!” Sure in this story it’s not Rhino’s mum but she is LIKE a mother to him and is in that sense and even more direct Aunt May analogue (she even befriends Aunt Anna) and reveals Rhino to be a caring individual. I’ll admit though DeFalco is doing a spin on his old origin stories as the Rhino did become a villain because of his mother figure (and his other family members) it wasn’t because of the way his mother figure actually treated him as happened with Doc Ock and Electro.

Ironically J.M. DeMatteis who wrote a very noteworthy issue with the Rhino in his run of Spectacular Spider-Man in the early 1990s, tends to do the opposite of DeFalco when it comes to Spidey villain origin stories. Whilst DeFalco seems to zero in on the villains’ mothers’ smothering of them, DeMatteis zeroed in on thier father’s outright abusing them as motivators for thier villainy.

Speaking of DeMatteis, I do believe that DeFalco actually references an issue from his aforementioned early 1990s run when he has Rhino comment that he was hired to threaten Peter. I haven’t read the issue in question but I do believe that Harry Osborn hired the Rhino to threaten Peter’s family so that was a great piece of continuity there.

This story was also a strong showcase for Peter, letting us see him as a true adult who can diffuse a situation without violence but more than this, we just see him as a multifaceted human being. E.g. I loved his dialogue when he referred to MJ and May as: “my beautiful wife and my innocent daughter”. It was a subtle yet brilliant touch by a writer who KNOWS this character back to front. It’s sort of him appealing to Rhino’s human side to make him think of the consequences of his actions in case he’s thinking of kicking off but also its Pete subtly employing a bit of his classic snark.

Going back to Rhino mentioning he threatened Peter once, this shows some of the human side of the Rhino as he is in a way apologetic about it, showing he held no ill feelings towards Peter. Yet Peter is shown to be flawed and in possession of feelings as well, as he is still understandably sore about it (hence his snark earlier on). Nevertheless he is both practical (he’s avoiding a confrontation) and a shown to be a nice guy when he lets bygones be bygones.

My absolute favourite part of this issue however is the conversation they share over coffee. Rhino’s comparison to Peter is at it’s most apt here since he has an Aunt who’s like a mother to him who’s health Rhino is very concerned about (and also uses his super powers to alleviate). This is of course just like how Peter’s Aunt May is basically his mother and how he spent years concerned for her health and used his powers to make money from the Bugle to support her. But my favourite moment is when Rhino asks Peter if he’ll tell Spider-Man and he says he won’t. Now obviously the irony is full on at that point ad it could’ve been played for laughs but instead it’s a very…I don’t know how to describe it really. It’s not sad exactly and it’s not really sentimental. It’s just…fitting, I suppose. It just seems so right and somehow let’s more humanity shine through Peter Parker than in the entirety of Brand New Day.

Even though the conversation peaked by that line it is still quite compelling as DeFalco points out the bloomin obvious after decades and decades: Peter’s job isn’t completely different from his enemies’. Both of them are paid on a job per job basis and don’t exactly have the world’s fairest bosses. And it all wraps up with showing us that actually the Rhino, whilst a criminal, did what he did with good intentions as a means to survive and support his family.

Finally the art. Oh my GOD is the art and inking by Nacuk and Beredo is utterly gorgeous here; better even than the stuff in the Clone Saga mini-series Nauck did with DeFalco. I’d have preferred Frenz staying on since this is a prequel series but again, I can’t knock Nauck.

Jesus, even I’m surprised how much I extrapolated from this one 10 page story.

mrsspidermanmaryjanewatsonparker

mrsspidermanmaryjanewatsonparker:

MJ: Yes, I often say a silent prayer for those who don’t return…But sometimes…I’m just too thankful for words. I’m thankful to have my child in my hands.  

Those Who Never Return

Amazing Spider-Man Family #2/Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man #2

Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz

I love this story, possibly more than the other instalments in this series. Why? Answer: DeFalco’s mastery of continuity.

First off, he maintains the plot thread of Peter and MJ attending ESU which was something that was around back in the days of his 1990s run when it looked like baby May was set to return (bastards). Second of all he makes fun of the fact that NO ONE knows how old Peter was when his parents died and there has been conflicting accounts of it happening when he was a kid or a baby.

Third of all, for Spider-Girl fans that father and his baby daughter are in fact Mayday’s High School rival Simone DeSantos (who makes a point of running against Mayday in the class elections in the first arc of Amazing Spider-Girl) and her father Rene DeSantos (associate of the Cult of the Goblin which worships Mayday’s kidnapper Norman Osborn, whom I trust everyone is familiar with). This story in a tiny way fleshes out both Simone and her dad, showing us where and how her dad might have gone down the path of darkness (and being ironic since the Parkers comfort him despite him working for thier sworn enemy) as well as showing us (without outright telling us) why Simone herself is such a colossal  bitch (thus very subtly making her more than a stereotypical bully). Her mother was taken from her under violent circumstances leaving her to grow up without her mother. In a way DeFalco is kind of foreshadowing Simone and Mayday as opposites from day one, since Simone’s family was destroyed whilst Mayday got to live a happy life with her father AND mother.

Once more though what sells this issue for me (and a kind of theme running throughout this entire series) is the parallels DeFalco draws between the Parkers and other people. Last issue he drew parallels between the Connors, mainly from Peter’s POV, and here (in a roundabout way) he draws parallels between the Parkers and the DeSantos family, mainly from MJ’s POV. MJ is worried something will happen to herself as well as Peter (which is refreshing since it’s usually just Peter) and is despairing over the thought of never seeing her child again. But the issue also has Peter worrying (more than he usually did before the baby plot emerged in the 90s) about his mortality given his family situation. Ironically this feeds into the MC2 timeline with Peter, as he does indeed get injured and then retire to raise May.

At the same time the story shows us some of the realities of how MJ would feel about Peter being Spider-Man. For all her issues with the stress and danger involved with it she is willing and encouraging of it when the situation calls for action. Heck here she is downright vengeful as she imagines herself in this poor woman’s shoes and sends Peter out to get payback. Equally for those who endlessly go on about the ‘unrealistic’ aspect of her and Peter’s relationship regarding the whole “but it’s so dangerous she is in danger all the time by being with him or he might die any day and a child would be endangered too” (all arguments rolled out in OMIT), this story addresses those too. This woman is gunned down for being married to a LAWYER, not a superhero, her and her family are endangered, yet she still stepped out every day to do her job as did her husband.

You’d think that this would only further make the naysayer’s point for them, but MJ not only accepts this reality but doesn’t give up on her family. This demonstrates how tough she is, as well as how sometimes in real life it’s no guarantee people are going to just run in the face of danger. I mean in real life policemen, high profile lawyers, politicians and other people who make laws, fight crime etc, all take risks yet also have families of their own. And frankly we ALL run the risk of being run over by a car or mugged or Hell even dying from food poisoning every day. But we all just get on with it. And as MJ says, even though things can go horribly wrong that isn’t always the case and we should just be thankful the rest of the time.

I also love how DeFalco again uses Pete and MJ’s new parenthood as a way to take the story into territory it couldn’t go into otherwise, thus displaying what possibilities are presented to you in this new status quo as opposed to all the possibilities ‘closed off’ by Peter being a parent or a husband. Here Peter and MJ are not just upset a woman or a mother has died generally, they understand more deeply what has happened because they’re parents now too. They’re furious at what has happened to this family because they imagine it happening to theirs. Again, MJ is outright encouraging Peter to leap into danger in order to make the killers pay and he himself is more than up for it in spite of them both fretting about what could happen to Peter as Spider-Man. Indeed Marlene’s concerns and nagging of her husband are not dissimilar to many words MJ has exchanged with Peter over the years. And yet we see in this story how MJ reacts differently than what you might expect, even from earlier depictions of her. This I think shows how she’s grown.

Here MJ is concerned about if something like this happened to her or Peter and by extension what would happen to thier child if the worst transpired. And whilst she is worrying about this, and whilst Simone’s dad is explaining how his job (which puts him in a position not dissimilar to Peter’s) is fraught with dangers and his didn’t think his luck would run out, we see Spidey risking his life too. The art is putting into action what both MJ and Rene are expressing, Peter himself is risking his life and weighing his luck just like how Rene did, daring MJ’s greatest fears to become reality.

 Again, for some people this would send them running to the hills but the Parkers don’t do this. MJ does NOT quit on her husband or family, but rather merely takes away that she should spend more time with Mayday and value her time with her and Peter even more than she does already. Looking at it one way it’s almost madness. Looking at it another, it is a very realistic and human depiction of everyday heroism.

Also I must make the obligatory “Ron Frenz’s art is gorgeous” comment. It really captures the Romita look for Peter’s parents who are characters too often neglected. At the same time he makes Aunt May look both classic yet also not as old and withered as she usually looks. This being said…Anna looks really, really scary at the end there.

mrsspidermanmaryjanewatsonparker

mrsspidermanmaryjanewatsonparker:

MJ:We’re married to two—very special men. They’re sort of like cops, firemen and doctors. Their jobs are always demanding—and sometimes dangerous. But they do those jobs, anyway. They do them because they love us—

PETER: Thanks for being so supportive of my web thing.

MJ: I knew what I was getting into when I married you, Peter.

PETER: Yeah, but my responsibilities were supposed to change when May came along

MJ: Why don’t we just take each day as it comes, Tiger?

PETER: Sounds like a plan!

Family Ties

Amazing Spider-Man Family #1/Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man #1

Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz

Why yes this is where I got the idea for the name of this blog.

I love this issue and this series in general. DeFalco shows after decades he not only can write Peter with the best of them but every other character to, particularly MJ. He also arguably writes the marriage better here than at any point in his career, which is odd considering that as we all know, the marriage is the hardest thing to right EVAH you guys!!!!!

And yet here DeFalco is writing Peter not just as a married man…but a father too, which NO ONE has ever done before (forget House of M, it was shit anyway). I say no one, he HAS written Peter as a dad in Spider-Girl (of which this a prequel to) but there Peter wasn’t also Spider-Man at the same time. Over the course of these four mere issues DeFalco shows us what he kind of was hoping for all those years ago in the 1990s when he introduced the concept of the baby and progressing Peter’s character development. More than this he shows us how it can really work and how it isn’t in all honesty THAT different to writing Peter before he was a dad. 

At the same time he unearths new possibilities with the situation. Here for instance he draws some great family parallels and makes the Lizard’s situation (which was interesting like twice and then got old and repetitive many decades ago)  somewhat fresh and more compelling since now there are big parallels between himself and Spider-Man. 

More than this DeFalco here exemplifies something which must have been at the forefront of his head when he introduced the concept of Spidey as a father. See, despite what anyone at Marvel says, Spider-Man is now and forever about RESPONSIBILITY. And as we all know raising a kid is THE biggest responsibility anyone can ever have. Yet like many police officers, fire fighters, doctors, politicians and soldiers Peter has another set of responsibilities and another duty he owes himself to; namely those of being Spider-Man. 

Hence Peter now like those aforementioned individuals must now struggle and deal with the responsibilities of being Spider-Man with those of being a father, as well as those of being a husband and holding a job. This is actually something at the very HEART of the concept of Spider-Man as the entire point of the series was seeing this man juggle his various responsibilities (initially to his Aunt or to his studies) against his responsibility of being Spider-Man. Here DeFalco simply gives Peter a new responsibility (and his responsibilities HAVE changed over the years if you look back) to deal with and because it is literally the greatest responsibility anyone can have it is in fact a set up TAILOR SUITED for the character of Spider-Man. And again as DeFalco proves, as hard as it can be it’s far from impossible to pull off.

It’s only impossible if you are Hell bent on having Spider-Man be YOUNG YOUNG YOUNG, because here we get a truly adult Peter and Mary Jane who are the sum of their experiences. God how terrible it is. 

Some final points:

  • I love MJ’s little speech because it sums up her experiences and situation as part of Peter’s life and WHY she totally would stick with him in spite of people’s claims that “oh, she realistically would’ve left him by now”. I mean if we’re living in the same comic book universe where Martha Connors’ husband has been turning into a literal monster and endangering her, her SON and the rest of the world and yet she stuck with him throughout all that since 1963   I think we can buy that Mary Jane would stick with peter and agree to have kids with him when he’s Spider-Man.
  • Ron Frenz’s art is just so beautiful. I mean that’s a Mary Jane worthy of Romita (indeed he homages MJ’s first appearance under Romita)
  • I love the little sentiment at the end of taking it one day at a time

hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger
hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger:

Ultimate Spider-Man : 12 Five Minutes - Peter David
Synopsis: One their wedding anniversary Peter and MJ plan on spending the day together, despite the noisy and volatile arguments from their downstairs neighbours, the Swansons. However early on Peter hears sirens and is keen to go out as Spider-Man, but is persuaded by Mary Jane to spend just five more minutes with her before he leaves. When Spider-Man finds to source of the sirens he is told by an officer that a man jumped from a building committing suicide. With the police officers unable to talk him down and the firemen unable to get crash mats out in time the man (who’s decided to jump due to a failing business) had no hope. However the officer tells Spider-Man he may have been able to do something if he’d gotten there just five minutes earlier. Peter returns home and an argument breaks out between him and Mary Jane over the incident. Peter storms off and gets some advice from Robbie before MJ calls him and informs him that Mr. Swanson has his wife and child at gunpoint. Mr. Swanson had had enough of his wife and their arguments and when she said she wanted a divorce he took drastic action in order to keep custody of his daughter. Realising it was hopeless, Swanson prepares to kill his wife but Spider-Man intervenes. Later on Peter and MJ talk and MJ tearfully admits that she was terrified in calling Peter because she was worried that in sending him to save the Swanson’s she’d sent him to his death. She goes on to tell Peter about how she constantly fears that one day the law of averages will result in his luck running out and she will lose him forever. She elaborates that that morning she was being selfish because she was concerned that on this day, their anniversary, he’d finally die in an ironic twist. They share a tearful kiss and spend the rest of the day together, resolving that in time they’d simply learn to live with the tragedy of this day.
My synopsis really didn’t do this story justice. You NEED to read it for yourselves. Honestly this one story is easily the best in the book and on it’s own justifies a purchase of the entire anthology; they evidently saved the best story for the end.
This is one of those stories which uses Peter and MJ’s relationship and more specifically their marriage in a way which would never work otherwise. This is their wedding anniversary, Peter talks to Robbie about his marriage, the Swansons are portrayed as a couple on the flipside of Peter and MJ (who’s bickering depiction early on makes it all the more ironic when Peter and MJ have an argument of their own). This is very distinctly a story which ONLY works with a married Spider-Man and it’s one of THE best out there. Scratch that it’s one of the best Spider-Man stories period. No seriously it really is that good.
It has a grit and maturity to it which Peter David (probably the best Spider-Man writer of all time) does so well. No super villains. No outlandish plans. Just an all too down to Earth, human issue which dives into the characters heads and looks at them as people. In other words its territory that is right at the heart of Spider-Man. And it is all wrapped around the brilliant theme of marriage and the motif of ‘five minutes’ and all the difference they can make.
Now on the one hand we can say this puts MJ into a bit of a negative light. After all, that man is dead because of her holding Peter back right? Or was it Peter’s fault for listening to her? Or was it both their faults’? Well really the answer is far more complicated than that. Peter David constructed a very complex (yet simple to understand) story here where there is no simple answer; much like real life. 
The genius of this story is that there is a plausible out for MJ (and Peter) as far as their guilt goes but even if she (and/or he) were guilty they are both in the wrong and in the right as well. We can’t paint them as ‘bad’ or even really blame them.
The story itself has MJ point out that she is being unfairly blamed for a man deciding to kill himself, which is not only true but the story goes further to elaborate that you can track the ‘what ifs’  back to infinity. If Spider-Man had gotten there earlier he might have lived. If the cops or firemen had gotten there earlier he might have lived. If the cops had talked him down he might’ve lived. If his business hadn’t failed he might have lived. If he hadn’t gone into that line of work he might have lived. If he just happened to be mentally more resilient he might have lived. In this sense this isn’t either of their fault.
More than this, we can read into this further. Who is to say the cop was even accurate in his estimation of five minutes? Maybe Spider-Man really wouldn’t have gotten there in time.  Not to mention that Spider-Man saving this man doesn’t change his situation. His business is still in ruin so there is nothing to stop him necessarily finding another way to take his own life. And as MJ points out if Peter were to take this to extremes then he’d get a police radio, talk to possible suicide victims and so on, but he doesn’t do that. Really it is a case of not knowing what may have happened. And again, even if MJ or Peter were to know with certainty that the man would have lived they didn’t know that at the time. And on MJ’s part it wasn’t as if her actions were purely selfish.
She herself admits they were selfish and from a certain point of view they were, because she didn’t want her husband to die. But that is in a sense a form of selfishness which can’t be condemned. How many of us WANT our loved ones to be placed into any form of danger. We don’t. It isn’t selfishness exactly; it’s caring for another person so much you don’t want them to be harmed. It’s a form of selfishness which in a sense is understandable and more than forgivable. Considering what she has to live with every day the fact that this hasn’t happened before is a bit of a miracle. But it makes so much sense that it happened on their anniversary, since MJ’s mind naturally worried about the cruel irony that it would be THIS day, the day celebrating their relationship, that Peter’s luck would finally run out and they’d lose what they have together. Hence why she didn’t want him to leave her and hence his delay in getting to the crime scene.
Also, in a sense she did make up for it. She confronted that fear and helped saved the life of Mrs. Swanson and possibly her daughter and husband too. And she saved them by actively sending her husband into danger hence any harm which may have befallen him would’ve been on her as well (at least in her own mind). She feels remorse for her actions and she isn’t just forgiven like that. In real life it doesn’t work that way, it’s too complicated and the brilliance of this story is that it depicts that complexity. Ultimately Peter and MJ just learn to live with this.
Long story short, we shouldn’t condemn Peter or MJ for their actions in this story.
Moving off of the blame game, PAD depicts the marriage here very realistically. More than once we have seen forced and contrived arguments between Peter and Mary Jane, and often they revolve around the issues this story raises. Here PAD succeeds  in not only making the argument organic, character revealing, realistic and relevant (in short good drama and storytelling) but he really succeeds because he reinvigorates well trodden ground and handles it better than anyone. I don’t like seeing Peter and MJ argue because I like these characters and am invested in them, like friends almost. At the same time arguments are realistic in any relationship and we should see it happen with these characters. Here we get possibly the best, most volatile and arguably the most unsettling argument they’ve ever had in any media and the fact that it does hit so hard is WHY it’s such a fantastic story.
I also adored the use of Robbie in this story. He’s one of my favourite characters and is sorely underused considering he is the father figure Peter has always been searching for. Here he acts as the father figure and it’s not only fitting because he’s so paternal but because weirdly Robbie has a strange history with Peter and Mary Jane. He was there for their first kiss. He was the person MJ turned to during Kraven’s Last Hunt. He was the person she turned to during Spider-Man the Final Adventure when reporter ken Ellis was threatening to expose Peter as Spider-Man. And here he is now giving Peter advise on his and MJ’s marriage, so it’s weirdly fitting (also he was the best man at thier wedding in the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon). My one criticism is that he says ‘son’ too many times.
Going back to Mary Jane and Peter for a moment, I love that (especially for MJ) they’re written as truly complex multifaceted characters with serious flaws. Peter loves Mary Jane from the bottom of his heart, but he has moments of serious resentment, he wants to avoid her, he even wonders if things will ever be alright between them again (which is a human reaction when you are ‘in the moment’). Mary Jane is shown to be both selfless (thereby worthy of our hero’s love) and selfish (BECAUSE she loves Peter so much). She’s also shown to have affectionate, insecure and flirty sides to her as well. She is capable of feeling anger, resentment, disappointment, sarcasm, derision, guilt, worry and sadness. PAD gives her an array of emotions to fit the moments and the story beats as opposed to just tying her down to ‘the weeping wife’ or ‘the flirty party girl’ or some other singular personality type for her to inhabit.
And once more I have to reiterate, this is brilliant because it is a properly human and down to Earth problem for Spider-Man to deal with which (like real life) doesn’t have an easy answer. It isn’t ‘MJ is forgiven because the guy was DEFINITLY gonna die anyway’ or ‘because she saved the other guy by pointing Peter to the Swansons everything is just alright again’. It takes time to recover. This is proper adult writing for Spider-Man. This story alone justifies the whole book frankly and showcases why Peter David is THE best Spider-Man writer of all time. 
A+

hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger:

Ultimate Spider-Man : 12 Five Minutes - Peter David

Synopsis: One their wedding anniversary Peter and MJ plan on spending the day together, despite the noisy and volatile arguments from their downstairs neighbours, the Swansons. However early on Peter hears sirens and is keen to go out as Spider-Man, but is persuaded by Mary Jane to spend just five more minutes with her before he leaves. When Spider-Man finds to source of the sirens he is told by an officer that a man jumped from a building committing suicide. With the police officers unable to talk him down and the firemen unable to get crash mats out in time the man (who’s decided to jump due to a failing business) had no hope. However the officer tells Spider-Man he may have been able to do something if he’d gotten there just five minutes earlier. Peter returns home and an argument breaks out between him and Mary Jane over the incident. Peter storms off and gets some advice from Robbie before MJ calls him and informs him that Mr. Swanson has his wife and child at gunpoint. Mr. Swanson had had enough of his wife and their arguments and when she said she wanted a divorce he took drastic action in order to keep custody of his daughter. Realising it was hopeless, Swanson prepares to kill his wife but Spider-Man intervenes. Later on Peter and MJ talk and MJ tearfully admits that she was terrified in calling Peter because she was worried that in sending him to save the Swanson’s she’d sent him to his death. She goes on to tell Peter about how she constantly fears that one day the law of averages will result in his luck running out and she will lose him forever. She elaborates that that morning she was being selfish because she was concerned that on this day, their anniversary, he’d finally die in an ironic twist. They share a tearful kiss and spend the rest of the day together, resolving that in time they’d simply learn to live with the tragedy of this day.

My synopsis really didn’t do this story justice. You NEED to read it for yourselves. Honestly this one story is easily the best in the book and on it’s own justifies a purchase of the entire anthology; they evidently saved the best story for the end.

This is one of those stories which uses Peter and MJ’s relationship and more specifically their marriage in a way which would never work otherwise. This is their wedding anniversary, Peter talks to Robbie about his marriage, the Swansons are portrayed as a couple on the flipside of Peter and MJ (who’s bickering depiction early on makes it all the more ironic when Peter and MJ have an argument of their own). This is very distinctly a story which ONLY works with a married Spider-Man and it’s one of THE best out there. Scratch that it’s one of the best Spider-Man stories period. No seriously it really is that good.

It has a grit and maturity to it which Peter David (probably the best Spider-Man writer of all time) does so well. No super villains. No outlandish plans. Just an all too down to Earth, human issue which dives into the characters heads and looks at them as people. In other words its territory that is right at the heart of Spider-Man. And it is all wrapped around the brilliant theme of marriage and the motif of ‘five minutes’ and all the difference they can make.

Now on the one hand we can say this puts MJ into a bit of a negative light. After all, that man is dead because of her holding Peter back right? Or was it Peter’s fault for listening to her? Or was it both their faults’? Well really the answer is far more complicated than that. Peter David constructed a very complex (yet simple to understand) story here where there is no simple answer; much like real life. 

The genius of this story is that there is a plausible out for MJ (and Peter) as far as their guilt goes but even if she (and/or he) were guilty they are both in the wrong and in the right as well. We can’t paint them as ‘bad’ or even really blame them.

The story itself has MJ point out that she is being unfairly blamed for a man deciding to kill himself, which is not only true but the story goes further to elaborate that you can track the ‘what ifs’  back to infinity. If Spider-Man had gotten there earlier he might have lived. If the cops or firemen had gotten there earlier he might have lived. If the cops had talked him down he might’ve lived. If his business hadn’t failed he might have lived. If he hadn’t gone into that line of work he might have lived. If he just happened to be mentally more resilient he might have lived. In this sense this isn’t either of their fault.

More than this, we can read into this further. Who is to say the cop was even accurate in his estimation of five minutes? Maybe Spider-Man really wouldn’t have gotten there in time.  Not to mention that Spider-Man saving this man doesn’t change his situation. His business is still in ruin so there is nothing to stop him necessarily finding another way to take his own life. And as MJ points out if Peter were to take this to extremes then he’d get a police radio, talk to possible suicide victims and so on, but he doesn’t do that. Really it is a case of not knowing what may have happened. And again, even if MJ or Peter were to know with certainty that the man would have lived they didn’t know that at the time. And on MJ’s part it wasn’t as if her actions were purely selfish.

She herself admits they were selfish and from a certain point of view they were, because she didn’t want her husband to die. But that is in a sense a form of selfishness which can’t be condemned. How many of us WANT our loved ones to be placed into any form of danger. We don’t. It isn’t selfishness exactly; it’s caring for another person so much you don’t want them to be harmed. It’s a form of selfishness which in a sense is understandable and more than forgivable. Considering what she has to live with every day the fact that this hasn’t happened before is a bit of a miracle. But it makes so much sense that it happened on their anniversary, since MJ’s mind naturally worried about the cruel irony that it would be THIS day, the day celebrating their relationship, that Peter’s luck would finally run out and they’d lose what they have together. Hence why she didn’t want him to leave her and hence his delay in getting to the crime scene.

Also, in a sense she did make up for it. She confronted that fear and helped saved the life of Mrs. Swanson and possibly her daughter and husband too. And she saved them by actively sending her husband into danger hence any harm which may have befallen him would’ve been on her as well (at least in her own mind). She feels remorse for her actions and she isn’t just forgiven like that. In real life it doesn’t work that way, it’s too complicated and the brilliance of this story is that it depicts that complexity. Ultimately Peter and MJ just learn to live with this.

Long story short, we shouldn’t condemn Peter or MJ for their actions in this story.

Moving off of the blame game, PAD depicts the marriage here very realistically. More than once we have seen forced and contrived arguments between Peter and Mary Jane, and often they revolve around the issues this story raises. Here PAD succeeds  in not only making the argument organic, character revealing, realistic and relevant (in short good drama and storytelling) but he really succeeds because he reinvigorates well trodden ground and handles it better than anyone. I don’t like seeing Peter and MJ argue because I like these characters and am invested in them, like friends almost. At the same time arguments are realistic in any relationship and we should see it happen with these characters. Here we get possibly the best, most volatile and arguably the most unsettling argument they’ve ever had in any media and the fact that it does hit so hard is WHY it’s such a fantastic story.

I also adored the use of Robbie in this story. He’s one of my favourite characters and is sorely underused considering he is the father figure Peter has always been searching for. Here he acts as the father figure and it’s not only fitting because he’s so paternal but because weirdly Robbie has a strange history with Peter and Mary Jane. He was there for their first kiss. He was the person MJ turned to during Kraven’s Last Hunt. He was the person she turned to during Spider-Man the Final Adventure when reporter ken Ellis was threatening to expose Peter as Spider-Man. And here he is now giving Peter advise on his and MJ’s marriage, so it’s weirdly fitting (also he was the best man at thier wedding in the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon). My one criticism is that he says ‘son’ too many times.

Going back to Mary Jane and Peter for a moment, I love that (especially for MJ) they’re written as truly complex multifaceted characters with serious flaws. Peter loves Mary Jane from the bottom of his heart, but he has moments of serious resentment, he wants to avoid her, he even wonders if things will ever be alright between them again (which is a human reaction when you are ‘in the moment’). Mary Jane is shown to be both selfless (thereby worthy of our hero’s love) and selfish (BECAUSE she loves Peter so much). She’s also shown to have affectionate, insecure and flirty sides to her as well. She is capable of feeling anger, resentment, disappointment, sarcasm, derision, guilt, worry and sadness. PAD gives her an array of emotions to fit the moments and the story beats as opposed to just tying her down to ‘the weeping wife’ or ‘the flirty party girl’ or some other singular personality type for her to inhabit.

And once more I have to reiterate, this is brilliant because it is a properly human and down to Earth problem for Spider-Man to deal with which (like real life) doesn’t have an easy answer. It isn’t ‘MJ is forgiven because the guy was DEFINITLY gonna die anyway’ or ‘because she saved the other guy by pointing Peter to the Swansons everything is just alright again’. It takes time to recover. This is proper adult writing for Spider-Man. This story alone justifies the whole book frankly and showcases why Peter David is THE best Spider-Man writer of all time. 

A+

hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger
hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger:

Ultimate Spider-Man : 11 An Evening in the Bronx with Venom - John Gregory Betancourt and Keith R. A. DeCandido
Synopsis: A homeless named Josias flags down Spider-Man and begs for his help since Venom has been chasing him from San Francisco to New York. Venom recently reformed his ways and became protector of a community of homeless people living beneath San Francisco. According to Josias, Venom has gone nuts and killed the homeless community he was supposed to be protecting. He even killed Josias’ best friend and now he is terrified that Venom will finish him off. Spider-Man against his better judgment seeks out help from the police. And so officer Esteban organizes police protection for Josias, with another officer (Hawkins) safeguarding the witness; both officers have personal scores to settle with Venom. Spider-Man arrives at the safe house to also keep watch. Venom however has used his camouflage powers to infiltrate the safe house as an officer. The police’s sonic weapons are quickly overcome by Venom and he begins chasing Josias, with Spider-Man desperately trying to stop him (and getting pretty beaten up for his trouble). Venom eventually reveals that Josias had lied to Spider-Man and was guilty of murder. Venom was just bringing him back to San Fran to face justice. However, during the chase, Josias is hit by a car and killed. Venom makes his retreat and an injured Spidey is given a lift by Esteban, who assures him he shouldn’t feel bad about what happened.
I don’t like having to mark this one down and really it’s far from the worst story in this book, but I’m afraid I have to.
Basically despite having a cool villain, a great physical challenge to Spider-Man, perfectly adequate action, small yet appreciated bits of characterization and a clear writing style, this story was at best dull and at worst kind of predictable. Either way it reflects something which, in fairness isn’t the fault of this story, but was a massive problem during the 1990s, when Venom was at his most popular.
Venom as a good guy.
Venom is a bad guy. He was created that way and couldn’t be redeemed. But he was so popular that in order to make more money off him Marvel decided to give him his own ongoing series and if that was gonna happen he had to NOT be a villain. Oh, he could still be violent to a point, he could still kill, but it’d be as an anti-heroic defender of the innocent. Those archetypes were very popular in the 1990s and indeed so was Venom. Venom in his first mini-series was made protector of a community of homeless people living beneath San Francisco. I’ve not read that mini-series but the premise alone sounds both stupid and a rip-off of the quintessential 1990s anti-hero; Spawn, of whom Marvel and DC were trying to copy.
It’s from this premise and the unbelievable build up and neutering of an inherently villainous character that we get this story. Again not the fault of this story but seeing Venom as this heroic figure and being forced to accept it is unpleasant. When Spider-Man has to ‘learn the lesson’ that Venom has reformed I just shake my head.
The other major flaw of this story is the obvious twist. You must have been the most gullible person on Earth if you read this and DIDN’T realize Josias was lying and Venom WASN’T the bad guy. It just made the whole thing tedious and a chore to get through since you knew where it was going.
The characterization of the two main police officers however was well handled. Esteban was a refreshing break from the cops who mistrust Spider-Man as he not only trusted him (despite not necessarily liking him) but treated him fairly and even showed him a bit of general compassion.
Overall this story felt pointless and just there because if you are gonna have an anthology featuring lots of Spider-Man’s big villains in it you’re not gonna leave Venom out.
C-

hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger:

Ultimate Spider-Man : 11 An Evening in the Bronx with Venom - John Gregory Betancourt and Keith R. A. DeCandido

Synopsis: A homeless named Josias flags down Spider-Man and begs for his help since Venom has been chasing him from San Francisco to New York. Venom recently reformed his ways and became protector of a community of homeless people living beneath San Francisco. According to Josias, Venom has gone nuts and killed the homeless community he was supposed to be protecting. He even killed Josias’ best friend and now he is terrified that Venom will finish him off. Spider-Man against his better judgment seeks out help from the police. And so officer Esteban organizes police protection for Josias, with another officer (Hawkins) safeguarding the witness; both officers have personal scores to settle with Venom. Spider-Man arrives at the safe house to also keep watch. Venom however has used his camouflage powers to infiltrate the safe house as an officer. The police’s sonic weapons are quickly overcome by Venom and he begins chasing Josias, with Spider-Man desperately trying to stop him (and getting pretty beaten up for his trouble). Venom eventually reveals that Josias had lied to Spider-Man and was guilty of murder. Venom was just bringing him back to San Fran to face justice. However, during the chase, Josias is hit by a car and killed. Venom makes his retreat and an injured Spidey is given a lift by Esteban, who assures him he shouldn’t feel bad about what happened.

I don’t like having to mark this one down and really it’s far from the worst story in this book, but I’m afraid I have to.

Basically despite having a cool villain, a great physical challenge to Spider-Man, perfectly adequate action, small yet appreciated bits of characterization and a clear writing style, this story was at best dull and at worst kind of predictable. Either way it reflects something which, in fairness isn’t the fault of this story, but was a massive problem during the 1990s, when Venom was at his most popular.

Venom as a good guy.

Venom is a bad guy. He was created that way and couldn’t be redeemed. But he was so popular that in order to make more money off him Marvel decided to give him his own ongoing series and if that was gonna happen he had to NOT be a villain. Oh, he could still be violent to a point, he could still kill, but it’d be as an anti-heroic defender of the innocent. Those archetypes were very popular in the 1990s and indeed so was Venom. Venom in his first mini-series was made protector of a community of homeless people living beneath San Francisco. I’ve not read that mini-series but the premise alone sounds both stupid and a rip-off of the quintessential 1990s anti-hero; Spawn, of whom Marvel and DC were trying to copy.

It’s from this premise and the unbelievable build up and neutering of an inherently villainous character that we get this story. Again not the fault of this story but seeing Venom as this heroic figure and being forced to accept it is unpleasant. When Spider-Man has to ‘learn the lesson’ that Venom has reformed I just shake my head.

The other major flaw of this story is the obvious twist. You must have been the most gullible person on Earth if you read this and DIDN’T realize Josias was lying and Venom WASN’T the bad guy. It just made the whole thing tedious and a chore to get through since you knew where it was going.

The characterization of the two main police officers however was well handled. Esteban was a refreshing break from the cops who mistrust Spider-Man as he not only trusted him (despite not necessarily liking him) but treated him fairly and even showed him a bit of general compassion.

Overall this story felt pointless and just there because if you are gonna have an anthology featuring lots of Spider-Man’s big villains in it you’re not gonna leave Venom out.

C-

hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger
hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger:

Ultimate Spider-Man : 10 Cold Blood - Greg Cox
Synopsis: On the coldest night of the year Spider-Man patrols the city, braving the weather. After he saves an old, unsuspecting homeless man from a stray icicle, the same homeless man finds himself the prey of a desperately thirsty Morbius, the Living Vampire. Spider-Man intervenes and comes close to being Morbius’ next meal himself. However during the struggle another stray icicle falls and injures Morbius, saving Spider-Man. Spidey briefly contemplates killing Morbius but decides he can’t kill someone in cold blood. The injury however, didrestore Morbius’ senses long enough for him to gratefully flee the scene, seeking the blood of the guilty as opposed to the innocent. Spider-Man webs up a makeshift shelter for the homeless man and swings away.
I took a MASSIVE break between this story and the last one. I must say I thought this was quite good. The main problems I had with it are:
a)      It didn’t do a good job of portraying Spider-Man’s thoughts. By that I mean his thoughts were integrated into the text in such a way that it wasn’t very clear when he was talking and when the omniscient narrator was talking. I would’ve preferred it if his thoughts were in italicsand/or on a separate line, as opposed to being just part of a larger paragraph
b)      Its action heavy. The action is actually quite good, with a proper knuckle busting fight that is both descriptive enough that it conveys what is going on whilst at the same time not over doing it so the momentum of the fight keeps going. At the same time I did get lost because following an action scene in prose is both harder and usually less satisfying than in visual form. I can imagine though a good artists like either of the Romitas could take this action scene and turn it into a fun fight on the pages of a comic book
c)       The convenience of the icicle falling which I am more than willing to look passed
Apart from that I don’t have anything bad to say. Morbius is a character I’m pretty indifferent towards. I’ve never liked vampires personally and really my main experience with Morbius comes from the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon. So I know enough about the character but not enough (of his comic version) to actively like him much. Again, I don’t DISLIKE him, and here he gave Spider-Man a very good physical challenge (with Spider-Man taking quite a bit of battle damage) and Cox does an excellent job of selling Morbius’ desperation and bloodlust. It makes him a monster, and even immoral, yet also sympathetic.
Cox also does a good job of making you feel the weather in this story (okay maybe it’s because I read this during winter) but he does get across the cold and the discomfort and even the challenges it causes our hero. Plus of course the weather, Morbius and his actions (as well as Spider-Man’s, when he almost kills Morbius) make for a neat little bit of symbolism in title. ‘Cold Blood’; get it? 
The other main things of note in this story are that it’s paced very briskly and doesn’t waste time. This is a main thing most of the good stories in this anthology have done well actually. They introduce enough elements and get to the point sharply.
Apart from that, exempting his thought captions for Spider-Man, Cox writes in a style which paints a clear and understandable picture in the reader’s mind and let’s them follow along most of the plot with ease, which is always a plus. This was just a well crafted story.
A-

hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger:

Ultimate Spider-Man : 10 Cold Blood - Greg Cox

Synopsis: On the coldest night of the year Spider-Man patrols the city, braving the weather. After he saves an old, unsuspecting homeless man from a stray icicle, the same homeless man finds himself the prey of a desperately thirsty Morbius, the Living Vampire. Spider-Man intervenes and comes close to being Morbius’ next meal himself. However during the struggle another stray icicle falls and injures Morbius, saving Spider-Man. Spidey briefly contemplates killing Morbius but decides he can’t kill someone in cold blood. The injury however, didrestore Morbius’ senses long enough for him to gratefully flee the scene, seeking the blood of the guilty as opposed to the innocent. Spider-Man webs up a makeshift shelter for the homeless man and swings away.

I took a MASSIVE break between this story and the last one. I must say I thought this was quite good. The main problems I had with it are:

a)      It didn’t do a good job of portraying Spider-Man’s thoughts. By that I mean his thoughts were integrated into the text in such a way that it wasn’t very clear when he was talking and when the omniscient narrator was talking. I would’ve preferred it if his thoughts were in italicsand/or on a separate line, as opposed to being just part of a larger paragraph

b)      Its action heavy. The action is actually quite good, with a proper knuckle busting fight that is both descriptive enough that it conveys what is going on whilst at the same time not over doing it so the momentum of the fight keeps going. At the same time I did get lost because following an action scene in prose is both harder and usually less satisfying than in visual form. I can imagine though a good artists like either of the Romitas could take this action scene and turn it into a fun fight on the pages of a comic book

c)       The convenience of the icicle falling which I am more than willing to look passed

Apart from that I don’t have anything bad to say. Morbius is a character I’m pretty indifferent towards. I’ve never liked vampires personally and really my main experience with Morbius comes from the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon. So I know enough about the character but not enough (of his comic version) to actively like him much. Again, I don’t DISLIKE him, and here he gave Spider-Man a very good physical challenge (with Spider-Man taking quite a bit of battle damage) and Cox does an excellent job of selling Morbius’ desperation and bloodlust. It makes him a monster, and even immoral, yet also sympathetic.

Cox also does a good job of making you feel the weather in this story (okay maybe it’s because I read this during winter) but he does get across the cold and the discomfort and even the challenges it causes our hero. Plus of course the weather, Morbius and his actions (as well as Spider-Man’s, when he almost kills Morbius) make for a neat little bit of symbolism in title. ‘Cold Blood’; get it?

The other main things of note in this story are that it’s paced very briskly and doesn’t waste time. This is a main thing most of the good stories in this anthology have done well actually. They introduce enough elements and get to the point sharply.

Apart from that, exempting his thought captions for Spider-Man, Cox writes in a style which paints a clear and understandable picture in the reader’s mind and let’s them follow along most of the plot with ease, which is always a plus. This was just a well crafted story.

A-

hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger
hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger:

Ultimate Spider-Man : 09 Thunder on the Mountain - Richard Lee Byers
Synopsis: A kid named Davey finds Spider-Man in the woods after he is rescued from a gunman. Seeing Spidey is hurt Davey reluctantly takes him to his father’s cave where Spidey is patched up. Davey’s dad reveals he moved himself and his son into the wilderness when his wife was mugged and killed in the city; he felt society was crumbling around him. Spidey was in the woods looking for an alien weapon hidden there before some mercenaries and the Rhino found it. Spidey heads off to continue his search and Davey secretly follows him. Davey’s dad goes looking for him and helps Spidey fight the Rhino. After they win Davey’s dad resolves to move back into the civilised world.
This story was mostly a waste of time. The best things about it were three fold. 
First of all it was written in a style which made everything easy to follow, none of this confusing Nocentti mumbo jumbo style of writing. The second thing was that, even though it was prose, the fight between Spidey and Rhino was actually really cool and showed Spidey as a total bad ass in the way he took down the villain. The final thing is that Spider-Man’s humour is genuinely well handled in this story, presenting him as funny, but because it’s from an outside POV you can see how it could get annoying.
Nevertheless, the drawback of this comic is the fact that so much of it isn’t about Spider-Man. It’s about Davey and his dad and their weird, weird situation. I mean okay social commentary is one thing, but this was bland pointless social commentary so far removed from reality it’s hard to relate to it. I mean some scumbags kill this man’s wife therefore he moves into a cave with his son and the whole ‘moral argument’ is that he’s denying his son a life by having him live in a cave…yes, I can see how relevant this is to everyday life (WTF?).
The whole thing is presented from Davey’s POV which makes him, and by extension his dad, the main characters. Not only has this book employed this trick once too often but Spider-Man stories generally do this too often. I want a story where it is actually about SPIDER-MAN’s life and his character, I do not care about random civilians who will never be seen nor heard from again.
It’s seriously like Spider-Man himself is irrelevant to this plot, you could switch him and the Rhino out for lots of other characters. Part of that is taking him out of New York, which traditionally doesn’t work very well anyway, but when you place him in the woods (or wherever the Hell they are) it just becomes silly and unnatural for a Spider-Man story. I mean for one thing, Spidey is on the move for three days straight? No. I’m sorry but his motivation for going to those extremes is weak and I don’t buy he could even do it. I just find the idea that Peter in his suit going onwards for 3 days nonstop with no food in the woods ridiculous.
D+

hellzyeahthewebwieldingavenger:

Ultimate Spider-Man : 09 Thunder on the Mountain - Richard Lee Byers

Synopsis: A kid named Davey finds Spider-Man in the woods after he is rescued from a gunman. Seeing Spidey is hurt Davey reluctantly takes him to his father’s cave where Spidey is patched up. Davey’s dad reveals he moved himself and his son into the wilderness when his wife was mugged and killed in the city; he felt society was crumbling around him. Spidey was in the woods looking for an alien weapon hidden there before some mercenaries and the Rhino found it. Spidey heads off to continue his search and Davey secretly follows him. Davey’s dad goes looking for him and helps Spidey fight the Rhino. After they win Davey’s dad resolves to move back into the civilised world.

This story was mostly a waste of time. The best things about it were three fold.

First of all it was written in a style which made everything easy to follow, none of this confusing Nocentti mumbo jumbo style of writing. The second thing was that, even though it was prose, the fight between Spidey and Rhino was actually really cool and showed Spidey as a total bad ass in the way he took down the villain. The final thing is that Spider-Man’s humour is genuinely well handled in this story, presenting him as funny, but because it’s from an outside POV you can see how it could get annoying.

Nevertheless, the drawback of this comic is the fact that so much of it isn’t about Spider-Man. It’s about Davey and his dad and their weird, weird situation. I mean okay social commentary is one thing, but this was bland pointless social commentary so far removed from reality it’s hard to relate to it. I mean some scumbags kill this man’s wife therefore he moves into a cave with his son and the whole ‘moral argument’ is that he’s denying his son a life by having him live in a cave…yes, I can see how relevant this is to everyday life (WTF?).

The whole thing is presented from Davey’s POV which makes him, and by extension his dad, the main characters. Not only has this book employed this trick once too often but Spider-Man stories generally do this too often. I want a story where it is actually about SPIDER-MAN’s life and his character, I do not care about random civilians who will never be seen nor heard from again.

It’s seriously like Spider-Man himself is irrelevant to this plot, you could switch him and the Rhino out for lots of other characters. Part of that is taking him out of New York, which traditionally doesn’t work very well anyway, but when you place him in the woods (or wherever the Hell they are) it just becomes silly and unnatural for a Spider-Man story. I mean for one thing, Spidey is on the move for three days straight? No. I’m sorry but his motivation for going to those extremes is weak and I don’t buy he could even do it. I just find the idea that Peter in his suit going onwards for 3 days nonstop with no food in the woods ridiculous.

D+