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  1. #31
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Spectacular Spider-Man #242-245
    Here’s DeMatteis and Ross’ big Chameleon story. It works as a follow-up to Kraven’s Last Hunt, since Marvel really hadn’t explored how Chameleon reacted to the suicide of someone he was close to (up until this point, it was forgotten that Kraven teamed up with the Chameleon in his first appearance.) The Chameleon walks a fine line between pathetic and dangerous. His desperation makes him unpredictable, and I wonder if there’s something meta, in that he has the potential to go further, but he’s largely incapable of it.

    There are two decent traps for Spider-Man. The Chameleon initially tries to convince him that his entire life is a lie (and the sequence where Spidey is captured works: it’s ridiculous but it leads to Spider-Man putting his guard down.) Later, Chameleon hunts down Mary Jane, and her response to the new threat, when Peter warns her and when the villain actually shows up at her doorstep, might be her highlight in this period of comics. And Spider-Man gets a "great weight" style sequence where he has to push himself to the physical limits, and it feels fresh.

    There are some decent subplots. Flash hits a quarter-life crisis, and the story isn’t over after Spider-Man gives him a pep talk. He makes some boneheaded decisions, but that’s hardly out of character. Meanwhile, loser superheroes start teaming up, which may connect with one reason I don’t find the narration as offputting as I did with the previous issue. It’s not taking itself too seriously. A new Jack O’Lantern is creepy, although nothing really comes of that particular story.
    I will note that Kafka deserves to go to jail for her stunt. Spidey is pissed off about it, but if anything he's underselling the fraud she committed, and the risks she took.
    A-
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  2. #32
    Wig Over The Hoodie Style IamnotJudasTraveller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    Spectacular Spider-Man #242-245
    Here’s DeMatteis and Ross’ big Chameleon story. It works as a follow-up to Kraven’s Last Hunt, since Marvel really hadn’t explored how Chameleon reacted to the suicide of someone he was close to (up until this point, it was forgotten that Kraven teamed up with the Chameleon in his first appearance.)
    Not to go all "akshewlly..." on you, but we did have an exploration of Chameleon after KLH in "Pursuit", which was the immediate fallout of the Roboparents storyline. Chameleon reveals he even engineered the entire plot as revenge for Kraven, and since DeMatteis is doing the writing on the final chapter, you get his unmistakable brand of meltdowns and desperation when Peter gets to then-Smerdyakov.

    I agree with the arc review as well. It's "Chameleon's Last Hunt", in a sense, down to the 'unconventional' way in which he'd have bested Spider-Man - only DeMatteis doesn't belabor the point and lets the story run its natural course, so it doesn't feel like anything is glossed over or too extended.
    Discovering/CONFESSING! the nature of evil... one retcon at a time.

  3. #33
    I'm at least a C-Lister! exile001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    He remembers his origin which is fine, but it reminds me a lot about DeFalco’s take on Dr Octopus’ origin in Spider-Man Unlimited #3 right down to the abusive father, and sensitive mother.
    I hadn't noticed this before, and you're dead right. It's fun to flesh out these characters (even though I like to think of Max as just a blue collar scumbag) but it's definitely better to keep them unique.

    While I'm not a big fan of JMD's work on Mysterio from Webspinners, a rare miss IMO, at least it is was different and felt in keeping with that character.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    Spectacular Spider-Man #242-245
    I really love this story. It does a great job of balancing a threat from a classic foe, a bunch of subplots, lays the groundwork for the next big arc and sets up future directions for the series.

    When I first read this I didn't know about Kraven's Last Hunt, or much of anything outside the 90's Animated Series and some of the early 90's Clone Saga comics I'd got as UK reprints, but I never felt lost or burdened by the weight of trying to piece things together through vague context. JMD writes a layered story that was as easy for me to read then, knowing little, as it was in later reads with full context.

    Quote Originally Posted by IamnotJudasTraveller View Post
    Chameleon reveals he even engineered the entire plot as revenge for Kraven, and since DeMatteis is doing the writing on the final chapter, you get his unmistakable brand of meltdowns and desperation when Peter gets to then-Smerdyakov.
    I won't defend the nonsense of the robot parents saga, it's dreadful, but that final issue of Pursuit is a damn good comic.
    Last edited by exile001; 09-06-2023 at 02:13 AM.
    "Has Sariel summoned you here, Azrael? Have you come to witness the miracle of your brethren arriving on Earth?"

    "I WILL MIX THE ASHES OF YOUR BONES WITH SALT AND USE THEM TO ENSURE THE EARTH THE TEMPLARS TILLED NEVER BEARS FRUIT AGAIN!"

    "*sigh* I hoped it was for the miracle."

    Dan Watters' Azrael was incredible, a constant delight and perhaps too good for this world (but not the Forth). For the love of St. Dumas, DC, give us more!!!

  4. #34
    Better than YOU! Alan2099's Avatar
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    I won't defend the nonsense of the robot parents saga, it's dreadful, but that final issue of Pursuit is a damn good comic.
    I'll also add there's some good build up before we find out they are robots, with them acting suspicious, Peter thinking everything is okay, Aunt May not fulling trusting them.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by IamnotJudasTraveller View Post
    Not to go all "akshewlly..." on you, but we did have an exploration of Chameleon after KLH in "Pursuit", which was the immediate fallout of the Roboparents storyline. Chameleon reveals he even engineered the entire plot as revenge for Kraven, and since DeMatteis is doing the writing on the final chapter, you get his unmistakable brand of meltdowns and desperation when Peter gets to then-Smerdyakov.

    I agree with the arc review as well. It's "Chameleon's Last Hunt", in a sense, down to the 'unconventional' way in which he'd have bested Spider-Man - only DeMatteis doesn't belabor the point and lets the story run its natural course, so it doesn't feel like anything is glossed over or too extended.
    DeMatteis did a Sensational Annual with Shawn McManus right before this run on Spectacular called "Kraven's First Hunt" where he delved more deeply and explicitly into the connection between Kraven and the Chameleon.

  6. #36
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Spider-Man: The Hobgoblin Lives #1-3
    This mini-series is probably one of the most important projects from this era of Spider-Man comics, in terms of effects from subsequent stories. Jason Macendale, the most recent Hobgoblin, is on trial for his multiple murders and announces that the original Hobgoblin was Ned Leeds. This comes at a time for her widow Betty, and her friend Peter Parker. And it draws the attention of the true Hobgoblin, who makes a new play for power. Spider-Man has a new complication to his secret identity when several members of the supporting cast get involved in the investigation.

    I do have to give the story credit for being entertaining, with lots of exposition. Itís a conclusion to a mystery where previous chapters came out decades before, so readers will have forgotten most of it. The twists involve secret imposters and brainwashing, which makes it more complicated. It works because weíve got reporters trying to solve a mystery, but Stern adds one of the biggest surprises in the first issue in the middle of an exposition, when Mary Jane asks Peter a single question, and he realizes that heís been wrong about everything.

    This is one of the best takes on Peterís secret identity, showing the complications when heís gotta work with people who know him as Spider-Man and Peter. He feels bad when Betty has to explain a tragic story a second time, and has a clever trick to make Betty think he and Spider-Man are at different parts of the same apartment at the same time. This is also probably Bettyís high point, as she stands up to her husbandís killer. Itís a retcon that serves to make some of the earlier comics better.
    It took a while for Marvel to find a hook with the Hobgoblin after Norman Osbornís return and the resolution of the mystery, though that doesnít necessarily mean anything about the quality of this story.
    A
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  7. #37
    Wig Over The Hoodie Style IamnotJudasTraveller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJT View Post
    DeMatteis did a Sensational Annual with Shawn McManus right before this run on Spectacular called "Kraven's First Hunt" where he delved more deeply and explicitly into the connection between Kraven and the Chameleon.
    The thing that stuck out the most to me in that story was the art (in a good way). The rest of the plot proper seemed to hit much the same notes as the end to "Pursuit". However, the moment where Aunt May pauses in worry, indicating DeMatteis already playing with his notion she's always known his secret, is a very nice scene.
    Discovering/CONFESSING! the nature of evil... one retcon at a time.

  8. #38
    Spectacular Member JTait's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exile001 View Post

    I won't defend the nonsense of the robot parents saga, it's dreadful, but that final issue of Pursuit is a damn good comic.
    Agreed on all counts. There are a few great stories buried among the heaps of rubbish during that era. The final chapter of Pursuit is one of them, and is often unfairly maligned as a result of it's connection to the ridiculous robo-parents saga.

  9. #39
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Spider-Man: Dead Manís Hand
    This may be an example of how overexposed Spider-Man is at this point. Itís four monthlies, two quarterly books, guest-starr appearances and then standalone projects like this and the Hobgoblin Lives. And Iím not even covering the best Spider-Man comic: Untold Tales of Spider-Man. The basic idea is that former B-lister Carrion is back, and Spider-Man has to stop him, while uncovering secrets necessitated by the Clone Saga.
    This issue recaps Spider-Manís past, using the idea that Peter misses Aunt May. A scene with silver age bad guys includes Scorcher, an obvious bid to elevate Untold Tales. Peterís musing about how heís going to have make money to go to college with MJ, which sets this a few months before other comics with an April cover date. It does have a bit of a generic feel.
    Carrionís back. Spideyís creeped out by him. Darick Robertsonís gone in a different direction but I do like his Spider-Man. Heís a good storyteller, and thereís a grittiness ot his style.
    It takes a while for the story to get going, but there is a solid complication when Spider-Man finally encounters his enemy.
    Spider-Man has a clever fix to a problem with possessed New Yorkers. There are okay complications when SHIELD and a silver age B-lister get involved. The appearance of an A-lister isnít as satisfying, and it does seem that this story largely exists to resolve post-Clone Saga threads about Carrion, and the conclusion isnít all that satisfying.
    B-



    Amazing Spider-Man #424
    Elektra has her first encounter with Spider-Man, as she gets involved in this titleís gang war. Spider-Manís a bit weakened by the sudden vertigo heís faced in other titles.
    The story is rather generic. Thereís an interesting take on Elektra as spiritual and wise, which makes for an okay contrast with Spidey, but it also makes the ninjas her seem so underwhelming, especially compared to what they were like in Frank Millerís Daredevil and how theyíve been in comics by Bendis, Millar and Aaron. There is a cute scene when Peter is caught in his house by Aunt Anna when heís supposed to be in class, and uses his legitimate illness as the excuse. And I like the continuing marital tension between Robbie and his wife, especially her different take on a cowardly moment by Jonah. This issue does have a good sense of Spider-Man's emotional state after some recent setbacks and unknown medical issues. It's satisfying to see him cut looses.

    For whatever reason, I liked Joe Bennet more on the Electro story. It seems kinda garish this time around, and Iím not sure why- itís the same inker and colorist. Maybe I think heís better suited to classic villains than ninjas.
    B
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  10. #40
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    These reviews are fun to read (especially since I can’t seem to find the originals and most of these runs aren’t collected). I agree with most of your grades with only minor differences on some. It was a pretty ho-hum period with nothing fantastic happening but nothing too egregious either. But the fact it was so overlooked at the time almost makes it more interesting in retrospect.

    Well… except the last 2-3 months when Byrne messed everything up. That will always be awful.

  11. #41
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Untold Tales of Spider-Man Ď97 Annual
    I guess I should cover the one crossover with Untold Tales of Spider-Man, which isnít a terrible idea. The untold tale shows an early encounter between Spider-Man and a new villain, setting up a rematch in the present day Marvel Universe. And it works as a bigger than usual Untold Tales story, with the villain attracting the attention of various Marvel heroes.
    Tom Lyle doesnít seem to match the usual retro vibe of Untold Tales. But this does feel like a silver age annual. The Parker luck has a decent complication when Spidey gets doused in chemical waste.
    Extras include a gallery of villains from Untold Tales, a Fred Hembeck short about Lilí Petey (where he accidentally makes the childhood of another Marvel hero miserable) and parody covers.,
    B+



    Amazing Spider-Man Ď97 Annual

    In the follow-up, Sundown is released from jail, the only Spider-Man villain to ever serve a full sentence. He gets sketchy offers from an Oscorp stooge, and former crime figure Lobo, a deep cut from the Lee/ Ditko run. Spider-Man tries to keep an eye on him, after realizing that heís not that bad.
    Tom Lyle is still the artist, but the coloring is much more typical of the late 90s. Roger Stern writes this one. The characterís look is a bit weird. It doesnít match a dork who worked at Oscorp, even with ten years in prison, but you could say that heís trying too hard and thatís part of his identity. I do find that hard to believe in some scenes.
    This is more the new guyís story, along with the connection to Lobo, but it does work for where Spidey is at this point. There are some decent sequences, and thereís a good sense of drama with Spider-Man unaware of why Sundown may pose a serious threat to him.
    B
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  12. #42
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypnoHustler View Post
    These reviews are fun to read (especially since I canít seem to find the originals and most of these runs arenít collected). I agree with most of your grades with only minor differences on some. It was a pretty ho-hum period with nothing fantastic happening but nothing too egregious either. But the fact it was so overlooked at the time almost makes it more interesting in retrospect.

    WellÖ except the last 2-3 months when Byrne messed everything up. That will always be awful.
    Thanks for the kind words.

    I'm not looking forward to where all this leads, or a next section on the relaunch. At that point, for variety's sake, I might just shift to a readthrough of Ultimate Spider-Man at the same time.

    Quote Originally Posted by RJT View Post
    DeMatteis did a Sensational Annual with Shawn McManus right before this run on Spectacular called "Kraven's First Hunt" where he delved more deeply and explicitly into the connection between Kraven and the Chameleon.
    I liked that one, but it seems so clearly a set-up to the Spectacular Spider-Man story that I'm counting it as part of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by IamnotJudasTraveller View Post
    The only context you need is that as New York was Kingpin-less for a good while, Fortunato was the best-placed man to replace him, which half explains his top-dog behavior Mackie's books depicted. And his son isn't fond of his Hydra alliance and that's why he was always more of a rogue who helped the good guys now and then.

    Regardless, at the time I remember also not caring for this storyline at all and I agree with your grading. The story just seemed all over the place, juggling too many threads at once. It also kind of solidified Mackie's bad guy speak to me, where they try to sound tough but they just sound callous, uncaring and uninterested, ranging from Hammerhead's threats to Peter to Crown's impotent rambling about killing everyone in the building.
    My main issue is that the crime plots in Amazing Spider-Man seem to contradict what's going on in Peter Parker Spider-Man. A shame is that with a little bit of coordination, the material could have been elevated with a sense that these crime figures exist in the same world.
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  13. #43
    Wig Over The Hoodie Style IamnotJudasTraveller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    My main issue is that the crime plots in Amazing Spider-Man seem to contradict what's going on in Peter Parker Spider-Man. A shame is that with a little bit of coordination, the material could have been elevated with a sense that these crime figures exist in the same world.
    At least at the time, it seemed to me like they didn't contradict one another too hard - Hammerhead is going head on against Fortunato, who's courting Hydra. Rose is keeping himself busy with Black Tarantula, and all of these threads do come at a head in a few months' time in Amazing proper. Of course, I've only read these around 25 years ago, so I'm likely not remembering the facts that make Mackie's take not gel all too well with DeFalco's - even fellow staffers like Greenberg said Mackie wasn't much of a 'continuity' person and just wanted to focus more on character conflicts he was writing.

    Quote Originally Posted by HypnoHustler View Post
    I agree with most of your grades with only minor differences on some. It was a pretty ho-hum period with nothing fantastic happening but nothing too egregious either.
    Me, myself, I felt like the first months were pretty strong with DeFalco's start on Black Tarantula, and even Mackie's "Shoc" stuff had a Peter that just seemed glad to be Spidey. Then it just seemed to be a Saturday Morning Cartoon where nothing ever happens, and when did something did happen, Norman came back as Lex Luthor and I'm just kinda going "we doing this again?", and it didn't happen that the staff seemed fixated on making Spider-Man lose more often than win - he has his Electro thing which Mets already reviewed here, then he loses in Mackie's run more than once, and at one point only ever survives because Norman bails him out by paying his assailants. At this point, money was running very thin in the NotTravellers' household and I had to stop reading comics right until '04 or so - but when I checked stores, I saw Spider-Hunt and whaddayaknow, Spidey got his ass handed to him AGAIN. I was just going "I'm not going to read this stuff if he barely ekes out a win, they're not getting back to his daughter, and keep on pretending Ben doesn't exist".
    Discovering/CONFESSING! the nature of evil... one retcon at a time.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by IamnotJudasTraveller View Post
    At least at the time, it seemed to me like they didn't contradict one another too hard - Hammerhead is going head on against Fortunato, who's courting Hydra. Rose is keeping himself busy with Black Tarantula, and all of these threads do come at a head in a few months' time in Amazing proper. Of course, I've only read these around 25 years ago, so I'm likely not remembering the facts that make Mackie's take not gel all too well with DeFalco's - even fellow staffers like Greenberg said Mackie wasn't much of a 'continuity' person and just wanted to focus more on character conflicts he was writing.

    Me, myself, I felt like the first months were pretty strong with DeFalco's start on Black Tarantula, and even Mackie's "Shoc" stuff had a Peter that just seemed glad to be Spidey. Then it just seemed to be a Saturday Morning Cartoon where nothing ever happens, and when did something did happen, Norman came back as Lex Luthor and I'm just kinda going "we doing this again?", and it didn't happen that the staff seemed fixated on making Spider-Man lose more often than win - he has his Electro thing which Mets already reviewed here, then he loses in Mackie's run more than once, and at one point only ever survives because Norman bails him out by paying his assailants. At this point, money was running very thin in the NotTravellers' household and I had to stop reading comics right until '04 or so - but when I checked stores, I saw Spider-Hunt and whaddayaknow, Spidey got his ass handed to him AGAIN. I was just going "I'm not going to read this stuff if he barely ekes out a win, they're not getting back to his daughter, and keep on pretending Ben doesn't exist".
    I mostly echo your thoughts in my own mini review of this period on the first page of this thread. I did like the Chameleon story in Spec (Kafka’s somewhat out of character malfeasance notwithstanding) and Sensational was pretty good at keeping the candle lit for Ben even if the other titles weren’t.

  15. #45
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Spider-Man Unlimited #16
    Betty Brant is taken hostage while investigating in Latveria during a tumultuous time when Doctor Doom was presumed dead. Spider-Man teams up with Silver Sable to get to Latveria, and fights the Dreadknight to save her.
    Once again thereís something about Joe Bennetís art here that just rubs me the wrong way. It seems like a clone of Image guys. The generic 90s henchmen donít help, although I do like his take on Dreadknight.
    Thereís a decent action scene with Spidey taking on Latverian smugglers. He gets in some good jokes. Jonahís guilt over whatís happened to Betty is appropriate for the story. Itís handled in a way that is surprising and appropriate for the characters. Spider-Man and Silver Sable have a chilly repertoire that works. The Roxxon shenanigans tie into a recent Sensational Spider-Man arc. The basic concept is solid, but the execution leaves something to be desired.
    B-



    Peter Parker Spider-Man Annual Ď97
    Spider-Man has an encounter with a seemingly possessed man who turns out to be Glory Grantís cousin. Shotgun saves Glory from another possessed man, but suspects that she was involved in the destruction of drug evidence on her vacation cruise. Spider-Manís fight with a zombie interrupts the two, and it turns out that Glory is later possessed by Calypso.
    Artist Shaun McManus has a cartoony style which isnít my cup of tea. It seems kinda clumsy, and the wrong fit for a story about voodoo possession.
    Gloryís involvement in so many facets of the story is a bit weird, but I do like that she hates Spider-Man more than anyone in the supporting cast other than Jonah (due to some bad things that happened in the Tombstone saga.) Thereís a specific dynamic that makes her different from Peterís coworkers. Peter has a decent scene when he protects Gloryís cousin from media attention. From the timing, I wouldnít mind if this story wasnít written to set up Calypsoís role in an upcoming Spectacular Spider-Man story. Itís not quite filler, but it does feel inessential.
    C-
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

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