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  1. #46
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Spectacular Spider-Man #246
    In this mostly single-issue story, some of Spider-Manís lamest enemies have teamed up. Itís ridiculous and fun since theyíre not very competent. Artist Luke Ross is able to show off his storytelling and comic timing, which werenít necessarily a given.
    JM Dematteis has a time-honored tradition of focusing on silliness after something grim. Editor Glenn Greenberg is the scripter over his plot, and does a good enough job that this feels like a standard JMD issue. It does set up a new development for two D-list villains that has some fun follow-ups.
    There may be some tonal inconsistencies between the silly main plot and the subplots. Flash has a grim scene when he realizes that his drinking has gone too far. A scene where Jonah encounters the new Jack OíLantern is funny, but sets up a dark cliffhanger. Kafka has troubles at Ravencroft after Chameleonís escape, and I like how Spidey is conflicted, recognizing that she means well but that her mistake has hurt him.
    A-


    Tonally, this was a little weird in an issue about Spider-Man fighting his lamest foes, right?

    Peter Parker Spider-Man #81
    Spider-Man and Betty Brant get involved in a case of a kidnapped child, while martial artist Shen Kuei AKA the Cat attacks New York Cityís underworld.
    Decent atmosphere and storytelling by Romita Jr. A crime story is in his wheelhouse, and there are some fun sequences like criminals ecstatic to see Spidey.
    It is a bit repetitive. This is not the first story where Peterís complaining about money now that heís back in college, so he takes on a new assignment. Usually references to Peterís lost child are handled with more subtlety.
    Itís getting to be annoying to have multiple series with their own crime wars, and itís a bit distracting to consider the implications of the Cat effortlessly beating the holy hell out of various crime figures. He had previously been a Shang Chi enemy, although his last appearance had been a decade earlier and this seems to be the first time he isnít written by Doeg Moench, so itís a deep cut. Itís a story Mackie wanted to tell. I just donít think itís very good.
    C

    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  2. #47
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Flashback month was a weird gimmick where every comic book had a #-1 issue set years earlier, typically seeding some kind of conflict in the main saga.



    Spectacular Spider-Man #-1
    This is a good use of the format to go into the formative experiences of a supporting character, to provide context for their struggles in the main book. In this case, JMD and Luke Ross explore early encounters between Peter Parker and Flash Thompson.

    The styleís a little weird, but it fits the nostalgic mood. The insight into Flash is excellent. The story is messy and complex in its depiction of addiction. It is one of the most ďmatureĒ (in the best sense of the word Spider-Man comics ever written.) And it does earn some big moments, like Peter's first encounter with Flash and his realization about the nickname.
    B+

    Sensational Spider-Man #-1

    This is pretty much just filler, exploring Peterís comic book fandom and since this was before Fantastic Four #1, heís a fan of Marvelís late 50s monster comics. Whether you want this to exist or not depends on whether you like the idea of Mike Wieringo and Uncle Ben fighting Silver Age Marvel monsters. I think itís fine that this exists.
    B
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  3. #48
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Peter Parker Spider-Man #-1
    Itís an okay idea to have a spotlight on the Stacy brothers, especially with Arthur Stacy & his children becoming major supporting characters. Itís a story about them getting into conflict with Norman Osborn, due to his connection to a villain who is a proto-Goblin.

    Fill-in artist Dan Fraga has a bit on an anime style that was in vogue at the time, but heís not just on the level of Joe Mad or Pat Lee. Thereís an amateurish quality that extends to the writing. It all seems so stiff. Howard Mackie is known as a writer very reliant on his artists, and this shows what happens when he doesnít have someone on the level of John Romita Jr or Mark Texeira. His biggest talent might be giving star artists flexibility and that just didnít happen here.
    The depiction of Captain Stacy as antagonistic towards Norman contradicts his earlier characterization when they were friends.
    And despite the promise made in the issue we never see the Proto-Goblin again. Which is fine by me.
    D

    Amazing Spider-Man #-1

    We get another story about Peter loving comic books when he was a teen, and Bennetís cartoony style for the dream scenes fits okay. It is a bit of an artistic contrast with flashbacks to the Daily Bugle, and the New York crime scene. I do like the connection between Fortunato and a pivotal scene in Daredevil: The Man Without Fear. I also like that Fortunato has a bigger role in an Amazing Spider-Man comic, since the concurrent crime sagas in this book and Peter Parker Spider-Man are kinda jarring.
    Thereís also a three page sequence about Peterís stats before he got bitten by a spider, which is fun, but shows how this issue just seems very disjointed and tossed together. There is still a message about the need for someone like Spider-Man to answer the title question "Where have all the heroes gone?"
    B
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  4. #49
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Sensational Spider-Man #16-18
    Itís a structurally weird story with three different artists, separated by the flashback issue, but then thereís the way three different stories interact. The Vultureís back in town, and someone stole the Prowlerís gear. A back-up saga in the first two issues features DK, an obscure Ben Reilly foe whose method of killing people reminds Peter of how things ended for Ben. And the last issue brings it all together as DK interferes in a fight between Spider-Man and the Vulture.
    Thereís some good stuff, but itís kind of a mess. I do like the dynamic of Peter having to work with a really green reporter. Anna Watson is no Aunt May, but there is a decent scene of MJ trying to cover for Peter. I like how the Savage Land saga got buried to Page 17, and the dynamic of Peter being more assertive against Jonah; theyíve worked together for a decade and Peter is confident enough to know when he can call the shots.
    The intersections between the different superhero plots are a bit convenient, and it also feels weird in the context of all the other Spider-Man titles. Especially when Kafkaís still in Ravencroft. She seemed to get fired in Spectacular Spider-Man, and given her screw-ups there, it was probably the right call.
    B-



    Amazing Spider-Man #425
    This issue does sell the significant of a rematch between Spider-Man and an silver age villain who is major but not in his top five. The basics work: Electro got an upgrade from a comic boss, but heís more interesting in resolving old slights than making his bosses money. Spider-Man is still pissed after how the last fight went, when a guy whose life he saved made him beg for his own life. He asks his new buddy X-Man for advice, and the younger version of Cable recommends a lobotomy for Electro.
    The execution of the A-plot isnít bad. Skroce is an acquired taste, and he wasnít able to meet schedules, but thereís an energy to his work. I like the connection to other titles. The assault on Jonah in Spectacular #246 is relevant here, both to affecting Peterís mood as well as the subplot of the worst problem in the Robinson marriage.
    But it is a bit meh. It seems like the raw material could have been an all-time great Spider-Man comic, but the result here is a comic thatís fine.
    B

    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  5. #50
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Spectacular Spider-Man #247-249
    This three parter seems to exist mainly to move along subplots. J Jonah Jameson recovers from a vicious beating. Flash Thompson struggles with alcoholism and has ugly encounters with his family. A new version of the Jack OíLantern calls himself Mad Jack, and seems to have supernatural powers. Kraven the Hunter seems to have returned. Norman Osborn makes a move. Peterís vertigo keeps acting up. And someone seems to have the ability to control John Jameson, which leads to the closest thing to a standard A-plot for this set of issues.

    The result is that these issues are kind of a mixed bag. Luke Ross is okay as an artist, and decent with facial expressions at times, but he doesnít quite have the subtlety of DeMatteisí strongest collaborators like Sal Buscema, Mark Bagley or Mike Zeck, and some of his decisions (like cheesecake sequences with Marla Madison taking a shower) donít quite gel with the serious, psychological tone. A subplot of Mary Jane getting aggravated all the times Peter has to save people as Spider-Man is rather lightweight. There is some decent character development for Jonah, Flash and their families.
    B

    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  6. #51
    I'm at least a C-Lister! exile001's Avatar
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    I'm as big of a Sal Buscema fan as anyone, but I don't know if "subtlety" is a word I'd often use to describe his work. Lol.

    Keep the reviews coming, I'm really enjoying revisiting this period.
    "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!!!

  7. #52
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Peter Parker Spider-Man #82-84
    This is an odd stretch of issues in which Spider-Man is hit hard by vertigo, and ends up fighting both the Shocker and the Juggernaut, while the Friends of Humanity (an anti-mutant hate group) starts making inroads in Empire State University.
    There’s some good stuff. John Romita Jr remains an impressive artist, and this arc lets him experiment. I like the idea of anti-mutant prejudice affecting the Spider-Man comics. There are some decent character moments, like Peter explaining to Paul Stacy why a door that he had webbed up was so hard to open. Paul’s suspicion of mutants connecting to his feelings about Spider-Man makes sense. There’s a solid scene where MJ has a lonely conversation with a marriage counselor, because Peter’s doing more important things, and it does get to the experimentation that was always part of the Spider-Man comics.

    The depiction of the Friends of Humanity is quite clumsy. This is a story that tries to tackle serious issues like discrimination, and that message is lost with all the assaults and efforts at murder committed by mutants and their allies.
    The bad guys are not depicted well. First Spider-Man stumbles into a fight with the Shocker while he’s struggling to get down from a building, which makes sense as a potential threat, but the execution sucks. He later stumbles into another fight with the Juggernaut, where they mention Marvel Team Up #150 but not the more famous Juggernaut encounter- a lost opportunity with John Romita Jr on board. The fight itself isn’t that interesting, padded out until Juggernaut realizes that Spider-Man’s not actually getting in his way.

    The big vertigo mystery is resolved on the last two pages. That scene has a good sense of Spider-Man’s voice, but a god-awful sense of timing.
    C (Grading is weird in that there’s decent John Romita Jr art, but that also suggests that an artist’s valuable time was wasted here. It is worth reading once, so that's my criteria for a C.)
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  8. #53
    Astonishing Member CaptainUniverse's Avatar
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    I wonder how much of this era of Spider-Man has been collected in trades. I know Identity Crisis was collected in a single volume but I am not sure what else would have this era collected in it.
    "The Enigma Force is not a tool to be manipulated by mortals. The Enigma Force comes to those it deems worthy. What temerity, what arrogance, makes you think you are worthy? Have you not all made mistakes? Unforgiveable ones?" - Captain Universe

    "Call me an Avenging Angel, Baron, come to safeguard Earth...call me CAPTAIN UNIVERSE!" - Ray Coffin

    "You're my heart, Mary Jane Watson...you're my jackpot." - Peter Parker

  9. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainUniverse View Post
    I wonder how much of this era of Spider-Man has been collected in trades. I know Identity Crisis was collected in a single volume but I am not sure what else would have this era collected in it.
    Gathering of Five, Final Chapter, Spider-Hunt (preceding Identity Crisis), and Hobgoblin Lives (which contains the SSM story Goblin at the Gates) I think are it for Spider-man-centric trades (and I think all of them are out of print). There's an issue of ASM in the second X-Man collection, and probably a few other strays like that, but I can't think of anything else . . .
    Blue text denotes sarcasm

  10. #55
    Wig Over The Hoodie Style IamnotJudasTraveller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post


    Peter Parker Spider-Man #82-84
    I think the only noteworthy thing about this three-parter is how Mackie and Romita decided to use Judas Traveller for a joke. I'd been meaning to bring that up for a long while now but never saw the opening - this is a good one as any. The Shocker starts tailing Spider-Man in the first part, but his silhouette is literally rendered as Judas', with long flowing hair and whatnot. He also keeps going on about wanting to meet Spider-Man "to talk about the past".

    Then when he does show up, pretty much all you see is just him suited up as usual, he drops his flowery language about catching up with the past and pretty much goes on about wanting to get rid of Spider-Man for good. Well, unless Mackie WANTED to do a Traveller story and editorial slapped his hand or something but a little too late in the game and he had to pivot. I noticed a few glaring misconnects between DeFalco and Skroce when I reread some of the issues, as I had only gone through them back in the day when they first released, and it's curious to wonder if there was some friction.

    One way or another, this gag aside, not only is it a really milquetoast story dealing with Spider-Man, he himself is terribly inefficient and instead of it being a fluke due to his condition with the vertigo, Mackie's string on having Peter not score much of a win will continue for at least two more arcs IIRC.
    Discovering/CONFESSING! the nature of evil... one retcon at a time.

  11. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainUniverse View Post
    I wonder how much of this era of Spider-Man has been collected in trades. I know Identity Crisis was collected in a single volume but I am not sure what else would have this era collected in it.
    Beside the trades mentioned, you can find most of the ASM and Sensational issues on Comixology. Spec and adjectivess aren’t collected (I think Spec might have 1 or 2 random issues uploaded). It’s frustrating. Not sure where MisterMets gets his copies, but it’s nice to see some of these old books again.

  12. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    [

    The big vertigo mystery is resolved on the last two pages. That scene has a good sense of Spider-Manís voice, but a god-awful sense of timing.
    C (Grading is weird in that thereís decent John Romita Jr art, but that also suggests that an artistís valuable time was wasted here. It is worth reading once, so that's my criteria for a C.)
    Maybe Iím a cheap date, but I enjoyed the issue with Devon. It might be my nostalgia due to the Daily Grind cast largely disappearing as soon as Ben Reilly died, but I thought it was a decent issue. No ďNothing Can Stop the JuggarnautĒ of course, which itís copying/homaging but enjoyable.

    And I still canít decide if having Peterís like 6 month long vertigo subplot being resolved as a mundane inner-ear infection to be a lame anticlimax or an ingenious subversion of expectations. Probably a bit of both.
    Last edited by HypnoHustler; 09-25-2023 at 02:56 PM.

  13. #58
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Spider-Man Unlimited #17
    Peter investigates a mystery where someone is donating high-tech custom ties to orphanages, and he realizes that is a likely connection to Mendell Stromm, the Robot Master, who came back from the dead at the tail end of the Clone Saga. Meanwhile, Arthur Stacy decides itís time for a chat.
    The story takes advantage of the double-length format, so that we donít immediately need to get to the traditional superhero fight scene. I like the procedural aspects as Peter & company actually do some investigative work. It also works to tie up this loose end. Peter has some solid interactions with Betty Brant, and interacts more with Arthur Stacy than he has in the main titles.
    Editor Glenn Greenberg takes over as writer. Heís okay. Joe Bennet does the art. I liked him better on ASM 422-423 but heís fine. When the big fight scene occurs it is quite abrupt. And a lot of this story is things theyíve seen plenty of times in other titles, like Peter being late because of the stuff he has to do as Spider-Man, or being a little morose around children given his recent loss (this does lead to a good scene for Betty realizing what sheís putting Peter through.) It often feels clunky. It's not terrible, but it's not impressive either.
    B-



    Sensational Spider-Man #19-20
    A young woman appears to be possessed by the Living Monolith. This has a slightly odd history, initially appearing during the classic Roy Thomas/ Neal Adams X-Men run, and then returning in a two parter in the Claremont/ Byrne Marvel Team Up run (which has probably developed a higher profile in the last few years than it had at this time when Dezago & company decided it was worth bringing this particular baddie back.
    Richard Case is the artist, and heís a decent fill-in for Mike Wieringo. Their styles are similar enough, and he is a solid storyteller, which is my rule for determining if someone with an atypical style was a good artist. He seems like someone who would be at home at an animated series tie-in, although those books probably donít pay as well as a Spider-Man satellite.

    This is essentially a story where Spider-Man gets involved in someone elseís adventure. That makes sense when you have four ongoing monthly titles, along with the quarterly Unlimited series and various one-shots mini-series and annuals. Itís largely filler, with Dezago having a good sense of Spideyís voice. The villain is a bit cheesecake at times, and it ultimately ends up being a superhero origin story, although not one anyone cared to revisit.
    B-
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  14. #59
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypnoHustler View Post
    Maybe I’m a cheap date, but I enjoyed the issue with Devon. It might be my nostalgia due to the Daily Grind cast largely disappearing as soon as Ben Reilly died, but I thought it was a decent issue. No “Nothing Can Stop the Juggarnaut” of course, which it’s copying/homaging but enjoyable.

    And I still can’t decide if having Peter’s like 6 month long vertigo subplot being resolved as a mundane inner-ear infection to be a lame anticlimax or an ingenious subversion of expectations. Probably a bit of both.
    I think they could have made it work, but the execution was just so lazy, handling it in the last two pages of the comic.

    Spidey did get an ulcer in the early 70s under Stan Lee, so the concept of getting vertigo from an ear infection isn't terrible.

    Quote Originally Posted by IamnotJudasTraveller View Post
    I think the only noteworthy thing about this three-parter is how Mackie and Romita decided to use Judas Traveller for a joke. I'd been meaning to bring that up for a long while now but never saw the opening - this is a good one as any. The Shocker starts tailing Spider-Man in the first part, but his silhouette is literally rendered as Judas', with long flowing hair and whatnot. He also keeps going on about wanting to meet Spider-Man "to talk about the past".

    Then when he does show up, pretty much all you see is just him suited up as usual, he drops his flowery language about catching up with the past and pretty much goes on about wanting to get rid of Spider-Man for good. Well, unless Mackie WANTED to do a Traveller story and editorial slapped his hand or something but a little too late in the game and he had to pivot. I noticed a few glaring misconnects between DeFalco and Skroce when I reread some of the issues, as I had only gone through them back in the day when they first released, and it's curious to wonder if there was some friction.

    One way or another, this gag aside, not only is it a really milquetoast story dealing with Spider-Man, he himself is terribly inefficient and instead of it being a fluke due to his condition with the vertigo, Mackie's string on having Peter not score much of a win will continue for at least two more arcs IIRC.
    I did notice that the silhouette version of the Shocker had long hair, but I didn't think about the Judas Traveler reference.

    That is probably what they were going for, but I didn't notice since I knew that Judas Traveler disappeared from Marvel until recent X-Men issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by exile001 View Post
    I'm as big of a Sal Buscema fan as anyone, but I don't know if "subtlety" is a word I'd often use to describe his work. Lol.

    Keep the reviews coming, I'm really enjoying revisiting this period.
    Fair point. Let's say that Sal Buscema can depict nuance, or various levels of emotional states.
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  15. #60
    Wig Over The Hoodie Style IamnotJudasTraveller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    I did notice that the silhouette version of the Shocker had long hair, but I didn't think about the Judas Traveler reference.

    That is probably what they were going for, but I didn't notice since I knew that Judas Traveler disappeared from Marvel until recent X-Men issues.
    The funniest thing to me is that back in the day, when I began reading, I had the luck of the draw of all Spidey comics I managed to get my hands on to never feature an unmasked rendition of the Shocker. So I went "well, okay, he might look like that".

    And then I find out many decades after the fact that the guy has consistently looked like this in the mainline universe. I'm sure a long haired Shocker might have happened here and there at one point, he's been around for literal decades as well. But even the mustache? The flowery language?


    It was more likely some sort of joke since at that point no one had lost love for J.T. (well, DeMatteis probably did, but the word was out in the street to run as far away from stuff from the Clone Saga as much as possible) and DeFalco was just hurrying along with Greenberg's suggestions to explain him away. Still, for any first time readers (much like myself), you just went "so, why was that guy a big deal and then he was unceremoniously dropped like a stone"? I don't really think Traveller'd become one of the greats in Spidey's rogues or anything, but his exit left a whole lot to be desired and this was (still is, a bit!) a whole lot more confusing than anything else at the time.

    This also has nothing to do with anything, but I've just thought about it for a while that were it up to me, I'd honestly title the "intermediary period", such as it is, "The Osborn Years". It kinda crept back up into the late stages of the relaunch, but the guy was literally inescapable at the time (and I do think the books suffered for it - it's one thing to have an overarching antagonist, but this seemed overkill IMO).
    Last edited by IamnotJudasTraveller; 09-26-2023 at 04:26 PM.
    Discovering/CONFESSING! the nature of evil... one retcon at a time.

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