Friday, 7 August 2009

Archaic Spider-Man Reviews: Number 61

Dark Hunt! Dark Hunt! Dark Hunt!
Try saying that 5 times fast without swearing.

Whew, time for a showdown, right? Well yes, in the second slot, since because of pacing and the stories being drawn out far too long to take up more issues, nothing much happens in the first and third slots this week. Ah well, it's a good-ish showdown, though maybe not good enough to be justifiable as the only real action in the entire AstonSpid.

So essentially I'll get mildly peeved. After the jump.

Slot one is the third part of Back In Black. At the end of the last issue Peter threatened to kill Wilson Fisk (the Kingpin) for hiring the hit on Aunt May. Kingpin's response to this is automatic and natural; he dismantles his tiny prison desk and pulls out a massive bag of money. Cause, y'know, he's the Kingpin, right? He can do anything because, err, he is a rich criminal. Regardless, he bribes the guards to open the locks that night and turn a blind eye – and bring him his clothes. I never really understand why the Kingpin takes on his enemies like this. He may be big and strong, but Spidey's gone toe to toe with the Hulk, and Fisk is hardly in that category of power. By all rights, the Kingpin should have his ass promptly handed to him, and whether he has his clothes and cane or not won't really affect it.

Meanwhile, Peter terrorizes the guy who shot the guy who shot Aunt May, because that's how revenge works in comics. He wants to use this hit-man to send a message to the underworld – the Parker family are off-limits. Peter makes his point by dragging the goon to the sewers, hanging him upside-down and letting rats climb on him, while giving a Kraven-ish speech on predators and prey. 'The men with guns aren't the predators' says Spidey...


Sorry, I came over all Chesney Hawkes. Goofiness projected onto the comic by insecure reviewer aside, this is a pretty cool moment, aside from the unexplained lightsource and the way the goon seems to be dissolving from contact with the sewer water. What do New Yorker's flush down their toilets? Actually, please don't answer that.

After getting his freak on, Peter goes to visit Aunt May. He suddenly remembers that time he gave Aunt May a blood transfusion and saved her life, and decides to give her a transfusion again. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is at least the fifth time Peter has done this in a comic I have read; is it his default response to any injury sustained by someone else? I have this lovely image in my head now of Peter in a hospital bleeding on everyone. It's so delightfully passive.

The comic ends with Peter going to the prison and facing up to the Kingpin. Again, if Fisk has ready access to massive amounts of money even when in prison, why doesn't he just hire Electro or Doc Ock to distract Spidey while he makes his escape? I can't reconcile a fat rich man putting himself in this much danger by attacking a guy who can bench-press ten tonnes on his own, obliterator cane or not. Ah well, it could go down in a different way; let's just wait till next issue to get annoyed further.

Oh good, slot two is the final part of The Strange Case Of... This means we actually get a fight in this comic, as Spidey takes on the powerful Mister Hyde. The comic quotes from Stevenson's novel as narration to bookend the story, a sure fire way to please a geek like me. Spidey has been using a tracking device built by Reed Richards to find Calvin Zabo's underground base, the owner of which is transforming into Hyde. Peter finds Jordan Harrison, who is one of his old students, and starts smashing at the unbreakable glass of the cell, with predictably amusing results. Peter sees genuinely shocked when Hyde appears in place of Zabo, which is somewhat bizarre considering the number of times the two have fought; you'd think Peter would be used to the idea. Whatever, time for the final showdown.

...Or, we could jarringly cut to Black Cat pulling in a few more lookalikes and meeting Jordan's family. That's relevant, right? I hate it when comics do this. I mean, I can understand adding in a few unnecessary scenes to fit a story to the arbitrary 22 pages, but do you have to do it right in the middle of the story's crisis? This cutaway is completely irrelevant, too; Jordan's mother asks Felicia to tell Jordan she is still alive, which Felicia doesn't do, because at that very moment Spidey is freeing Jordan... Can we please get back to the interesting stuff, comic?

>That's better. Spidey and Hyde have a fairly brutal fight, too, including a very awesome moment. You know how it's one of Spider-Man's basic tactics to web over someone's eyes so they can't see?
Fucking. Hard. Core.
(Edited to compress the awesome to one page)

Short, sweet, and a lifetime cure for Youngbloods disease, as well as some pretty hardcore art. Anyway, as the fight goes on, Jordan escapes his cell, takes a flask of potent acid and attacks Hyde, blinding and scarring him while also proving that some people in Peter Parker's situation would 'embrace the dark side' (of the force?). I'm not sure exactly what Zabo/Hyde was trying to get out of this whole debacle, because now he's blind and horribly disfigured, and he hasn't really proven any real kind of point, except that when people get pushed too far they try and hurt you by, for example, throwing acid in your face. Zabo is called an evil genius; he has the evil part down but the genius bit seems to be eluding him.

The third slot here is the second part of Sandblasted. In a head-swelling moment of glee, I am vindicated in mentioning Jumping the Tracks, since it is indeed that storyline which is being continued here. Not sure if this the fault of Brady (AstonSpid's editor) or the original editors, but there has been a massive gap in which an alternate version of Uncle Ben has been running around without explanation or development, following the temporal hi-jinks of Tracks. At the end of said story arc he shot the Spider-Man from 2211 for... no reason. Yeah, this is a big mind-fuck right here; hopefully all will be explained at some point.

So a stoner (comically drinking beer from cans with 'BEER' written in large letters) finds Spidey 2211's helmet and dicks about with it, before taking it away, presumably to fashion a unique personalized bong or something. While this pointlessness is being engaged-in, Jamie Madrox (the SHIELD one) and 'Agent... Sands' are trying to find out more about the arrest of Sandman's dad. Why are they doing this? Because it's Spidey and Sandman in disguise, of course! There was no point to this ploy since Sandman breaks out of character almost immediatly and gives the game away, and before too long Peter's holo-projector conks out too. The two of them have to make a speedy getaway, while bickering like kids. Don't misunderstand my brevity; this was fairly entertaining, just pointless to describe.

In the Requisite Subplot Development, Flash Thompson and Betty Brant go on a date, but The Other (in it's guise of Nurse Arrow from the school) attacks Betty in the toilets and plants drugs to make her look like a cokehead. I'm not sure what this establishes, other than that The Other is still around. I am pretty sure Betty Brant has dated every single guy Peter knows at least twice.

Spidey and Sandy decide to go visit Ben's grave, because Pete has to do that at least every other issue anyway, and it may turn up a clue. They find the stoner, who is still dicking about with the helmet, and...

Ok, three things. Firstly, that's a Manos - Hands of Fate poster right there, which fills me with gooey joy. Second, this kid is called Dennis. Third, Peter getting butthurt over Sandman looking like Ben amuses me greatly. It's also fairly good art, though it is uncredited for some reason, so wait a second. Ok, the name is Todd Nauck, and according to Wikipedia he's... dear god...

This artist came from Rob Liefeld's Awesome Comics; but the really horrid thing is that... Alan Moore worked for them too.

I'm.. I'm in shock, I need to stand up so I can sit down again...

This is the end of comics, people.

Well, that was AstonSpid numbah 61. Next Issue, Spidey finally (hopefully) has a showdown with the Kingpin, Eddie Brock resurfaces, and Spidey and Sandman use the helmet to track down Ben's killer. Till then, g'night.

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