Saturday, 5 September 2009

Archaic Spider-Man Reviews: Number 63

Here we go again, with another look at... What's happened to Aunt May? Being shot by a sniper must have really changed her body chemistry or something, because she looks like Brad Pitt in Troy. What's more, you can't really see it in the scan but this cover is also fairly low res for some reason. Ah well, hit the jump for some Spidey goodness/more of May's man-chin

Made it? Good. This week the order is shuffled around, so Back In Black goes last, the second half of The Last Temptation of Eddie Brock is first and Running Out of Time (the continuation of Sandblasted) comes in second. When we left him last week, Eddie had bought a genuine Spider-Man costume from the Gap or somewhere, and was planning to get revenge on Peter by killing May, who just happens to be in the same hospital. Key thing to remember about Eddie: never call him Mr Brock.

They call me Ed-die...

Nice. What's more, the problem of someone hearing this murder is addressed in a fairly tense little scene which works very well.

Too often in comics, people get attacked or killed in easy earshot of other characters, so it's nice to have an explanation, especially when it doesn't feel tacked-on. The writer here is Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a Harvey-Award winner who has written some stuff that looks ok, but other stuff that looks awful (read: Marvel Divas). Still, even the best writers sometimes sign on to an awful comic. Except Alan Moore of course. *Weeps inside*

That still stings. Anyway, Peter, MJ, Anna Watson and Madam Web carry out their proposed séance to see if they can locate Aunt May's consciousness. They succeed, and Peter finds her in their shared memory of the night Uncle Ben died. Here, she drops a bombshell; she doesn't want to come back. She's almost died so many times; she's tired of life.

Wow, Peter's being a bit of a dick. And May has more of a Bruce Campbell vibe now. The artist on the séance section is Clayton Crain, whose past work on Venom Vs Carnage (Toxin's origin) has cemented and demonstrated his abject lack of realism or accuracy. He's also the monkey-with-a-pencil behind the awful cover of this issue. His art is computer aided, but if this is an attempt at innovation it is severely misguided. That said, the combination of two different art styles in one story is quite effective, but I'd really rather one of the art styles wasn't so distorted and ugly.

Regardless, the séance ends with Aunt May being dragged away from Peter by weird tentacle things, leaving him alone outside his memory of the Parker house. Or something. It's all a bit confused here, but Peter senses that something is wrong, and runs to May's room to find Eddie standing by the window. He hasn't hurt May, because she was too innocent and good to harm. So... the nurse he killed earlier deserved to die? Double standards, Eddie. He seems to have gained independence from the form of Venom he's been seeing, though, so he should be ok.


Yikes. While this is a pretty cool moment, and the climax of the story, it's also a bit screwy. Brock has been suicidal quite a few times, but I can't recall him ever going for it with this much gusto. I suppose he has nothing to lose these days, what with the terminal cancer and visions of Venom and all. Peter saves him however, and he is in charge now. Good for him; though it probably isn't that hard to dominate a vision from his own subconscious.

Well, that's the end of an almost action-less story arc. On to slot 2, which is Running Out of Time, following on from Sandblasted last issue. Writing is Peter David, a fact I forgot to mention previously. For an example of why both myself and Max love this guy, see below.

Very few writers can put a mild bit of comic relief on the same page as a speech with severe gravitas and a declaration full of hubris without making it feel awfully clunky. It's quite nice to read a comic by a guy who just knows what he's doing.

Anyhoo, Better Brant goes to Flash Thompson's apartment and finds Peter in disguise. She quickly sees through it and starts to tell him everything about Miss Arrow, who has been screwing with her and Flash. Meanwhile, Flash and double K go to the bowling alley to... wait, what? Who the heck is Double K? *Shameless Wiki search* Kelly Kulick is an American professional bowler, apparently. This story is from her first appearance in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #20, incidentally, but her presence here is never explained; it took me a long time to even find out what her name was. I don't mind celebrity cameos, but it helps if the person involved is famous outside of their profession; from the size of her Wiki page I'd wager most Americans wouldn't know who she was either.

So Flash and 'Double K' are coaching the school bowling team (they have them in America?) and Miss Arrow decides she has to mate with Flash, because she needs to reproduce. And she needs Flash for that for some reason. Anyway, Peter and Betty do some internet research (I want to make that a term for half-assed searching) by 'Goggling' Arrow and Spider. One of those 'Did you mean' things suggests 'Spider' 'ero', which reminds Peter of the Ero spider's that made up the Other when he saw it at Stark Towers... Basically, this is a convoluted way of letting Peter know what the Other is - Ero sounds a lot like Arrow, after all. Peter somehow knows that flash is at the bowling alley and is in danger, and heads there. This leads to a (probably) unintentionally hilarious moment.


That's gotta be the goofiest thing any hero has ever yelled while smashing through a window. And look, he's taken out a random couple. They could be badly hurt by all that glass flying at them, and he's spilt that cola! Oh, and his right knee looks broken because it's all out of place. Regardless, Arrow/Ero escapes with Flash, to close the comic.

Slot 3 is the finale of Back in Black. Aunt May has a blood test, and it is revealed that the transfusion of blood that Peter tried a few issues ago has failed. Needless to say, this makes him Sad Face. Meanwhile, a detective picks up May's case as an anonymous gunshot victim, and goes to the hospital. He and a nurse try and come up with a scenario that fits the evidence. The nurse suspects MJ has a boyfriend or husband, so the cop decides to question her. Peter does not approve.

Awesome. JMS is succeeding in making Peter badass in Back in Black, through stuff like this. Of course, he'll never kill anyone, but still.

Of course, since their cover is blown they'll have to move May. Peter ties up the cop, steals an ambulance, makes May look like a corpse, takes it to the ambulance and forges transfer papers - in the name of Ben Parker, no less. I really don't buy all this - since Peter revealed his identity to the world, his face has been broadcast everywhere; not to mention the fact that no-one recognized actress and former supermodel Mary-Jane.

Anyway Peter, being the knowledgeable fellow he is, is aware that he has committed...

Ah JMS, we love you so. This is such a good character moment it almost makes up for the abject lack of action in all three strips this week.

Well, that was AstonSpid numbah 63. Next Issue, Spidey takes on Arrow, strives to rescue Flash, and faces some inner demons. Till then, g'night.

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