Friday, 18 September 2009

Archaic Spider-Man Reviews: Number 64

Another fortnight, another issue of Astonishing Spider-Man with massive boobs on the cover. This issue concludes the Arrow/Ero storyline in slots 1 and 2 with Consuming Passions and Predator/Prey by Peter David and Todd Nauck, and then finishes with The Book of Peter. There is no credit page for this story; I'm fairly sure the writer is Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa again because the art is the unmistakable computer vomit of Clayton Crain. With that to not look forward to, lets (hit the) jump into the main story.

At the end of the last installment, the spider-monster known as Ero had kidnapped Flash Thompson to mate with and kill him, leaving Spidey with no leads. A phone-call with Betty Brant leaves Peter with a hunch that Ero will have taken Flash to the church where she gestated. But first, he deals with a cop at the scene of the kidnapping...

Superman bends steel with his bare hands. Spider-Man snaps it.

Cool moment, almost making up for the embarrassment at the top of the page. Sometimes, Spidey transcends standard amusing goofiness and is just annoyingly lame. Also, why is he staying here to yell at a random cop rather than search for Flash, who is in immediate danger? Speaking of Flash...

Perceptive fellow, Flash

It seems that Ero has brought Flash here to implant a sack of eggs she has been incubating into his stomach. This will create thousands of beings like Ero who will team up to kill and eat Spidey. Why does she need Flash? Well, it seems that due to the coma Flash was in, he has a lot of 'tantric energy' built up. Is that what they call it these days? It seems this is why Ero had to get rid of Betty and that double K bowling person before they got it on with Flash, to avoid expending all that energy... This is from Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man! This is all a bit weird to me now; I can't imagine what I'd have thought of it when I was a kid. I like a lot of Peter David's work, but he seems to have misjudged this a bit. You can't spring tantric sex energy on people out of nowhere! Hasn't he ever heard of foreplay?

Anyway, Spidey turns up and he and Ero go at it... finding out which of them has the stronger chin. What is up with this shot? Ero is in a fairly odd pose, but Spidey looks like each of his limbs has decided to leave and make their own way in the world. This kinda reminds me of the old Liefeldian trope of heroes attacking people with their crotches. It's competant-to-good art for the rest of the story though, so I guess this is just an abnormality. Incidentally, that thing at the bottom is the sack of Ero's eggs. This will be important later. There will be a test.

Meanwhile, a video of Spidey having a go at that cop has surfaced on 'u-tube' (presumably owned by the 'Goggle' of last issue). Over at the Daily Bugle, Jonah wants to use this to run yet another anti-Spidey/Peter story, and Robbie snaps. He starts yelling at Jonah, chastising him for turning Spider-Man, Captain America and all the other Civil War rebels into social pariahs. Of course, this has consequences.

Then, later...

Robbie is wise as hell
Seriously, that guy knows shit.

I could go on about Robbie leaving the Bugle being the end of an era or something, but I totally agree with his wife on this one. It was never much fun seeing a nice guy like Robbie get all that crap from Jameson. The element that made the Jonah-Robbie dynamic work was Peter; it was almost like good cop/bad cop. Now that Peter has left the Bugle, there was no real narrative reason for Robbie to stick around; indeed, I'm surprised no writer thought of this before David.

As this has been going on, Spidey and Ero have been fighting to the death with their bone spurs. Ero gets a lucky stab into Spidey's left shoulder, filling him with paralyzing venom. As he lies defenceless, Ero tries to shove her eggs down his throat, when suddenly...

Nothing gets between Betty Brant and a good toilet

What the hell? This is majorly out of character. Betty explains she keeps 'silver bullets with crosses on them' because, working at the Bugle, she's 'seen stuff that would freak out Kolchak'. Seriously, what? This is such a clumsy deus ex machina, it's hard to believe it came from the pen of Peter David. What's more, I'm not an expert on firearms but firing bullets (presumably he means shells?) with crosses on them out of a shotgun would probably loose a lot of the effect. In general, this moment is pretty cool, but a bit ill advised.

Anyway, Ero is wounded and tries to flee, but Peter pursues, eager to end their fight permanently. Ero spins a web parachute but seems to be using it to fly away, because she is rising, and holding it in front of her... Regardless, Spidey latches onto her leg and eventally forces her to crash into Central Park...

That gaping, bloodied wound doesn't seem to be slowing Spidey down much. Ah hell, this is still a really cool moment, and a great ending/death for Ero. I also like the way the birds are depicted as ravenous, like they aren't fed in the zoo. Seriously, these are vicious buggers, though they do at least leave a single spider for Peter to stamp on in a badass action hero way.

In the final page, there's more icky talk about tantric energy... and Peter finds out about Robbie losing his job. He decides to go and have a talk with Jonah. Next issue, that is.

Slot 3 is The Book of Peter. with art by Clayton Crain, I was really not looking forward to this; but i'm pretty sure this story was one of the last that Crain did for Spectacular Spider-Man. Let's power on through; besides, it can't be that bad...


I'm calling ocular rape on that one. Yeah, we have the origin of Spider-Man being told yet again. I'm sick of writers recapping this over and over; it's like they have a burning need to put their own stamp on the tale just because they can. It's unjustifiable these days, what with the movie series having set out what was basically the same origin. How many of the readers of the 40th issue of Spectacular, the secondary Spider-Man strip, would be unfamiliar with this? Maybe 1% at the most?

What's worse is, this telling takes up half of the slot! The only stand out page that was at all interesting (beyond seeing the most classic of hero origins being defiled by Crain) was this one...

Good Points: Jean DeWolff and Kraven as last seen in their respective deaths in two of the best story arcs of all time. Spider Motif.
Bad Points:...
Shit. Crain has actually drawn something half decent. yeah, Peter still looks a bit strange, but this is actually approaching competence. I am seriously worried.

So anyway, Peter is frustrated at being unable to help his dying Aunt, so he runs down to an alleyway and starts punching a dumpster to pieces. Yeah, I know, angsty, but roll with it. Peter runs into... this guy.

That's right. Emo Jesus.

Ok, I guess in a world where several beings are omnipotent and the Greek and Norse Gods exist, having the Christian God turn up too isn't stretching belief any further than it has been before. Indeed, at this point belief is so stretchy it fits the entire convoluted Marvel universe in it, so what's another God in the mix. Plus, the idea of having a meal out with Hobo God is nice. It's just the pretentiousness of it all; that and the way 'God' looks like a mix of Heath Ledger's Joker, a skeleton and Snape from Harry Potter. It gets worse...

Seriously, what? First you make God look like some emo fanboy's wet dream, then you dress him like that? Way to alienate the only demographic still enjoying this.

Anyway, Emo Jesus has taken Peter to the beach to show him a massive crowd of people. these, apparently, are a portion of the people whose lives Peter has saved as Spider-Man. From this, we can assume that Peter is really racist, since every single person is white... I blame Crain, as I usually do. Peter starts pleading with Emo Jesus to save Aunt May, to which he replies 'Have faith, Peter'. What, have faith in the Hobo God who has just demonstrated his existence?

The strip ends with a vision of what could be the future.

So Peter grows old with MJ, has kids called Ben and Mary, yadda yadda. The really worrying thing here is that Peter seems to have turned into Reed Richards when I wasn't looking.

Well, that was AstonSpid numbah 64. Next Issue, Peter fights JJ (seriously), we have a 'what if...' in which MJ gets shot rather than May, and the return of the classic strip as a gang war engulfs NYC. Till then, g'night.

Here's an afterthought: me and Max are really hard on Clayton Crain and the computerized style, but do you guys agree? A lot of it seems to be a matter of taste. Whether you agree or disagree (based on what you've seen), leave your comments below.

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