Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ONSLAUGHT Crossovers Part Five – September 1996

Punisher #11 (Ostrander/Lyle/Jones/Starkings/Comicraft/Kalisz/American Color) – Another tie-in that has nothing to do with Onslaught. SHIELD investigates the arrival of Sentinels in Manhattan, which leads to their helicarrier getting shot out of the sky. The Punisher witnesses the event and reluctantly dives into the river to rescue the survivors. He aids G. W. Bridge against a street gang that’s jumped on board to loot the helicarrier, and then agrees to take down a mutant terrorist group while SHIELD deals with the situation in Manhattan. This is a straightforward action story, and it’s executed rather well. The actual effect of Onslaught’s electromagnetic pulse attack hasn’t been portrayed very consistently throughout the tie-ins, or internally within this issue (SHIELD agents are forced to use hang gliders, yet the helicarrier can remain in the air, and the gangleader’s jetski still works), but that’s a relatively minor nitpick. I’m not sure what exactly Marvel was doing with the Punisher during this period, but I seem to recall this series opened with him working (presumably undercover) as a mob boss. With a ponytail. It never seemed that promising to me, but Ostrander does show a strong handle on the character with this issue (and his hair is back to normal). The Punisher’s narration is often humorous and the action moves at a steady pace. I wasn’t expecting much, but it’s an inoffensive action story.

Spider-Man #72 (Mackie/Romita, Jr./Williamson/Starkings/Comicraft/Tinsley/Malibu) – Well, it’s an entire issue of Romita, Jr. drawing Spider-Man fighting Sentinels, so it can’t be all bad. At this point in Spider-Man’s continuity, Peter Parker believed that he was a clone and that Ben Reilly was the true Spider-Man. Peter scientifically removed his spider-powers, in the hopes that he could retire and have a normal life with his pregnant wife. Behind the scenes, Marvel decided that the story had gone too far and that Ben Reilly couldn’t remain as Spider-Man. So, shortly after Peter’s powers were gone, they began to sporadically reappear (I’m basing this on my memories of the Life of Reilly serial). Now that his powers are gradually coming back, Peter's a target for the Sentinels, while Ben Reilly tries to protect his cloned “brother”. The two spend the entire issue fighting Sentinels with each other, contributing essentially nothing to the Onslaught story, or any of the storylines in the Spider-titles. Mackie’s script has its share of clunky dialogue and corny jokes, but the story manages to keep moving and rarely feels repetitive, even though the plot’s razor-thin.

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