Tuesday, November 24, 2009

SPIDER-MAN #2 - September 1990

Torment - Part Two

Credits: Todd McFarlane (artist/writer), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colors)

Summary: The Lizard continues his killing spree, while Spider-Man examines the morning paper. When he sees the letters “CNNR” spelled in blood at the scene of a murder, he questions if Curt Connors has become the Lizard again. While searching the city, Spider-Man is attacked by the Lizard. During the fight, Spider-Man accidentally impales the Lizard. Spider-Man grows sick, due to the poison on the Lizard’s claws. Suddenly, the rain turns into blood and a resurrected Lizard leaps out of the shadows.

Approved By The Comics Code Authority: One of the Lizard’s victims reads the following from a personals ad: “Will give you pleasure the moment you’re done working. Any place, any style. I guarantee that it will be wild, wet, wonderful and worth it!” There’s also a decent amount of red blood, although the scene that has the Lizard getting impaled is done with black ink, apparently because editorial wanted McFarlane to tone it down.

Panel Count: 97. This is another surprisingly high number. Aside from telling the main story, McFarlane also works in a flashback to the Lizard’s origin, along with a few pages of MJ clubbing. The large panels are also interrupted by smaller panels that begin to appear at a rapid pace, imitating the drumbeats the mysterious voodoo lady hears while casting spells.

Where’s Felix? : Peter Parker eats Felix Jam on his toast, which is used as a transition from the blood dropping from one of the Lizard’s victims.

Review: We reach the point we should’ve reached last issue, as the Lizard finally attacks Spider-Man. McFarlane has Spider-Man pick up on the clue Curt Connors subconsciously left at the murders, but it’s actually pointless since the Lizard is the one who discovers Spider-Man just a few pages later. Maybe this was an intentional misdirection on McFarlane’s part, setting us up for a lengthy search sequence when instead the villain finds the hero before he even gets started. Or maybe he just wasted our time. Speaking of which, why exactly has the Lizard been killing random people for the past two issues? If he was supposed to be going after Spider-Man, why was the voodoo lady screwing around with totally unrelated people?

Overlooking the plot (which McFarlane himself has already acknowledged isn’t his real focus), there are several creative page layouts, and the pacing of the Spider-Man/Lizard fight works rather well. If McFarlane eased off on the pretentious narrative captions, maybe it would be easier just to enjoy this as a mindless slugfest. The thinness of the plot is alleviated a bit with the various Watchmen style transitions, such as the blood/jam shift, and the multiple scenes of falling water, as MJ’s drink is spilled as the voodoo lady empties her vials into the potion as the rain begins to pour on Spider-Man. It serves no real point, but it at least gives McFarlane some visuals to play with.


Jeff said...

One thing that always bothered me about these issues is that McFarlane's Lizard really does not look consistent from panel to panel. His snout and eyes change all the time!

The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

I've always thought that McFarlane was a really talented cartoonist who was absolutely ruined by his own fame. His layouts, his transitions, his dynamic figure work - all good, well within the boundaries of expressionistic superhero art. Not unlike a weird hybrid of Michael Golden and Gene Colan. But the man has not a single idea in his head when it comes to making interesting comic books on his own. The first year and change of Spawn are OK but after that point he starts recycling the exact same plot points and visual motifs ad infinitum. How can one of the most interesting artists of the mainstream 80s have become so unerringly boring and predictable by the late 90s? No higher calling than mercenary impulses. More power to him for riding his gravy train, certainly, but he could have been a lot better than this, if only he'd been able to . . . rise above it all.


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