Thursday, April 15, 2010

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #12 - March 1986

Have You Seen That Vigilante Man!

Credits: Peter David (writer), Sal Buscema (breakdowns), Bob McLeod (finishes), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)

The Plot: Peter learns the incendiary device mainly caused smoke damage. After a rival newspaper gives Peter a $1,000 prize for his heroism, Jonah Jameson overrides Robbie Robertson and puts Peter’s story on the front page. Peter impetuously spends the money to get ahead on rent to placate his obnoxious landlord. Peter has the three thugs arrested, but they’re bailed out by Hector, the hitman brother of the gangleader. Hector declares that he’s going to kill Peter Parker. When the thugs realize they would be considered accomplices in Peter’s death, they race to his apartment to stop Hector. Spider-Man deals with Hector, then changes back into Peter. He decides to drop charges against the thugs, leading his neighbors to turn against their hero.

The Subplots: None.

*See _________ For Details: While identifying his harassers, Peter asks the Assistant DA about a gang case involving someone who “looks like a cross between Michael Jackson and Prince.” A footnote points toward Peter Parker annual #5, which stars Ace.

I Love the ‘80s: Peter remarks that his clothes will have to last a long time…“like until 1993.”

Review: Danny Fingeroth is apparently gone, but don’t get the crazy idea that Peter David is the new writer. This is still Web of Spider-Man, the title that has a strong allergic reaction to anything resembling a stable creative team. David continues the storyline, getting some more laughs out of the idea and raising the stakes to even more ridiculous degrees. The only real glitch from one issue to the next is the portrayal of the hitman, Hector. In the previous issue, he was a brooding, tormented man who warned his brother to stay away from a criminal lifestyle. Here, he’s more of an archetypical hitman character who decides that he wants Peter Parker dead for having the gall to inconvenience his brother. Soon, he decides that he’ll just kill the next person to walk through the door, which happens to be MJ. I’m not sure where Fingeroth was going with the character, but David (or perhaps the editor influencing the story) decides to use him as a straightforward villain for the issue’s climax. This doesn’t exactly work, and it feels as if Hector is brought in to make this atypical story a little more normal.

I also have issues with the ending. If all the thugs did was harass Peter Parker, having him drop charges in the hopes they’ll reform could be acceptable. However, they were introduced as potential rapists in the last issue, and this issue makes it clear that the immigrant woman they victimized is too terrified to testify against them. The neighbors accuse Peter of being self-centered and irresponsible for letting the criminals go, and they’re absolutely right.

So, the ending has problems, but David still gets mileage out of the concept. Before Peter manages to turn the neighborhood watch against him, he realizes that he’s getting praised for stopping crime as Peter Parker, while Spider-Man is vilified for doing the same things. He could just drop the Spider-Man routine, help people as Peter Parker, and make money as the head of a security force. We all know the story can’t go in that direction, but it’s realistic for Peter to consider the possibilities. The local hero angle is also explored at the Daily Bugle offices, as Jonah places his newfound surrogate son on the front page, partially to upstage the rival newspaper that gave Peter reward money. Peter doesn’t know how to deal with positive press in the Daily Bugle (an idea Gerry Conway will explore years later), and his abrupt refusal to have lunch with the staff doesn’t leave him in anyone’s good graces for long. At the story’s end, as MJ is quick to remind him, Peter’s exactly where he started (only now, his apartment has massive smoke damage). It’s “the ol’ Parker luck” again, but it’s delivered in a creative way we haven’t seen before.

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