Monday, April 19, 2010

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #14 - #15, May-June 1986

All That Glitters…/Fox Hunt

Credits: David Michelinie (writer), Mike Harris (penciler), Kyle Baker (inker), Phil Felix/Rick Parker (letterers), Bob Sharen (colorist)

The Plot: Peter Parker is threatened with eviction if he doesn’t repair his apartment’s smoke damage. Soon, as Spider-Man, he’s unable to stop the Black Fox from stealing the Eye of Carnelia from the Carnelian Embassy. Spider-Man learns of the Fox’s fence, Andre Boullion, and decides to sell his golden notepad. Spider-Man spots the Black Fox leaving Andre’s office, and is shocked to discover Andre’s body inside. Spider-Man assumes Fox is the killer, but soon learns that the mercenary Chance is responsible. Spider-Man defeats Chance, and sells the notepad to another fence the Fox tried to use. Unable to sell the Eye of Carnelia, Black Fox returns it to the embassy for the reward money. Meanwhile, Peter decides to pay Nathan Lubenksy’s hospital bills rather than save his apartment. He returns home to discover Mary Jane has made the necessary repairs.

The Subplots: Aunt May’s boyfriend, Nathan Lubenksy, is in the hospital after taking a beating in Amazing Spider-Man (he’s a gambling addict). Robbie Robertson is afraid Jonah Jameson is trying to usurp his editorial control of the Daily Bugle.

Web of Continuity: The Black Fox is an elderly jewel thief who often tricks Spider-Man into letting him go. Chance is a mercenary obsessed with…chance. Rather than charging for his services, he wagers on the outcome of his assignments.

*See _________ For Details: The Black Fox and Andre Boullion last appeared in Amazing #265. Chance kills Andre because he refused to join his employer’s intelligence network. A footnote points towards recent issues of Spectacular. Peter and MJ painted his apartment in Amazing #273.

Commercial Break: The somewhat infamous Power Pack/Spider-Man child abuse prevention comic is advertised on the back cover of #15.

Review: Wow, that golden notepad stuck around for a long time, didn’t it? Since character and ongoing continuity counted more than anyone’s “personal vision” in these days, David Michelinie begins his run by addressing the few recurring storylines this fill-in prone title’s accumulated. The golden notepad storyline had potential at the beginning, but unfortunately stuck around in the background for almost a year, as Spider-Man would occasionally remember he’s supposed to be angsting over it. Michelinie addresses the more practical questions, such as how does Peter go about selling a golden notepad in the first place? Dealing with an underworld fence doesn’t feel right for the character, but this is at least addressed during the story. And it should come as a shock to no one that Peter ends up using the money to help someone else rather than himself.

Allowing MJ to save his apartment actually forecasts an issue from the early days of their marriage -- Peter’s insecurities over being with someone much more successful than he’ll probably ever be. Michelinie will go on to write many of those early marriage stories, and he’ll revive Chance and Black Fox regularly during his run on Amazing. He clearly has some affection for the characters, and is able to use their unique gimmicks very well in this arc. The fake-out at the end of #14, hinting that the Black Fox killed Andre Boullion, is a great clifhanger.

The combination of Mike Harris and Kyle Baker looks nice, and very ‘80s at the same time. If you’ve read any of the Bill Sienkiewicz/Mary Wilshire issues of New Mutants, you know what I mean. There are a lot of shadows, and everything is slightly realistic yet slightly stylized. I’m assuming the missing detail lines and faded colors are an aspect of the printing process used during the time.


wwk5d said...

Aw, the Golden Notepad was the best supporting character of this era.

Wasn't the Black Fox the father of the Black Cat? Oh God, I just realized how strange that last sentence was...

G. Kendall said...

The '90s Spider-Man cartoon had Black Fox as her father, I believe. There was also some nonsense with him stealing the Super-Soldier serum when he was a kid, or something. That cartoon was appallingly bad.

Matt said...

"Since character and ongoing continuity counted more than anyone’s “personal vision” in these days..."

I really, really miss those days. A lot.

I disagree that the 1990's Spider-Man cartoon was "appallingly" bad. It wasn't great, but I generally found the characterizations and casting very well done (Edward Asner as J. Jonah Jameson was a stroke of genius). I also really liked the orchestral score. Unfortunately, the storylines, mainly after the first couple of seasons, were pretty terrible. I did like that it carried over a lot of the soap operatic elements from the comics, though, and that it had Peter in college, which is my personal favorite era for the character.

I will also take this opportunity to mention that I was a big fan of David Michelinie's run on Amazing Spider-Man. There may be some nostalgia there, since that's when I started reading the title regularly (the first appearance of Carnage was my first issue as a monthly reader), but overall, I looked forward to the title every month. Anyway, I guess I wasn't in the minority with my opinion, since Michelinie was on the book for something like six or seven years!

G. Kendall said...

For the most part, I didn't mind the voice casting or performances. The stories and animation, however, just got worse and worse as the series ran. By the end, it barely looked like a professional production. And that extended storyline with the Russian (?) Electro has to be seen to be believed.

The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

The animated Spidey series really did start out strong, with crisp animation, good character designs and great voice casting. The problem was that as the show progressed they got deeper into an extended continuity that became, after a while, ludicrous by any standards, let alone the standards of Saturday morning episodic TV.

I remember reading something about the series around the time it came out, that the writers and producers of the show basically read every Spider-Man comic made up to that point and pulled their ideas from this massive infodump. The result was a series that had actually too many ideas - usually transposed pretty directly from the comics - but no understanding of why certain storylines worked better or worse than others. Just, you know, regurgitating everything from Spidey's (then) 30-odd year history onto the screen at once. I mean, come on, they teamed up Carnage and Dormammu, and gave the Beyonder a Fu-Manchu mustache. It was pretty wacky.

Jeff said...

The first season is the best Spider-Man cartoon ever and remains that to this day. The later seasons kind of suck.

Jeff said...

PS Also agree with Matt about the orchestral score. It still runs through my head to this day when I read a Spidey comic.

G. Kendall said...

The first season definitely had its moments, and even had a few veteran comic writers on staff. I read somewhere, and I don't know how true this is, that TMS (the animation that handled the best episodes of Batman: TAS) was originally hired to animate the series. They did one or two episodes, then subcontracted it out to a series of increasingly inferior studios. Marvel/Saban never spent the money Warner Bros. did on animation, so Marvel's 90s cartoons were never going to look as good as Batman, Superman, etc anyway.

Jeff said...

You're right about TMS. They did the pilot with the Lizard and the first episode with Dr. Octopus. The animation in those two episodes is gorgeous.

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