Monday, June 7, 2010

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #18-#19, September-October 1986

The Longest Road!

Credits: David Michelinie (writer), Marc Silvestri (penciler), Kyle Baker (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)

The Plot: In Appalachia, Spider-Man narrowly avoids the mine explosion but his costume and web-shooters are ruined. He hitchhikes towards New York penniless, and is eventually arrested for stealing food. A corrupt cop sends him on a work detail to a millionaire’s mansion, where the prisoners are hunted for sport. After stopping the madman, the deputy allows Peter to leave. He eventually makes his way to New York, and tells his story to Mary Jane.

The Subplots: With his original costume ruined, Peter declares that he’ll stick with the black costume. While waiting for a train in New York, a mystery figure evades Peter’s spider-sense and pushes him on to the tracks. Years later, we learn this was Venom.

I Love the ‘80s: The Spider-Man editorial office now has a computer for keeping track of freelancers and using a modem to call them.

Review: Following the Appalachia storyline, Peter is now stuck in “Backwoods, USA” virtually naked and penniless on his way back to New York. It’s a great premise to start from, and thankfully Michelinie goes through all of the obvious ideas in one issue and doesn’t stretch things out. My favorite moment is Peter stealing a blueberry pie out of desperation, only to be caught by the police a few minutes later. He has no idea how to panhandle, the only trucker willing to pick him up talks all night and keeps him awake, his spider-sense prevents him from sleeping on his prison cot, he swallows bugs while riding on top of a semi-truck, and of course, Peter has to fight off prison rape while in the county jail. If these events were stretched over several months, the story would get old fast, but cramming all of the misery into one issue makes it fun.


Credits: David Michelinie (writer), Marc Silvestri (penciler), Bob McLeod (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Nel Yomtov (colorist)

The Plot: Humbug debuts, committing robberies to pay for his entomology research. The professor’s incompetence almost gets him killed, and makes him an easy victory for Spider-Man.

The Subplots: Spider-Man is enticing criminals to attack him in order to test his spider-sense after the previous issue. Vigilante Solo kills a group of terrorists in Germany. Aunt May is unsure of her relationship with Nathan, because she feels he’s grown cold-hearted. Jonah Jameson is sending Peter and Joy Mercado on an assignment to cover terrorist activities in Europe.

Web of Continuity: Solo makes a cameo, although he doesn’t make a full appearance until Michelinie’s Amazing Spider-Man run in 1989. Since this story is supposed to be leading to Spider-Man facing terrorism in Europe, and Solo’s gimmick is “While I live, terror dies!” he was probably supposed to show up in the next issue.

*See _________ For Details: Peter mentions that Flash Thomspon is on the run from the law, and Aunt May and her boarders were recently held captive in their home. A footnote points toward recent Amazing and Spectacular issues.

Review: This is the first appearance of joke villain Humbug, although I’m sure this issue was supposed to be significant as the debut of Marvel’s latest psychotically violent, gun toting vigilante Solo. Since Solo isn’t seen again until years later, it seems like there’s still a decent amount of behind-the-scenes chaos going on. Several pages are also devoted to Spidey testing his spider-sense, which ties into Venom’s first appearance, another story that isn’t resolved until years later in another title. Humbug is a goofy reminder of the days when you can get away with a character like this, and I’m guessing he’s either been killed off in a giant crossover or only shown up in Dan Slott comics in recent years (cripes, looking at Wiki, apparently he's been decapitated). He’s not a classic, but he kills a few pages rather well as the growing subplots continue to develop.

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