Tuesday, August 3, 2010

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #36 - March 1988


Credits: Gerry Conway (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Keith Williams (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Janet Jackson (colorist)

The Plot: After Peter returns home, Steve sneaks into the science lab and dons his electric exo-skeleton. Jake and his girlfriend Ronda spot Steve and follow him inside. When Jake flips the light switch, the circuits connected to Steve’s suit overload. Electric power consumes Steve, who soon names himself “Phreak-Out.” Still angry with Peter, he breaks into the Parkers’ apartment and kidnaps Mary Jane. Spider-Man follows him to Times Square, where Jake and Ronda also arrive. When Steve absorbs too much energy, his suit shorts out and he is arrested.

The Subplots: Mob hitman Tombstone is following Roland Rayburn. When Robbie Robertson spots Tombstone riding by, he’s distressed. Meanwhile, in South America, Tarantula is ordered to kill Spider-Man.

Web of Continuity: This brief cameo is actually the first appearance of Tombstone. Like the Roland Rayburn and Tarantula subplots, Tombstone’s story is continued in Spectacular Spider-Man.

Production Note: The flexographic printing in this issue is atrocious. Some of the word balloons are simply illegible.

Review: Okay, two issues in a row with silly villains is a little much. Not content with just remote-controlling outdated robots, Steve now has to wear a ridiculous power-suit (reminiscent of the one worn by Transformers villain Circuit-Breaker, only more revealing) and cause havoc in Times Square. If this poor kid’s fashion sense is okay with partial sleeves, a bare midriff, and exposed thighs, maybe he deserved to be picked on. The story ends with Jake comforting Steve as he’s placed in custody, as he swears that they’ll work out their problems…together. Any story that ends with the actual line “that’s a promise…friend” as the high school jock gives the misunderstood nerd a thumbs-up has obviously crossed the line into camp. The comic was published when the majority of the audience didn’t consist of jaded middle-aged men, so I’ll cut it a little slack, I guess.

Conway does try to use the story to make a statement about Peter Parker, as Peter and MJ disagree over whether or not he was ever like Steve. It’s interesting that MJ is adamant that Peter was never a “loser” in high school, since that’s one of the terms I hear people use to describe him when discussing a return to the “classic” status quo. Their discussion about Peter’s personality, and his response to his teenage alienation, is my favorite part of the issue, and an early indication that Conway can handle their relationship well.


Josh said...

This was my second comic ever. I bought this along with part 3 of the second Peter David Sin-Eater story running concurrently in Spectacular, and thought it strange that "Phreak Out" had Sin-Eaters stutter on the cover, but not in the issue.

BTW, it'd be really cool if you jumped over to Spectacular Spider-Man and covered the Tombstone saga, I'd really like to know if those issues are as good as my memory thinks they are!

Matt said...

"...reminiscent of the one worn by Transformers villain Circuit-Breaker, only more revealing..."

I find this comment hilarious.

wwk5d said...

"reminiscent of the one worn by Transformers villain Circuit-Breaker, only more revealing"

I find this comment disturbing.

G. Kendall said...

I like the idea of exclusively reviewing WEB and trying to discern the entire Spider-Universe from this one book. I do think the initial Tombstone storyline is great, though, and I've reread it several times over the years.

Harry said...

"...reminiscent of the one worn by Transformers villain Circuit-Breaker, only more revealing..."

Perhaps it's nostalgia, but I see nothing wrong with the visual design of Circuit-Breaker, and think that the character could have worked in the Marvel-616 universe, facing against genuine robots and perhaps the likes of Iron Man. OK, it did get kind of old the way that, when faced with warring factions of Transformers, she almost always took out the Autobots...

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