Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #47 - February 1989

The Face in the Mirror

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

The Plot: Spider-Man finds Hobgoblin rummaging through the remains of the Osborn Chemical Factory. While he faces a monster that spontaneously emerges from the wreckage, Hobgoblin escapes. Later, Hobgoblin attacks the Osborn home, as Peter Parker arrives for a visit. In order to get rid of him, Harry Osborn tells him that what he wants is at his father’s old office in Manhattan. Later, a distressed Harry digs his father’s Green Goblin costume out of the attic.

The Subplots: Glory Grant has begun dating Eduardo Lobo, a man Ben Urich believes is a mobster. Their date at a shopping mall is interrupted when the escalator comes alive and attacks the patrons. Peter and MJ spend the weekend at Aunt May’s boarding house. They suggest MJ’s cousin Kristy stay with May, since she has more time to care for a teenager.

Web of Continuity: Due to the events of “Inferno,” demons are invading New York and inanimate objects are coming alive. The darkness that’s engulfing Manhattan is also apparently responsible for Harry’s visions of the Green Goblin in the mirror. Kristy Watson first appeared in Spectacular Spider-Man #145, claiming that her parents sent her to New York to spend a few months with the Parkers while they vacation in Europe. Kristy can never stop eating and has a massive crush on Peter. One of those plot points becomes important later on.

*See _________ For Details: The Osborn Chemical Factory was destroyed by “Inferno” related chaos in Spectacular Spider-Man #146.

Creative Differences: Page four of the story (a splash page of the debris-monster clutching Spider-Man) was clearly intended to be the original cover. Not only is the top of the page blank, leaving enough room for the logo and corner box, but you can find a hidden spider in the wreckage.

Review: Following literally years of fill-ins, Web of Spider-Man now has a regular monthly writer. And it’s Gerry Conway no less; the writer who guided the original series through much of the ‘70s, and was doing great work on Spectacular Spider-Man at the time. His first official issue is designated as an “Inferno” crossover, but that doesn’t get in the way of any of the ongoing storylines Conway’s developing. I’ve heard people dismiss “Inferno” offhand over the years, but I’ve never heard a clear explanation of why you’re supposed to hate it, outside of the fact that it’s a crossover and comics fans are obligated to hate crossovers. “Inferno” is about demons attacking Manhattan; if you want to know why, read the X-books. Otherwise, just accept that Manhattan is overrun with demons and enjoy the ride. This is the crossover that brought us a nearly dead Daredevil fighting a demonic vacuum cleaner for an entire issue. It can’t be all bad.

Aside from using the demons as antagonists for a few issues, the Spider-books found a way to tie a few supporting cast members into the crossover event. In Amazing Spider-Man, Curt Connors is unable to control his Lizard persona due to “Inferno,” as Web and Spectacular show a similar reversion for Harry Osborn. It was inevitable that someone would revive the Green Goblin as Harry, but doing it as a part of “Inferno” works with the premise of the crossover, and it makes the event feel more like a legitimate story and less like an infringement on the ongoing series. The path taken after Harry dons the Goblin mask also works against expectations, and I’m glad the creators of this era didn’t go down the predictable route (as much as I enjoyed J. M. DeMatteis' later run on Spectacular Spider-Man, I don’t think the books were well-served by Harry becoming a villain again and dying).

Along with working in the crossover material and giving Spider-Man a few foes to punch, Conway expands on the character arcs he’s begun in Spectacular. Glory’s dating a mobster, who has a secret you’re only going to find in the Marvel Universe, or a really bad soap opera. Kristy Watson is stuck in Queens with Aunt May, although she’s intrigued by the potential baked goods she’ll get out of the deal. J. Jonah Jameson watches the bedlam in New York and wonders if this is the “End of the World” story he’s always planned. Mary Jane remarks that she’s glad she doesn’t have to live at Aunt May’s, foreshadowing the next turn in her life with Peter. This really feels like a Spider-Man comic, written by someone who knows his way around that world.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Ah, this issue I can comment on! I loved this one when I was younger -- my original copies of this and issue 48 are literally falling apart from having been read so many times. All these years, though, and I had no idea it was Gerry Conway's first issue on this title (excluding the fill-in a few months before).

Anyway, back then, I tended to grab pretty much anything with Hobgoblin on the cover -- unless it was drawn by McFarlane because even at age 10 I couldn't stand his artwork -- so I wound up with most of the "Inferno" Spider-Man issues, excluding the Amazing chapters. I'll be curious to see from your reviews how much sense it makes from just Web's perspective, since as I recall, the issues pretty much ran straight into each other (for example, when Hobgoblin shows up again next issue, he's suddenly part-demon).

I wish Marvel would collect Conway's Web and Spectacular into a few handy volumes, or that the Essentials would get it in gear and reach those issues. I recall those couple of years being a high point of my Spider-Man reading when I was a kid.

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