Monday, September 27, 2010

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN Annual #4 - 1988

Sweet Poison!

Credits: Steve Gerber (writer), Cynthia Martin (artist), Rick Parker (letterer), Janet Jackson (colorist)

The Plot: While on his book tour in Miami, Peter’s spider-sense is provoked by hotel maid Cecilia. Unbeknownst to Peter, Cecilia hears a mysterious voice that transforms her into the hero Poison. Peter meets her again as Spider-Man, while investigating Miami’s drug war. High Evolutionary’s men, the Eliminators, are choking the city’s cocaine supply and replacing it with a synthetic substitute. Miami mobster Slug orders his men to stop the Eliminators, leading to a fight with Spider-Man, Poison, and Man-Thing in the swamps. After the fight is over, the mystery presence leaves Cecilia and Peter is reunited with MJ at his hotel.

The Subplots: None

*See _________ For Details: A footnote points towards the first twelve issues of Marvel Comics Presents, which I’m assuming featured a Man-Thing story by Steve Gerber.

I Love the ‘80s: Cecilia’s son Carlos is obsessed with the G. I. Joe cartoon, which featured Steve Gerber as story editor for most of its run.

Review: The cover teases us with a Spider-Man/Slug confrontation, yet he only appears in one page in the story. During that one page, Slug demonstrates his ability to suffocate opponents in the folds of his fat, which makes the bait-and-switch even more painful. Why tease us with pure gold like this and then fail to deliver? Aside from tying in with the “Evolutionary War” crossover, the main goal of this issue is the introduction of another future Marvel Comics superstar, Poison. Poison might have the distinction of being the first Marvel heroine to flagrantly dress like a prostitute. She’s a Cuban immigrant, working as a maid, and her English isn’t exactly perfect. Gerber doesn’t give her an exaggerated, phonetically spelled accent, but she’s politically incorrect enough for me to question if she could’ve been created today. The story’s a bit of a mess, although it might seem that way to me because I’m not familiar with “Evolutionary War” or the Nexus of All Realities storyline from the early issues of Marvel Comics Presents.

Night Stalking!

Credits: Steve Gerber (writer), Alex Saviuk (artist), Rick Parker (letterer), Janet Jackson (colorist)

The Plot: Poison recalls her affair with a Soviet soldier and her subsequent exile to America. She believes that a trace of the spirit Ylandris is still within her. Looking for vengeance, Poison searches for men who resemble her former lover, but abandons the mission to be with her son.

Review: Wow, Poison’s already starring in her own annual back-up. She’s right up there with Silver Sable and the Rocket Racer. Gerber does make a Poison an intriguing character over the course of her origin story, but I have no idea what direction he might’ve been planning to take her. Thankfully, she wasn’t revived during the ‘90s Bad Girl fad, although I’m sure she’s shown up in Civil War or one of the other Marvel events from recent years that drag in everyone from the old Handbooks. The rest of the annual consists of a recap of the past year’s storylines from the various Spider-books, and another chapter in the High Evolutionary’s serial that ran in all of the 1988 annuals. Not a lot here if you really wanted original Spider-Man material.


Bob Temuka said...

Poison showed up in a couple of panels in the Wolverine: Enemy of the State story by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr, only to be quickly killed off by Wolvie. Although, to be fair, she'd already been killed off-screen by The Hand and resurrected. At least she'd lost the prostitute costume by then.

I have no idea why I know all this. I just do.

Matt said...

Hmm, Poison was also in a Howard Mackie-penned issue of Spider-Man during the Ben Reilly days, where she was illustrated by JR Jr. there, too. Odd.

When I was 9 years old, the Slug suffocating a man in his fat creeped me out beyond belief. Actually, it still kind of does...

Marvel is publishing an Ombnibus collection of 1989's Atlantis Attacks annual storyline next month. It would be nice if they did one for Evolutionary War too, since I have pretty good memories of the Spider-Man annuals from that storyline -- the ASM one introduced Speedball!

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