Credits: Peter David (writer), Val Mayerick (artist), Rick Parker (letterer), Janice Cohen (colorist)
The Plot: MJ spots her friend Lorraine on a street corner, talking to a stranger named Winston. When Lorraine later collapses in the bathroom, MJ realizes that she’s on drugs and Winston was her dealer. Spider-Man begins to tail Winston, disrupting his drug sales and pressuring him to skip town. Frustrated, Winston heads to his supplier for protection. Instead, he’s killed for leading Spider-Man to their operation, which is soon shut down. Meanwhile, MJ searches for a rehab facility for Lorraine, who soon disappears and overdoses in an alley. As Peter and MJ leave to visit her in the hospital, another drug dealer emerges on the street corner.
The Subplots: None.
Review: It’s an ‘80s “Just Say No” comic! Does kid entertainment still do these stories, or is it all about saving the environment now? This isn’t quite as heavy-handed or preachy as most of the anti-drug stories from the era, which isn’t surprising since Peter David wrote it. Much of the story deals with the futility of the drug war, as even the Amazing Spider-Man is unable to chase one measly dealer out of town. Another dealer emerges only a few hours after Lorraine’s pusher is killed; just a few panels after Spider-Man declares that the drug war must be fought one street corner at a time. David is either using the scene as a call to arms or ending the story on a cynical note of hopelessness. How exactly a drug addict receives help is also dealt with, as MJ learns that all of the government-run rehab facilities have a six-month waiting list, and the one private institution she finds costs $50,000 a year. (According to this issue, rehab takes a full eighteen months of inpatient treatment. TV tells me today it’s no longer than three months! Also, rehab is spelled “re-hab” here, which reminds me of Stan Lee spelling “teenager” with a hyphen back in the ‘60s.) I like Spider-Man stories that deal with actual issues, as they go back to his roots as a more realistic hero, and David does a good job of making this feel like a genuine story and not a PSA. Lorraine turns up a few issues later but is soon forgotten, which is a shame since MJ needs more of a supporting cast on her own, and more could’ve been done with the character.