Credits: Gerry Conway (plot), Stan Lee (script), Gil Kane (penciler), Sal Buscema, Mike Eposito, & Alan Kupperberg (inks), Rick Parker (letterer), Nel Yomtov, Evelyn Stein, & Bob Sharen (colors)
The Plot: Spider-Man finds himself a captive of Psycho-Man, who mistakenly believes he still possesses the Uni-Power. With the aid of Psycho-Man’s fellow captives, Spider-Man escapes and battles Psycho-Man in the heart of the Microverse. When Spider-Man destroys Psycho-Man’s size-control device, he shrinks into apparent nothingness. Spider-Man’s newfound friends restore him to his proper size, and the hero returns home to MJ.
The Subplots: None.
Web of Continuity: Following two line-wide crossovers in the annuals, Marvel decided to do smaller crossovers, consisting of only three chapters each. This is the final installment of “Spidey’s Totally Tiny Adventure,” which ran through all of the 1990 Spider-Man annuals.
Review: Okay, it’s time for “Spidey’s Totally Tiny Adventure,” which I’m sure wasn’t influenced by Honey, I Shrunk the Kids at all. Apparently, editor Jim Salicrup wanted to reunite as many of the classic Spidey creative teams as possible during his stint, but many of the creators weren’t fully available. Consequently, we get an annual crossover plotted by regular writer Gerry Conway, scripted by Stan Lee, penciled by Gil Kane (who most likely only provided breakdowns), and inked by various creators. The inconsistent inking doesn’t do the book any favors, since this isn’t quite the Gil Kane Spidey you remember from those Marvel Tales reprints. (I couldn’t believe this was the same guy who drew the “Death of Captain Stacy” arc as a kid; probably because I didn’t notice John Romita inked those original issues.) Spider-Man looks great in a few panels, but the design of his costume, and sometimes his entire body type, seems to fluctuate from panel to panel. The story is obviously silly, and since Stan Lee apparently stopped scripting in a consciously “serious” style around 1970, he’s an appropriate choice for the storyline. Most of the jokes aren’t too corny, and the story keeps going at a steady pace. All of this is noticeably rushed, but it’s still entertaining.
Salesday for a Shootout
Credits: Gerry Conway (writer), Ross Andru (penciler), Mike Eposito (inks), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colors)
The Plot: MJ and Aunt May’s trip to the mall is interrupted by anti-capitalist terrorists. The Punisher arrives to stop them, but the terrorists use MJ and Aunt May as a shield. May fakes a heart attack, giving the Punisher an opportunity to finish the terrorists.
Review: A Punisher/Aunt May team-up story, brought to you by the creative team who wrote and drew the Punisher’s first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #129. Is “classic” too strong a word? I’m sure Punisher’s diehard fans hated seeing him in stories like this, but I usually enjoyed his occasional interactions with the rest of the Marvel Universe as a kid. Acknowledging the sheer gimmickry of the story, Conway tries to make it as plausible as possible and doesn’t play it as outright comedy. The most unrealistic aspect of the story is just how calm Aunt May remains throughout the whole ordeal. You would think going through this would scar her for the rest of her short life, but she remains especially cool and even delivers a composed recap of the events to the media after the Punisher escapes.
Eleven Angry Men…And One Angry Woman
Credits: Peter David (writer), June Brigman (penciler), Stan Drake (inks), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colors)
The Plot: MJ is the only juror willing to convict a burglar caught by Spider-Man. After she refuses to budge, the jury is declared deadlocked. The defendant is confident he’ll survive a new trial, until he sees Spider-Man (on his way to pick up MJ) swing by the window. He accepts a plea bargain and is sent to jail.
Review: This is an homage to Twelve Angry Men, based around the premise that Spider-Man’s habit of leaving criminals webbed up in public isn’t actually enough evidence to convict them. The combination of a weary judge and inexperienced defense attorney leaves Mary Jane on the jury, and she of course refuses to believe the burglar’s claim that Spider-Man was the real culprit. Peter David spends most of the story on the interactions between the frustrated jurors and MJ, and gets a decent amount of comedy out of the idea. It’s a strong premise for a story, and David is pithy enough to get the point across within a few pages.
Credits: Tony Isabella (writer), Steve Ditko (artist), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colors)
The Plot: A suburban stockbroker couple summons demons to help them play the market. The demons soon escape and cause havoc in the neighborhood. The Uni-Power allows two-year-old Eddie to become Captain Universe. The baby Captain banishes the demons in a flash of light.
Review: Gil Kane, Ross Andru, and Steve Ditko in the same Spider-Man comic. Of course, they’re not all drawing Spider-Man, but let’s not be greedy. This is a comedy story by Tony Isabella, who did a few jobs for the Spider-office during this era. It is honestly funny, and uses the Captain Universe concept quite well. I do have to wonder about the “demons” Ditko’s designed for the story, though, as they look more like friendly Muppets.