Monday, March 14, 2011

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #73 - February 1991

Head Quest

Credits: John Byrne (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Keith Williams (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)

The Plot: Peter and MJ accompany Kristy, Aunt May, and Willie Lumpkin to Alicia Master’s art exhibit. The Headsmen have tracked Spider-Man to the exhibit, and soon invade the party. Spider-Man and the Human Torch team up to defeat the villains.

The Subplots: Peter is suffering indigestion after eating Willie Lumpkin’s lasagna. The fight interferes with his trip to the bathroom. During the melee, Kristy is rescued by a young painter named Peter Nicholas.

Web of Continuity: The Human Torch is still married to Alicia Masters as this time. Amazing Spider-Man has detailed Nathan Lubensky’s death and Aunt May’s subsequent relationship with the Fantastic Four’s mailman, Willie Lumpkin. Peter Nicholas is actually Colossus, who’s suffering from amnesia during this era of Uncanny X-Men. Kristy Watson’s name is misspelled “Kristie” for perhaps the first time. Namor makes a cameo appearance with his latest girlfriend, Carrie Alexander.

*See _________ For Details: The Headsmen previously attacked Spider-Man, hoping to steal his body for their member Chondu, in Sensational She-Hulk #3.

Forever Young: Both Peter Parker and Johnny Storm reflect on how much their lives have changed since becoming superheroes. Horror of horrors…they’re now married twenty-somethings! If only this turn of events could be erased in the clumsiest manner possible.

I Love the (Early) ‘90s: Peter’s hair is now getting long in the back, yet it remains short in the sides and front. I think we all know what this means…

Creative Differences: Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein makes a one-panel cameo. It’s a funny reference to his art, although Lichtenstein’s dialogue appears to have been re-lettered. Considering Byrne’s established antipathy towards Lichtenstein’s work, I wonder if the scene was toned down by editorial.

Review: This actually isn’t part one of a four-part storyline, these issues just happened to be published when Marvel was going through its phase of promoting serialized storylines on the covers. I assume these cover labels helped sales, considering that a standalone serialized arc still tended to signify an important storyline in those days, but there’s no other defense for using one here. The other three issues in this “arc” involve art-themed villains, and Colossus shows up again, but that’s the extent of any connection with this issue. As for this issue, it’s silly, harmless fun. Most of the jokes are funny, and there’s an acknowledgment of the inherent absurdity of the premise (Spidey even asks, “How much further do we stretch the bounds of coincidence tonight…?” just as Colossus arrives to rescue Kristy). Even the bathroom humor is treated with some decorum, as we’re never really sure which way Peter needs to expel the bad lasagna. Web’s entering another long stretch of filler, but the guest stars and sheer silliness help this issue stand out.


wwk5d said...

“How much further do we stretch the bounds of coincidence tonight…?”

Was Byrne ever known for his meta comments? Not counting Next Men, I mean...

"If only this turn of events could be erased in the clumsiest manner possible."

I married a Skrull! vs. I made a deal with the devil! Take your pick.

The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

I remember really loving this four-parter when it came out. Starts out kind of goofy but then takes a hard turn into effectively creepy, with the insect-covered painter guy - nice arc.

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