Credits: Tony Isabella (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Keith Williams (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)
The Plot: Spider-Man breaks free of the ice, shortly before the Human Torch arrives to check on him. They follow the tracer Spider-Man left on Bora to the Avant Guard’s headquarters and confront the villains. The Painter grows bored with the fight, and when Spark and Bora question him, he transforms them into a painting. The Painter drops his human façade and unleashes the thousands of insects that reside inside his body. The insects evaporate as gas. Spider-Man picks up the remains of the Painter’s face and realizes it’s made of canvas.
The Subplots: MJ continues to keep the crew of “Secret Hospital” calm, even as the power goes out.
Web of Continuity: According to the Human Torch, the Painter was a small-time crook until he discovered a set of alien paints that allowed him to alter reality. Spider-Man’s suspicious of the story, which foreshadows this issue’s ending.
*See _________ For Details: The Torch first encountered the Painter in Strange Tales #108.
Review: Because everyone’s out of art/heart puns, “Art Attack!” must come to an end. (Maybe someday, the Avant Guard can return in a massive crossover entitled “Total Eclipse of the Art.”) The Painter is given something of a reboot at the story’s conclusion, as we discover he was never human at all. This was apparently done to retcon his “alien paint” origin, but I’m not even sure how it’s supposed to work. So, he’s actually a collection of sentient roaches that created a human identity and fabricated a story about finding cosmically powered art supplies? I can understand why someone would want to update his Silver Age origin, although it’s so ludicrous I’d like to see it stick around, but I’m not sure how this is an improvement. That said, I enjoyed Isabella’s collection of villains for this arc (I’m not sure if any of the early Human Torch solo stories had been reprinted at this point, so using the Painter is really going to the heights of obscurity), and Saviuk has handled the action scenes and various cameos well.