Monday, March 21, 2011

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #78 - July 1991

Toast of the Town…

Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Keith Williams (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Nel Yomtov (colorist)

The Plot: Mother Inferior sacrifices herself so that Spider-Man and the others can escape. Spider-Man escorts Anna and the Morlocks to safety, as the partygoers take care of the wounded and Cloak and Dagger face Firebrand. Spider-Man finally arrives and defeats Firebrand before he can escape with his protection money.

The Subplots: Spider-Man discovers the body of Munson, the civil servant responsible for renovating the hotel as a shelter. Anna later visits his grave, declaring that she’ll learn from his mistake and not look for easy solutions. J. Jonah Jameson funds the reconstruction of the hotel following the disaster.

Web of Continuity: In case you’re interested in Morlock genealogy, we learn that Mother Inferior is Ent’s mother. Aunt May is shocked to discover her former boarders, Victor and Rose, at the party. They explain that they’ve had a difficult time since May closed down the boarding house, but no other information is given. Obviously, the implication is that they’re living at the shelter (last issue established that the residents are working as servers during the fundraiser, which would explain why they’re dressed up), but the idea is immediately dropped.

*See _________ For Details: Firebrand is working for the mobster Bazin, who’s ordered Munson pay a protection fee in order to open a homeless shelter on his territory. Munson did pay, but Firebrand kept the money for himself. A footnote points to Darkhawk for more info on Bazin.

“Huh?” Moment: Firebrand is stashing the protection money he stole in an abandoned car, only a few feet away from the building he’s just set on fire. There’s a criminal genius.

Creative Differences: The letters page announces Howard Mackie will begin a five-issue run, focusing on the Kingpin and Richard Fisk, in issue #81. This is “The Name of the Rose,” which actually doesn’t begin until #84. Kurt Busiek writes a few fill-ins while the storyline is delayed.

Review: It’s admirable that Kavanagh isn’t padding out a simple idea in order to kill pages, but there’s a little too much going on here. The Daily Bugle staff, along with a few other members of the supporting cast, is trapped in a disaster movie (fitting for a story set in the Poseidon Hotel). Spider-Man’s encountered a group of Morlocks displaced by the new homeless shelter. Cloak and Dagger are looking for a missing friend who lives at the converted hotel. Aunt May discovers two of her former boarders are also staying at the shelter. Meanwhile, a new Firebrand causes havoc, and a well-intentioned bureaucrat pays a fatal price. All decent ideas, but when thrown into this blender, none of them amount to much. Cloak and Dagger never even encounter Anna, their motivation for entering this story. Instead, the two-parter ends with Anna visiting Munson’s grave, declaring that she’ll learn from his mistakes. What exactly does this mean? Maybe her appearances in Cloak and Dagger gave this character a captivating backstory, but all we know from reading Web is that she’s a homeless teen that Cloak and Dagger are pursuing. And while I’m glad the supporting cast hasn’t been forgotten, the casual dismissal of Victor and Rose’s homelessness is just bizarre. Why throw this idea out there and do nothing with it?

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