Monday, August 29, 2011

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #100 - May 1993

Total War

Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Joe Rubinstein (inker), Steve Dutro (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)

The Plot: After escaping the android members of the New Enforcers, Spider-Man heads to ESU and develops a new hard-web agent. Donning his spider-armor, he heads for the Foreigner's mansion. There, Spider-Man is caught in a fight between Blood Rose and the New Enforcers. Stalking Blood Rose, Gauntlet arrives. Before he can gain revenge, Gauntlet is confronted by Nightwatch. Nightwatch takes back his power-glove, leaving a wounded Gauntlet for Spider-Man to discover. With the Enforcers defeated, and two Richard Fisks unmasked, a confused Spider-Man allows the police to sort matters out.

The Subplots: After the New Enforcers are sent to prison, another group of criminals calling themselves the New Enforcers is thrilled that “the outer circle took the fall.” They’re now prepared to rule the underworld.

Web of Continuity: The final tally of New Enforcers members includes…Dragon Man, Dreadnought, Super-Adaptoid, Vanisher, Eel, Blitz, Thermite, Plantman, and Tangle. The secret members who aren’t arrested in the end are Mr. Fear, Madame Menace, the Controller, the Fixer and Mentallo.

Richard Fisk reveals that his best friend Alfredo Morelli was actually posing as him during the “Name of the Rose” storyline. His verbatim explanation: “You volunteered your combat experience, Alfredo…to help me try to destroy the Fisk Syndicate without setting off a mob war. But the plastic surgery -- the pressures of the puppet position -- unhinged your mind…you eventually refused to acknowledge any identity other than ‘Richard Fisk.’”

*See _________ For Details: Empire State University was damaged by the Human Torch in Fantastic Four #373.

Gimmicks: This is a double-sized issue with a cardstock holo-graphix cover. The cover price is $2.95.

Review: There are no words to describe the utter inanity of this comic. It’s horrible. I don't think that's much of a revelation. I don’t have the energy to detail fully just how bad this is, so I’ll try to list the low points in a simple bullet-point form.

* There is absolutely no justification for the “spider-armor” gimmick. It’s not even armor; it’s just hardened webbing that gets destroyed during the fight anyway. The armor is a dumb, gimmicky premise that’s only here to chase a fad and get on the cover. I would say it was created to sell action figures, but Marvel wasn't producing any new Spider-Man action figures at the time.

* Why do the Enforcers now consist of around thirty-eight members? It’s a random collection of characters that don’t mesh well together, and they’re all cheapened because Kavanagh can only use them as cannon fodder. The whole premise of a “New Enforcers” is flawed. Even during the early ‘60s, the original Enforcers were already an outdated, old-timey take on mobsters. I can’t imagine Stan and Steve really wanted the audience to take these guys seriously. The Enforcers are a fun premise, not an excuse to cram together any C-list villain that has an opening this month. And am I a total cynic for assuming that the secret cabal within the New Enforcers never appeared again?

* Nightwatch is a flagrant Spawn rip-off. There, I said it. I realize this fact sailed right past many readers, but you can’t slip this stuff by me.

* Richard Fisk was really Alfredo Morelli, and Blood Rose, who we were led to believe was Alfredo Morelli, was actually Richard Fisk. Oh, were there thought balloons that indicated “Richard Fisk” was Richard Fisk in “Name of the Rose”? Well, that just means Alfredo was nuts by that point. And his appearance? Plastic surgery, of course. If it works in the soaps, it’s good enough for superhero comics. Who cares if this plot point is nonsensical and needlessly confusing…it’s a twist. It’s always important to screw the audience around keep the readers on their toes.

Okay, maybe this was terrible. But surely Terry Kavanagh won’t be making any more contributions to Spidey continuity, right?

The Origin of Nightwatch

Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Derek Yaniger (artist), Steve Dutro (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)

The Plot: During an AIM hijacking, Dr. Kevin Trench is rescued by Nightwatch. When Nightwatch is killed, Trench is shocked to discover an older version of himself inside the costume. Donning the outfit, Trench tries to rescue his girlfriend Ashley, but inadvertently kills her in an explosion. Determined never to complete the time loop, Trench exiles himself to an island and rejects the Nightwatch identity.

Review: As horrific as this issue’s main story is, I have to give Kavanagh credit for creating an intriguing origin story for Nightwatch. A man is given an organic superhero outfit by his future self, only to botch his first mission and kill his girlfriend? Ouch. Trench knows that he’ll die in the Nightwatch identity, so he thinks he can outwit fate on a deserted island, only to find himself wearing the costume again years later in New York City. There’s a decent amount of potential there. It actually reminds me of the more interesting time travel plots on LOST, before the show descended into nonsense. Still, nothing excuses that outfit, and emphasizing its “living” qualities is just provoking a lawsuit from McFarlane.


The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

They DID make a toy:

I can't think of any other reason for this story to have been made. It was pointless at the time and 20 years' hindsight has not been kind.

Matt said...

I was 14 years old at the time this issue came out, and I'll readily admit that I wasn't an especially discerning reader. But even then, I thought this story was just, as you said, horrible.

It's my understanding that Mackie and Kavanagh are (or at least were) pretty good friends in real life. I wonder what Mackie thought about his friend's bizarre "resolution" to his Rose storyline?

I think you're right, by the way -- I don't recall the "Inner Circle" of the New Enforcers ever appearing again. I'm sure Kavanagh would have gotten back to them, but "Maximum Carnage" and the Infinity Crusade crossovers probably derailed him. And then, in fairly short order, came the Clone Saga...

I just looked to see what issues are coming up... you've got a lot of terrible stories to tell us about. I can't wait!

j said...

I was wondering if you were going to do this one. It was quite a low point in Spider-Man history.

Although the lowest was yet to come.

G. Kendall said...

It's strange that two years after its one-issue appearance, Marvel got an action figure out of this. Was it in the cartoon? I think it was in one of the video games, also.

And, yeah, WEB doesn't have a bright future...even though it lumbers along for over two more years.

Jeff said...

I'm pretty sure it was in the series finale of the cartoon. Spider-Man leads a team of alternate universe Spidey's that all have various costumes he's worn throughout the years. The whole two-parter takes a bunch of shots at the clone saga,too, which is awesome. (Part 1 titled is "I Really, Really Hate Clones")

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