The Coming Storm
Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Stephen Baskerville (inker), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)
The Plot: After the Daily Bugle exposes weapons testing at ESU, Spider-Man travels there to investigate Project: Sandstorm. He arrives just as the project explodes, killing Marcus Devane, the corporate representative who advanced the project against Marla Madison’s wishes. Spider-Man rescues Marla, but discovers that her lab assistant, Tony Trainer, has been transformed into a mass of sand. Suddenly, Sandman and Quicksand arrive, just as Sandstorm emerges from the wreckage.
The Subplots: In spite of her reduced role, MJ is improving as an actress on Secret Hospital. Peter is considering a job taking cast photos for the soap. Meanwhile, Jonah Jameson impulsively fires Betty after learning that she’s investigated his wife without his knowledge.
Web of Continuity: Project: Sandstorm uses “bio-samples” from Sandman and Quicksand, obtained without their knowledge and possibly illegally, according to Marcus Devane. Presumably, Sandman and Quicksand learned of the project through the Daily Bugle article, and conveniently arrived just as it exploded.
Review: It apparently dawned on someone that a former Spider-Man villain and a current Thor villain had the same powers, which naturally means that they must be forced together into the same storyline. I don’t know if this was always what Kavanagh had in mind when he began the phony Robbie/Betty “affair” storyline, but he’s decided it’s good enough as a payoff to the long-running subplot. Not surprisingly, it turns out Marla’s working as the moral compass of the project, and it’s the big ol’ corporate meanie who’s only concerned with results and profits. What exactly is so unethical about the project isn’t clear, aside from the fact that Sandman and Quicksand’s cell samples are being used without their permission, which doesn’t seem like such a giant scandal that Robbie and Betty would risk their careers for the expose. Yes, it turns out that the project is too dangerous to be conducted in a populated area, but you’ve got to figure anyone living in the Marvel Universe’s Manhattan is used to this kind of thing by now. Perhaps the mere existence of weapons testing on a college campus is supposed to be the big scandal, which is a fair enough point, but nothing in the story indicates why they’re doing this work at ESU anyway.
The Peter Parker drama of the issue is another forced attempt at selling “marital tensions” between Peter and MJ. Life with Peter’s just so hard, she’s now channeling her anger through her acting, which is actually making her a better performer. Admittedly, Kavanagh doesn’t make the scene too dramatic, and actually shows us the playful side of their marriage for a few pages, but it’s yet another “MJ’s too weak to handle this life” scene; a subplot I’ve always found misguided and annoying.
Tainted Part One
Credits: Carl Potts (writer), Bill Wyllie (penciler), Fred Fredricks (inker), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)
The Plot: While stopping a shipment of tainted cancer medications, Cardiac is attacked by the Scorpion. Before he can reach his beta-staff, Cardiac is knocked unconscious by Scorpion.
Review: Well, Carl Potts at least remembers Cardiac’s gimmick. This back-up is just an extended fight scene so there’s not much to say about it, although I did enjoy Wyllie's subdued, retro-art style and clear storytelling.