Monday, October 31, 2011

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #112 - May 1994

Pursuit Part Three - Trail’s End

Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Alex Saviuk (breakdowns), Stephen Baskerville & Al Milgrom (finishes), Krol, Powell, & Dutro (letterers), Nel Yomtov (colorist)

The Plot: The Chameleon stages a prison bus accident, forcing Spider-Man to capture the escaped cons while Chameleon escapes. Spider-Man then follows the explosive clues left by the Chameleon until he reaches his location -- the Kravinoff Estate.

The Subplots: Reynard and Warrant leave government service in order to avoid bad publicity, on the condition that the Deputy Attorney General sends freelance bounty hunter work their way. Dr. Kafka agrees not to reveal Warrant’s recent actions if the government funds a new Ravencroft facility. On Spider-Man’s advice, she calls John Jameson and offers him the role of security chief.

Web of Continuity: Following the revelation that his parents were synthetic robots created by the Chameleon in Amazing Spider-Man #388, Spider-Man has launched a grim search for the villain.

*See _________ For Details: The previous chapters of “Pursuit” are Spider-Man #45 and Spectacular Spider-Man #211. The story is concluded in Amazing Spider-Man#389.

Gimmicks: This issue comes with three free trading cards, bound in the staples, promoting the upcoming Spider-Man trading card series.

Review: If you thought “Lifedeath”’s revelation that Peter Parker’s parents were robots was dumb, “Pursuit” just smacks you in the face and mocks your mother with its inanity. The premise of the mini-crossover is that Spider-Man has been driven over the edge following the exposure of his phony parents, and will stop at nothing to capture, and possibly kill, the Chameleon. The story consists of a lot of grunting, crying, howling with rage, and teeth gritting. Except in the Spectacular chapter, written by short-term writer Mike Lackey, which inconsistently had Spider-Man reverting to his old persona and cracking jokes while in the middle of his blood vendetta. (The four monthly Spider-Man titles had three different editors during this period, which always seemed like a bad idea to me). The most galling moment of this particular chapter has the Chameleon, astonished by Spider-Man’s behavior, reminding him that he’s supposed to be a hero. Spider-Man dutifully rebukes himself, leaves Chameleon behind and rescues the innocents endangered by the escaped criminals, and then goes back to his ‘roid-rage Batman routine. Ugh.

Regardless of my feelings for this crossover, I have to admit that on a purely commercial level, I fell for it. I still purchased Amazing, but rarely looked at the spinoffs by this point. The most recent issue of Web I purchased was during the “Name of the Rose” arc several years earlier. Curious to see if Marvel really would take Spider-Man “too far,” I dutifully collected each issue of this crossover, and even though I was disappointed by each one, I kept going until the conclusion.

Aside from finding the entire event melodramatic and silly, I distinctly remember being stunned by the ‘90s revamp of Alex Saviuk’s style. This was the guy who drew those early, Romita-style Spidey comics I loved as a kid? If I had purchased one of the earlier issues from this era, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so shocked, but considering that Saviuk only did breakdowns on this issue, Stephen Baskerville’s work was particularly unsettling. Did Spidey really look like this now?

Visually, the entire comic was a confusing experience for me, since Al Milgrom seemed to swap random pages with Baskerville as finisher. His pages have a classic Romita look, echoing the style I remembered from those early Web issues (aside from Spidey’s giant eyes, of course). An entire comic with that look I wouldn’t mind, but the abrupt Liefeld-ization of Saviuk’s pencils was a lot for me to take in.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I fell for "Pursuit" too. At this time I was reading Amazing and Web. I didn't like Sal Buscema's artwork, so I didn't read Spectacular. I think I didn't read Spider-Man because it cost more (or at least it did initially; not sure if that was still the case at this time).

(I can't believe I disliked Sal's work on Spectacular, by the way -- these days, in retrospect, he's one of my very favorite Spider-Man artists.)

Anyway, I didn't like the "Lifetheft" revelation, and I didn't like "Pursuit" or any of the grim "I am the Spider" stuff that followed... but I bought it all anyway.

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