Thursday, November 3, 2011

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #115 - August 1994

Live and Let Die Part Three - Shellshocked!

Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Alex Saviuk (breakdowns), Don Hudson (finishes), Steve Dutro (letterer), Kevin Tinsley (colorist)

The Plot: Spider-Man searches Lance Bannon’s apartment and runs into his fiancée. He tries to console her and promises that Lance will be avenged. Meanwhile, Betty has dinner with Archer Bryce. Later that night, Façade breaks into her apartment. Spider-Man arrives to save her, but finds himself paralyzed by Façade’s bio-electric attack.

The Subplots: Aunt May has had a stroke, and Mary Jane is unable to contact Peter, who still refuses to return home. Later, she receives a phone call from May’s mystery friend.

Web of Continuity: This storyline is supposed to be occurring simultaneously with the “Shrieking” arc in Amazing Spider-Man, which established Aunt May’s stroke and Spider-Man’s new anti-social attitude.

*See _________ For Details: The mystery man with a connection to the Parkers will make his next appearance in Spider-Man #49.

I Love the ‘90s: Spider-Man quotes Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley character while fighting Façade.

Review: And, in the shocking penultimate episode of “Live and Let Die”, we discover…that Betty is suspicious that Archer Bryce is Façade. Sound familiar? Almost all of the “clues” in this arc are dedicated to hints that are so obvious they have to be red herrings, while the actual mystery is abandoned to make room for pointless fight scenes and a few cross-continuity references. When Kavanagh focuses on Spider-Man’s guilt over not knowing Lance Bannon well enough, and his feeble attempts to comfort his fiancée, the issue at least has a few pages of competent character work. Unfortunately, they don’t even match the cross-continuity the issue is trying to maintain. Spider-Man’s mindset is radically different in the concurrent “Shrieking” arc, not to mention his speech pattern.

“Shrieking” is the storyline that famously brought us “I AM THE SPIDER!!!” -- perhaps the greatest melodramatic excess of J. M. DeMatteis’ career. The story reads better than a simple summary would have you believe, probably because DeMatteis writes Shriek and Carrion so well in it and Mark Bagley’s art is fantastic, but it’s still one of the more ridiculous Spidey stories. If you are trying to tie in with it, though, that means you have to present a dark, brooding Spider-Man that’s past the point of a nervous breakdown; one that can only view himself as “The Spider” and can’t even bear the sight of his loved ones. Kavanagh is absolutely not writing that character, even if he does throw in one “The Spider” reference early on. Spider-Man’s supposed to be a monosyllabic loon at this point, not someone who’s still joking and throwing SNL references around. I don’t know how the other two monthly Spider-Man titles (or the concurrent annuals and quarterly Spider-Man Unlimited book) handled “Shrieking” at this time, but it’s hard to imagine them doing a worse job.

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