Monday, February 13, 2012

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #124 - May 1995

The Mark of Kaine Part One - Walls
Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Steven Butler (breakdowns), Randy Emberlin (finishes), Steve Dutro (letterer), Kevin Tinsley (colorist)

The Plot: Peter Parker is placed on trial for murder, while Ben Reilly and his friend Dr. Seward Trainer look after an expecting Mary Jane. When an inmate accidentally starts a fire with a cigarette, Peter pulls open his cell bars and performs CPR on the dying prisoner. He narrowly returns to his cell before the firefighters arrive.

The Subplots: Jonah Jameson is secretly paying for Peter’s high-profile lawyer, and attempting to bury the story in the Daily Bugle. The third Peter Parker returns to Aunt May’s home, distraught over her death. Stunner is convinced that Peter is innocent. She turns to Detective Jacob Raven for help, certain that the true killer also killed Doctor Octopus. Kaine, still convinced that MJ is destined to die soon, drags her into the sewers to warn her. She runs away and crashes into the third Peter Parker on the street.

Web of Continuity: Aunt May passed away in Amazing Spider-Man #400…or so we naively thought. A few years later, the perfectly logical explanation that she had been replaced by a dying, genetically-altered actress is given. Norman Osborn, who of course has been secretly alive since Amazing Spider-Man #122, arranged the deception and kept the real Aunt May prisoner in a secluded hunting lodge in upstate New York.

*See _________ For Details: Ben Reilly convinced Peter and MJ to trust his friend Dr. Seward Trainer in Spider-Man #57.

Review: I’m not sure if even hardcore Clone Saga fans like the trial of Peter Parker storyline. Aside from slowing down the overall story arc, it’s based on the premise that mimicking the OJ trial with Peter Parker as a stand-in is somehow a good idea. Wasn’t everyone absolutely sick of OJ by this point? Did we really want to be reminded of the never-ending trial while purchasing the latest ill-conceived Spider-crossover? I realize the creators had to stretch things out during this period, but I can’t believe this is the best they could generate.

Mercifully, Terry Kavanagh doesn’t seem too interested in the trial, either (or perhaps he’s been told to buy time and delay the actual start of the trial for a future chapter). So, we get a healthy dose of subplots, leading in to new storylines that of course aren’t resolved in this title. Ben and Dr. Trainer, who bizarrely dresses like an X-Man circa 1991, check on MJ’s baby, which turns out to be yet another hard sell for Ben, allowing him to take care of Peter’s fatherly duties while he’s in jail. MJ’s pregnancy is more of an excuse to write her and Peter out of the book than a story in its own right, so I consider that another strike against the idea. I do like Jonah Jameson’s scenes, which have him exhibiting his often-hidden paternal feelings for Peter. The Stunner/Detective Raven subplot sets up the resolution to the murder mystery, which is so obvious anyone should be able to guess, yet it somehow manages to be several chapters away. Kaine’s story is essentially a lie, since apparently no one at the time honestly planned on killing MJ (I seem to recall the resolution to his “vision” is particularly bad). And…what else? Oh, yes. The third Peter Parker. Another idea that’s a needless time-killer, and a gratuitous way to screw with the readers. So, this is by and large a sorry lot, even if we are spared the courtroom scenes.


Matt said...

Somehow I never made the connection between this storyline and the O.J. Simpson trial. Weird.

Anyway, the return of Aunt May a couple years later really bothered me. The ret-con was awful, and I didn't think she needed to come back in the first place. Maybe I was in the minority, but I thought her death issue was great, and I didn't miss her when she was gone.

Anonymous said...

I think most people loved the "death of Aunt May" issue. J.M. DeMatteis did a really good job writing a touching story, and I believe most critics of the "Clone Saga" point to issue #400 as one of the few redeeming stories amidst the "clonage".

wwk5d said...

Yea, May death is #400 is one of the few highlights of the era, and even against other eras, stands a strong, well written issue. And I think she should have stayed dead, as she had one of the better written death scenes.

So at this point in the story, there are 4 versions of Peter running around? Oy...

Matt said...

Yes, I phrased that poorly... I don't think I'm in the minority as far as enjoying ASM #400, but I do sometimes feel like I'm one of the few (along with wwk5d, of course) who had no problem with Aunt May staying dead.

I really liked the post-Clone Saga status quo where Peter and Mary Jane were living in Aunt May's old house with meddling Aunt Anna. That could have lasted for years.

Anonymous said...

We could have avoided that whole "One More Day" story-line too!

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