Friday, February 17, 2012

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #126 - July 1995

Opening Statements- The Trial of Peter Parker Part One
Credits: Todd Dezago (writer), Roy Burdine (penciler), Randy Emberlin & Don Hudson (inkers), Krul, Crespi, & Babcock (letters), Kevin Tinsley (colors)

The Plot: As Ben Reilly takes Peter Parker’s place on trial, Spider-Man confronts Kaine. He tries to convince Kaine to confess to framing Ben, but he refuses. Detective Raven and Stunner arrive to apprehend Kaine, but they’re interrupted by Judas Traveller. Traveller teleports Spider-Man and Kaine away.

The Subplots: None.

*See _________ For Details: Detective Raven was convinced by the Scarlet Spider of Peter Parker’s innocence in Amazing Spider-Man #402.

Review: A bizarre sickness struck the American public in the 1990s, convincing them that courtroom trials are inherently fascinating. Or perhaps it was just the media, since the average stint of jury duty would’ve disabused most people of this myth. I can understand why the public was enthralled by the OJ Simpson trial in its early days, but I’ll never understand the years of relentless OJ mania that followed the white Bronco chase. Now, this nonsense has invaded my superhero comics, and it really hasn’t aged well.

Almost half of the issue is devoted to the opening arguments of the Peter Parker murder trial. Aside from a few attempts at establishing that this is a high-profile case with excessive media coverage, the courtroom scenes are as boring as real court. The only character that’s supposed to be exhibiting any personality is Peter/Ben’s defense attorney, who’s allegedly an F. Lee Bailey style legal genius, but Dezago gives him a fairly generic opening statement. Not that you can really blame Dezago, I guess, since he’s writing comics for a living instead of defending celebrities in court. As for the celebrity aspect of the trial, I’ve always hated that. I could live with Peter making a few local talk show appearances to promote his photo book Webs, but making him a notorious alleged killer in the middle of a national media circus was way too much. That’s imitating OJ for the sake of imitating OJ.

The action portion of the issue is yet another Spider-Man vs. Kaine sequence. Roy Burdine’s doing a blatant McFarlane riff, but is unfortunately imitating the uglier aspects of that style. Almost every panel in the fight is excessively large, making the padding of the issue even more noticeable. The actual content of the brawl is also disappointing, as Spider-Man and Kaine have a redundant conversation about his apparently irrational hatred of Ben Reilly. And, somehow through it all, Peter Parker still can’t grasp that Kaine is another one of his clones. Yikes. This just might be the worst clone saga chapter so far.

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