Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #128 - September 1995

Exiled Part One: Who Will Wear the Webs?
Credits: Tom DeFalco (plot), Todd Dezago (script), Steven Butler (penciler), Randy Emberlin (inker), Steve Dutro (letterer), Kevin Tinsley & Malibu (colors)

The Plot: The Black Cat questions if her relationship with Peter was real, following her discovery that he’s a clone. D’Spayre exploits her feelings and brainwashes her into hating Peter. Later, Peter and Ben visit Uncle Ben and Aunt May’s graves. They follow a mystery man who’s trailing them, only to discover he’s an employee of the Black Cat’s detective firm. He’s trailing people who might know about her disappearance. Peter and Ben search for Black Cat, only to be ambushed by her on a rooftop. Ben senses D’Spayre’s presence, as Black Cat fights off his influence. Afterward, Peter offers to sacrifice his Spider-Man identity to Ben, but Ben refuses.

The Subplots: Hoping to restart her modeling career, Mary Jane meets with a representative of a maternity clothing line.

Web of Continuity: An editor’s note informs us that Ben encountered D’Spayre in an untold tale from the past.

*See _________ For Details: A bewildered Black Cat visited Ben in prison in Spider-Man Unlimited #10.

Creative Differences: A few noticeable lettering corrections clarify some plot points, such as the connection between Peter and Ben’s “stalker” and the Black Cat. Two added balloons at the end of the D’Spayre fight have Ben Reilly explaining that the differences between him and Peter allowed them to defeat D’Spayre.

Review: “Exiled” was more time killer, although it’s thankfully less gimmicky and needlessly confusing than many of the clone saga’s mini-crossovers. We’re now at the point where Ben’s supposed to be taking over, yet Marvel still doesn’t seem to be able to let Peter Parker go. So, we get a few more months of Peter and Ben fighting throwaway villains with a couple of conversation scenes thrown in emphasizing that each character is his “own man.” Marvel tried to sell this line to placate fans who only knew the post-1975 Peter as the “real” one (which, let’s face it, was almost all of them), but it’s clearly a weak concession. Even after Peter is finally written out of the books, I don’t think he went more than a few weeks without an appearance, since Marvel immediately released a few miniseries to detail his new life in Portland.

Obviously, Marvel’s reluctant to do what they set out to do a year earlier and no one seems willing to admit that regardless of the attention the storyline originally brought to the titles, this was simply a bad idea that dragged on for too long. Maybe fandom was willing to embrace a new Green Lantern, or Iron Man’s best friend taking over, or the Flash’s sidekick replacing his mentor…but Spider-Man’s different. People buy the Spider-Man books to read about Peter Parker, and discovering that they haven’t been reading about him for the past twenty-five years is too bitter a pill to swallow. Tease the idea if you want, taunt the audience with the possibility of it being true for six months if you must, but you don’t actually do it. It’s unbelievable that Marvel let this story reach this point, but expecting the audience to tolerate months of filler while editorial finally makes up its mind is even more offensive.


Mela said...

I think the examples you sited show a pattern. Jim Rhodes & Wally West were both well-liked, well-established characters whose appearances weren't limited to their roles as eventual replacements. And while Kyle Raynor (sp?) was more of a blatant swap-out, the stories always went out of their way to show that his predecessor was a good man for most of his life and gave new readers an easy way to discover the GL world with the character (that's how I got into it, anyway).

Ben Reilly came out of nowhere, was around for what would only be a few months story-wise, and was created to be a replacement first & foremost. If he had been introduced years earlier as a neighbor or friend of Peter's, or even maybe if Peter knew that Ben was supposed to be his clone but the two lived their own lives (which we, the readers, got to see in-title), maybe he would've been better received.

Also, in all but Iron Man's case, the replacements were stepping in for dead heroes. Between the lack of a bond with the audience as a supporting player & the fact his "predecessor" was right there the whole time, Ben was pretty much screwed. The Clone Saga & its hero is really a textbook example of how not to do a legacy/replacement story.

Matt said...

I never understood the outraged mindset that since Peter was a clone, his stories somehow "didn't count" any more. He was a clone of Peter Parker, he used the name Peter Parker, and he was the only Spider-Man in action for twenty years, which meant that as far as readers were concerned, he was Peter Parker during that period. His being revealed as a clone didn't magically invalidate the previous two decades' worth of stories, and it certainly didn't suddenly make him a different character.

I may have been upset to see Peter written out of the titles in favor of Ben as the new Spider-Man, but I never had any problem with him being revealed as a clone.

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