Thursday, February 23, 2012


Planet of the Symbiotes Conclusion - Mortal Victory
Credits: David Michelinie (writer), Steve Lightle (artist), Bill Oakley & N.J.O (letters), Marianne Lightle & Malibu (colors)

The Plot: Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, and Venom narrowly avoid a forty-foot tall Carnage and an army of alien symbiotes. They regroup at Peter’s home, much to MJ’s dismay. Venom develops a plan to overwhelm the symbiotes with psychic agony and force them into comas. While Venom harnesses his anguish at Our Lady of Sorrows, the two Spider-Men face Carnage again. During the battle, Carnage is knocked unconscious by an exploding gas truck, while the invading symbiotes suddenly disintegrate. Spider-Man realizes that Venom knew all along that his wave of mental sorrow would force the symbiotes into suicide. With MJ’s help, he decides the ends justified the means.

The Subplots: None.

Web of Continuity: Our Lady of Sorrows is the church where Eddie Brock contemplated suicide shortly before he joined with the alien symbiote and became Venom.

I Love the ‘90s: MJ sleeps in a Hootie & the Blowfish t-shirt.

Review: Wow, they wasted hired David Michelinie and Steve Lightle for this? I don’t think anyone considers “Planet of the Symbiotes” a classic, but to the editorial team’s credit, they did at least try to hire respectable creators for the project. This is the only chapter of this storyline I’ve ever read, so I imagine my enjoyment of the issue is hindered by coming in to the story so late. As a fan of David Michelinie’s early Venom stories, I can appreciate the significance of MJ meeting Venom face to face again, and his return to Our Lady of Sorrows, but the story’s so rushed and chaotic those scenes barely make an impact. As a kid, I always wondered if the alien symbiotes would get an origin story, or if we would ever see more of them arrive on Earth. This storyline covers all of that territory, but unfortunately it had to be published during a mega-event I viewed as utterly dumb and borderline insulting at the time, so I intentionally stayed away. Charging $3.95 a chapter for a five-part story also struck me as highway robbery anyway, so I didn’t mind missing out on this one. There were overpriced X-Men books I had to buy, anyway.

Cats and Robbers
Credits: Karl Kesel (writer), Patrick Zircher (penciler), Jeff Albrecht (inker), Jim Novak (letters), Tom Smith & Malibu (colors)

The Plot: Black Cat stakes out five-star restaurant Mikkal’s, anticipating a pair of thieves named Leather and Lace. While battling the duo, she notices Flash Thompson is on a date with a woman named Cinda inside. After defeating Leather and Lace, Black Cat asks Mikkal to return the favor and comp Flash’s meal.

Web of Continuity: Black Cat claims this is the first time she’s seen Flash since they broke up. She’s also using an unseen informant named Loop to tip her off to future crimes, enabling her to sell her services for “protection.” I had never heard of Loop, but apparently he's appeared a few times.

Review: Wow, they wasted hired Karl Kesel and Patrick Zircher for this? That’s certainly a higher level of quality than your average Web annual back-up. The premise of the story simply has Black Cat fighting two characters that somehow predate Jim Balent’s Tarot work, but it’s a fun read. The ending is also sweet, showing a side of Black Cat’s personality that most writers would probably ignore. One of the better Flash/Felicia stories, even if it does take place after their break-up.

Growing Pains Part Five - Where Monsters Dwell
Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Roger Robinson (penciler), Saleem Crawford (inker), Loretta Krol (letterer), Chia-Chi Wang (colorist)
The Plot: Ben Reilly encounters the newly mutated Lizard at Empire State Hospital, Ben’s new employer. The Lizard escapes, leading the Scarlet Spider to seek the aid of a new hero, Strongarm. Together, they track Lizard to a nearby zoo. Scarlet Spider defeats the Lizard by freezing him with fire extinguishers and trapping him in his webbing. Later, Strongarm visits a friend in the hospital who was injured by the Lizard.

The Subplots: Ben is trying to win over a coworker, Rick Barron, who seems to irrationally hate him. Rick’s girlfriend, Toni Moore, walks in on Ben in the hospital’s locker room.

*See _________ For Details: Ben knows that he’s the “real” Peter Parker, following the revelations of Spectacular Spider-Man #226. The Lizard previously attacked “Doc Purl’s party” in Spectacular Spider-Man Super Special #1.

Creative Differences: Once again from the Life of Reilly, Glenn Greenberg on this project:
Now, I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the "flip-book feature" in these five Super Specials-namely the SCARLET SPIDER five-parter that Tom Brevoort and I edited. Stretching across all five Super Specials, this would essentially be a Scarlet Spider limited series, which I thought was a pretty cool idea. Tom B. and I really did want to make it special, to produce a worthwhile story that further explored Ben Reilly as a character and deserved all the space that was being devoted to it. It was the kind of project that J.M. DeMatteis would have been perfect for, but I don't remember why we didn't get him to write it. He was probably too busy, or Tom B. and I simply wanted to use this project as an opportunity to bring in a different writer, one that we'd always wanted to work with.
Again, Danny Fingeroth was overseeing us on this, and somehow, for some reason, he got it into his head that we would be bringing back the Lizard for this story. Tom B. and I were present at the Spider-Man writers' conference where the idea had been mentioned in passing as a possibility, but we'd never committed to it as anything other than a possibility. And as I recall, neither Tom B. nor I had any real enthusiasm for the idea, so it wasn't something we were going to actively pursue.
Tom B. and I brought in John Ostrander, a writer who had greatly impressed me with his work on DC's SPECTRE series. The initial idea that John pitched us was very intriguing, about whether or not a clone could have a soul. Unfortunately, it conflicted with future plans in the main Spider-Man books. I think John took another stab or two at coming up with a story line, but for whatever reasons, we couldn't get his ideas approved, and John eventually decided to just move on. Not only that, but every time any new story idea came in, be it from Ostrander or another writer, Danny would ask, "Where's the Lizard?" Tom and I would roll our eyes and try to muddle through.
Eventually, it became clear that Danny would simply not approve any story idea that did not include the Lizard, and he had already started to push his own choice writers upon us. With time-and our patience-running out, Tom and I simply submitted to Danny's will and did whatever he wanted. Terry Kavanagh ended up writing the story, which featured the return of the Lizard.
This was one of the few instances where Tom Brevoort and I felt completely disconnected-creatively and emotionally-from a project we were working on. It became a project we had to endure, rather than something that we could really take any pride in having put together. Some time later, this Lizard story was systematically undone in the pages of SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, and no one was more pleased by this than Tom B. and myself.

: Wow, they wasted hired Terry Kavanagh and Roger Robinson for this? No, wait. That sounds about right. Yes, this is as bad as you expect. The Lizard has been mutated into a Jurassic Park reject, yet another Kooky Kavanagh Kreation is shoehorned into the story, and the art resembles something straight out of 1995’s Extreme Studios. I also have to wonder how exactly Ben’s found a job and cultivated a new supporting cast in such a short amount of time. I know about Ben’s career at the Daily Grind, but I had no idea there was a previous attempt to set him up as a staff assistant in a hospital. Regardless, Kavanagh doesn’t seem to have any new ideas for the personal drama, either. Did anyone really think giving Peter Ben yet another redheaded bully who hates him for no reason was clever? There’s even an appearance by a new Blonde Girl Who's out of His League, this one named Toni Moore. Man, I can’t wait to read about the orderly with the rich father and bizarre hairstyle who asks Ben to become his new roommate.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Y'know, we can all say what we will about Terry Kavanagh's skill (or lack thereof) as a writer, but you kinda have to give him some credit for just constantly throwing concepts and characters non-stop at the wall in the hope that something might stick.

Unfortunately, nothing did...

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