Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Sandblasted - Chapter One
Credits: D. G. Chichester (writer), Daerick Gross (artist), Liz Agrophiotis (letterer), Atomic Paintbrush (colors)

The Plot: Peter Parker is sent to cover a sandcastle building contest on Coney Island, judged by J. Jonah Jameson. Meanwhile, Sandman’s mole Skratchetti informs him that a local freakshow is being shipped a priceless mirror. Sandman steals the mirror from the freaks, but is confronted by Spider-Man.

The Subplots: Peter initially plans to spend his paycheck on a date with Betty, but realizes that he must help Aunt May with the bills.

Web of Continuity: Peter is still wearing glasses, living with Aunt May, and pursuing Betty during this story. Clearly, this is another “Untold Tale” even if it’s not officially labeled that way.

Review: I used to wonder why Marvel never reprinted these Cybercomics, but now I can understand why. Although each page initially looks like a standard comic book page (with most of the panels grayed out), I’ve discovered that hitting the space bar doesn’t automatically unlock the next panel. Instead, new word balloons often pop up in the existing panel. If Marvel did reprint this on paper, each individual panel would probably have to be blown up to almost a full page to make room for all of the dialogue. Plus, there’s the cheap “animation” that has new characters occasionally popping into existing panels after hitting the space bar. The reader would be stuck with a “repeating images” page of a static Peter and Betty having a mundane conversation that ends with a final panel with the same image, only now Jonah is leaning over the wall, telling them to get back to work.

In regards to content, this might not be worth reprinting anyway. At this point in the story, we’re still on the level of an annual backup, or a Fruity Peebles free comic giveaway. Perhaps Chichester has more planned, but right now all we have is a freakshow that’s somehow received a priceless picture frame, which makes them targets of the Sandman. As for the subplots, Peter must help Aunt May with the bills yet again, and he has to endure Flash kicking sand in his face while on his Daily Bugle assignment. This…isn’t riveting. Some of the jokes are amusing, though, and Daerick Gross’ artwork isn’t bad. (Although I question his decision to clad teenage Flash in a very tiny speed-o).

Sandblasted - Chapter Two
Credits: D. G. Chichester (writer), Daerick Gross (artist), Liz Agrophiotis (letterer), Atomic Paintbrush (colors)

The Plot: The supernatural mirror rips Sandman into numerous pieces. He takes advantage of his multiple bodies and proceeds to attack Spider-Man. When mini-Sandmen clog his webshooters, Spider-Man is forced to crash into a rollercoaster car. The Sandmen destroy a portion of the tracks, sending Spider-Man’s car racing towards the crowd below.

Review: Wait, now the mirror’s supernatural? Like it wasn’t odd enough that a freakshow ended up with a jewel and diamond-encrusted mirror in the first place? Anyway, this is a half-way decent action chapter, which benefits a lot by the tiny Sandman clones. Having Spider-Man fight Sandman on the beach is just a painfully obvious idea, but the tiny Sandmen help to add another element to the story. The cliffhanger isn’t bad, either.

Sandblasted - Chapter Three
Credits: D. G. Chichester (writer), Daerick Gross (artist), Liz Agrophiotis (letterer), Atomic Paintbrush (colors)

The Plot: Spider-Man escapes the car and uses his webbing to throw it away from the crowd. He grabs a mallet from one of the attractions and uses it to bat the Sandmen into the beach. The Sandmen realize that they can now absorb more of the sand, and each other, to form a giant Sandman.

The Subplots: Spider-Man catches Flash flirting with Betty, which reignites his insecurities that Betty is out of his league.

Review: Oh, that’s just cheap. Spider-Man gets out of the last installment’s cliffhanger by using his webshooters, the same webshooters that the Sandmen had hopelessly clogged up just a few seconds earlier. It’s amusing to see him throw the car into a giant recreation of J. Jonah Jameson’s head, but the scene still feels like a copout. The “Oh no, Flash is makin’ time with my girl!” sequence also feels tired. It’s nice to see a reminder of Peter’s insecurities, even in the middle of a supervillain fight, but I’d like to think Chichester can dream up better dialogue than “It makes sense Betty would go for a ‘hunk’ type like Flash! She’d never want to hook up with a longtime ‘nothing’ like Peter Parker!”

Sandblasted - Chapter Four
Credits: D. G. Chichester (writer), Daerick Gross (artist), Liz Agrophiotis (letterer), Atomic Paintbrush (colors)

The Plot: Spider-Man grabs the mysterious mirror and points it at Sandman again. Sandman is reverted to his normal size and blasted into the ocean. Spider-Man picks up his camera, but discovers his film has melted in the summer heat.

The Subplots: When Peter sees Flash is still talking to Betty, he walks away from their planned date. Unbeknownst to him, Betty is politely trying to get away from Flash.

Review: Well, that’s certainly a very Stan Lee ending. Chichester’s efforts to evoke the Lee/Ditko era of Spidey have largely failed, but the ending does capture a bit of the genuine sadness that permeated those comics. This is still far from Untold Tales of Spider-Man, though. The main plot remains dopey, requiring that unexplained magic mirror to do whatever the story needs it to, and there’s rarely any sense that Sandman is a real threat to Spider-Man. I don’t think Chichester’s sensibilities necessarily fit “classic” Spider-Man, though, so hopefully the other Cybercomics won’t be so disappointing.

Now, in conclusion, please try to keep this image out of your nightmares:


Teebore said...

Huh. I've never heard of these early era web comics, but you're right; they should make for a pretty fun little examination.

That said, from the sounds of it, I'm not terribly upset these aren't readily available. :)

wwk5d said...

This seems like something D. G. Chichester must have written when he was 12 years old, kept, and submitted it to Marvel.

dschonbe said...

That image won't be in my nightmares. It reminds me of a product that lonely men would use...

Anonymous said...

What I've read of D.G. Chichester seemed like it was written by a 12 year old.

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