Wednesday, November 14, 2012

THE ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN Part Five - December 1994



Thunder on the Mountain
Written by Richard Lee Byers

The Plot: Spider-Man tracks the Rhino and a group of mercenaries into the wilderness, where an alien weapon is allegedly buried. A boy named Davy stumbles upon the fight, and after an injured Spider-Man saves his life, takes Spider-Man home to treat his wounds. Davy’s father, who’s determined to remove himself and Davy from society after the death of his wife, is livid that Spider-Man’s brought his family into the conflict. After Spider-Man leaves, Davy sneaks after him. Davy’s father soon tracks them down, and creates a distraction that enables Spider-Man to defeat the Rhino. The father begins to realize that it was a mistake to seclude Davy.

I Love the ‘90s: Spider-Man tells Davy that he’s a member of the “I Hate Barney Support League.”

Review: The premise of this story is fairly generic, but Byers adds a layer of mystery by opening the story with Davy’s point of view; the perspective of a child who’s lived in a cave with his father for most of his life and has never even heard of Spider-Man. Giving Spider-Man a kid to bounce off of, and a setting he isn’t accustomed to, also helps to make this seem a little less boilerplate. Davy’s unnamed father’s conversion is awfully convenient though. As the story points out, his fears about the outside world are essentially confirmed by the incident -- six outsiders have invaded his home and only one was a decent person. Instead of driving him further into seclusion, he abruptly decides that he’s been wrong all along. It could be argued that the father has learned that it’s impossible to keep his child totally safe regardless of where they live, but the story’s a little vague on why exactly Davy’s father has come around.

Cold Blood
Written by Greg Cox

The Plot: On a cold winter night, Morbius succumbs to his bloodlust and attacks a homeless man. Spider-Man arrives to stop him, leading to a battle in the snow that nearly kills Spider-Man. When he has an opportunity to kill Morbius with an icicle, he can’t bring himself to do it. After Morbius recovers from the fight, he thanks Spider-Man for giving him another chance and leaves, vowing to take only the blood of the guilty. Spider-Man does his final good deed for the night when he uses his webbing to create a temporary shelter for the homeless man.

Review: This is another story you might recognize from the 1994 flipbooks. I remember thinking that the Spider-Man/Morbius fight drags on for quite a while when I first read the abridged version in Web of Spider-Man, and time hasn’t changed my opinion. If you’re interested in an extended fight between Spider-Man and Morbius, told in the prose format, this is for you. Personally, I don’t find it a concept worthy of eighteen pages. Not that the story is totally lacking in depth, I suppose. Cox creates some symmetry with Spider-Man saving the homeless man from an icicle at the start of the story and nearly killing Morbius with one at the end, and he has Spider-Man ponder if he could’ve easily become the monster that Morbius is today as he debates stabbing Morbius in the heart (remember that Spider-Man had mutated into a six-armed freak when they first met). Cox is also able to use the frozen setting to the fight scene’s advantage, as Spider-Man must contend with a horrid environment that doesn’t seem to bother Morbius at all. And yet, the conflicts aren’t overly interesting and the fight scene does feel needlessly protracted. Compared to the other stories in the book, the concept just feels too thin.

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