Friday, January 11, 2013

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #2 - March 1996


Remains of the Day:  The Return of Kaine Part Two
Credits:  Dan Jurgens (story/pencils), Klaus Janson (finishes), Gregory Wright w/Malibu’s Hues (colors), Richard Starkings and Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  Spider-Man discovers that a skeleton wearing fragments of his costume has been found in a smokestack, the same smokestack he remembers waking up from years earlier.  He travels to the morgue and steals the remains, but on his way home runs into Kaine and Muse.  They’re on the run from the Rhino, who’s forcing the duo to join “The Game.”  A building toppled by the Rhino crushes Spider-Man.  When he comes to, everyone is gone.  He returns home with the skeleton.

The Subplots:  Ben’s friends from the Daily Grind plan a housewarming party and purchase him a television set as a gift.  Ben never arrives for the party because of his encounter with the Rhino.  When he does return home, Jessica is still there.  She reveals her feelings to Ben and they kiss.

Web of Continuity:  The skeleton in the smokestack was discovered in Spectacular Spider-Man #231.  Originally, the body of the clone was thrown down this smokestack, back when a) the clone was supposed to be dead, and b) Peter Parker was not supposed to be a clone.

*See _________ For Details:  More details on the mysterious “Game” are in Spectacular Spider-Man #231.


I Love the ‘90s:  Jonah Jameson tries to bribe his way into the morgue to see the skeleton.  The man at the desk asks if he is “Hootie, or the Blowfish?”

Review:  According to “Life of Reilly,” two significant events have occurred since the previous issue.  One is that Dan Jurgens convinced Bob Budinasky that the audience would not accept Ben Reilly as Spider-Man and that Peter Parker must return.  The second was Kurt Busiek's (who was writing Untold Tales of Spider-Man at the time and not directly involved with the Clone Saga) suggestion that a skeleton be found in the smokestack, placing Ben Reilly’s origin in question.  So, just two issues after the launch of Sensational Spider-Man established Ben as the one, true Spider-Man, plans are already being made to ditch the character, and yet another wrinkle in the massive Clone Saga plot is being introduced…even though no one working on the books has the slightest idea what the skeleton is supposed to mean.  Glenn Greenberg does a good job summarizing this idiocy in his segments of the LoR column, so I won’t belabor the point, but this is incredibly stupid.  The creators are now introducing the idea that neither Peter nor Ben is the original Spider-Man, just a few months after another storyline introduced a third Peter Parker who just might be the “real” one.  Not only was this an inane rabbit hole to be racing down in the first place, but they’re doing it again less than a year later!

Uggghhhh…so what else is in this comic?  Jurgens kills some pages with the pro-wrestling inspired Great Game storyline, which he apparently wasn’t enthused with in the first place.  It shows.  And Ben’s new buddies at the Daily Grind get together to throw him a surprise housewarming party, an idea that might’ve been inspired by one of Gerry Conway’s old issues.  The subplot that has Desiree and Jessica competing for Ben’s attention is also a fairly obvious callback to the Gwen/Peter/MJ love triangle from the old days.  The execution isn’t terrible, but there’s really nothing here that makes you care about the characters.  (And have I mentioned before how much I hate Buzz, the elderly beatnik who bums around the Daily Grind all day?)  Trying to build a supporting cast for Ben so quickly just comes across as forced, and it doesn’t help that the creators are making conscious efforts to recreate character dynamics we’ve already seen before.

2 comments:

Matt said...

It's been a very long time since I read "Life of Reilly", so I had totally forgotten it was Busiek's idea to put the skeleton in the smokestack. Doing it without a resolution in mind strikes me as very "Lobdellian", and not something I would expect from Busiek. But then he wasn't writing these titles, so he may have expected the folks in control to come up with a ending before using his idea.

However, I must again state my excitement at these developments when I first read them. Spidercide may have been fresh in my mind, but just the same, the revelation of the skeleton in the smokestack was another of those twists in the labyrinthine Clone Saga that had me eagerly awaiting the next installment. As I've said before, I just couldn't get enough of this stuff.

Teebore said...

@Matt: But then he wasn't writing these titles, so he may have expected the folks in control to come up with a ending before using his idea.

Yeah, that's what I'd like to think Busiek assumed. He just tossed the idea out there and figured someone actually working on the books would hammer out the details, rather than going with it as he suggested and figuring out the rest later.

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