Monday, January 14, 2013

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #3 - April 1996


Headlines:  Web of Carnage Part One
Credits:  Dan Jurgens (story/pencils), Klaus Janson (finishes), Gregory Wright & Malibu’s Hues (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  Spider-Man travels to Ravencroft after meeting a man that had recently encountered Carnage.  John Jameson proves Cletus Kasady is still in custody, shortly before police arrive to arrest Spider-Man for stealing a skeleton from the morgue.  Peter Parker pulls up in a car and rescues Spider-Man.  They travel to Avengers’ headquarters, where Giant-Man’s tests confirm that the skeleton was a clone of Spider-Man.

The Subplots:  Ben discovers that Jessica has plastered her walls with Spider-Man photographs.  She blames Spider-Man for something that happened to her father, but won’t give Ben specifics.  Later, Ben discovers a shadowy photo of Jessica’s father.  He shows it to Peter, who later scans it with the Avengers’ advanced equipment.  They discover Jessica’s father is Uncle Ben’s killer.

*See _________ For Details:  Peter Parker gave up his powers in Spider-Man: The Final Adventure #4.  The Avengers’ mansion was destroyed in Avengers: Timeslide, forcing the team to relocate to one of the Wasp’s homes.

Review:  Yes, let’s waste more time on the mysterious skeleton.  Since no one knew what to do with this storyline, the apparent resolution was to dismiss it as another clone and move on with more of the directionless storytelling that marks this era.  I know that some of the proposed resolutions to the Clone Saga involved making Ben an alternate reality, or time-traveling, version of Peter Parker, so reaffirming that the original clone’s skeleton was still in the smokestack could work in setting up those conclusions.  But knowing that Ben will simply be revealed as the clone from the original storyline, the one we know was left for dead in the smokestack, makes this diversion seem utterly pointless.  

And a lot of time is wasted getting to the test results this issue -- presumably so that it could be a dramatic final page reveal -- time Jurgens surely wanted to spend doing something (anything) else.  Because Jurgens has little space after addressing the skeleton story and advancing Jessica’s subplot, he’s left setting up Carnage’s return for yet another crossover and wasting a few pages on Spider-Man running from the police (who are only after him because of the stupid skeleton in the first place).  I honestly can’t blame the guy for leaving so soon; I imagine most creators wouldn’t want to work on any franchise character if it meant headaches like this.  As for the lone storyline that Jurgens himself has brought to the table…I guess it’s one way to take advantage of the “new” Spider-Man’s single status.  But like I said before, having Ben randomly meet the daughter of his uncle’s killer, and then begin to fall in love with her, strains credibility too much.  It doesn’t seem as if Jessica could be treated as a legitimate love interest after this revelation, anyway, making her time in the book seem predictably short-lived.

2 comments:

Teebore said...

It doesn’t seem as if Jessica could be treated as a legitimate love interest after this revelation, anyway, making her time in the book seem predictably short-lived.

Having never read these issues directly and only ever read about them, I was surprised they learned about her connection to Uncle Ben's killer so quickly.

Then again, at this point the clock is already ticking on Ben's tenure, so I suppose things like that are going to be rushed.

Harry Sewalski said...

I know that some of the proposed resolutions to the Clone Saga involved making Ben an alternate reality, or time-traveling, version of Peter Parker, so reaffirming that the original clone’s skeleton was still in the smokestack could work in setting up those conclusions.

As you say, one of the proposed resolutions was (if I'm remembering correctly) that Ben was Peter sent back in time to just after Amazing Spider-Man #149, and that he had developed amnesia. Scrier would turn out to be Mephisto, and Judas Traveller would turn out to be... I forget. Personally, I thought that it was a nice resolution and it could have worked. Ironically, it was apparently turned down because Mephisto isn't a Spider-Man villain... pity Quesada didn't realise that.