Thursday, January 17, 2013
SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #6 - July 1996
The Ultimate Responsibility
Credits: Dan Jurgens (story/pencils), Klaus Janson (finishes), Gregory Wright w/Malibu (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)
The Plot: Jessica watches as Spider-Man rescues civilians from a burning building. When he nearly dies saving two boys from a collapsed roof, Jessica realizes that Spider-Man really is a hero. She gives him the incriminating photo she took earlier and leaves. She later visits the Parkers’ gravesite, making peace with her father’s lies and learning a lesson about responsibility.
The Subplots: Desiree talks Ben into taking her to lunch. He reveals to her that he sees through her façade and knows how lonely she truly is.
Production Notes: This is the first issue without glossy paper. Marvel downgraded the paper quality in their $1.99 books this month, claiming that extra pages would compensate for the lower-grade paper stock. The extra pages turned out to be ads for other Marvel books. (Yes, I've complained about this before.)
Review: Dan Jurgens departs the title, directly connecting his final issue with his first one by mimicking its title and opening splash page, only now Jessica is the focus of the story. Jurgens thankfully doesn’t kill Jessica off, the fate that usually awaits any new cast member that discovers the hero’s secret ID, and instead goes with the “cynic learns a lesson about heroism” story. It’s a little schmaltzy, but the execution’s better than some of Jurgens’ other “sentimental” works. There’s a pattern of Jurgens giving Spider-Man some pretty tame threats to deal with in this book (muggers, armed robbers, now a fire), so it’s disappointing that after seven issues, we’ve barely seen Spider-Man fight any recognizable villains from his rogues gallery. Mysterio only appeared for a few pages, Rhino even fewer, and Molten Man was mainly there to kill time before the forgettable Gaunt debuted. Jurgens does deserve credit for trying to restore some of the focus on a supporting cast, but most of the new characters debuted in this series are either poorly developed or too reminiscent of existing characters to truly be engaging. This issue, for instance, reveals that aspiring actress Desiree creates a fun-loving, sexy persona in order to hide her insecurities and loneliness. I know what you’re thinking, but this is totally different because Desiree’s a blonde and not a redhead.
So, Dan Jurgens has left, but this series will not go through a lengthy Web of Spider-Man-esque period of fill-ins and inventory stories. A new creative team is named very quickly, even if Marvel isn’t quite sure what to do with the franchise yet…