Friday, March 29, 2013
SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #9 - October 1996
Credits: Todd Dezago (writer), Mike Wieringo (penciler), Richard Chase (inks), Gregory Wright w/Malibu (colors), Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis (letters)
The Plot: Onslaught’s psionic storm has disrupted Swarm’s body, leading him to invade the Seismoharmonic Institute and demand the scientists reunite his mutated bee colony. Thousands of bees invade the city as Swarm builds more and more mass. Spider-Man finally locates Swarm near Broadway, where he’s grown to a monstrous size.
The Subplots: Peter and MJ’s sonogram reveals they’re having a girl. Meanwhile, Ben Reilly’s apartment is taken over by Jimmy Six and his girlfriend Harleen. Jimmy agrees to leave when Ben tells him he has a date. Later, shortly after meeting Desiree, Ben’s forced to leave and face Swarm.
Web of Continuity: Jimmy Six is a character from Howard Mackie’s Spider-Man run. His girlfriend Harleen is a thinly veiled Harley Quinn parody.
*See _________ For Details: Onslaught’s psionic storm hit in X-Men #56. Another footnote advises readers to read Amazing Spider-Man #70 for more on Jimmy Six. I assume they mean Spider-Man #70.
Approved By The Comics Code Authority: Jimmy Six and Harleen are sharing a bath together. Ben’s arms are strategically placed to make sure nothing’s exposed when they get out of the tub.
I Love the ‘90s: Desiree takes Ben to see Rent, “the hottest show on Broadway.” Later, Ben ditches the date by claiming that his beeper is going off. Desiree responds that she didn’t know he had a beeper.
Review: I’ve always liked Swarm, and remain convinced that he’s an underused villain. Is he a villain that should be showing up in the fourth Spider-Man book, one that’s already having a hard time being perceived as more than just a superfluous spinoff? Probably not. As much as I like Swarm, I can see why many fans would look at this issue and wonder how seriously Marvel’s taking this book. (The last new Spider-Man monthly still had Todd McFarlane, and Wolverine guest-starring, by its ninth issue.) If Marvel wanted to keep Sensational from quickly becoming just another spinoff, the readers should have a sense that its stories actually matter. There is one big revelation this issue -- the gender of Peter and MJ’s baby is confirmed -- but I think it’s the last significant event ever to occur in the book. (And the gender of the baby only truly becomes relevant in an alternate reality.)
None of this means that the issue isn’t any good judged on its own merits. It’s a fairly standard Bronze Age-style Spider-Man story, right down to Peter/Ben lying to his date in order to change clothes and go fight the bad guy. Even if he isn’t doing anything earth-shattering with the characters, I am glad Dezago’s rescued Swarm from obscurity, and bringing back Desiree and the Daily Grind characters from Jurgens’ run adds nice continuity to the book. All of this is competently executed, but I think the story has to rely a lot on Wieringo’s art for any energy.