Monday, April 1, 2013

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #10 - November 1996

Global Swarming
Credits:  Todd Dezago (writer), Mike Wieringo (penciler), Richard Chase (inks), Gregory Wright w/GCW (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  Spider-Man makes his way through Swarm’s bee army and reaches the Seismoharmonic Institute.  Inside, he helps the scientists set up a device that breaks up the vibratory pattern bees use to fly.  Spider-Man snatches the queen bee as the rest of the bees fall to the ground, ending Swarm’s menace.  

The Subplots:  Ben returns to his date with Desiree, who tells him she understands his reluctance to date again after breaking up with Jessica.  Meanwhile, Peter and MJ paint their daughter’s room, as Peter deals with the slow return of his powers.  Later, Liz Osborn orders Osborn Industries’ personnel director Menken to investigate several Multivex employees, including Seward Trainer.

Web of Continuity:  
·    Trish Tilby covers the Swarm story, and is incorrectly colored with brown skin.
·    Cyclops and Jean Grey make a cameo, as the vibratory wave the scientists sends out gives people with psychic powers (Jean, not Cyclops, of course) headaches.
·    And who else gets a headache after the signal goes out?  Ben’s date, Desiree.

*See _________ For Details:  Spider-Man (not Ben Reilly, but the Peter Parker we’re supposed to believe is the clone at this time) repelled Swarm’s bees by coating his costume with Raid in Spectacular Spider-Man #36.  We’re reminded again that Onslaught’s psionic storm hit in X-Men #56.  And Multivex, a division of Osborn Industries, previously appeared in Sensational Spider-Man #5 and Amazing Spider-Man #412.

I Love the ‘90s:  When Peter falls off the ceiling, MJ wishes she had a tape to send to Bob Saget.  There’s also a background extra wearing a Wesley Willis t-shirt.

Review:  While the issue setting up this storyline wasn’t particularly exciting, the conclusion is a marked improvement.  Dezago is able to make Swarm feel a lot less generic this issue, in part because we get to see how terrifying the bees can really be, but also because he’s incorporated actual facts about bees into the pseudo-scientific plot device that’s required to defeat Swarm.  Swarm isn’t a villain that can just be punched out, and while simply spraying him with gas would be an obvious way to defeat him, Dezago puts more thought into the problem and develops a creative solution.  He’s clearly having fun writing this material; so much fun, the cutsey dialogue might be too much for some readers.  (Dezago manages to sneak in references to everything from The Six Million Dollar Man’s opening to the Butthole Surfers’ song “Pepper” into the script.)

While it’s easy to dismiss a Swarm fight as two issues of filler, the creative team has apparently taken this as an opportunity to turn Dan Jurgens’ ditzy MJ stand-in Desiree into…a mutant?  Either that, or it’s one gigantic misdirection, but I’m almost positive they’re serious about this.  I can’t say I care for the idea at all.  This is one of those ideas that just feels inherently dumb, even though the opposing side could easily come up with a million counterpoints to defend it.  Yes, I know it’s not intrinsically any more ridiculous than any of the countless times a supporting cast member was dragged into the supernatural side of Spider-Man’s world, but…can’t he ever know any normal people?  Does everyone in Spider-Man’s life have to have some connection to a supervillain, or secretly be an alien or a mutant or genetically-altered actress?


Matt said...

The additional thing about making Desiree a mutant is that by this point everyone behind the scenes knew that Ben was on the way out, and his supporting cast with him... so what's the point?

Also, another item which might fall under "Web of Continuity" is the reapperance of Donald Menken. Around this time, Roger Stern was gearing up for his "Hobgoblin Lives!" limited series, and he had asked the spider-office to bring back some of the characters he would soon be using as potential suspects for Hobgoblin's true identity. Menken originated during Stern's run on Amazing, and to the best of my recollection, had last appeared during the Tom DeFalco/Ron Frenz run on that same title, over ten years before this issue was published.

Teebore said...

Does everyone in Spider-Man’s life have to have some connection to a supervillain, or secretly be an alien or a mutant or genetically-altered actress?

I can' speak to the execution of this idea specifically, but I would say (and maybe this is just the X-Men fan in me) that it could be intriguing for Spider-Man to have a girlfriend who is a mutant, but just a mutant.

Like, not a super-villain or a secret super-hero or anything, just an otherwise regular woman who happens to be a mutant, the kind which X-Men, at least, posits exists in somewhat significant numbers throughout the Marvel Universe.

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