Revelations Part Two - Deadly Diversions
Credits: Todd Dezago (writer), Mike Wieringo (penciler), Richard Chase (inks), Gregory Wright w/GCW (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)
The Plot: Ben and Peter discover a group of kids playing in debris left behind by Onslaught’s attack. Suddenly, they’re ambushed by Gaunt. Peter tries to get the kids to safety as Ben changes into Spider-Man. Ben soon learns that Gaunt is actually Mendel Stromm, the Robot Master. Simultaneously, the kids reveal themselves as robots and turn on Peter.
The Subplots: A mystery man is sending various associates of Peter invitations to appear at the Daily Bugle on Halloween. Meanwhile, MJ unexpectedly goes into labor after a new waitress at the Daily Grind pours a mysterious powder into her drink.
Web of Continuity:
- Arthur Stacy has a one-page scene, announcing his return to New York. Arthur is George Stacy’s brother, and Gwen’s uncle. He briefly appeared back in the early 1970s and was quickly forgotten. Arthur and his children are returning to the books on the edict of editor-in-chief Bob Harras, who wanted to keep Gwen’s legacy alive and introduce more supporting cast members to interact with Peter.
- The evil waitress is Alison Mongrain, a minor character that will occasionally appear over the next few years as Marvel deals with even more threads from the Clone Saga. The mysterious employer of Alison and Gaunt, and the person behind the invitations, will soon be revealed as Norman Osborn.
*See _________ For Details: Seward Trainer was murdered by Gaunt in Spectacular Spider-Man #240. Mendel Stromm first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #36. This story continues in Amazing Spider-Man #418.
Forever Young: Ben encourages Peter to discipline the kids because he’s the father now.
I Love the ‘90s: Peter is keeping a beeper to stay in contact with MJ during the final days of her pregnancy. Later, he tells Ben that he’d better be ready to “do the Macarana” during their fight with Gaunt.
Creative Differences: According to “Life of Reilly,” this storyline was originally going to be called “The Book of Revelations” and would prominently feature Norman Osborn’s journal.
Review: Finally, after two years of constant second-guessing and ridiculously circular storylines, the Clone Saga is coming to an end. And what a horrific end it turns out to be. Spoiler Alert: Norman Osborn was behind everything and Ben’s death will prove that he’s the clone. The end. P.S. No baby for MJ. It’s hard to imagine who exactly the creators thought this would please. I can understand the desire to kill Ben if only to draw a clear red line to indicate this storyline is over, but giving him a quickie death scene and having him turn into goo just reeks of laziness. And the resurrection of Norman Osborn wasn’t even popular within Marvel’s offices. It only happened because of an edict by Bob Harras, who seemed to have a fuzzy understanding of Spider-Man continuity in the first place.
Reviving Norman Osborn made many readers absolutely furious at the time, and I'm certainly in that camp (it’s actually a major reason why I stayed away from the Spider-Man titles even after the clone insanity ended). Much to my surprise, however, as the months went on, more and more people warmed up to the idea. Since he was killed off before much of the audience was born, many fans were actually eager to read modern-day Spider-Man stories featuring the original Green Goblin. And, somehow, he was even adopted by the next administration, becoming a prominent figure throughout the entire Marvel Universe. Now, you rarely hear anyone complain about Norman’s resurrection. My opinion on this has never wavered -- Norman’s death was a definitive moment in the history of Spider-Man. Far too many stories following his death hinge on Norman being truly dead, not “recovering” in Europe. And essentially everyone working at Marvel, for over two decades, viewed him as dead (he even showed up as a zombie once.) Reviving Norman just made the Marvel Universe feel less “real” in a way, and that sense of unreality, that anything can happen in the most ham-fisted or illogical manner possible, eventually turned me away from Marvel Comics in general.
Regarding this specific issue, it’s actually one of the better chapters of “Revelations.” Wieringo’s getting a solid grasp on the supporting cast, and the action scene looks great. It’s fun to see Peter and Ben team up against a villain, and the fake-out with the robot kids is a very clever move on Dezago’s part. And as much as I complained about resurrecting a long-dead character earlier, reviving Mendel Stromm never bothered me, probably because I had no idea who he was. (As revealed in “Life of Reilly,” none of the regular Spider-writers remembered Stromm. The suggestion came from Ralph Macchio’s assistant editor, and occasional X-Man fill-in writer, Mark Bernardo.) Knowing now that Gaunt was supposed to be Harry Osborn and that the creators had to come up with a last-minute switch after Bob Harras shot them down, I can’t fault them with choosing Stromm as the true identity. His death never had any lasting importance on the Spider-Man mythos, and due to his past with Norman Osborn, it’s not a bad hint for who the mystery villain will turn out to be. So, even if I disagree with the general direction, there’s nothing particularly wrong with this specific chapter. It’s what’s coming next that I can’t stand…