Tuesday, June 25, 2013

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #13 - February 1997

Deluge Part One - A Savage Land
Credits:  Todd Dezago (writer), Mike Wieringo (penciler), Richard Case (inks), Gregory Wright w/GCW (colors), Richard Starkings and Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  Peter Parker arrives in the Savage Land.  His escort, Agent Chris Townsend, shows him to the location where SHIELD, the UN, and the Roxxon Corporation are studying ways to protect the Savage Land from flooding.  As Spider-Man, Peter goes off on his own to find Ka-Zar.  He discovers the Savage Land is heating up faster than anticipated and helps Ka-Zar and the Fall People escape from a burst dam.  Meanwhile, Roxxon’s Dr. Gerald Roth secretly continues to flood the area with Roxxon’s “refrigeration units.”

The Subplots:  Stegron and the Chtylok are both released from captivity by the melting ice surrounding the Savage Land.  Chtylok goes on to terrorize Monster Island.  Meanwhile, Spider-Man helps Ka-Zar and Shanna rescue a girl with malaria.  Shanna complains that a tribal shaman has ostracized the girl and turned the Fall People against Shanna’s medical training.

Web of Continuity:  Jonah Jameson’s rationale for sending Peter to the Savage Land is that he’s one of the few members of the media that has been there before.  Spider-Man’s first trip to the Savage Land began in Amazing Spider-Man #101.

“Huh?” Moment:  The implication in this story is that Chtylok is awakened by water created by the melting ice caps near the Savage Land.  He then somehow emerges on Monster Island, in the Bermuda Triangle.  I vaguely recall stories about tunnels beneath the Earth that allow people to travel great distances in the Marvel Universe.  I assume Chtylok used one of them?

Commercial Break:  An insert for Radio Shack’s new line of remote controlled cars appears in the middle of the comic, interrupting a double-page spread.

Review:  According to Todd Dezago, Stan Lee told the assembled group of Spider-Man writers that he really liked this storyline during one of his tours of Marvel’s offices in the late ‘90s.  And it’s not hard to see the appeal -- Mike Wieringo.  Dinosaurs.  Chtylok.  It’s bright, fun, unpretentious superhero comics.  I would say that making Roxxon the evil corporate villains yet again is a boring clich√©, but this arc is all about traditional Marvel fun, and “traditional Marvel” states that Roxxon must always be the baddies.  (You would think Tony Stark would’ve simply bought them out and brought in new management by now, though.)  I doubt Stan Lee had any sway over this decision, but this story arc must’ve been fairly popular within Marvel’s offices, since it became one of the few Marvel trade paperbacks to be released during this era.

Aside from giving Spider-Man a break from his traditional setting, and giving Mike Wieringo cool things to draw, the story also serves as one of Marvel’s attempts to set up Ka-Zar’s new on-going series.  Ka-Zar went from occasionally appearing once every three years in books like X-Men Unlimited to showing up all over Marvel’s line in late 1996.  And his new book, by Mark Waid and Andy Kubert, was legitimately good.  It’s the type of slightly sophisticated and slightly retro superhero comic that Marvel doesn’t get enough credit for publishing during these days.  And, because the internet loved it, it was fated to die a quick death.  In fact, I think it died out just as the Dezago/Wieringo days of Sensational drew to an end, reminding me that “fun” usually doesn’t last long in modern comics.


Anonymous said...

Peter also went to the Savage Land in one of the early Marvel Fanfares


Anonymous said...

Oh, yes. I believe it was issues #1-4. The story was written by Chris Claremont.

I liked a lot of what Marvel was doing during this period. A lot of their books were sort of looking backwards, in a nostalgic sort of way.
I really liked the Thunderbolts series too.

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