Friday, September 27, 2013

PETER PARKER, SPIDER-MAN #78 - March 1997



The Love of a Woman
Credits:  Howard Mackie (writer), John Romita, Jr. (penciler), Scott Hanna (inks), Gregory Wright w/GCW (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  Spider-Man, still disoriented, searches for Morbius.  Annoyed, MJ decides to follow him.  Meanwhile, Morbius finds Dr. Andrea Janson in her ESU lab.  He tells her that he needs her help to cure his blood addiction, but is soon interrupted by Spider-Man.  The Friends of Humanity try to join the fight, but one is bitten and the rest flee in terror.  MJ stands up to Morbius, buying time for Dr. Janson to arrive with a package of blood.  Morbius leaves with Dr. Janson, while Spider-Man and MJ take the FoH member to the hospital.

The Subplots:  Betty is at the hospital, getting treated for wounds she received while chasing a story.  Flash arrives to give her a ride home, but she refuses.

Web of Continuity:  
  • I don’t believe Betty’s injuries are a reference to any published story.
  • Spider-Man’s vertigo begins this issue.  My memory is that this subplot sticks around for several months, even though it’s an awkward fit with the rest of the titles.
  • MJ’s inner monologue has her nostalgic for the time she could hang out with Peter and their friends, before she “knew or cared about Spider-Man.”  It was actually established continuity at this point that MJ always knew Peter’s secret identity.  There’s even an issue of Untold Tales of Spider-Man during this era that’s based on the concept.
  • MJ’s hair has abruptly changed in-between issues.  Now it’s shoulder-length, with no bangs.  She also wore this style in the Hobgoblin Lives miniseries, although very few artists will keep this look consistent over the various titles.  It’s not a great look for the character, especially in this title, as John Romita, Jr. has given Betty a virtually identical style.

How Did This Get Published?:  “This is not true!”  “I will stop you and put you away for good!”  “You do not understand!”  Page fifteen, panel two.  Spider-Man and Morbius have apparently forgotten how to use contractions…

I Love the ‘90s:  The Next Issue box advises you to peel yourself away from the Nintendo 64 you got for Christmas.

We Get Letters:  Starting next issue, the letter column will print every single letter Marvel received in response to the Clone Saga’s resolution in Spider-Man #75.  While it’s admirable that the editors would do something like this, the letters get repetitive very quickly.

Review:  An issue narrated by MJ, intercut with Morbius’ narration.  Since character work is not Mackie’s forte, it’s not surprising that neither segment really works.  I guess the idea behind MJ’s sequence is to emphasize that she isn’t going to be the docile stay-at-home hero’s wife, although having her jump off the deep end in the opposite direction doesn’t seem like much of an improvement.  What exactly does she hope to accomplish, following Spider-Man around town as he chases a vampire?  To Mackie’s credit, he doesn’t go for the totally predictable ending and place MJ in direct danger, just in potential danger as she stares down Morbius.  (And helps to save the day just by stalling him for a few seconds.)  As a reminder that MJ does have a backbone, I guess this isn’t so bad, but she just comes across as obnoxiously abrasive throughout the entire story.  And Morbius, geez, he’s stuck in the same boring character crisis he had back in 1970.  He doesn’t really want to be a vampire, yet he’s compelled to keep acting like one.  He had an ongoing series for years and this crap was never resolved?  Can’t he just move on to feeding on pimps and drug dealers or something?

1 comment:

wwk5d said...

Why does Bennett draw Spider-man having to use web to hang from underside of that statue? Isn't his whole schtick (or one of them) that he can cling to any surface? It seems like he doesn't quite "get" the character...