Wednesday, November 20, 2013

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #422 - April 1997

Exposed Wiring!
Credits:  Tom DeFalco (writer), Joe Bennett (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inks), Bob Sharen w/GCW (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  Electro reflects on his past while Delilah uses an electric chair to recharge his powers.  Meanwhile, the Rose meets with Fortunato, who offers his help against Black Tarantula.  The Rose declines.

The Subplots:  Peter is assigned Paul Stacy as a tutor.  He also runs into Phil Urich on campus.  MJ sees a counselor following the loss of the baby.  Madam Qwa continues to train Dragonfly.  Alison Mongrain reports to Norman Osborn, annoyed that she hasn’t been paid for overseeing his “project.”  Robbie Robertson argues with his wife over his work hours.  Unbeknownst to Robbie, Black Tarantula has ordered him to be assassinated, with the blame to be pinned on the Rose.  

Web of Continuity:  
  • Paul is already Peter’s tutor in the Peter Parker, Spider-Man arc that takes place before this issue.
  • Peter wonders if his headaches are related to the bite he received from Morbius in Peter Parker, Spider-Man #77.  In the other titles, Peter’s suffering from vertigo, not headaches.
  • Fortunato reminds the Rose that he knows the face under his mask.
  • The “project” Alison Mongrain is overseeing is obviously intended to be a baby, as she’s speaking baby-talk to someone in a baby carriage.  This is the first hint that Peter and MJ’s baby is alive, a subplot that’s cruelly dropped at the end of this era when it’s revealed (as I recall) that Alison was looking after a cat all of this time.

Review:  This is one of the few Amazing Spider-Man issues to go virtually the entire issue without showing Peter as Spider-Man, as we only see Spider-Man in action during brief flashback scenes.  (Perhaps only the second Spidey-less issue, following that “Where’s Spider-Man?” stunt in 1986.)  The focus this issue is on Electro, as he provides a firsthand account of his life so far.  DeFalco borrows heavily from J. M. DeMatteis’ “Light the Night” arc in Spider-Man, reinforcing the idea that Electro suffers from terminal low self-esteem and is willing to do anything to make himself feel important.  The flashback material, featuring Electro’s abusive father, controlling mother, and shallow ex-wife, is handled well and helps to build up to Electro’s big “rebirth” scene at the end.  The rest of the story is devoted to subplots, and while many of these subplots ultimately lead to disappointing main plots, I’m still a sucker for a subplot-heavy issue.  

The major drawback to the issue is the art.  Joe Bennett can occasionally handle the acting the story requires, but for the most part his work here looks like a slightly cartoonier Mike Deodato circa 1995, and that’s not a good thing.  The inking also looks muddy, which is a problem I often had with the inkers assigned to Bennett’s work in the ‘90s.  I think he would’ve benefited greatly from having someone like Tom Palmer or Sal Buscema ink his work, professionals who know how to produce slick comics, but could've also fixed Bennett's more egregious mistakes .

1 comment:

Matt said...

If I recall correctly, DeFalco was the only writer doing the Alison Mongrain sub-plot. He even brings Kaine into it near the very end. He was clearly building to Kaine rescuing baby May (as he eventually showed in Spider-Girl). But Marvel was so anti-Spider-baby at the time, did he really think they'd let him get away with it? Did he even have an end-game in mind? I've always wondered.

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