Monday, December 23, 2013

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #16 - May 1997

 

Paralyzed!
Credits:  Todd Dezago (writer), Mike Wieringo (penciler), Richard Case (inks), Gregory Wright w/GCW (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  The Prowler’s costume is stolen from Hobie Brown’s apartment while he is hospitalized.  Spider-Man learns of the incident from Hobie’s wife Mindy while paying him a visit.  That night, the Vulture spots the new Prowler and initiates a fight.  Spider-Man gets involved, and in the confusion, loses both villains.  Later, while on a Daily Bugle assignment, Peter Parker spots the Prowler again at a construction site.

The Subplots:  Peter and MJ fight to keep Aunt Anna away from their dirty laundry, which includes a Spider-Man mask.  Later, Peter meets a new reporter he’s supposed to “break in,” Billy Walters.  Billy’s presence prevents Peter from confronting the new Prowler as Spider-Man at the construction site.

Web of Continuity:  
  • MJ is concerned about the bite Peter received from Morbius earlier in PP:SM #77.  
  • Billy Walters makes his official debut.  Outside of Todd Dezago’s comics, however, you’re not going to be seeing much of him.
  • The Vulture is still in a young man’s body at this stage, after the events of “Lifetheft.”
  • Peter’s story on the Savage Land from the previous arc is bumped to page seventeen of the Daily Bugle.  Jonah refuses to run the Roxxon angle because Peter brought back no evidence.

*See _________ For Details:  Spider-Man first met the Prowler in Amazing Spider-Man #78.  The Prowler was injured and is currently paralyzed due to the Great Game, as seen in Spider-Man Unlimited #14.  And the Vulture has a grudge against the Prowler following the events of the Prowler miniseries, which I did not know even existed.

I Love the ‘90s:  Spider-Man asks Hobie if he’s ever seen ER while visiting him in the hospital.

Review:  So the tangled web of Spidey continuity leads me to believe this arc is the next one chronologically, although chronologyproject.com says that an Omnibus-sized collection of Spider-Man stories has to take place in-between the main story and this issue’s back-up.  Ugh.  Another instance of Too Much Spidey occurs early in the issue, as MJ is just now reacting to the vampire bite Spider-Man received in Peter Parker, Spider-Man #77.  There’s apparently no way to get that arc to fit after the lengthy Chameleon storyline in Spectacular Spider-Man, so that leaves us with numerous Spider-Man stories where he’s bitten by a vampire but doesn’t care enough to acknowledge it.  This is extremely pedantic, I know, but I think the sloppy continuity of this era does hurt the overall line.  You don’t feel as if you’re reading about the life of Peter Parker, you’re reading a somewhat random collection of events spread out over numerous titles.  It works for the “pick and choose” fan who might buy one Spider-Man book a month, but it’s a shabby way to treat those hardcore readers who love this character so much they feel compelled to follow the entire line.  

Anyway, this begins a multi-part Vulture/Prowler story, and it’s pretty much what you expect from Sensational.  Light-hearted superhero action, pretty art, and the return of a relatively obscure figure from the past.  I’ve always liked the Prowler and didn’t understand why he didn’t get more of a push during the ‘90s (Isn’t he very obviously a Spawn prototype?), so I’m glad to see Dezago and Wieringo haven’t forgotten him.  I won’t claim to have read every Prowler story ever published, but Hobie and Mindy always seemed like classic Marvel characters to me, in the sense that both of them have absolutely normal lives that have nothing to do with supervillains.  At this point in continuity, Hobie Brown is out-of-action, and while I’m sure it’s tempting to just ignore an obscure Spider-Man Unlimited issue from the end of the Clone Saga, the creators actually acknowledge what’s happened before and use it as the impetus for a new story.  The readers still get a fantastic Wieringo rendition of the Prowler’s costume, and Dezago is smart enough to keep Hobie and his wife Mindy around, rather than recycling the design and using it to hype a new character that’s just going to disappear in a few months anyway.  If you like the Prowler, this is a treat, and if you never really paid attention to him, this is a nice introduction.


Brother’s Keeper 2
Credits:  Todd Dezago (writer), Richard Case (artist), Gregory Wright w/GCW (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  At Ravencroft, Dr. Kafka informs Spider-Man that DK is reverting to his previous state.  She suspects that he’s using his ability to degenerate objects against himself as a subconscious suicide attempt.  DK grows irrationally angry and escapes his cell.  Spider-Man checks on two guards disintegrated by DK, then realizes that DK is directly behind him.

The Subplots:  None.

Web of Continuity:  Peter Parker has never met DK (alias David Kalen), as he is a villain from the Ben Reilly days.  David and his brother were exposed to toxic waste as punishment for threatening to expose an evil, polluting corporation.  David was mutated into a freak, while his brother died.

Review:  I had never heard of DK before reading this issue, but I’ll take a wild guess and assume he’s a villain created during Todd Dezago’s Spectacular Spider-Man run at the end of the Clone Saga.  Apparently, DK is internet slang for “don’t know” (I’ve honestly never seen anyone use it before), which may or may not have been the inspiration for his lame supervillain name.  Surely there’s more to his name than his civilian identity’s initials, right?  Regardless, Dezago apparently likes the guy enough to use him in the post-Ben days, and I can’t say it’s that great of an idea.  Even though his origin is recapped, DK still comes across as unsympathetic, and Spider-Man is really given nothing to do in the story except remind us that he’s never met this guy before.  The only highlight is Richard Case’s art, which is a nice-looking blend of Mike Wieringo and Ty Templeton.

3 comments:

Dobson said...

What a coincidence, D.K. did appear in Spectacular Spider-Man #230. Don't worry though, at the end of this arc he serves one minor plot function and then disappears forever.

I wish Wieringo weren't wasted on the #3 Spidey book, as his art was perfect for Spider-Man.

Shockingly enough, there is a Prowler story by McFarlane that looks extremely Spawn-y. I love that post-Spawn, Marvel created Nightwatch, a total rip-off of Spawn, instead of just giving Prowler a black costume or something.

Matt said...

I thought that DK had a double meaning in that it was the guy's initials and it sounded like "decay", which, if I recall correctly, was what he did to things.

I also like the Prowler, and I was always happy to see him put in an appearance. And I agree that it's impressive and nice for continuity-conscious readers that DeZago acknowledged that lame Spider-Man Unlimited issue as the impetus for this story.

I recall being bugged somewhat by continuity around this time, but not so much that I was losing sleep over it. The only times I was truly irritated were when a cliffhanger in one book would render events in another title impossible for some reason. But that didn't really happen all that often.

At any rate, I was enjoying the stories and artwork so much in this period that any shortcomings were negligible for me.

Teebore said...

Apparently, DK is internet slang for “don’t know” (I’ve honestly never seen anyone use it before)

I've never seen "DK" used, but I have seen "IDK" for "I don't know", and even use it myself occasionally, usually in instant messages.

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