Powerless & Responsibility
Credits: Todd Dezago (writer), Jason Armstrong (penciler), Ron Boyd (inks), Gregory Wright (colors), Comicraft (letters)
The Plot: DK escapes from Ravencroft, while Spider-Man faces the Vulture. He manages to web up the Vulture, but not before Vulture severely wounds the new Prowler. Vulture escapes as Spider-Man takes Prowler to the hospital. Later, DK emerges in Central Park, demanding to see Spider-Man. When Spider-Man arrives, DK reveals that he’s using his decomposing powers to kill himself, but he wanted to say goodbye to Spider-Man first. Vulture suddenly attacks, ending up in DK’s decomposing remains. DK uses his remaining energy to sap Vulture of his vitality, returning him to an old man.
The Subplots: Hobie Brown tells Peter that he might be able to walk again in a week. Aunt Anna is disturbed by the young daughter of the Parkers’ new neighbor. Billy Walters continues to annoy Peter. In space, a tiny fragment of the Living Monolith chips off and falls to Earth.
*See _________ For Details: The Living Monolith has been orbiting Earth since the Revenge of the Living Monolith graphic novel.
I Love the ‘90s: When Billy looks for Spider-Man in Central Park, Peter sarcastically tells Billy that Spider-Man’s at home in his cave, watching Rosie.
“Huh?” Moment: For some reason, Dezago has decided that Spider-Man now says "hafta" instead of “have to”…even when’s groggy and trying to maintain consciousness. And the Vulture uses "hafta" in place of “have to” as well. Did someone bet Dezago that he couldn’t work “hafta” into this comic ten times?
Review: In case anyone noticed, I am ignoring the “Flashback” issue for now. Better to do them all at once, I think, rather than have them continually interrupt the cliffhangers of their respective comics. This issue finally resolves the Prowler/Vulture story, while also folding in that DK back-up serial into the main storyline. I still can’t bring myself to care about DK, but thankfully this appears to be his final appearance. I don’t know if Dezago always intended for DK to be the means of returning Vulture to his original status as a crotchety old man or if it suddenly occurred to him while writing the backup strips, but regardless, I’m not sold. Based on his appearances in the previous issues, this is not how DK’s powers work. “Decomposing” doesn’t mean “de-aging,” even if the Vulture regained his youth through artificial means. This reads as if Dezago (or someone in editorial) just really wanted the original Vulture back and didn’t care too much about the details.
For what it’s worth, I might be one of the few people who didn’t mind the young Vulture. Mark Bagley’s redesign was pretty cool, and I liked the idea of the Vulture literally feeding off the life of people in order to maintain his youth. I wouldn’t keep it as the permanent status quo for the character, but I thought it worked as a temporary revamp. Plus, the Vulture’s terminal cancer storyline had to end some way in order to have the character back in circulation; having him be cured of cancer and regain his youth seemed like a justifiable way to bring some attention back to the Vulture at the time.
Ignoring the Vulture’s quickie do-over, there’s still some decent Spidey material in here. We get a nice mixture of the highs and lows of Spider-Man’s life, as he goes from berating himself on one page for inadvertently allowing the Vulture to eviscerate the new Prowler, to learning on the next page that he’s helped to inspire Hobie to walk again. I like that mix; I think it’s a far more honest view of life than the clichéd “Hard Luck Parker” nonsense that just has him living alone in endless misery. And the art is a pleasant surprise as well, as Jason Armstrong delivers a cartoony style that’s not an abrupt change of pace for the book. Although he can’t seem to keep Spider-Man’s costume consistent from page to page, bouncing between a Ditko, Romita, and Wieringo style with no rhyme or reason.