Monday, December 30, 2013

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #16 - May 1997


The Wages of Conquest
Credits:  Mark Bernardo (writer), Joe Bennett (penciler), Joe Pimentel & Tim Dzon (inks), Christie Schelle (colors), Jack Morelli (letters)


The Plot:  After discovering Roxxon Oil’s ties to Dreadknight, the latest ruler of Latveria, Betty Brant is kept captive.  The Latverian government announces that Americans are prohibited from entering the country, leaving Spider-Man with no immediate way to rescue Betty.  Soon, he’s contacted by Silver Sable, who asks Spider-Man to aid the Wild Pack in overthrowing Dreadknight.  He joins the mission, but disobeys orders and leaves on his own to rescue Betty.  While escaping, he encounters Dreadknight and defeats him.  On their way home, Silver Sable informs Spider-Man he won’t be paid because he defied orders.  Later, Roxxon publicly disavows Linden Laswell, the “former” Roxxon employee that helped Dreadknight’s coup in return for Latverian drilling rights.


The Subplots:  None.


Web of Continuity:  
  • I believe this is the first (and perhaps only) appearance of the Byline, a pub downstairs from the Daily Bugle’s offices.  Jonah Jameson has been drinking there since the Bugle’s layoffs began.
  • Dr. Doom is still missing following the events of Onslaught: Marvel Universe, leaving a power vacuum in Latveria.
  • Wild Pack member Battlestar is incorrectly colored Caucasian during his brief appearance.
  • Silver Sable is being hired by the gypsy tribe that Dr. Doom once belonged to.  The story claims the tribe has “pooled their resources” in order to pay Sable’s fee.


I Love the ‘90s:  When Spider-Man discovers the high-tech weapons being smuggled into Latveria, he comments that it would make “Saddam Hussein drool.”  Later, Jonah Jameson tells Peter Parker to get Dr. Kervorkian to finance his trip to Latveria.  


Approved By The Comics Code Authority:  During Linden Laswell’s fight scene with Silver Sable, he remarks that she’s on her knees, “just where I like my women!”


Review:  At the end of the story, Peter points out how annoying it is that Roxxon has gotten away with illegal behavior once again, just a few weeks after the incident in the Savage Land.  Yes, it is annoying, but it’s annoying because so many writers go for that trite ending that has the all-purpose evil corporation magically able to get away with anything.  Just declaring someone "fired" alleviates you of any investigation; that's how it works. And of course Betty doesn’t have any “concrete” evidence to tie Roxxon to any wrongdoing.  How could we not see that coming?  Ignoring the ending, we’re left with a fairly average Unlimited story.  Dreadknight is an unexpected choice for villain, and Bernardo integrates his past with Dr. Doom into the story well, so there is at least a welcome break from the standard Spider-Man rogues gallery.  And if you like Silver Sable and the Wild Pack, Bernardo seems to care enough to get their names right.  There’s also a nice scene between Peter and a dejected Jonah Jameson, who hasn’t seemed to have much of an opinion either way about Betty being a reporter up until this issue.  Mark Bernardo tends to be one of the better writer/editors of this era, so I'm not opposed to more Unlimited stories by him in the future. So, it’s not all bad, but Joe Bennett’s art is stuck in Generic ‘90s Mode this month, and like most Unlimited issues, you get the sense that you’re reading a double-sized inventory issue.

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