Wednesday, March 26, 2014

PETER PARKER, SPIDER-MAN Annual ‘97 - March 1997

Dead Men Walking
Credits:  Glenn Herdling (writer), Glenn Greenberg (story assist), Shawn McManus (artist), John Kalisz (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  Spider-Man encounters Ramon, a man drugged to act like a zombie.  The next day at the Daily Bugle, he learns Ramon is Glory Grant’s cousin.  After taking Glory to visit Ramon at Ravencroft, Peter discovers federal agent Shotgun at Glory’s apartment.  Shotgun is investigating Glory, since she was one of the survivors of a cruise ship that recently sank.  Shortly, Spider-Man is caught in a fight between Shotgun and the Zombie, who has arrived from New Orleans.  Glory saves Shotgun’s life, proving her innocence to him.  However, while later investigating the ship’s wreckage with Shotgun, Glory turns on him and leaves him to drown.  Glory, now dressed as Calypso, breaks Ramon out of Ravencroft and summons the Zombie to help her dig up Calypso’s grave.  Spider-Man arrives and allows Calypso to resurrect her body in order to save Glory.  Calypso escapes and Glory returns to normal.  The Zombie leaves after Glory gives him Calypso’s talisman.

The Subplots:  MJ and Peter spend a night watching movies at home.  When MJ falls asleep, he changes into Spider-Man to check on Glory again.  Drugs shipped from Haiti have turned Glory’s cousin into a “zombie.”  Shotgun claims that the latest shipment is on the cruise ship that sank.  While possessed by Calypso, Glory acts on her attraction to Shotgun and seduces him when he spends the night at her apartment.  Later, she’s relieved when Dr. Kafka revives Shotgun after his near-drowning.  Dr. Kafka also administers a cure to Ramon.

*See _________ For Details:  Calypso claims her physical body has been recovering since her death in Web of Spider-Man #109.  Her spirit resided in the Talisman of Damballah, which once controlled the Zombie.  One of Calypso’s agents knew to give the talisman to Glory during her Caribbean vacation because he sensed their mutual hatred of Spider-Man, which is a reference to the conclusion of the Lobos Brothers arc in Web of Spider-Man #55.

I Love the ‘90s:  Peter and MJ check out movies at a video store before their night at home.

Review:  You might recall that “Torment” was based on an idea by Glenn Herdling, who returns this issue to revive Calypso after her utterly pointless death in Terry Kavanagh’s Web of Spider-Man run.  Herdling was also the assistant editor on the titles during the extended Lobos Brothers arc, which ended with Glory Grant perfectly willing to kill Spider-Man for the werewolf mobster she loved.  (Yup.   Check the archives.)  That scene was casually ignored after the story ended, as Glory disappeared into obscurity as soon as Gerry Conway left the books in the early ‘90s.  I have no idea if Conway had any concrete plans on what was next for Glory following her relationship with Eduardo Lobo, but I kind of doubt he intended for her to be possessed by the spirit of Calypso.  

Unfortunately, what we have here is another case of a Daily Bugle cast member defying all odds and somehow getting dragged into a scheme involving one of Spider-Man's established villains.  Never one of Iron Fist's villains, oddly enough.  Glory just so happens to be on a cruise ship that takes in a boat of Haitian refugees, one of which is a servant of Calypso, who is able to discern that Glory has a subconscious hatred of Spider-Man going back to a story that hasn’t been referenced in years.  Simultaneously, the cruise ship is also carrying drugs from Haiti; drugs that will soon turn Glory’s cousin into a zombie back in America.  Those are just too many coincidences to accept in one story, and that’s before we even get to the fact that Ashley Kafka happens to be the doctor treating Ramon.

Now, for some reason, the story goes out of its way to differentiate between the “Zombieastral” (zombies created by chemicals) and “Zombiecadavre” (a resurrected corpse).  Both are used in the story, and neither adds much of anything.  The basic idea of Calypso possessing Glory Grant and using Glory to resurrect her original body has problems, but at least there’s nothing fundamentally convoluted about it.  For some reason, Herdling feels the need to complicate the plot with the old ‘70s Zombie, political strife in Haiti, a new street drug that zombifies people, Glory’s cousin, and, oh yeah, Shotgun.  You might remember Shotgun from practically any Marvel title drawn by John Romita, Jr. in the ‘90s.  (Romita, Jr. was even supposed to do a monthly Shotgun series during the heyday of Big Guns & Attitude, but it never materialized.)  This might just be Shotgun’s first appearance not drawn by Romita.  And the artist turns out to be Shawn McManus of all people, doing a job that’s just as polarizing as his Sensational Spider-Man annual in the previous year.  Initially, I had to wonder why Herdling felt the need to use Shotgun during the story, but eventually decided to shrug my shoulders and go along with it since Shotgun works about as well as any other government agent character.  Then again, Shotgun’s only here due to the inane “zombie drug” plot thread, the one that adds zilch to the plot, so he stands out as another distraction.  

All this said, I have to admit to some affection for this issue.  I love the original Lobos Brothers arc from Web, so any attempt to pick up on a loose thread and follow up on Glory Grant is appreciated.  And as much as “Torment” has become a source of ridicule over the years, it did reestablish Calypso as a real threat, so it’s nice to see the mistake of killing her off rectified.  I’m also impressed that Herdling somehow found a way to drag in two obscure characters from distant corners of the Marvel Universe like Zombie and Shotgun and put them into the same story.  It felt like a story grafted onto another story that didn’t need it at all, but still, that’s a decent quota of forgotten Marvel characters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shotgun showed up as they were wrapping up the Punisher books in '95, not drawn by JR jr.

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