Wednesday, August 20, 2014

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #19 - September 1997


The Return
Credits:  Richard Case (plot, pencils, inks), Todd Dezago (script), Gregory Wright (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  A young woman named Akasha Martinez comes across a fragment of the Living Monolith and is instantly knocked unconscious.  She soon recovers, however, and spends a day with her father at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Peter Parker is there with MJ to photograph the new Egyptian exposition.  When Akasha encounters the Egyptian artifacts, she’s overwhelmed with power.  She steals the Eye of Horus and proclaims herself the Living Pharaoh.  As Spider-Man, Peter tries to stop Akasha from harming the museum patrons, but discovers she’s stronger than he initially thought.

The Subplots:  None.

Web of Continuity:  
  • The Living Monolith originally called himself the Living Pharaoh before growing to giant size.
  • The Chronology Project lists this two-parter as yet another arc taking place before Spectacular Spider-Man #246, even though it was published months later.  I’m skeptical about this, since Peter does make a reference to Jonah being “nearly out of his mind with everything that’s been going on lately,” which I think was likely a reference Jonah’s injuries and Norman Osborn buying the Bugle.  However, it could possibly be interpreted as an allusion to Tom DeFalco’s Bugle storylines in the build-up to Amazing Spider-Man #425; the assassination plot against Robbie, the Angela Yin/Dragon Fly drama, etc.

I Love the ‘90s:  Scully and Mulder are at the hospital interviewing Akasha’s friends, although the colorist seems to be going out of his way to mis-color them.

"Huh?" Moment:  Akasha repeatedly tells her friends to “atch up” when bike-riding in the opening scene.  I can only assume the letterer misspelled “catch up” and then copy and pasted his typo repeatedly.  It appens, man.  It appens.

Review:  Sensational is usually fun, but there are times when it just feels like it’s too light for its own good.  The book’s always low on subplots and psychological drama, so when you get issues like these that lack both elements entirely, it’s usually up to the art to save the day.  And while Richard Case is a competent fill-in for Mike Wieringo, he’s…well, no Mike Wieringo.  I honestly wouldn’t complain about having Case on any of the Spider-books, especially when I think about some of the questionable fill-in art this era produced.  This just isn’t as visually innovative as the ‘Ringo issues, and it’s not as if we’re being graced with an incredible villain in the first place.  

I don’t necessarily mind reviving the Living Pharaoh as a college-age female, but I think she’s a hard sell as the villain for a two-issue arc.  We know virtually nothing about Akasha before she becomes the Pharaoh, so there’s just no investment on the reader’s part in seeing her go back to normal.  And as a threat, she shoots some energy beams out of a staff and that’s essentially it.  No clear motivation, unoriginal powers, and a virtual blank in her civilian form.  Not a great villain at this stage.  None of this means this is a terrible comic; it’s well-drawn and there are a few decent gags, but it’s hard to muster up the energy to care too much about the story.

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