Monday, August 11, 2014

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #246 - May 1997

 

The Legion of Losers!
Credits:  J. M. DeMatteis (plot), Glenn Greenberg (script), Luke Ross (penciler), Dan Green & Al Milgrom (inks), John Kalisz (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  Spider-Man stumbles across the Grizzly, the Gibbon, the Spot, and the Kangaroo as they exit a bank robbery.  Spider-Man is taken captive by the villains, but the Grizzly and the Gibbon later have second thoughts about harming him.  They team up to defend Spider-Man from the Spot and the Kangaroo, impressing Spider-Man enough to let the duo go.  As Spider-Man takes the Spot and the Kangaroo to prison, Grizzly and the Gibbon plot to become superheroes.

The Subplots:  Spider-Man begins the story by searching upstate New York for the Chameleon.  Dr. Kafka and John Jameson are fired from Ravencroft by Senator Roeberg.  Meanwhile, Flash asks Betty to help him deal with his alcoholism.  At the Daily Bugle, Mad Jack ambushes Jonah Jameson.  His body is later found in an elevator.

*See _________ For Details:  Senator Roeberg claims that she had to call in several favors to reopen Ravencroft, following the events of Carnage: It’s a Wonderful Life.

We Get Letters:  The previous month’s letter column shows up again.

I Love the ‘90s:  The Grizzly sarcastically compares the Kangaroo (who always “bounces back”) to Bill Clinton.

Review:  I’ve mentioned before that I dislike the idea of reviving the Grizzly solely to use as a joke character, especially when his previous appearance in Web of Spider-Man was an outright rebuke of the very concept of joke characters.  I suspect Glenn Greenberg was one of the few people involved with the Spider-titles at the time who was even aware of that story, so maybe he had some influence on Grizzly’s (slightly) improved portrayal this issue.  Grizzly gets over his vendetta against Spider-Man very quickly, and actually turns against his teammates to defend him.  That essentially leaves him where he was at the end of his last appearance in Web of Spider-Man, which I suppose is preferable to allowing him to just stay a revenge-obsessed loser.  Now, he’s merely a loser superhero with the Gibbon as a sidekick, leaving him as a joke character, of course.  Admittedly, some of this “Legion of Losers” stuff is funny, but I just think there’s something wrong with the core of the concept.  The fans do have a certain group of characters they dismiss as losers.  Fine.  But should the stories themselves reflect this?  Shouldn’t a creator’s energy be spent on making the Spot a credible villain, rather than confirming his status as a joke?  Is the Grizzly inherently a worse character than, say, the Rhino?  

I also have to wonder about the tone of the issue.  The occasional comedic story is a welcome change of pace, but continuing serious subplots in the middle of one just makes for a disjointed issue.  Dr. Kafka getting fired (finally), Flash admitting he’s an alcoholic, and Mad Jack possibly killing Jonah are some of the strongest subplots currently featured in any of the titles, yet they’re buried underneath an intentionally silly story.  Just look at that cover; do you really believe for a second that this is the issue that’s going to kill off Jonah Jameson?  The tone doesn’t work, and that hurts the issue’s ability to sell the ongoing storylines that are supposed to bring you back for the next chapter.

4 comments:

m!ke said...

wait, so spider-man let two bank robbers just go, because they "saved" him? um.....

wwk5d said...

Hey, at least Marvel didn't go the DC route and turn these characters into rapists or sadistic serial killers or cannibals in order for us to take them more seriously...unless I missed something.

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
m!ke said...

valid point, wwk5d.