Monday, October 13, 2014

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #428 - November 1997


Living Large!
Credits:  Tom DeFalco (writer), Steve Skroce (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Comicraft’s Kiff Scholl (letters)

The Plot:  The revived Dr. Octopus chases Spider-Man into the streets, causing havoc.  Lady Octopus convinces Ock to abandon the fight so that they can check on Stunner’s human body.  They discover that she’s now in a vegetative state; Ock swears vengeance against Spider-Man.  Later, Black Tarantula ambushes Delilah and nearly kills her.  He then uses his healing powers and revives her, so that she can live to warn the Rose.

The Subplots:  MJ convinces Peter to join her at an ESU toga party.  Chesbro is at the party, spying on Professor Caches.  Caches introduces MJ to her friend, Dante Rigoletto, who abruptly leaves.  Meanwhile, Jacob Conover meets with Robbie Robinson, informing him that Norman Osborn wants him back at the Daily Bugle.

Web of Continuity:  
  • Spider-Man doesn’t understand why Dr. Octopus doesn’t seem to know his secret ID, since he did know it at the time of his death.
  • The Rose’s real identity as Jacob Conover is vaguely hinted at this issue, when the Rose announces that he has a previous engagement to Delilah, and in a later scene, we see Conover meeting with Robbie Robertson.
  • Jill Stacy is mis-colored as Shantal Wilsk in one scene.  I realize that all of MJ’s ESU friends are interchangeable, but this is a little ridiculous.

I Love the ‘90s:  Spider-Man tells Dr. Octopus that his cornball dialogue is “as DEAD as the MACARENA!”

"Huh?" Moment:  Dr. Octopus boasts that Lady Octopus has given him a personal force field that will block Spider-Man’s blows.  On the very next page, right after it deflects Spidey’s fists, Spider-Man’s able to hit Ock with a giant piece of concrete.  What kind of a force field is this?!

We Get Letters:  The editorial response to a fan’s suggestion that the Clone Saga could be wiped from our memories states, “one must never, ever mess with the Goddess of Continuity.”   It goes on to say that previous events in Marvel stories can’t be erased due to the damage it would cause to a cohesive timeline.

Review:  So, Doc Ock has officially returned, even if his resurrection is marred by its connection to the never-ending, never-that-interesting Rose/Black Tarantula storyline.  Thankfully, DeFalco has Doc Ock immediately reject both characters and just go his own way, which naturally means trying to kill Spider-Man the second he’s revived.  The opening fight scene this issue is great, combining some of DeFalco’s funniest dialogue in a while with some imaginative action sequences.  There’s a nice bit that has Spider-Man dodging Ock’s tentacles by sliding sideways into an open car window, then driving the car into the tentacles, and then a streetlight, in order to knock Ock to the ground.  Skroce has a lot of fun with the scene, and of course he has a ball with the excessive amounts of debris and broken glass caused by the fight.  When the book plays to Skroce’s strengths, it is pretty entertaining.

Unfortunately, Spider-Man’s fight with Dr. Octopus is short lived.  The rest of the issue treats us to more Rose/Black Tarantula “intrigue,” along with some fairly pedestrian material at ESU.  A toga party…at college?  Man, I’m officially not bored by this stuff now!  MJ is also still snapping at Peter, but to DeFalco’s credit, she’s a little more likeable this issue than she’s been in most of the titles lately.  Peter and MJ’s conversation, which has her pointing out that Peter’s enemies don’t let him get in their way of enjoying life, seems to fit her established personality better than some of her more recent lectures.  The overall tone of the Peter/MJ scenes has felt off for a while now.  Most notably, MJ’s pretty blasé about the fact that Norman Osborn, who most likely murdered her baby¸ is now back from the dead again and is Peter’s boss.  You’d think this would’ve created some memorable drama in the Parker household, but unfortunately, the personal life subplots have been stagnant for months now.


Comicbookrehab said...

We didn't know it then, but the decision to not portray Peter and M.J. as parents probably marked the beginning of the end of their marriage. After "Revelations", it seemed like nobody knew how to write those characters as a married couple anymore - particularly if they weren't going to have children. I DO remember reading negative letters printed in "Sensational Spider-Man" criticizing the characterization of Peter and Mary Jane in the aftermath as ringing completely false.

Jeff said...

I think this story kind of fails because it puts a Doc Ock in a magic story. It feels like he should be resurrected by science since that's his shtick. Maybe it would work if he wasn't surrounded by Delilah and a bunch of lame ninjas. Also, it makes me kind of sad that this story reverted him back to his green and yellow suit after years of Erik Larson's awesome suit Ock.

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