Saturday, January 24, 2015

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #433 - April 1998

The Long Farewell
Credits:  Tom DeFalco (writer), Tom Lyle (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  Robbie Robertson’s retirement party is held at the Roosevelt Hotel, which is where Mr. Hyde is staying in his civilian identity of Calvin Zabo.  Peter overhears Zabo’s name at the check-in counter and, after talking to Ben Urich, realizes he’s Mr. Hyde.  With no costume or webshooters, Peter secretly dons Phil Urich’s oversized sweatshirt and covers his face with the hood.  Peter fights Hyde to a standstill until the NYPD arrives and gases Hyde into unconsciousness.

The Subplots:  Peter, Shantal, and MJ visit Jill Stacy in the hospital.  Jill’s criminology professor Marina Caches also visits, with her boyfriend Dante Rigoletto.  Peter is unnerved by Rigoletto for reasons he doesn’t understand.

Web of Continuity:  
  • MJ suggests Peter find a new identity so long as Spider-Man has a price on his head.  This is the third setup for “Identity Crisis” -- MJ hinted at the same idea at the end of Spectacular #255, and Spider-Man has already visited Hobie Brown in Sensational #26, after another incident where his costume got him into trouble.
  • Peter is complaining about a sprained right ankle that only seems to exist in this title.

*See _________ For Details:  Mr. Hyde lost his change of clothes after fighting the Hulk on an airplane in Incredible Hulk #458.

I Love the ‘90s:  MJ and her friends joke about finding doctors that look like Eric LaSalle and George Clooney.

Review:  More time is killed while the titles await “Identity Crisis.”  While I appreciate the novelty of seeing Spider-Man go up against a foe he hasn’t faced four hundred thousand times, and the more cohesive approach to the Marvel Universe we’ve been getting lately, it’s hard to pretend this isn’t filler.  At least it’s non-offensive filler, though.  The story’s structured fairly well, and there’s a decent joke towards the end when Mr. Hyde has finally deduced that his mystery opponent is…his ex-partner Cobra, with his “blinding speed and agility.”  MJ is also much more tolerable this issue, as she reiterates that she accepts Peter’s life as Spider-Man, she just doesn’t think he needs to specifically be “Spider-Man” in order to help others.  Fair enough.  And Peter exhibits some emotion for the very first time regarding Jill’s shooting, predictably blaming himself for allowing it to happen.  There’s a classic Spidey feel to the issue, which is a feeling Amazing doesn’t have often enough these days.  I do have issues with the art, however.  I’m assuming Joe Bennett is considered the regular penciler on this title now, but even the perennial go-to fill-in guy occasionally needs a fill-in.  Tom Lyle isn’t a bad choice to step in given his past with the character, although I’m not sure how he felt drawing a Spider-Man issue that doesn’t feature Peter as Spider-Man.  While Lyle does a credible job on the action sequences, his civilian characters look unusually flat and generic for much of the issue.  The most flagrant example of this would be Billy Walters and Phil Urich, who are pretty much impossible to tell apart when both appear at the party.  This is the type of story that calls for very specific, human faces and unfortunately that’s not what Lyle delivers.

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