Wednesday, January 28, 2015

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #434 - May 1998


‘Round and ‘Round with Ricochet!
Credits:  Tom DeFalco (writer), Joe Bennett (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inks), Gregory Wright (colors), Comicraft’s Kiff Scholl (letters)

The Plot:  Peter debuts his Ricochet persona, spontaneously deciding that he’ll pretend to be a criminal seeking a cut of the crimes he’s stopping.  He’s stalked by Delilah, who asks him to join her in her war against Black Tarantula.  Ricochet reluctantly agrees.  Meanwhile, Robbie and Martha Robertson take a vacation to the island of Euboea.  Unbeknownst to Martha, Robbie and a mystery figure are investigating Norman Osborn.  Nearby, Alison Mongrain meets the Secret Order of Scriers on Osborn’s yacht.  After taking a mystery object from her, they destroy the yacht.  A shadowy figure observes the bombing.  Robbie watches as an injured Alison is later rescued in the water.

The Subplots:  Black Tarantula and the Rose meet with Fortunato to make peace.  Meanwhile, Chesbro continues to spy on Professor Caches.  MJ and Shantal are shocked to discover Caches has a son.  When Chesbro reports back to Black Tarantula, he declares that vengeance is his real reason for entering New York City.

Web of Continuity:  Delilah repeats the claim that Black Tarantula is immortal.

I Love the ‘90s:  The issue opens with Ricochet stopping a group of criminals from robbing a shipment of “Bear Babies,” which is a takeoff on the Beanie Babies.  Later, Ricochet tells Delilah that approaching strange women is usually too “Bill Clintonish” for him.

Review:  The Green Ninjas are gone, but Tom DeFalco still can’t let go of this Black Tarantula nonsense.  The very first chapter of this storyline (well over a year ago at this point) showed promise, but since then it’s all gone downhill.  I admire DeFalco’s determination to finish what he’s started (unlike some of the spinoffs of this era, Amazing isn’t going to be wrapping up with a dozen dangling plotlines), but every time I see Rose, Delilah, and/or Black Tarantula, my eyelids start to get very, very heavy.  Is any reader particularly invested in whether it’s Rose or Black Tarantula who runs New York’s mobs?  Does anyone care about Black Tarantula’s custody battle with his ex-wife, Professor Caches?  Why are we still getting these tedious stories?

When the issue isn’t dwelling on the gang war monotony, DeFalco finally advances the ongoing storyline that people do care about.  Whether or not Alison Mongrain has the Parkers’ baby is the kind of question that shouldn’t have been pushed into the background, especially when the main plots have been such utter bores.  I suspect we’re only checking in on Alison again because the word’s come down that a reboot is coming, but at least it’s an excuse to get away from this Black Tarantula tedium.  The plot consists of the Scriers taking a mystery “something,” blowing up the yacht for no clear reason, and Alison surviving in one of those only-in-comics type escapes.  Also, two different mystery figures shrouded in darkness appear.  So, it’s a bit of a mess.  (And Joe Bennett seems to think “a shadowy figure” means someone literally made of darkness.)  I do like Robbie Robertson’s role in this, however.  It’s nice to see Robbie, and presumably Jonah, doing something to proactively undermine Norman Osborn.  Their contributions to the stories have consisted of being threatened or nagged at for far too many months now.

Oh, yeah.  Ricochet also debuts this issue.  Ricochet’s gimmick plays off Spider-Man’s agility, which is fair enough.  He also uses tiny discs in battle, which is logical given the other devices Peter has devised during his crime fighting career.  There still isn’t that much to the character, which is probably why DeFalco has added the idea that Ricochet is pretending to be a criminal in order to get closer to the underworld.  Overall, it’s not a bad concept.  It’s just too bad he has to debut in yet another chapter of this insufferable gang war storyline.

1 comment:

Raymond C. Matthews said...
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