Thursday, April 2, 2015

SPIDER-MAN: THE MUTANT AGENDA #3 - May 1994


Mutanthood’s End
Credits:  Steven Grant (writer), Scott Kolins (penciler), Sam De LaRosa (inks), John Kalisz (colors), Steve Dutro (letters)

Summary:  Irritated that his plan hasn’t worked so far, Hobgoblin goes to his favorite bar to blow off steam.  When he overhears locals mocking his career as a supervillain, he lashes out and destroys the bar.  He then returns to Brand’s headquarters and locates Landon’s private lab.  Inside, Landon plans on dropping Spider-Man and the Beast in a “genetic bath” that he claims will cure mutancy.  Hobgoblin interrupts, inadvertently freeing Beast from his cage.  Beast knocks Hobgoblin unconscious, but not before a pumpkin bomb causes Spider-Man to land in the bath as he’s swinging by with a captive Landon.  Spider-Man is protected by his costume, but the chemicals cause Landon to mutate into a monster.  Spider-Man defeats Landon, and Beast promises to get him the help he needs.

I Love the ‘90s:  Both Hobgoblin (unmasked as Jason Macendale) and his bartender have that awful early ‘90s Moe Howard haircut.

Creative Differences:  An added thought balloon reminds us that Spider-Man has spider-sense, even though he’s being knocked off his feet by Monster-Landon in that panel.  Another added balloon on the final page has the Beast assuring Spider-Man that he’ll get Landon the help he needs.

Review:  Yes, every incarnation of “Mutant Agenda” ends with Landon being mutated into a hideous monster, although I was surprised to discover that the cartoon is the only version to feature Landon’s closeted mutant employee.  She’s so awkwardly shoehorned into the cartoon’s plot, I assumed she was a character from the comics that the producers didn’t really have time for.  I’m guessing now she was introduced in an effort to add some depth to the ending, which in both the strip and comics, merely ends with the Beast making empty promises to help the newly mutated Landon.  In theory, the cartoon’s conclusion should’ve been the most rewarding resolution, but the series put so little effort into developing the character it’s impossible not to view Landon’s secretly telepathic employee as a cheat.  Regardless, I wish the character (she has a name, it’s Genevieve) could’ve made her way into this miniseries.  Maybe Steven Grant could’ve done something with her, because he clearly doesn’t have enough plot to satisfy three issues of material.  This issue he has to waste time by having random characters remind the audience that Jason Macendale is supposed to be a loser, which leads to a rather pointless bar fight scene.  Honestly, I never viewed Macendale as a loser until the stories started to tell us that he was one, and within the context of this miniseries, it reads as a total non-sequitur.  So I wasn’t supposed to be taking Hobgoblin’s plan seriously in the past two issues?  Okay, I wasn’t, but that’s because the story wasn’t engaging in any way, not because I view Macendale as a joke.

In retrospect, this entire project is insane.  Originally, the comic strip and the comic book were supposed to cross-over, but instead, they ended up telling similar stories simultaneously.  At no point is the story “continued” from one format to the next, regardless of all of the blurbs telling us how “historic” this event is.  Left with no real gimmick to sell, the comic has to inform the reader that they can get a “head start” on the next issue if they follow the strip.  So, that’s great, even if your local paper carries the strip, all you’re getting are spoilers for the next issue.  And even if you ignore the botched crossover gimmick, the miniseries doesn’t have a strong enough concept to justify its existence.  Making all of this worse, someone actually made the decision to adapt this fiasco into an episode of the cartoon series.  We’re cursed with three different versions of perhaps the lamest Spider-Man/X-Men crossover in existence.  Was it really so hard to coordinate a Spider-Man/Beast story?  No one at Marvel could conceive a simple, fun team-up against, say, Arcade?  I’m not shocked that the material is so bad, but I am surprised that so many higher-ups had so much faith behind it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I’m not shocked that the material is so bad, but I am surprised that so many higher-ups had so much faith behind it."

I'm surprised that you're surprised. I've always heard the comic book crash began in late 1993 (backlash against death of superman) and ended with Marvel's bankruptcy in late 1996.

Given these dates are with historical context I doubt anyone realized things were going south until late 1994 at the earliest. Meaning this project was approved at what must of felt like the boom's high mark.

I mean, this was 2.5 years after NFL SuperPro. What does it take to be lower in the bag of ideas than that?

My assumption is Marvel was literally putting out minis just to get the issue #1 sales (and issues #0 sales since I'm sure that was a thing at the time)