There once was a Spider…!
Credits: Tom DeFalco (writer), Rafael Kayanan (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis (letters)
The Plot: A thousand years in the future, researchers Zack and Lana discover the remains of a web-shooter in the ruins of Old Manhattan. Their tests confirm it belonged to Spider-Man, one of the leading figures of the Heroic Age. They speculate on what Spider-Man’s life was like, and the circumstances that led to him losing the web-shooter. In the present, Spider-Man searches for a lost girl in the sewers. He clings to an unstable structure, which falls on his arm, breaking the web-shooter. Spider-Man convinces the girl to be brave and manages to rescue her in spite of his injured arm.
The Subplots: MJ encourages Peter to stay home for the day, but changes her mind after seeing news footage of the missing girl. MJ spends the rest of the day alone.
Review: I don’t pretend to know what was going on behind the scenes at this time, but Tom DeFalco’s final two ASM issues shipped bi-weekly, leading the way for John Byrne to debut early with the “Gathering of Five” crossover. Like the previous two issues, this is pure filler, but it is has more heart and humor than the two duds that preceded it. Zack and Lana’s attempts to piece together what Spider-Man’s life must have been like play against the reality that Spider-Man experiences as New York’s least appreciated hero, and there are numerous in-jokes for comic fans to enjoy. Lana, for example, is a fan of Spider-Man’s “Maximum Carnage” era, a fact Zack just can’t believe. DeFalco has also remembered to throw in a token Peter/MJ scene; one that once again mischaracterizes MJ as a domineering nag, but she’s thankfully less annoying than she was earlier in DeFalco's run. It seems we were supposed to be sympathizing for MJ during her previous bouts of obnoxiousness, an idea that was poorly conveyed to say the least. This issue has a brief scene emphasizing just how lonely she is when Peter is off playing hero, which is a fair enough avenue to explore. The human moments could’ve been sold better by Rafael Kayanan, who still struggles with basic acting, but I have to say that I’m still enjoying his interpretation of Spider-Man and I think his backgrounds look solid. Overall, the story is a decent goodbye for DeFalco, who was never able to hit his stride during his second Amazing stint. I’m glad that he was able to go out with one of his stronger issues.