Monday, July 27, 2015

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #32 - October 1998


The Gathering of Five - Part One: Acquistions
Credits:  Todd Dezago (writer), Joe Bennett (penciler), Ralph Cabrera (inks), Tom Smith (colors), Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis (letters)

The Plot:  Spider-Man swings past Override as he causes a traffic jam outside of the Aleister Building.  He follows Override inside the building and discovers that Override is stealing an ancient relic from the Technomancers.  Override is able to cover his escape by releasing the Technomancers’ menagerie of strange creatures.  Later, Override convinces Norman Osborn to let him participate in a mysterious ceremony known as the “Gathering of Five.”

The Subplots:  A Scrier reports to Osborn that the “package” has been delivered safely.  Robbie Robertson locates Alison Mongrain in Paris.  MJ receives a call from a modeling agent, asking her to return to the business.

*See _________ For Details:  Override’s wife Aura was nearly killed in Sensational Spider-Man #25.  He hopes that this ancient ceremony will give him the power he needs to heal his wife.

I Love the ‘90s:  Spider-Man swings past a movie theater promoting Wesley Snipes as Blade on the Marquette.  

How Did This Get Published?:  “Man, there is just nothing better than catching the web-line express home after a long day of snapping pictures for the Bugle as freelance photographer Peter Parker.”  I’m glad Spider-Man’s secret identity was smoothly inserted into that thought balloon, or else I would’ve been lost throughout the rest of the issue!

Review:  Marvel’s ready to pull the plug on this era of Spider-Man, although two poorly-received crossovers remain.  “The Gathering of Five” is an attempt to seed a few storylines for the upcoming relaunch, and…that’s pretty much it, really.  It would be nice to say that this era of the titles is given a proper sendoff and the various storylines in the ongoing titles are wrapped up in a neat little bow, but that’s clearly not the motive of the crossover.  Ultimately, the Gathering of Five is a plot device that will lead to a few storylines in the early days of the relaunch, and after that, the story’s simply forgotten.  

I will say that Todd Dezago handles the opening chapter with as much grace as could be expected, creating a link between the dangling Override plot and the gimmicky Gathering of Five concept.  If you’re not aware of any of the behind-the-scenes drama, this might even read like any other issue of Sensational.  It’s more than likely that Dezago would get around to Override and the Technomancers again, and this search for mystic artifacts plot could charitably be viewed as the latest scheme by Norman Osborn.  MJ just might get a subplot that has her contemplating a return to modeling, and hey, it looks like this Alison Mongrain nonsense is finally getting resolved.  There’s no real indication this issue that the entire line is being primed for an extremely awkward “back to basics” reboot, even though that’s exactly where it’s all headed.  I doubt Dezago was particularly thrilled to be closing out his run on a crossover, but his work here is perfectly competent.  He introduces all of the elements needed for the next chapter, never forgetting to throw in those human moments, such as MJ’s reaction to an old acquaintance who doesn’t know she lost the baby.  He also gives the artist several cool things to draw, like the horrific beasts hidden inside the Technomancers’ lair (even though Joe Bennett seems to be strictly in fill-in mode, so they don’t look especially menacing).  Everything that’s wrong with the crossover is still in the background, leaving the reader with an opening chapter that’s actually good enough to trick you into buying the next issue.

5 comments:

Unknown said...

"although two poorly-received crossovers remain."

You know, this is what I always thought too. But somehow the story got a TPB last year. It wasn't even one of those "the story is included because it is part of a longer arc" trades. The title is actually Spider-Man: Gathering of the Five.

I was shocked but I have to assume there was some demand. I mean, it somehow leap frogged all the other great Spidey stories that haven't gotten a trade at this point.

G. Kendall said...

It seems Marvel made a decision around four or five years ago to reprint everything John Byrne ever drew for them. Since this arc ties in directly with the Byrne issues in the "Next Chapter" trade, I'm assuming this crossover was reprinted as a companion piece. It also features the first appearance of Mattie Franklin, who apparently showed up in the post-OMD Spidey comics in order to be killed off.

Have they reprinted "The Final Chapter" yet?

Unknown said...

"The Final Chapter" is included in the Gathering Trade. Though I'd like to make it clear that I got that from Amazon and had too much self-respect to actually buy the book.

Though I did buy Byrne's Chapter One TPB recently. I have to admit, now that all the controversy has passed, it isn't half bad. Many of the changes come across as gratuitous (and hence distracting) but it is fun to see him weave some later established plots through those early stories.

Harry Sewalski said...

Hey, if Marvel were cool to reprint the entire Clone Saga in trades, then I figure anything's fair game. Though I will admit that I did laugh out loud when I found the Gathering of Five trade in my comic shop.

Matt said...

Marvel has reprinted most of the Spider-Man crossovers from this era. Besides "The Gathering of the Five"/"Final Chapter" combo, they also did a trade each for "Spiderhunt" and "Identity Crisis".

And, a note to Unknown -- I'm not sure what role demand plays in some of Marvel's choices. I mean obviously they're only going to print what they think will sell -- but at the same time most people (not me) tend to revile the Clone Saga, yet somehow a few years ago Marvel produced eleven trades collecting the full Ben Reilly era.

(I really wish they'd do the same for this whole post-Clone Saga era too, up to the relaunch, even after G.'s posts have made me realize what a mess it all was. I just have an incredible nostalgia for that period.)