Thursday, July 30, 2015

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #262 - October 1998


The Gathering of Five - Part Four: A Day in the Life
Credits:  John Byrne (writer), Luke Ross (penciler), Al Milgrom (inks), John Kalisz (colors), Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis (letters)

The Plot:  Two bicyclists spot Spider-Man swinging overhead and decide to follow him throughout the day.  They witness Spider-Man stop a robbery, then help young kids on a basketball court.  The bicyclists, annoyed at the lack of action, accidentally cause a multi-car collision while going through traffic.  Spider-Man webs the duo up and hands them over to the police.

The Subplots:  MJ meets with her new modeling agency and is given a contract.  Elsewhere, Norman Osborn chastises a mystery man named Franklin over the phone.  Franklin’s child listens in.  Later, when Osborn arrives to pick Franklin up at the airport, he’s shocked at the person who arrives instead.

Web of Continuity:  The mystery Franklin’s child (who doesn’t make a full appearance this issue) is Mattie Franklin, the future Spider-Woman.  Mattie will play a role in the early issues of the relaunched titles, and later receive her own series.  Using the Wizard standards of the day, this issue counts as her first cameo appearance.

Forever Young:  Two people at MJ’s modeling agency remark that she’s “years out of the biz,” which means that even John Byrne seems to be acknowledging that years have passed since MJ gave up modeling, circa Amazing Spider-Man #325.

I Love the ‘90s:  The head of MJ’s modeling agency remarks that her contract “will make Elle and Cindy and Naomi and Christie turn as green as Bruce Banner on a bad hair day!”

Production Note:  The cover credits are incorrect, a repeat of the credits on PPSM #96’s cover.  Norman Felchle does appear to be the cover artist this issue, however.

Review:  So, while the last chapter was a shabby attempt to cram five issues of story into twenty-two pages, this chapter is allowed to squander most of its pages on small stakes “everyday” adventures.  Surely someone working in editorial had to realize how utterly disjointed this crossover was going to be.  I’m not saying that Byrne’s “day in the life” story is particularly bad -- it’s about as entertaining as a decent annual back-up and the material does suit Ross playful art -- but it’s bizarre that a chapter of this crossover is devoted to such mundane material.  It didn’t occur to anyone to split the events of PPSM #96 into two chapters…and to drop that dragon nonsense?  Also, where are Robbie Robertson and Alison Mongrain?  Their story is totally ignored this chapter, after serving as the one subplot in the crossover so far that felt like it might actually be going somewhere.  Instead of checking in on their flight from Osborn’s agents and search for Peter, the reader has to suffer through more pages of Norman Osborn procuring rare artifacts.  That’s certainly exciting.  More scenes of a middle-aged man yelling at other middle-aged men on a cellphone?  Yes, please!  And while it wouldn’t be fair to criticize this chapter for her brief cameo, it’s worth remembering that Mattie Franklin went on to become one of the most hated fictional characters in comics.  Even when Marvel was pushing her debut series rather heavily, no one seemed to care enough to track this issue down.

2 comments:

Harry Sewalski said...

...it’s worth remembering that Mattie Franklin went on to become one of the most hated fictional characters in comics...

...She was? My only experiences with her were the Loners miniseries and her appearance in Grim Hunt, but she didn't seem that horrible to me. Is it because she was doing the whole "new Spider-Man" thing during the relaunch?

G. Kendall said...

I remember fans in the late '90s hated her. Partially because she came across as a forced attempt by middle-aged men to portray a teenage girl. There was also some attempt to perhaps sell her as a potential love interest for Spider-Man. That drove people nuts.