Wednesday, January 7, 2009

ONSLAUGHT Crossovers Part Two – September 1996

Amazing Spider-Man #415 (DeFalco/Bagley/Malhstedt/Milgrom/Comicraft/Sharon/Malibu) – This installment doesn’t advance the Onslaught story at all, as it just uses the Sentinels as villains while the book continues its ongoing storylines. It’s amusing to read the first page of this issue, as the narrative captions recapping the past few years of storylines provide a list of events Marvel soon dismissed (MJ pregnant, Aunt May dead, Peter Parker’s a clone, etc.). This was published during the awkward period when Marvel pretty much admitted that Peter Parker would be back as Spider-Man, but his return would have to wait until the Onslaught crossover was over. The story involves Peter evading Sentinels with Mary Jane, as Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) takes on another Sentinel. One of the Sentinels heavily infers that Mary Jane’s unborn child is a female mutant, which I’m sure was supposed to be a big revelation at the time. Reading any Spider-Man comic from the past twenty years or so gives me an odd feeling now, as I have no idea what’s supposed to be in-continuity, what was never in-continuity, and what was once in-continuity but has since been retconned within continuity. Consequently, I really don’t care (and it’s not just the continuity headaches that bother me, it’s Marvel turning its back on the idea that Spider-Man comics are supposed to be about the continuing life of Peter Parker). Even if it was published during a strange period in the character’s history, it is a fairly enjoyable story about Spider-Man fighting Sentinels. DeFalco does a nice job of depicting the Daily Bugle’s reaction to the crisis, and helps to convey the seriousness of the event more than some of the main Onslaught chapters have.

Avengers #402 (Waid/Deodato/Palmer/Kalisz/Oakley) – This is actually the final issue of the first volume of Avengers, so it’s sad that it’s dedicated to an X-crossover and not to any of the title’s own storylines. In this issue, Iron Man finishes the psionic armor that’s going to be used against Onslaught, and the team is soon attacked by Post and Holocaust, who want to destroy it. Waid tries to make the story more about the characters than the event, as he focuses on the Avengers’ reactions to the chaos in New York, and emphasizes the toll that it’s taking on Captain America. Predictably, Cap eventually figures out a way to defeat Post and Holocaust, as the citizens of New York cheer the team on. The ending’s certainly cheesy, and it seems like something tacked on to make the final issue seem more sentimental than it really is, but the majority of the story works pretty well. The art’s improved from the previous issue, and the action moves at a steady pace. “Heroes responding to a massive catastrophe in a major city during a crossover” is probably its own subgenre at this point, and while this issue doesn’t do anything new, it’s still a decent read.


Austin Gorton said...

it’s Marvel turning its back on the idea that Spider-Man comics are supposed to be about the continuing life of Peter Parker

Amen. I recently read the first Brand New Day hardcover at a friends urging, and while it isn't bad, it just feels like it's trying too hard to drag everything back to the status quo of twenty five years ago, and personally, I have no interest in going there.

After the X-Men, the Avengers quickly became a favorite of mine when I first started reading comics, so I've always had a special affinity for them as well. As such, even as a rabid 90s X-fan, I was bummed that 402 issues of the Avengers ended on the middle chapter of an X-Men crossover. The Avengers deserved better (plus, I'm a sucker for large-numbered books. I hate it when books get canceled and started over).

Anonymous said...

If the JMS run had lived up to its potential there wouldn't have been the need for Brand New Day. The first two years of JMS were absolute gold, and then degenerated into maudlin, unreadable garbage.

In some alternate universe, Marvel swapped out Strazinski for Slott, Kelly, and Gale three years ago, Peter and MJ are divorced or separated, and Amazing is a sales juggernaut.

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