Thursday, January 17, 2013

80-Page Thursday: Spider-Man Universe #4!

Am I nearing the bottom of the barrel of my 80-pagers? Hmm…well, maybe. Although, usually something will turn up later, so we continue to shove on: from 2000, Spider-Man Universe #4, featuring stories from Rurik Tyler and Howard Mackie, and art from John Romita Jr, John Byrne, and Tyler.

Spider-Man Universe was one of several reprint books Marvel tried out: for $4.99, you got three full issues. Since it only ran seven issues, I'm guessing it didn't take off; but I can't say if that was due to the packaging, or the somewhat lackluster state of Spidey at the time.
"Blackout, part 2" was reprinted from Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #16, and was the conclusion of Rurik Tyler's Spidey vs. Vulture tale. It's not bad; and it does feature Spidey unmasking to settle down a scared kid, just like the most recent movie. (I couldn't even guess if here was the first place we ever see that, though.) I did have the feeling that Marvel had planned for Webspinners to be their answer to Legends of the Dark Knight, with brand-name creators telling Spidey stories from whatever era they wanted. So was Spider-Man's Tangled Web, but neither would run anywhere near as long as LOTDK.

Mackie and Byrne's "Coming Home" (from Amazing Spider-Man #16) was in the middle of a plotline where Mary Jane was lost, presumed dead in a plane crash. The then-married Peter didn't believe it, and was still looking for her. He had already been on one wild goose chase to Latveria, and now returned to find himself evicted, fired, and fighting old Iron Man villain the Ghost. Maybe not in that order, and Ghost may not have gotten really interesting until he was in Thunderbolts. This issue also guest-starred Cassandra Locke, from Byrne's Marvel: the Lost Generation series. Haven't read that one, and I'm not even sure it was ever collected.
Finally, Mackie and JRJR deliver "Cliche," from Peter Parker: Spider-Man #16. (From an idea by A.A. Ward.) With MJ still missing, Spidey is getting a little fed up with his lot in life: punch super-villains, get hassled by the cops, generally broke and/or sick all the time, wash rinse repeat. It's hard to say if this is Spidey's frustration, or Mackie's; as Spidey is hassled by a lame batch of unknown villains, fights Venom and the Sandman at the Daily Bugle, and briefly contemplates quitting. Still, even if Spider-Man comics are so repetitive even Spidey's started to notice, I'd avoid shining any light on that factoid, even for a joke or lampshade hanging...

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