Monday, July 24, 2017

Better security than Arkham, anyway.


I'm 100% for destigmatizing mental illness, but sometimes in comics (and video games based on comics) you get the hordes of violent lunatics rioting in the asylum. Like today's book! From 1994, the Spectacular Spider-Man #217, featuring "Power and Responsibility, Part 4 of 4: Higher Ground!" Written by Tom DeFalco, art by Sal Buscema; and "The Double, Part Four: The Burial" Written by J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Liam Sharp, inks by Robin Riggs.

This was early in the Clone Saga, with the return of the supposed clone Ben Reilly, coming home to a violent and depressed Peter Parker. Forced to team-up to stop a...y'know, I was going to say 'breakout,' but it's more of a behavioral science experiment, courtesy of Judas Traveller. And his staff, or entourage, or whatever. (One of whom, Scrier, would show up in Silver Surfer later, although it may have been retconned that they didn't have powers, and the whole thing was a scam.) Here, Traveller uses one of his staff, Chakra, to backdate a letter casting doubt on whether or not he was the real Judas Traveller. Y'know, there's being mysterious, and there's being a dick.

Carnage also appears, primarily to be jobbed out; as Peter and Ben team up to whomp on him. Which is fine, Carnage also sucks. (Also this issue: tips for the Maximum Carnage video game!) In the end, Ben is apparently killed in an explosion, but of course escapes unseen: judging from what appears to be a lettering correction, it may have been left open to kill him back off if needed, but there's an ad with his Scarlet Spider costume here so the storyline continued...

This was also a flipbook, with shiny covers on both sides! That were in pretty good shape when I bought it out of the quarter bin, but are curling up like a Frito now. Maybe it's too hot in here...The back-up is a retcon of Amazing Spider-Man #149 from Ben's POV, including waking up in the smokestack that Peter abandoned his corpse in. I know I'd have some hurt feelings after that one. Even the art is somewhat of a retroactive change, as Sharp draws both Spidey's in a modern style, rather than the 70's less-webby and smaller-eyed costumes. (I'm not sure what happened to his red back-spider in the scan above, though.)

Duhr, I thought I had mentioned Ravencroft Asylum Institute before around here: it was a fairly recent addition to the Spidey mythos, and was basically his version of Arkham. It strikes me that Spidey had multiple villains that were pretty obviously insane, but rarely seemed to be treated for it, and were usually thrown in prison if caught. Then again, I think several of his villains have also feigned insanity and escaped, possibly more than once!

3 comments:

Dale Bagwell said...

Yeah the whole Ravencroft was really only introduced around this time in the early 90's and must've been ploy by editors(and/or J.M. DeMatteis) to add the MU version of Arkham to really drive home the point that Spider-man was growing dark.

I guess it's been mentioned and appeared here and there, but no where as stable and as revered as Arkham is.

Ronnie said...

The difference is largely, Ravencroft is a well-kept, well-run institution with a psychologist who is truly and fully benevolent- a total rarity in fiction, all things considered.

Dale Bagwell said...

^Agreed.