Friday, January 14, 2005

Spectacular Spider-Man 21 & 22

For almost the entirety of this series run, I've been disappointed by the majority of the storytelling. The intial arcs where Spidey took on Venom and Doc Ock were readable, but really came down to being throwaway tales. Then there was the arc that was supposed to be tied into Avengers: Disassembled, but really didn't have much to do with it at all. In this arc Spidey turns into an actual spider and a bunch of completely illogical events happened. Frankly, it was one of the worst Spider-Man stories I had ever read. Coming off of that horrendous arc, I was happy to find two standalone stories, both much better than the arcs that preceded them.

Issue 21 consists of Spider-Man getting together with the Fantastic Four, Black Cat, and Doctor Strange for a game of poker. It was nice to see the heroes just hanging out and shooting the breeze. Unfortunately, it gets a little hokey towards the middle and end as the Kingpin shows up and wants to play. The likelihood of that actually happening is close to nil, but it was interesting to see him in the game. Of course it comes down to Spidey against Kingpin in the final hand and who wins? Spider-Man. You really think Jenkins would have written it so Spidey loses? Nah.

The tale told in issue 22 was one of the best issues of this series I had read since early on in the series run where Jenkins wrote a quick, self contained story about a handicapped child who got to meet Spider-Man. In this tale, Spider-Man runs into one of the low tier villains that he had put away a few times in the past. His power is to create illusions and moods in the people around him. After being arrested so many times, he finally threw in the towel and is living on the street begging for money to finance his next bottle of booze. His sour mood brings everyone in the vacinity down with him.

Peter contemplates if he should help him out or not. He wonders if it's fair to help him over other people that might need his help. He wonders if it's all his fault that he turned out the way he did. These are all very basic philosophical questions, and Peter's contemplation is the weakest link in this issue, but after he finally makes up his mind and decides to go lend a helping hand, he finds he's too late. Kids had mugged the super-powered homeless man and in one final release of anguish, Mindworm dies. Seeing what happens to a supervillain down the road after he's been foiled by the good guy is something you don't often see, so I was more than happy to see it explored here.

With Jenkin's run on this series, and the series itself coming to a close, it's good to see a couple of decent tales in what has so far been a completely unremarkable run. Grab these two issues for the heck of it. You'll enjoy 'em!

Art: 3
Story: 3.5
Overall: 3.5

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