A Look Back at What If #17 (1990)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1993 and explore a part of Marvel Comics’ universe through the reimagined tales emphasized in the What If monthly series.

Several years ago, I bought myself a trade paperback collection of the 1987 Spider-Man storyline Kraven’s Last Hunt written by J. M. DeMatteis and drawn by Mike Zeck. That particular storyline was very notable not just for its dark approach to storytelling and visualization, but it also explores what would happen had Spider-Man been defeated and someone very obsessed took his place and go on a rampage disguised as Spider-Man. The storyline also explored how Kraven perceived Spider-Man without ever knowing the defining traits of the man behind the mask – Peter Parker. Eventually, Marvel Comic went on to revisit Kraven’s Last Hunt and explored what would happen had Kraven actually killed Spider-Man through their What If? monthly comic book series.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #17, published in 1990 by Marvel Comics with a story written and drawn by Richard Howell.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Watcher revisiting key moments from the Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline. History then takes a turn towards the unexplored when Kraven, armed with a gun, shoots and kills Spider-Man. As the dead webslinger lies in a coffin, Kraven celebrates his victory with a lot of passion believing that he struck back at what he perceives to be the meaninglessness of the world. Kraven is quite mad as he equates spiders with Spider-Man as well as the decline of civilization.

After fearlessly and grotesquely eating spiders, Kraven wears a black body tight costume that looks almost the same as that of Spider-Man’s. While he is victorious, Kraven is not satisfied and he becomes obsessed by becoming Spider-Man and prove himself superior to him. He then moves into the city whose people are familiar with Spider-Man and also are unprepared with who is coming to them.

In an apartment, Spider-Man’s wife Mary Jane Parker is alone and worried. As she does not know that her beloved Peter Parker has been killed, she cannot help but agonize over the strain of his double-life as a civilian and as a superhero. Determined to find Peter, she walks out during the rainy night and is spotted by two men focused on her.

Suddenly the new Spider-Man (Kraven) appears and in an apparent effort to help Mary Jane, he grabs one of the men and brutally pushes the man’s head on to a nearby wall. As Kraven does not recognize Mary Jane, the wife realizes that the Spider-Man she just saw is definitely not her husband. This only makes her wonder again where he is and what happened to him. She then starts calling others for help…

Quality

In addition to being ruthless, Kraven disguised as Spider-Man resembles Venom.

I’ll start with the visuals. This comic book took a serious effort to come close to capturing the look and visual tone of the Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline which I enjoyed. Richard Howell visualized the characters, the situations and details properly and there was not a single moment when the visuals overwhelmed the narrative. Howell’s artistic take on the characters is simplistic but they remain recognizable which is a plus. The superhero spectacle was presented with a clear and clean approach, and there were a few key moments of action that got highlighted with some dynamism.

As for the story itself, what I found surprising and also pleasant here was the presentation of Mary Jane Parker as the main character instead of Kraven. This makes sense as Kraven himself was the major attraction of the Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline while Spider-Man was out of commission. In the context of this What If story, it only made sense to have Mary Jane as the central figure. Going back to Kraven, Howell captured the essence of the character well when compared to his version in Kraven’s Last Hunt.

In terms of plotting, telling the story through the viewpoint and actions of the superhero’s concerned wife really works well. Without spoiling the plot, you will see Mary Jane get involved with three notable superheroes – including the iconic Captain America – and even with other notable Spider-Man supporting characters such as Flash Thompson and the irresponsible print media figure J. Jonah Jameson. Interactions aside, the plot works sufficiently as a couple of series of events take place before the big confrontation with Kraven (as the new Spider-Man). By the end of it all, I can say that the story is entertaining, engaging and intriguing to read.

Conclusion

Mary Jane Parker goes out in pursuit of her husband Peter Parker/Spider-Man who happens to be dead already at this particular point of the story.

I can say that What If #17 (1990) is pretty captivating read and it is a worthy literary companion to Kraven’s Last Hunt. Of course, to really enjoy this alternative tale cleverly told by Howell, you must read Kraven’s Last Hunt first. Otherwise, you would not feel the impact of this comic book very much. I also liked how the death of Spider-Man (note: Spider-Man got killed in another What If tale that itself is worth reading) impacts Mary Jane, how it impacts the superheroes who know him, and most notably how it impacts the fragile relationship between society and superheroes. Lastly, this comic book has one of the more significant portrayals of Spider-Man’s most beloved woman. This is indeed a great story.

Overall, What If #17 (1990) is highly recommended!

+++++

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A Look Back at Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we will take a look back at a certain crossover comic book that involved both Marvel Comics and DC Comics published in the mid-1990s. On my part, it’s been some time since I last reviewed a Marvel-DC crossover comic book. That being said, you can read about my retro comic book reviews of Batman versus The Incredible Hulk and Superman and Spider-Man on this website.

For this new retro review, we will focus on the 1995 crossover that brought two of Marvel and DC’s icons together for the first time – Spider-Man and Batman! To put things in perspective, the 1990s still remembered as the decade when Bane broke Batman’s back while the publishing of Spider-Man comic books became highly controversial with the Spider-Clone Saga. In the 1995 crossover produced the two comic book giants, Spider-Man and Batman are presented in their classic identities as Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds published in 1995 by Marvel Comics and DC Comics with a story written by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Mark Bagley.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a nightmare in which Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben got shot by an armed man in the presence of Aunt May inside their home. Immediately Spider-Man arrives and grabs the man by the neck. The armed man creepily laughs and his face suddenly turns into the Joker. Peter Parker wakes up in bed with Mary Jane on his side. After a short talk with his wife, Peter decides to leave their apartment and swing around the city as Spider-Man.

In another nightmare, a very young Bruce Wayne witnesses the death of his parents caused by a man with a gun. He suddenly turns into Batman and grabs the gunman by the neck. The gunman suddenly turns into the horrific Carnage. Bruce wakes up and decides to reflect. As soon as his butler Alfred opens the door to check on him, Bruce immediately leaves as Batman in the middle of the night.

Somewhere that same night inside a secret facility of the Ravencroft Institute, Cletus Kasady/Carnage is restrained in a secured chamber surrounded by armed security personnel with Spider-Man and psychotherapist Ashley Kafka watching him…

Quality

The two superhero icons together.

I’ll start first with the visual quality of this crossover comic book. Mark Bagley, who was the lead artist on Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man comic book series, delivered an unsurprisingly stylized look at the two superhero icons, super villains and characters, as well as on DC’s Gotham City (which was the most prominent location in the story).

While Bagley’s work on Spider-Man and the characters associated with him were typical of his Amazing Spider-Man of the decade, I can say that his take on Batman, Joker, Alfred, the Bat Cave and others on the DC Comics side resulted a unique look. Bagley drew Joker looking sinister, maniacal, clueless and even tamed as the plot progressed. Bagley’s Batman has a larger yet familiar style of muscular body compared to Spider-Man, and the visual presentation of his cape ranged from dynamic to looking authoritarian. There were however a few moments wherein Bagley went over the limit on emphasizing the length of Batman’s cape which resulted a few inaccuracies. Remember how there were times that Bagley drew Marvel characters’ thighs to look excessive with muscle? You will see that too on Batman here.

When it comes to artistic dynamism, it is clear that Bagley pushed himself hard creating some mixed results. Some scenes (action scenes and talk scenes included) had the appropriate amount of flash and style, while other scenes had an excessive amount. When it came to spectacle, Bagley succeeded in making the action, hard-hitting moments and explosions look very lively. To be clear, this comic book is entertaining to look at but ultimately it will resonate best with readers who are best familiar to the way Bagley draws.

For the storytelling, J.M. DeMatteis crafted a script that did not reach its full potential as there were obvious limits imposed to ensure equality on presenting the characters and the situations. This explains why in the beginning Spider-Man and Batman each had nightmares related to their respective past and end up seeing their respective super villains interchanged (Spider-Man sees Joker, Batman sees Carnage). The characters of Ashley Kafka and Cassandra Briar are not only looking too similar to each other (just imagine their characters having no colors), they both feel like cardboard cut-outs of a single character who specializes on analyzing people with dangerous minds and coming up with solutions to help them. The more known supporting characters from the respective sides of the two icons – Mary Jane and butler Alfred – made short appearances but did not really contribute much to the plot.

The limitations are also felt on the way Spider-Man and Batman – plus Carnage and Joker – were presented, right down to their interactions with each other. While it was expected that Batman and Spider-Man would be brought together by an unfortunate development, the complete absence of a fight between the two superhero icons was itself the biggest surprise here effectively defying crossover superhero tradition. Even without a fight, you will see Batman and Spider-Man do things separately in accordance to their respective traditions or character traits before getting back together leading to the big conflict with the super villains.

As for Joker and Carnage being together, the spotlight on them in this comic book is pretty limited. There simply is not enough space in this comic book to bring out the full potential of the two super villains who each are known to be murderers and psychologically dangerous. What is interesting in their limited time together is that the story emphasized the differences between them when it comes harming people. The Joker has his own sadistic style of leading people to their deaths in time-consuming ways which is opposite of the quick deaths Carnage enjoys. Considering their respective reputations, it is just a shame that this comic book not only failed to bring out the full potential of Carnage-Joker, it also failed to establish them as clear and present dangers to the public.

More on the plot itself in relation to the comic book sub-title “Disordered Minds”, the elements of mental instability, psycho-therapy, psychology and rehabilitation are present but they are all thrown out by the time the second half of the story begins, clearly making space for the crossover dynamics of Batman, Spider-Man, Joker and Carnage.

Conclusion

Joker and Carnage.

Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995) is a flawed crossover event comic book that just so happens to have more positive stuff than negative ones. It is enjoyable but not great and certainly not memorable. The imposed limits on the presentation made this comic book’s story feel very staged and predictable. With what little creative space was left, it is quite an achievement for the creative team to tell a cohesive and stuffed story (note: there is a lot of filler and some psychology related stuff may not interest some readers) while featuring Batman and Spider-Man the best way they could. It has enough superhero spectacle to be enjoyed although the interactions between Batman and Spider-Man and between Joker and Carnage could have been better.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that a near-mint copy costs $120 while the near-mint copy of the signed-and-numbered edition is at $120.

Overall, Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995) is satisfactory.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at Dazzler #2 (1981)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! Way back in 1981, Marvel Comics had a successful comic book series launch with Dazzler #1 (read my retro review by clicking here) which sold over 400,000 copies and further sealed Dazzler as an advantageous addition for the company’s superhero comics franchise. Dazzler, a creation of a deal between Marvel and a certain record company, debuted in Uncanny X-Men #130 and got involved with the X-Men until Uncanny X-Men #131. Dazzler appeared with Marvel’s famous webslinger in Amazing Spider-Man #203.

Dazzler #1 ended with a brewing rivalry between the title character and Enchantress. With those laid down, here is a look back at Dazzler #2, published in 1981 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by John Romita, Jr.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dazzler preparing for her big show at Numero Uno, a prestigious disco in the city of New York. Just before the show starts, a huge crowd of people are in attendance and among them are Wolverine, Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Captain America, Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm and Tony Stark (Iron Man) to name some.

Just as Dazzler appears on-stage and draws a frenzied applause from the audience, the revenger-hungry Enchantress slowly makes her moves to ruin the lady who outclassed her to be the main attraction of the club. Even with her desire for revenge, the Enchantress decides to use her magic sparingly on Dazzler. In the audience, Peter Parker/Spider-Man begins to sense something is about to happen…

Quality

This shows what this comic book is really about.

The way the story was told is disappointing. This is because the spotlight on Dazzler and her anticipated conflict with the Enchantress got overwhelmed by the amount of superhero filler on the narrative. To be clear, it is fun and interesting to see a mix of the varied superheroes of Marvel together but this comic book ended up being an all-star showcase (X-Men, Avengers and Fantastic Four members included) than a real, standalone Dazzler story. In fairness, Tom DeFalco showed how skilled he is with plot structuring and capturing the personalities and tropes of the different superheroes (note: unsurprisingly, DeFalco accurately captured Spider-Man’s personality and he went on to be a major force behind Spider-Man comic books) but that does not change the fact that this comic book should have been more about Dazzler.

When it comes to the conflict between Dazzler and the Enchantress, it was executed with no depth at all. Literally speaking, there is not enough meat to consume here and it the conflict really ended up looking very rushed. As if that was not bad enough, there is not enough justification to show Dazzler defeating a monster summoned by the Enchantress.  Considering how shallow the Dazzler-Enchantress match-up turned out, it’s no wonder why there is so much Marvel all-star filler in the script.

As for the late-stage attempt to shift the narrative back to Dazzler, it is rather over-the-top and unsatisfying.

Conclusion

You recognize someone in the audience?

Dazzler #2 (1981) is an example about a creative team’s lack of confidence on crafting a decent story to develop a new superhero and ultimately resorting to fill it with a mix of other superheroes involved which itself symbolizes desperation. This comic book is not really a Dazzler story but an all-star showcase with Dazzler becoming a minor character in her own monthly series.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #2 (1981), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, Dazzler #2 (1981) is unsatisfactory. Anyone who loves Dazzler or who wishes to discover more of her will be disappointed with this comic book.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Dazzler #1 (1981)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! Previously, I reviewed Uncanny X-Men #130 which was the first appearance of Dazzler who went on to become one of the most notable new characters of Marvel Comics in the 1980s. After appearing in Uncanny X-Men #131 and Amazing Spider-Man #203, Dazzler became more prominent among all of Marvel’s superheroes as the publisher launched an all-new monthly series featuring her. There is more to that than meets the eye, however.

In his article titled “Dazzler and Me”, Danny Fingeroth wrote: Marvel decided to tray an experiment with the relatively new “direct market” – comic book shops. It was decided that Dazzler #1 would only be available in comic book shops, not at traditional newsstands.

Dazzler #1 sold over 400,000 copies.

Even the top-selling comics of the era sold perhaps 250,000 copies. So, the first issue, anyway, was a major hit.

Apart from the confirmed commercial success of the comic book, it is a wonder if it is still good to read by today’s standards. To find out, here is a look back at Dazzler #1, published in 1981 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by John Romita, Jr.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dazzler running away from four armed men who had been following her since she left the disco. She finds herself corned at the dead end of an alley as the men approach her. While pretending to be reaching for her make-up in the bag, Dazzler grabs and activates her portable radio which plays music. With the music turned on, she uses her power to convert it all into a dazzling display of light and color which makes the men disoriented.

While swinging nearby, Spider-Man notices the display of light but before he begins his approach, Dazzler makes her move to knock two men out. Another man fires his gun and his bullet ricochets until it hits the portable radio stops the music and Dazzler’s lights altogether leaving her vulnerable once again…

Quality

This page alone establishes Dazzler as a person struggling to make ends meet.

As far as telling a Dazzler story goes, this comic book is the complete package and it’s got very solid writing! Apart from showing what happened to her after her appearances in the Uncanny X-Men and Amazing Spider-Man series, this comic book formally introduces Dazzler in her civilian identity as Alison Blaire and thanks to efficient writing, it also reveals threads of her past and how her mutant powers manifested. Not only that, readers will get to see the title character as a typical person who is struggling to make ends meet even though she does her best with entertainment as a career.

Strangely, the focus on Dazzler is relatively light in content and the result is several pages of Marvel universe-related filler which shows several other characters like Captain America, Iron Man, Storm, Wolverine and others present with little to no connection with the title character. The X-Men scene is a nice touch as it will remind readers about Dazzler’s first interaction with them.

As a teenager, Alison Blaire’s power begins to manifest during this particular event in her life.

To build-up the first challenge for Dazzler, this comic book has the Enchantress as the villainess and ironically it also had some room of character development for her. Clearly this was done not only to build up anticipation for the next issue but to make readers root for Dazzler some more. In retrospect, the Enchantress would later emerge as an important figure in 1984’s crossover storyline Secret Wars.

Conclusion

The scene involving the X-Men is a nice touch as it connects with Dazzler’s previous interaction with them.

While it is indeed a product of the early 1980s carrying influences from the 1970s New York club scene, Dazzler #1 (1981) is still fun and engaging to read. Clearly this comic book is a must-have for anyone who loves Dazzler and it should be entertaining enough for geeks who love the 1980s and the Marvel-related crossovers of the time. Very clearly, this comic book succeeded in introducing and developing Dazzler as a person (as opposed to being a super hero) and the background story established fits in nicely with the character’s first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #130. Very clearly, there is a lot more to Dazzler than her unique super power and her disco look.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #1 (1981), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $70.

Overall, Dazzler #1 (1981) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Amazing Spider-Man #203 (1980)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, 1980s culture enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of Marvel Comics! Previously I reviewed Uncanny X-Men #130 (1980) which was the first appearance of Dazzler who eventually became a popular figure for Marvel Comics in the 1980s. Before the company published a monthly comic book series featuring her, Dazzler made another appearance in an issue of the Amazing Spider-Man which was released just a few months after her debut. This, of course, led to a crossover with the iconic webslinger himself.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Amazing Spider-Man #203, published in 1980 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Keith Pollard.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins during a night in the city where a swinging Spider-Man gets distracted by fast skating Dazzler who is being followed closely by a streak of light. After Spider-Man speculates about the possible return of Will-o-the-Wisp, he decides to intervene and pulls Dazzler off the road and to himself above. Dazzler faints suddenly.

A short while afterward, Dazzler wakes up and starts talking with the webslinger. In response to the mention of Will-o-the-Wisp’s name, she claims to not knowing what he was talking about. As their talk goes on, Dazzler hears music from the street which strengthens her. Using the small mirror globe she is wearing, Dazzler hits Spider-Man with a blast of light pushing him off the building…

Quality

The crossover between Dazzler and Spider-Man is the main feature of this comic book.

This is one fun crossover between the iconic Spider-Man and the brand-new Dazzler. Marv Wolfman wrote a story that not only followed the further adventures of the webslinger, it also gave readers more to see and learn about Dazzler who just had her unexpected adventure with the X-Men months earlier (in Uncanny X-Men #130 and #131). By connecting this story with those two X-Men comic books, it really looked like just got back home in the city only to get chased by streaking light. The interactions between Dazzler and Spider-Man were entertaining. While Dazzler is a known entertainer among New Yorkers, it was the webslinger who remains the big, popular local figure which is clearly reflected in the singer’s verbal exchange with him.

The villain in this comic book, Lightmaster, is pretty cartoonish visually but his super power and high intelligence do make him look threatening. I like the way the story was crafted with concepts that link Lightmaster with Dazzler. Both of them are connected with light and while Dazzler is able to absorb sound like a form of energy and create light beams, Lightmaster has the means to tap on her power and use it for his advantage. There is also another capability of Lightmaster’s which I will just leave unrevealed and you who read this should find out about it.

Conclusion

Lightmaster enters the scene.

Amazing Spider-Man #203 (1980) is a very old yet fun comic book that fans of Spider-Man and Dazzler will enjoy. Not only does it have a meaty encounter between the two, it also succeeds in chronicling Spider-Man’s life both in costume and as civilian Peter Parker. Going back to Dazzler, there is not much character development for her here but that is understandable as such emphasis was only waiting to happen in her own monthly comic book series.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Amazing Spider-Man #203 (1980), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $94 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $150.

Overall, Amazing Spider-Man #203 (1980) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Spider-Man #26 (1992)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

In 1992, Marvel Comics organized a big celebration of what was back then the 30th anniversary celebration of Spider-Man. Behind the scenes, the Spider-Man editorial team organized their creators to make something special worthy of the anniversary. Back then there were four monthly series of Spider-Man – Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man and Spider-Man – and in keeping with the 30th anniversary bonanza, each of the monthly series would see one special issue with a hologram on the cover.

What I read recently was one of those 30th anniversary celebration special comic books – Spider-Man #26. This comic book had a green cover and a hologram of Spider-Man upside-down. Its cover price is $3.50.

Was this old comic book’s content really worth the high cover price and the hologram? Did the creative team at Marvel do their job on making something special in line with the 30th anniversary celebration? We can find out in this look back at Spider-Man #26, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with the main story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Mark Bagley and Ron Frenz.

The cover with a hologram.

Early story

The story begins on the street of New York when a man wearing a device runs down the sidewalk distracting and unintentionally pushing a few people out of the way. He is glowing as he moves. Someone from behind him calls him Stewart.

Soon enough, Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane cross paths with him. Peter immediately leaves Mary Jane behind and starts pursuing the glowing Stewart. In the middle of the street, Stewart sees a speeding motorcycle heading towards him. He dives for cover which incidentally shapes his glowing field into a makeshift ramp causing the motorcyclist go over him. Spider-Man sees the flying motorcycle and its driver, and struggles to decide which one to save…

Quality

From the 2nd story.

Let me start with the main story. It sure is heavily worded almost all throughout but that is understandable because Tom DeFalco really pushed hard to emphasize the theme of responsibility as Spider-Man struggles to tackle criminals while trying to find quality time for his wife. There was even a scene in which Peter Parker recalls key events from his past (his becoming Spider-Man, letting a certain criminal get away, the death of his Uncle Ben, etc.) which, in terms of presentation, was a clear attempt by the creative team to bring readers back to the recorded history of Marvel’s icon. The main story is a genuine, heart-filled attempt to go beyond showing Spider-Man beating the bad guys to do local society good. There was also effort exerted to show that there are a few guys who do bad things not because they are inherently evil but rather they are desperate and/or misguided. The problem with the main story is that the other characters – Stewart, Bill, the gang leader Maxwell and others – are not so interesting at all. Of course, we cannot expect to see Spider-Man go head-to-head with another one of his major villains but this story was part of the 30th anniversary celebration.

The 2nd story, if you can all it that, is pretty much an exposition-filled exercise designed to give readers – both new and old – a review of Spider-Man’s powers and capabilities. To prevent it from becoming a total bore, some characters from the Marvel Comics universe were visually added.

When it comes to the quality of the artwork, Ron Frenz’s work here is serviceable at best. Mark Bagley’s art here improves the quality but that’s not saying much.

Conclusion

From the main story.

As a 30th anniversary celebration issue, Spider-Man #26 does not have much when it comes to being truly special. You love spectacle? You won’t find much in it. You wanted to see something groundbreaking in terms of character development? There’s none. Gripping storytelling? None! There was also no conflict with any prominent villain from the Marvel universe here. What you will get here is nostalgic stuff plus exposition about key elements that define Spider-Man. Truly the only thing special here is the hologram on the gimmick cover.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man #26 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $27 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.

Overall, Spider-Man #26 (1992) is serviceable. If you really want to buy this old comic book, I recommend waiting for its price to fall below $5 and I’m referring to the near-mint copy.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com