Monday, December 17, 2007

SM:FBFW ASM 90-95

Spider-Man: For Better or For Worse?

This Week's Reading List: Amazing Spider-Man 90-95

We wrap up the current Doc Ock storyline this week before moving on to a two-parter featuring Sam Bullit, evil DA candidate. Three one-offs follow in which Spidey faces the Prowler, the Beetle, and more terrorists in Britain all while he searches for Gwen, who moves there after the death of her father. Oh, yeah. George Stacy dies right at the beginning this week. Let's check it out.

First, Peter uses his knowledge of chemistry to whip up a special chemical that jams the brain impulses that control Doc Ock's arms. Hooray for chemistry! Peter actually uses his brain for once. I have to say that there is less science in these old Spidey comics than one might hope. Anyway, these mess up Doc Ock's arms... and then the old Parker luck comes in. Ock's flailing arms crush a chimney, which in turn threatens to crush a little boy. George Stacy saves him, but is crushed himself. Dying, he reveals that he knows Spidey's true ID and he asks Peter to take care of Gwen. Sob.

I must say that I thought I would be more touched by Stacy's death than I actually was. I always liked the idea of the George Stacy character. I imagine that he would have made an excellent surrogate father for Peter. Unfortunately, George Stacy was not developed as he might have been. Even for the standards of the time, he was an inconsistent character who sometimes seemed to know Peter was Spider-Man, and sometimes didn't. I'm not entirely sure what purpose his death served other than someone saying, “Hey, let's kill George Stacy. He hasn't done anything useful for a while, and it'll provide friction between Peter and Gwen so we don't have to marry them yet. After all, we can't kill her...”

Then comes another anti-bigotry story where Spidey faces off against Sam Bullit, evil DA candidate. Taken for what it's worth, this isn't a bad two-parter. Sure, the message is pasted very clearly in every panel, and Gwen very conveniently (and inexplicably) trusts this guy who was disliked by her father, whom she is mourning. However, there's good street-level Spidey action + a fight with Iceman in ASM 92. More importantly, the Bullit character is actually taken down by JJJ and Robbie, who don't take kindly to his rough treatment of Peter Parker. This is another nice touch, where a political candidate is taken down by political means. It makes JJJ and Robbie useful characters beyond banter, and it keeps every issue being about Spider-Man punching a problem until it goes away.

Then... The Prowler thinks Spidey killed George Stacy and they fight until they don't. The Beetle kidnaps Aunt May. Terrorists kidnap an American in London. And the whole time, Gwen is very sad over her father while Peter can't comfort her truthfully because she blames Spider-Man and swears she hates him. The ten-year-old in me was screaming at the page the entire time, “Just tell her you're frakkin' Spider-Man, idiot! Explain what really happened! God, soap operas would make so much more sense if people just told the truth every once in a while!” But, of course, Peter says nothing, so Gwen goes to London. Peter follows, but he can't show his face because Spider-Man already showed his. Mask, not face. You get what I mean.

(BTW, I consider that little tidbit about the secret ID [Peter can't be seen in London 'cause Spidey's there] to stretch even my generous suspension of disbelief over secret ID's. Peter Parker can't visit Gwen because Spider-Man is in London? And Peter's the ONLY New Yorker currently in London? If Peter were remotely serious about Gwen, wouldn't he have considered that she'd have to find out about his double identity if they got married? Ugh. I have to say that DC handled this much, much better with the Clark-Lois marriage.)

So, basically, Gwen cries for five issues. Gwen cries at the funeral, she cries in her apartment, she cries in her car, she cries in London... And half the time, she's crying because Peter isn't treating her the way he should. This girl has lost whatever spirit Ditko might have once infused in her. I have to admit it. I think that many of us who love Gwen (and I'm one of them) love her in large part because she was such a cypher that we could project all our pre-adolescent fantasies on to her and they stuck. She never contradicted them. And ultimately, that's not what makes a good character.

Anyway, let's check my Spidey-Standards against this week's reading list:

1) Spider-Man stories were better then than they are now. No, not really. In fact, I think they're worse this week. The Doc Ock ending is cool, but the Bullit story is just too shallow and obvious. Bullit is a cartoon, Gwen acts more than illogically, and while the JJJ take-down is awesome, that doesn't save the whole story. In fact, this whole week is just filled with cliches. That's the real problem here.

2) Spider-Man's supporting cast is essential to good Spidey stories. George Stacy, JJJ, and Robbie keep this category from falling into the dregs with Gwen. Still, it's a wash this week.

3) Peter Parker is not just a secret identity. A great deal of what Spider-Man does this week is because of things he knows or is as Peter Parker. So Peter is once again a key element in the stories, but I'm coming to see that the scientist part of Peter still went woefully underused even in Stan's day.

All right, that's it for this week. Up next week will be Amazing Spider-Man 96-98! Until the cool term “spider-tracer” is changed to something bland like “micro-dot”, Make Mine Marvel!

Eric

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is more of that weird science that I just don't get. How could Spidey whip up a chemical that stops "brain impulses"? I can buy the webbing becoming non-conductive, or fire-proof, elastic, non-sticking, or made to last three hours rather than one, but how can there be a webbing that disrupts brain impulses? This sounds almost as crazy as that disruptor you were critiquing a few weeks ago.

I agree that it's a pity George Stacy wasn't developed more. Unlike so often in TV sitcoms-and I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hate this stereotype, oftentimes the father-in-law doesn't approve of the guy dating his daughter. It was refreshing to see Stacy accept Peter.

Similarly, I think you may be on to something for many readers projecting their own image of an ideal woman onto Gwen. I myself am not interested in the aggressive, hot-tempered types that Ditko portrayed in Gwen; I very much prefer the sweet, compassionate, girl-next-door types, and maybe that manifested more in Gwen as time went on, and hence why I still like Gwen so much, even though she kicked the bucket almost a decade before I was born.

And you have to consider how Gwen might react if Peter genuinely did unmask himself to Gwen. She might just as easily explode in a rage, blaming Peter for the death of her father and walking out on him for good. Their relationship could just as easily be destroyed by Peter being Spider-Man as it could lead to a reconciliation. Consider that both Peter and Gwen are sad, confused and unsure of themselves, I find it perfectly believable that Peter hesitates about sharing his identity with Gwen.

I find Spidey's decision not to meet Gwen as Peter Parker in London similarly believable, moreso than Spider-Man mysteriously showing up wherever Peter Parker does-when he was doing those book tours to promote "Webs", wouldn't seem a little suspicious that Spidey seems to be following Peter around, when he might be more useful in New York? Granted, he did help thwart the schemes of Boomerang and his yachting employer, who killed his main rival because the rival was about to expose him as a cheat.

Interesting post-script in that it's Jolly Jonah who takes down the crooked DA. It reminds me of the time that Spidey fought Frederick Foswell and his gang, including the Enforcers, and while Spidey beat all of the Big Man's thugs, it was the police who nailed Foswell thanks to some clues Spidey inadvertently left for them.

It's perfectly alright to see the police and other non-powered folks help to nail the bad guys every now and again, since Spidey did most of the fighting on his own anyway...just don't have them constantly have them upstage Spidey and make him look like a helpless boob in the process.

I'm looking at you, John Semper.

Jared.

Eric Teall said...

Well, I'm going out on a limb (no pun intended), but I'm guessing that the mechanical apparatus that transmits the commands in Doc Ock's arms is a little less complicated than what goes on in the brain. I'm much more willing to accept a weird disruptor effect when it only has ONE effect than I was to accept the "All Power Everywhere Is GONE!" machine.

Yeah, it's too bad we didn't have a brand-new continuity with a brand-new George Stacy where he wasn't a cypher when he... oh, shit. BENDIS!

That Peter hesitates? Sure. But he is Hamlet-esque in his refusal to tell THE WOMAN HE WANTS AND INTENDS TO MARRY anything about his double life.

Well, as far as secret ID's go, I don't like the way it's handled. Oh, well.

Good point on the Enforcers. I'm not sure I caught that this time around. (It is SO hard to read those old ones with an ounce of objectivity!)

Heh. You and your John Semper tirades. It's interesting how I just didn't care about that show. I was very into comics and Spidey at the time, but that show could not hold my interest. I taped it longer than I watched it. Of course, when "The Neo-genic Nightmare" or whatever ate up an entire tape with one no-point storyline, I understand why I was bored. And the "CGI" effects... BLECH!

Oh, well.

Eric

Stu The Disgruntled Greek said...

Eric... you are in for a long read. The Spider-Man comics at this point really started to degrade with each issue. I spent more time fighting thru each issue until the end of Conways run on the title. The title is living off of those first 80 or so issues at this point, in my opinion of course.

Stu

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Semper, the animation and voice acting are both top-notch. What grated on me was how often Spidey seemed to need bailing out, or played second-tier hero on his own show.

Now, in the comics it's no big deal, given how many times Spidey has gotten the job done on his own, without anybody's help. With that in mind, seeing Mary Jane bail him out against Styx and Stone, all but defeating Jonathan Caesar and his goons by herself, isn't so bad. Having Spidey bring backup when he takes on the Sinister Six or Sinister Twelve is fine too, because our hero has a rough time with each member of the villainous team all on his own-it only makes sense that Spidey would try and even the odds by getting the Hulk, Ghost Rider, the Fantastic Four, Sleepwalker or Darkhawk to lend a hand when he's outnumbered is fine...it'd just be if he needed bailing out all the time that I'd be peeved.

It's the same reason I disliked the Inspector Gadget cartoon as a kid-even then, I wanted to see Gadget solve the crime and save the day, not watch him blunder around chasing Brain for twenty minutes while Penny does all the work. I know the whole point was a parody on the spy shows of the 1960s, but I still didn't like it.

YMMV.

Jared.

Eric Teall said...

Stu:

Oh, that's what I'm afraid of. I knew there would be dark times in my quest. Thanks for the heads-up. Maybe I'll just do TWOP-style commentary on the really bad books and call it good.

Eric

Anonymous said...

I share Stu's opinion that the series went downhill at this point, although I think the point at which its quality dropped was the battle with Doc Ock at the end of ASM #90, rather than in the 80s.

Like Jared, I have qualms about the chemical Spidey used to cause Ock to lose control of his arms. My concern is how Spidey could have caused Ock to lose control of an entire tentacle, as appeared to be the case, by spraying the chemical over only part of the tentacle. (Although it's not entirely clear, given the presentation of the battle in still panels rather than animation, it appears that Spidey hit only one part of each tentacle with his webbing, rather than spray the entire arm with a sweeping motion.) In part this depends on the route through which Ock exercises his mental control over the tentacles. Are his mental signals sent through the arms themselves, such that any signal to control the end of his arm must pass through the portions of that arm that are closer to his body? Or are they sent directly from his brain to every point on the arm, without passing through the other portions of the arm? If it's the former, I don't see how the chemical, on the outside of the arm, could have prevented signals from being transmitted through the arm. Moreover, even if it could, that would not affect the portions of the arm between Ock's body and the part where the chemical was sprayed. If it's the latter, why would spraying some portions of the arm, but not others, cause Ock to lose control of the portions of his arms that weren't sprayed? Also, if Ock were to lose control of a tentacle, wouldn't be the result be that the tentacle wouldn't move at all, as when the tentacles are out of range of Ock's telepathic control, rather than that the tentacle would flail about at random? The best explanation I can think of is that, rather than entirely obstruct Ock's brain impulses, the special webbing distorted them so that Ock's commanding a tentacle to do one thing caused it to do another. Which then raises the question of why Ock didn't just stop sending signals to the affected tentacles. (One possible answer is stubbornness.)

Another problem with the battle is that Spidey didn't try to web the fragments of the chimney Ock knocked over before they hit the ground. He might not have been able to catch all of them, but he could have caught some.

The Sam Bullit story in ASM #91-92 has many logical and continuity problems. On the very first page of ASM #91, Captain Stacy's death is retconned into having been Ock's fault rather than Spidey's. The narration states: "Due to a weird quirk of fact, it seemed to those who witnessed the tragic even that the blame for Capt. Stacy's death belonged to -- Spider-Man!" This implies that Spidey hadn't caused Stacy's death, but, as we know, he did (though not intentionally, and not by knocking down the chimney himself). This shifted the story from a "Spidey screwed up" theme consistent with Uncle Ben's death to the ongoing "Spidey gets a bad rap" theme consistent with Bennett Brant's death, Spidey's bad press, and Gwen's qualms about Peter Parker running off whenever there's danger (unbeknownst to her, to change to Spider-Man).

Later that issue, Gwen goes to what is apparently Sam Bullit's business office to volunteer for his campaign for D.A. Presumably his campaign is run out of a campaign headquarters separate from his office, but no one at the office tells Gwen where the headquarters are, so that she can report there to do volunteer work. Moreover, given that Bullit is running for D.A., when an election that appears to be fairly soon, why isn't he out campaigning?

Then Bullit calls JJJ and promises to deliver Spider-Man in exchange for the Daily Bugle's endorsement, a deal to which JJJ promptly agrees. But this is the ultimate empty political promise, because ordinary law enforcement can't stop someone like Spider-Man (though they can detain him temporarily if a supervillain takes him out, like the Vulture in ASM #64). JJJ himself knows that, having created the Scorpion and the first two Spider-Slayers to catch Spidey because the police couldn't do it.

Later, Bullit tries to get information about Spidey from Peter. He drives up to Peter and questions him in person while his goons hold him in place. It's logical for Bullit to seek that information from Peter, given Peter's taken so many photos of Spidey, but how do Bullit and his men even know what Peter looks like? Did they have the Bugle under surveillance? In addition, it's clumsy and stupid of Bullit to have Peter roughed up by persons Peter knows work for Bullit. Were Peter not Spider-Man and able to settle the score against Bullit directly, shortly after the beating Peter would have been bound to inform the media and the police of the assault, crating a scandal that would've sunk Bullit's campaign, even in the absence of Peter's association with the media (in the form of his Daily Bugle work) and Bullit's association with racist groups and subsequent kidnapping and attempted murder of Robbie. I figure Stan Lee wanted to provide an example of Bullit being a "pious hypocrite," to use Peter's words, but this was over-the-top implausible.

Then, at the end of the issue, Spidey returns to his apartment through the window, only to discover that Gwen and Bullit were already there, waiting in the dark, and saw him enter through the window. This raises multiple questions. First, why didn't Peter's Spider-Sense warn them they were in the apartment, so he wouldn't have entered? Second, how did they get into the apartment? Did Harry or the superintendent/landlord let them in earlier, or did Peter or Harry give Gwen a key earlier? Did they just leave the door unlocked (a risky decision for New York City residents, even those not trying to hide a stash of Spider-Man supplies)? (Granted, this wasn't the last time a non-resident showed up in Peter's apartment without Peter letting her in -- see, e.g., ASM #121.) Third, the fact that Bullit came with Gwen shows that he knows enough about her relationship with Peter to know Peter's her boyfriend, making Bullit's having roughed Peter up even more foolish, since as soon as she knew he'd had Peter beaten up she'd rescind her endorsement of him. There are two possible reasons he'd come to Peter's apartment with her, (1) he couldn't get in without her, or (2) she'd informed him of Spidey's connection to Peter (as she "discovered" in ASM #85 and 87, not the true connection of them being one and the same), and was cooperating in his effort to capture Spidey. Either way, Gwen would've had to have told him she knew Peter, and would've inevitably told him Peter was her boyfriend.

This last weakness leads into a flaw in Bullit's declaration at the end of ASM #91, that "We thought there was a connection between you and Parker? And now -- we have our proof!" But given if Gwen was cooperating with him in capturing Spidey, she must've told him what she already "knew" from ASM #85 and 87 -- that Spidey had twice been inside Peter's apartment, had a deal with Peter whereby they split Peter's pay from his photos of Spidey, and had left his costume with Peter once. What more "proof" did Spidey entering Peter's apartment a third time provide?

(More later on ASM #92-95.)

Anonymous said...

That last comment was mine; I forgot to sign it. My bad. :)

Comic Book Guy

Anonymous said...

ASM #92 isn't riddled with logical errors the way #91 was, but it begins with a ludicrous decision by Spidey to kidnap Gwen so as to prove to her and Bullit that Peter isn't Spidey. But Gwen's already twice seen what appeared to be Spidey in Peter's apartment at the same time Peter was there (once in #85, once in #87), so she hardly needs any more convincing. And Spidey should be able to infer that, since Bullit's in his apartment with Gwen, Gwen already told him about her prior apparent sightings of Spidey in the apartment when Peter was already there, so that Bullit also "knows" Peter isn't Spidey. (Plus, Spidey had referred to Peter in the third person while chasing one of Bullit's goons, word of which would likely be passed on to Bullit later.) Even if Iceman hadn't gone after Spidey after he "kidnapped" Gwen, the kidnapping would've been a bad idea -- what if Spidey had dropped her? (This is reminiscent of the William H. Macy character in "Fargo" having his own wife be kidnapped, only for her to be accidentally killed in the process.) Given that her father had just been killed accidentally as a result of Spidey's actions, he should be especially concerned about this possibility. The end of Spidey's first battle with Iceman -- Spidey swinging away because the police were throwing a cordon around the block -- is ludicrous. Spidey wouldn't have been trapped on the rooftop -- he could've just web-swung away.

When Bullit goes to the Bugle demanding to know why the Bugle's endorsement is being withdrawn, JJJ and Robbie explain that Peter's account of being assaulted by Bullit's hoods "opened [JJJ's] eyes," and that after hearing of that JJJ learned of Robbie's dossier on Bullit. But how could Peter have informed JJJ before Robbie did? We known why Robbie couldn't tell JJJ during their first discussion of the Bullit endorsement in #91 -- JJJ cut him off and said "to be continued" after the present issue of the Bugle was out. But Peter had then high-tailed it out of the office. Robbie remained there and would've been able to tell JJJ after the issue was complete, or, if not, would've arrived at the office before Peter did the next day and told JJJ then. We know from JJJ's conversation with Hobie Brown's racist employer in ASM #78 that JJJ despises racists (and implicitly from JJJ's having hired Robbie in the first place), so we can infer that as soon as Robbie told JJJ Bullit was a racist JJJ would've heard Robbie out.

Later, Bullit's goons kidnap Robbie from the Bugle office. Someone (presumably Bullit, though the speaker isn't shown) tells Robbie, when he's being held in the warehouse, that "With you gone, your file's worthless." Beg pardon? Did Robbie write down his notes in a code known only to himself? Robbie's description of having "it all down here -- names, dates and places!" suggests there was enough detail in the dossier for another Bugle writer to piece together a story if Robbie wee killed. Bullit's reference to the file being worthless in Robbie's absence also implies that the file still exists, i.e., his goons didn't take it with them, so the Bugle could still use it. Why wouldn't they take it with them? Additionally, as with the strongarming of Peter, Robbie's abduction was bound to blow up in Bullit's face politically. Once Bullit told Jonah, "Evidence don't mean nothing unless ya can use it! And Sambo ain't never gonna use it!", he became the obvious prime suspect were Robbie ever to "disappear."

Although Iceman eventually saw Spidey was genuinely trying to foil Robbie's kidnapping and teamed up with Spidey, that doesn't change what Iceman thought he saw earlier in the issue, i.e., that Spidey kidnapping Gwen. Surely Iceman asked Spidey why he was acting that way towards Gwen. How did Spidey answer him?

In general, ASM #93 is not kind to Gwen -- it depicts her as collapsing emotionally, giving up entirely on her life in New York because her father has died and (as made explicit in ASM #98) because Peter wouldn't propose to her. There's a difference between being vulnerable, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, and being a basket case, and this issue places Gwen in the latter category.

On page 2 of #93, Gwen receives a call from her father's older brother, Arthur, who "just learned the terrible news" about George's death. So Gwen completely forgot she had an uncle, and didn't inform him of George's death or invite him to the funeral that took place at the beginning of #91? The irony is that this is implausibility was completely unnecessary to the story. Arthur could've learned from Gwen of George's death and gone to the funeral, then, only later, conferred with his wife and invited Gwen to stay with them.

The only consideration Gwen seems to consider that weighs against moving in with Arthur is that if she went to London she'd be leaving Peter behind. Thus, she tells Peter, "There's nothing to keep me here." But what about college? Would a bright woman like Gwen give up college just because her father died (assuming she could still afford it, and there's no indication she can't)? Even not counting Peter, wouldn't the presence of other friends like Harry and MJ (and Flash whenever he's on leave) be a reason to stay? This is sadly reminiscent of Dr. Gillian Taylor, the whale expert in "Star Trek IV," who goes forward in time with the whales with the Enterprise crew because, apparently, there are no humans she wants to be with in her own time.

After Gwen tells Peter, "There's nothing to keep me here," Peter thinks that in order to prevent her from leaving, he has "to propose now." Beg pardon? Why would he need to propose to show he loves Gwen and wants her to stay? (Especially since Gwen's only 19 and Peter's around the same age.)

Hobie Brown's memories of impersonating Spidey in #87 are recounted in a flashback. He remembers how he wore his Prowler claw gloves under Spidey's gloves so that he could climb walls. But then why did his hands look normal, rather than like claws, when he was masquerading, and why didn't his claws poke holes in the gloves? How could the claws poke holes in walls but not in gloves? Additionally, how does Hobie know that it was George Stacy's house he went to as Spidey? Spidey had given Hobie as little information as possible in order to conduct the impersonation, so why would Spidey have told him whose house it was? Moreover, given that it was "a few months ago" and Hobie spend a very short time at George's house and had "forgot[ten] about the whole thing" until reading about George's death, even if he had seen George's and Gwen's pictures in the newspaper after George's death, would he have remembered having seen the two during the masquerade?

When Spidey goes to George's house to tell Gwen who he really is, the Prowler attackes him. Spidey takes the fight away from Gwen's apartment to avoid risking injury to her, underscoring his ridiculous decision to kidnap her at the beginning of #92. Spidey reasons that his best strategy is to swing to the tallest buildings, because the Prowler will have to climb after him and that will "slow him down." This makes sense, but then instead of continuing to swing away and leaving the Prowler in the dust, Spidey allows the Prowler to catch up to him. Perhaps he intends t give the Prowler a full explanation of George's death so that he won't come after him later, but then why does he thing, when the Prowler says "There's no place you can hide that I can't reach," that "I'm starting to realize that." This implies that Spidey previously thought he could hide from him, but how could he do that and still give his explanation?

During the fight in the skylight shaft, the Prowler accidentally falls down the shaft. Spidey promptly tries to catch him with his webbing, but discovers he's falling too fast and too far away to catch. This is inconsistent with previous instances in which Spidey has successfully caught falling persons or objects with his webbing, e.g., ASM #53 (the Ultimate Nullifier after Doc Ock dropped it over a crowded street), ASM #73 (the Shocker's "exotic dancer" ex-girlfriend after Man-Mountain Marko dropped her over out a window), Spectacular Spider-Man (magazine) #1 (sign painters whose scaffolding was knocked down by the Man Monster). Moreover, after this incident Spidey would continue to be able to catch falling people with his webbing, including, most infamously, Gwen in ASM #121. (Given that Spidey repeatedly caught other falling people with his webbing without any adverse effect, doesn't that make Gwen's neck having broken upon Spidey using the same measure seem farfetched? But I digress...)

More later!

Comic Book Guy

Anonymous said...

After Spidey drops off the unconscious Prowler at the hospital, he calls Hobie's fiancee, Mindy, to let her know Hobie's there, but how does he know how to reach her? When Hobie told him his story in #79, he told him her first name, as evidenced by Spidey using her name after hearing the story. But would Hobie have revealed her last name as well, as would've been necessary for Spidey to have found her phone number?

Sadly, what is described above (and in my previous post) doesn't include the most egregious weaknesses in the issue. After leaving the hospital, Spidey promptly heads to George's house, only to discover someone else is moving in and Gwen has gone to "the airport." So Gwen, who received the invitation to move in with Uncle Arthur that same night, has already packed, moved out, and sold or rented out the house? How could a buyer/tenant have been found, and moved in the very same night? Was Gwen able to fit all of her possessions into the luggage she brought on the flight?

Note that in the last paragraph I put the words "the airport" in quotation marks. I did so because the new tenant didn't specify which one. Back in 1970 (when this issue was written), as now, the NYC metro area had three international airports: Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark. How does Spidey know which is the correct one? (This reminds me of the "Friends" series finale, when Ross and Phoebe go to one airport to prevent Rachel from departing, only to discover she's flying out of another airport.) Then, when he gets to the airport, Peter asks when the next London flight is leaving. How does he know Gwen's on the earliest flight? I like to think there's a "lost panel" depicting Gwen still waiting at the airport after Peter has left, thinking to herself, "Why didn't I just take an earlier flight? The $20 I saved by booking a flight three hours later wasn't worth it." :)

I don't have anything to nitpick about ASM #94, which I regard as a "filler" issue, half of which is a retelling of the origin story and Peter's life since then.

ASM #95 returns to the main storyline and, regrettably, its logical faults. The issue opens with Spidey obsessing over Gwen, and eventually deciding he must go to London to find Gwen and "explain." It's not clear whether he means explaining that he's Spider-Man or what he meant when he said in #93 that he had no right to ask her to stay. In any event, why can't Peter look up Arthur Stacy's phone number and explain it to Gwen over the phone, or his address so that he can send Gwen a letter? (This would've been even more ridiculous had it been written during the era of e-mail communications or cell phones, when Peter could've just e-mailed or called Gwen wherever she was.) Peter mopes about being unable to afford plane fare to London. For his part, Harry makes the same mistake, asking "[H]ow are you gonna find her, Pete? London's a pretty big town."

After he foils the bombing at the airport and is unable to prevent the terrorists' escape, Spidey is confronted by three police officers, all of whom are standing in from of him. He thinks to himself, "Can't make a break without hurting someone." What about jumping over, running around, or web-swinging around them?

While Spidey searches London for the terrorists, his Spider-Sense begins to tingle because he swings by Arthur's apartment while Gwen is inside. But why would her presence cause him to sense danger? Is it because, once she's seen Spidey, she'll know he's Peter if she later sees Peter in London at the same time? Because seeing Spidey will cause her to faint? On a related note, why does seeing Spidey cause her to faint? While it would make sense for her to faint if he were right next to her and in a position to hurt her, he wasn't even facing her. This fainting at the drop of a hat, like Gwen's giving up on New York life so quickly, shows how weak emotionally she's become in such a short period of time. Before George's death, Spidey had saved her life (ASM #61) and George's life (ASM #61, 65), and Gwen had told Peter in #72 that Spidey was "somehow fascinating" and she didn't think he was a menace.

On a more general note, I share Eric's frustration that Peter didn't just tell her he was Spider-Man and be done with it. Keeping his secret from her had made her believe he was a coward because he ran off whenever there was trouble (ASM #72), led her to suspect he was seeing someone else (ASM #76), and left unexplained his prolonged failure to visit her in the hospital after she was injured as a result of the actions of the Schemer's men (ASM #83). It's more frustrating knowing, with hindsight, that Gwen would die without having learned Peter was Spidey, and thus we would not learn how she would have coped with knowing Peter was indirectly responsible for her father's death. (We did find out, in Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8, how her clone reacted, which is closest we'll come to knowing.) Captain Stacy's death had continuing consequences, apart from aggravating Peter's general sense of guilt, in the sense that it served as an impediment to Peter's relationship with Gwen. Once she died as well, that consequence disappeared.

Comic Book Guy