Sunday, January 13, 2008

SM:FBFW ASM 103-107

Spider-Man: For Better or For Worse?

This Week's Reading List: Amazing Spider-Man 103-107

We start off in the Savage Land with Gwen of the Jungle, then we move on to a new and “improved” Spider-Slayer for three issues.

Okay, so the first storyline here is a two-parter where Gwen, Peter, and JJJ are three out of four members of a team headed to the Savage Land to track down a giant lizard-ape named Gog. No, I'm not making this up. This is a stupid set-up, but the story is actually minorly interesting. It's fast-paced and, once they're in the Savage Land, they meet up with Ka-Zar. At least that's slightly logical. Kraven is there, too, and he has raised Gog from infancy. You see, it's Gog that's the problem with this story.

Gog is an alien rocketed to Earth as the last survivor of his doomed world. He is apparently superior to humans in many ways—he learns to talk his own language without help from Daddy Kraven. And... Spider-Man kills him. I kid you not. Spider-Man leads him to a pool of quicksand and allows him to drown. Spidey feels a little bad about this, but not that bad. What a crock. (BTW, two seconds of internet searching reveals that Gog was rescued by the Plunderer after this story and he will show up again many years down the road. That doesn't change what Spidey did or how it was supposed to look in this story.)

My favorite part of this story is Gwen Stacy channeling the spirit of Harley Quinn twenty years early when she says, “A-OK, Mr. J!” Actually, I think this statement is very, very revealing about our young Ms. Stacy, who changes personalities almost at the drop of a hat--she's a psycho! She probably wasn't actually hit by the Goblin at all--she threw herself off that bridge just to screw with Spidey's head, and never mind sleeping with his best friend's dad...

Following this is a straightforward three-parter where Spidey fights Spencer Smythe's newest and greatest Spider-Slayers. The superhero part of the story is very, very typical late-Silver Age action-adventure. It's a dramatic improvement over the Savage Land arc, but nothing to talk about. The soap-opera is more interesting than it has been since Harry's drug adventures, but considering that there has been little soap-opera to speak of, that doesn't say much. I have to say I'm glad to see Flash Thompson back in the mix--and war has really changed him. (Of course, a writer's sneeze causes Flash to become a completely different person, so that doesn't end up saying much. I think it did at the beginning, though.)

About the only note-worthy thing for me in these last three issues is that Smythe's plan hinged heavily on the police “spy-cameras” he helped them install. People take to the streets protesting them. Compare that to today's surveillance society, and it makes me wonder if we haven't given up something essential in allowing all the cameras we do.

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

1) Spider-Man stories were better then than they are now. The Spider-Slayer arc is good-average, but the hideousness of Gog and the Savage Land trumps it. *raspberry*

2) Spider-Man's supporting cast is essential to good Spidey stories. They make the stories better here.

3) Peter Parker is not just a secret identity. Actually, he kind of is. But not in a bad way--it's just that the Peter ID is kept largely separate from the Spider-Man one in the Smythe arc. Oh, well.

All right, that's it for this week. Up next week will be Amazing Spider-Man 108-113, and hopefully they'll be better! Until Spidey is an (attempted-)murderer of aliens, Make Mine Marvel!


1 comment:

Jared said...

To sum up:

The Black Panther works well in the jungle.

Spider-Man does not.

'Nuff said.