Posted - June 30, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015


Amazing Spider-Man 308


As the issue begins, Mary Jane has been kidnapped and Peter has called in the police. It's a classic example of Peter's secret identity failing on him.


peter parker secret identity fail

Of course, Spider-Man isn't staying in the sidelines, what happens next for the rest of the issue is a colorful, yet fruitless, goose chase, as Peter follows a wrong lead. Let's take the trip anyway if only to see the early work of an artist named Todd McFarlane.



For many, if not all of us, if something like this kidnapping happens, taking leave from work is a given. But Peter can't do that. He has to keep up appearances to spare Aunt May from the dreadful news.


peter talking to aunt may on the phone

Peter should inform Aunt May, after all, the cops already know. My guess is he doesn't do this as a form of self-punishment. He feels guilty that his Spider-Man persona got MJ in trouble.

And she is in trouble.


MJ gets hurt

Early McFarlane Spider-Man right here:


early mcfarlane spider-man

McFarlane has three graveyard panels


spider-man graveyard mcfarlane

spider-man graveyard mcfarlane

spider-man graveyard mcfarlane

It may be a wild goose chase but, for our entertainment, it pits Spider-Man against the Taskmaster


taskmaster

So-called "photographic reflexes" allows the mutant Taskmaster to learn combat moves on sight. Even more interesting, Taskmaster isn't a "straight on" bad guy. He candidly admits that he has no interest in tangling with the heroes. He's an educator. A thug trainer. If you're a mob boss or any kind of crime leader and you want your hirelings to shape up enroll them in Taskmaster school.

In a dubious McFarlane panel Spider-Man breaks Taskmaster's sword with a hand swipe.


spider-man smashes taskmaster's
				sword

Thor - yes. Hulk -yes. Spider-Man? No way.

Before he tangles with Taskmaster Peter is a ball of tension, so when some action finally comes his way, he has this to say.


spider-man dodging bullets

That is a true thing for all of us isn't it? The inaction is what gets us, the waiting. But when its finally time to move, results unseen, some kind of chemical thing happens inside and we feel relieved because at least we're doing something.

This issue ends were it begun. So the story is meh. The art is NOT good. What makes this really special is (1) it's early Todd McFarlane, (2) Taskmaster - always a nice villain to see and (3) how about those graveyard panels.

Posted - June 30, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015


Amazing Spider-Man 321


This comic has Spider-Man, Paladin and Silver Sable but you'll barely see Silver Sable in this breakdown because, sadly, Todd McFarlane can't draw a sexy Silver Sable - at least not yet. That said, and not to sound patronizing, but, Todd's art has gotten better significantly since he first started Spider-Man; I'm beginning to see glimpses of the awesome art to come from issues of Spider-Man and Spawn.

Here's Spidey and Paladin.


spider-man and paladin

I've always known paladin was a gun-for-hire, it's a pragmatism that I've always respected about him. What I didn't know was this.


paladin super strength

He has super-strength!

In a hunt for some important data, Paladin does some good old fashioned ransacking.


paladins handling floppy disks

5.25" floppy disks. It just tickles me that there are some people who don't know what 5.25" floppy disks are. If you don't, don't worry about it, it's not important.

And here's the basic difference between Spider-Man and Paladin.


spider-man swinging away from paladin

Hey, Mr. Spider-Man, money in exchange for value added is the cornerstone of capitalism - still the best system for getting people out of misery. I'm firmly on Paladin's side here so I'm wondering why there are so few mercenary heroes. Even Luke Cage drank the Avenger's Kool-Aid. Wait a minute, the Avengers have an allowance from Stark.

I'm sure MJ and Peter are talking about something important but I'm having a hard time paying attention what with MJ in that nightie.


MJ in a nightie

I finally know what SOHO means!


meaning of soho

The next day everybody helps Liz and Harry move into their new place. After the move everybody's pooped.


peter's gang tired after the move

This is great acting by Peter. I know he has to maintain his secret identity but out of sheer consideration he should have targeted the bigger, heavier, items. One way is to have MJ, and only MJ help him, say with the fridge, but MJ just has to touch the appliance while Peter makes a show of moving.

Here' another somewhat dubious panel.


peter talking to silver sable

So Peter calls Silver Sable, identifying himself as Spider-Man, but he's not wearing a mask! When Peter has that mask his voice changes a bit - it becomes Spider-Man's voice. Maybe the line wasn't so good so Silver Sable can't tell. By the way, welcome to 1989, when cellphones weren't that common yet.

I'm starting to notice that McFarlane has an inordinate amount of panels were the protagonists have their back turned to the reader. In spite of that, this panel is pretty good anyway.


spider-man, paladin, silver sable

So is this panel, showing Paladin take a big hit!


paladin is hit

Ah, Mr. Parker you have been listening to me about money.


spider-man goes for the payday

Not a bad issue (borderline bad?). The failure to draw a sexy Silver Sable is a definite miss though. .

Posted - June 30, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015

Beautiful splash page showing the Sinister Six by Erik Larsen.


splash page showing spider-man and the sinister six

Doctor Octopus.


doctor octopus in the lead


Otto Octavius is both the strategist and the technologist of the group - he's the core around which the other five revolve. He has to be. Hobgoblin's crazy, Mysterio is too self-involved, The Vulture is not sophisticated or ambitious enough (though he's still my favorite), Electro is too temperamental, and Sandman . . .

spider-man omnibus


sandman wavers

. . . let's just say that if they had a yearbook Sandman is the one going to be voted "Most Likely Not Really Sinister".

Erik Larsen is the artist and his Red/Black Spidey is something to see.


spider-man

Peter will never grow old. Correct? MJ will never grow old. Actually, nobody in the Spider-Man family will ever age. The stories will go on and on for each now generation. Aunt May has the distinction of being portrayed with a certain age range. Here she looks very old.


aunt may

Later issues will show her much younger than this.

A piece of granite is headed Peter's way.


peter dodges granite

His spider-sense saved him. Unfotunately, his spider-sense didn't kick in as it should when he put on that shirt.

Before we go see more Sinister Six here's a really great panel of MJ.


mj exercising

And now for some great Sinister Six panels:

Vulture and the Hobgoblin.


vulture and hobgoblin

Electro and Sandman.


electro and sandman

Mysterio and Doctor Octopus.


mysterio and doctor octopus

This panel shows us just how long Doc Ock's arms are.


the sinister six

The Sinister Six attacks.


the sinister six attacks

Great Vulture panel (as I said, he is my favorite).


vulture attacks spider-man

Spider-Man counterattacks


spider-man counterattack

Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus


spider-man vs. doctor octopus

Spider-Man vs. Mysterio


spider-man vs. mysterio

As expected, Sandman sides with Spidey.


sandman sides with spider-man

Unfortunately, Sandman gets turned to glass by Doc Ock.

It's all been fun and games until Doctor Octopus proves he's a real killer


doctor octopus proves himself
				a villain

The cover isn't that enticing but this is a soiid, fun, Sinister Six read sure to delight casual readers and fanboys alike.

Posted - July 1, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015


Amazing Spider-Man 356
Round Robin: The Sidekick's Revenge Part Four


Roll call:


spider-man, night thrasher, moon knight, and the punisher

Night Thrasher, Spider-Man, Moon Knight, the Punisher. Nova has been captured by the bad guys. We won't see much of the Punisher this issue - he took same heavy hits previously and has to recover.

Night Thrasher is young and his blood is hot and it shows.


knight thasher disses on moon knight

I would have wanted the next panel to be Night Thasher getting thrown out of the Moon Copter, you know, for laughs.

We come upon an organization called the Empire. They have a medical team doing cyborg enhancements on former Moon Knight sidekick Midnight. It's a brutal operation with no pain killers. The doctor comes off as cold and sadistic but here's the real surprise.


doctor thunderball

The doctor is Thunderball from the Wrecking Crew! He's a doctor!?

Continuing with the Empire's grisly activities we come upon a hapless Nova.


nova trapped by the empire

Normally I wouldn't show this, it's effectively a torture scene, but look at the machinery in the room. It's Mark Bagley doing Jack Kirby machinery.

Here's a great panel of Moon Knight's Moon Copter dodging an attack.


the moon copter dodging some ground fire

Frenchie at the controls.

Spider-Man, Night Thrasher, and Moon Knight go on th offensive.


spider-man, moon knight and night thrasher attacks

Midnight looks good in costume. . .


midnight

. . . but he's been the recipient of brutal surgeries. Look at the eyes, they give an indication of just how much trauma Midnight has been through.

Night Thasher and Moon Knight may not like each other much but they are an effective assault team.


moon knight and night thrasher takes them on

Here's an example of the power play inside the Empire's upper levels.


midnight takes over the Empire

The blood on the wall behind Midnight is really"persuasive".

Midnight has just "broken his leash" and declares himself leader of Empire.

Midnight in action!


midnight attacks

He's extremely effective.


mignight takes out moon knight and night thrasher

Until he meets Spidey.


spidey stops midnight

Look at the fight sequence on this page. Smooth flow from one panel to another. Kudos to Mark Bagley


spider-man, midnight fight sequence

Midnight's Cyborg enhancements are quite impressive. Not least is his ability to fly.


midnight flying

By the end of the issue, the Empire organization is on the run but they still have Nova.

Posted - July 2, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015


Amazing Spider-Man 391
Shrieking Part Two


Based on that awful cover I didn't have any high hopes for this issue of Amazing Spider-Man.

Fortunately, I would be proven wrong. It wasn't an exceptional issue but it was a lot better than I expected. There are two subplots here. The first is quiet, sad and melodramatic and it is centered on Aunt May and Mary Jane after the death of Nathan Lubinsky. The second is traditional super-heroic fare centered on a battle between Spider-Man and Shriek.

It's a rare thing for the relationship between Aunt May and Uncle Ben to have any kind of focus. It's usually the relationship between Peter and Uncle Ben that is the subject. But not today.


aunt may

Mark Bagley does the art. Here's the Bagley Spider-Man


spider-man by mark
				bagley

Shriek's ferocity is captured in this panel


shriek

Back to the melodramatic part, Aunt May launches into an angry tirade.


aunt may loses it

She's pretty tough, gone through a lot, and its very rare to see panels of Aunt May, the doting Aunt, angry. What? You didn't come here for the soap opera? All right. Here's Spider-Man's attack on Shriek


shriek is weblined and smashed into a wall.

Bam!

An attack deserves a counterattack.


shriek blasts spider-man

Bam!

And look, we meet an old friend at the end of this tale.

This comic ends with a cliffhanger panel.


aunt may collapsed on the floor