Posted - June 25, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015


Amazing Spider-Man 404
Maximum Clonage Part Three


At the start of this issue Peter Parker sits despondent. No, not despondent, more like totally wrecked by the realization that he is a clone.


peter is distraught

What I don't get is why his life is over just because he's a clone? So you're a clone. Apart from that, nothing has changed. It's shocking, and kind of fascinating, but nothing has changed. And nothing has to change. Right? This is my opinion of the whole matter but if I'm to explain the rest of this issue I'll have to put my opinions aside and subscribe to Marvel's given: That being a clone prevents one from livng a normal life - and therfore obligates Parker to end all existing ties. If we subscribe to this then these next two panels can be understood.



First panel: Ben Reilly tells Pete that being a clone is not so bad - that he, Peter, can get used to it.


ben consoles peter

Next panel: Peter goes ballistic saying that Ben has nothing to lose so he doesn't understand.


peter goes ballistic

I'm not very familiar with being a clone but I am familiar with poverty. So one way of looking at this is that Peter lost all his money and is now unemployed and faces the prospect of being homeless. Ben tells him that poverty is not that bad. Peter strikes Ben telling him you've nothing to lose so you don't understand how it feels. There, now I get it.

Ben soon encounters Spidercide. Mark Bagley gives us a whole page for that.


spidercide attackes scarlet
				spider

We all know that the Clone Saga was very controversial, if not outright unpopular. At the time, Marvel might have been getting a sense of this too. They conducted a survey and this was one of the questions.


marvel survey on the clone
				saga

Let's round up the usual suspects on the Clone Saga.


the clone family

Let's see. Kaine is a clone derived from the Jackal. Peter is a clone. Obviously, so is Spidercide. Ben Reilly, the Scarlet Spider, is a real human. Oh yeah this detail too.


scarlet spider hits jackal

The Jackal's kidnapping and imprisonment of Reilly.

Characters are getting bigger. Spidercide, the most massive of the "clone" family is dwarfed by Scrier.


spidercide in front of scrier

Here, Scrier touches Spidercide giving him, Spidercide, a sort of epiphany.


scrier gives spidercide the 
				magic touch

I wonder what it is? Because Spidercide certainly doesn't change his attitude after this little scene.

At the end of the issue, Ben is drugged out and imprisoned. I like Bagley's two-panel rendition of the hallucinogenic effect of the drug on Reilly.


scarlet spider drugged

Posted - June 25, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015


Amazing Spider-Man 410
Web of Carnage Part Two


The Clone Saga gets ever more complicated. Let's start with this panel.


ben, peter and a body

The one in the Spider suit is Ben Reilly and according to him he has always been Peter Parker. The Peter Parker in Amazing Fantasy #15 - that was him. The Peter Parker we know, the one being carried in this panel, is a clone. Or rather, was a clone. The body in the body bag Peter is carrying is said to be the real clone. Not Peter, I mean, not Peter/Peter - the other being Peter/Ben - who is the real Peter. See what I mean?

As we start getting into the issue it is revealed that Peter/Peter has lost his powers.

Now take a look at this.


skeleton with spider-man
				uniform

The skeleton in the suit has a Spider-Man uniform.

The whole clone story is a bit entertaining - in a really confusing way. Sort of like an out-of-control roller coaster ride.

So here we have Carnage making a surprisingly heroic appearance.


carnage takes out a wife 
				beater

The guy he is beating on is a wife beater who was about to slap his wife around. Although Carnage's design is patterned after Spider-Man's, Carnage doesn't give the impression of speed and agility like Spidey, Carnage's signature vibe is a combination of bulk and an organic ickiness.

Aside from the elaborate clone story, we get more of a traditional comic in the appearance of Carnage. What next? You ask? The storyline steals some tropes from Batman.

Twice.

First Arkham Asylum becomes Ravencroft.


ravencroft institute

Then the Court of Owls becomes an NYC nightclub dedicated to super-villains where super-villain items are in-demand collectibles.


super-villain night club

It's Carnage vs. Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) this issue.


carnage fights spider-man

Look at this powerful punch!


spider-man punches carnage

Meanwhile, in the Bugle. Now that Peter's name isn't his, his super-hero identity isn't his, and he has no more powers. It's time to take his job. Jessica Carradine looks poised to be the new Spider-Man photographer for the Daily Bugle.


jessica new bugle photog

By the way. Let's not overlook the new Spider costume being sported by Reilly


new spider-man costume

One more, an excellent panel showing Carnage.


carnage attacks

The issue ends when Carnage manages to unite with Spider-Man

the union of carnage and 
				spider-maN

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


Amazing Spider-Man 414
Deadly Is Delilah


It's Amazing Spider-Man #414 and Ben Reilly is Spider-Man.

Looking at that cover I just noticed that the web shooters are in full display in this new costume. Nice touch. I always thought that Peter, before, was hiding the mechanical nature of his webs, keeping the shooters under the costume and all that.

So who is Delilah? She's a killer.


delilah stabs two thugs

An assassin to be more exact.

As the Clone Saga progressed, Peter has been losing everything piece by piece. He finds out he's a clone - losing his natural humanity. He's not Peter Parker, Ben is - losing his name. He's lost his Spider powers. The Bugle has hired another Spider-Man photographer - losing his job. I thought that was it, apparently not. Now Peter is dying!


peter parker is dying

I know about the "Parker Luck" but this is ridiculous. Oh wait, he's not a Parker. Damn!

Great shot of the new uniform.


new spider-man costume

Ben Reilly is surrounded by bitches.

Bitch #1


i'm a bitch

Bitch #2


i'm a bitch too

"You and every other male in the neighborhood". Well, shit!

Relief comes with another round of swinging.


spider-man over central park

The new costume is growing on me.

Here's Delilah in full costume.


delilah in full costume

This panel also shows a particular characteristic of this issue - fancy lettering. I'm not a big fan of that.

The most subtle panels in this issue deals with racism.


ben is confronted with an
				implicit accusation of racism

Before the issue ends, it is revealed that Delilah reports to the Rose.


delilah reports to the rose

Posted - June 26, 2014 | August 26, 2015


Amazing Spider-Man 417
Secrets


I know this is a Spider-Man comic but this issue has me smitten with a member of the Host - the lady called Chakra.


chakra evades an attack

Just look at that move. There's more where that came from . . .


chakra fights back

Wow.

After all the tension, we find Peter and Ben in a more relaxed setting.


peter and ben talking

Look. A beeper.


peter answers his beeper

Welcome to 1996.

Look at this panel


watercolor style

The colors. I don't know if Bob Sharen and Graphics Colorworks meant it, but this issue has a distinctly watercolor-like feel to the coloring.

A few issues back, Peter was in danger of losing everything - including his life. It's nice to know that he will retain the Peter Parker name and that his powers, though unreliable, seem to be coming back. It must be off at this point because he's forced to ride piggyback on Ben.


peter hitches a ride
				on ben reilly

I know Peter is Ben's clone but there is too much bromance on this panel. You know what would have been more interesting? If Peter was cloned from a girl - so Scarlet Spider would be a girl and this piggyback panel would be just fantastic. Just think about it. Missed opportunity.

When they both finally catch up to Chakra, she gets another great panel.


chakra just standing around

She just looks good.

Ron Garney did a great job on the layout of this panel.


spider-man and chakra enter
				a gym

The title of the issue is "Secrets" and here's one of them: Scrier isn't an individual. Scrier is the name of an international organization much like Hydra or Aim. How does that explain the gigantic size and nearly god-like powers of Scrier in his appearances before this issue? I don't know. This is one clumsy retcon.

Peter goes into battle answering the question: What if Spidey decided to wear his costume AND his civvies?


peter fights in costume and in
				civvies

An even more important question is: Why didn't he just wear the costume?

And that's the issue. Oh yeah, Judas Traveller was successfully freed by Chakra and they are both on the run fron the Host.

Posted - June 27, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015


Amazing Spider-Man 425
The Chump, The Challenger, and the Champion


The centerpiece of this double-sized issue is the fight between Spider-Man and Electro.

Electro's power has been enhanced by the mysterious New York crime lord, the Rose, to impressive levels. Witness the destruction of an entire armored car.


electro destroys an armored car

Steve Skroce is the artist. The black backdrop panel below is a great sample of his work (and, of course, so are all the other panels I'm going to showcase on this page).


spider-man with black background

I'm a big fan of location or setting panels. Skroce's solid, linear design on this one really caught my eye.


an apartment window

Tom DeFalco is the writer and maybe, just maybe, husband/wife relations were on his mind when he was doing this one. There are two panels that point to the dynamics of a husband/wife relationship. In particular, situations when the missus is not that happy with her man's focus on his job. The first example is Peter and MJ.


marriage of MJ and Peter

The next one is Joe and Martha Robertson


marriage of Martha and Joe

Unlike the portrayals of Peter Parker, tremendous artistic license has been taken with Max Dillon by different creative teams. These have resulted in great inconsistencies in both the look and the attitude of Electro across story arcs. So the question might be asked: How's Max Dillon in this issue?

Answer: He's deeply deranged.


the mind of electro

And, drumroll for the cliche please, lets blame it all on the abusive childhood.


electro's past

Do all abusive childhoods result in bad adulthoods? Is the reverse true? Everybody who had a decent childhood grows up ok? I doubt it. It's almost a law in comics its becoming a stupid read. I remember what the Doc Holiday character in the movie "Tombstone" said: "There's no normal life, there's just life. and the thing to do is live it - live it to the hilt". It is absolutely possible for the past to have no effect on you now. I'm being a jerk right now not because of my abusive childhood but because I'm simply having a bad day.

Who's magazine is this anyway? Oh yeah . . .


spider-man swinging

Delilah is back, this time as the Rose's bodyguard.


delilah


She looks great and it looks like fancy lettering is a Delilah signature. In the first panel, she's pulverizing a bowling ball on her head - a show of strength and toughness.

X-Man is here. Nate Grey - son of Jean and Scott - and here's what he can do:

spider-man omnibus


x-man shows his stuff

Here's a short introduction of X-Man.


info on x-man

Here's both X-Man and Spider-Man busting in to Electro.


spider-man and x-man

". . . Tipping isn't a city in China." Spidey in full "joker mode" is the best.

Here are three panels showcasing Electro's incredible power levels.


power of electro

power of electro

power of electro

We've all read or heard about people who "fly off the handle". They feel victimized and the only thing they want to do is lash out in "revenge", and they don't care if they get destroyed in the process. Electro gets this way in the course of his fight with Spider-Man and X-Man. Look at him shouting like a crazy person while flying.


electro flies off in 
				a rage

Obviously, its because of his dark past. I'm nearly about to make fun of him allowing himself to be owned by what came before but I know what it's like to be controlled by emotion. When your emotion erupts inside you, the emotion feels like the truth and the urge to act on this so-called truth is nearly insurmountable; there's a palpable feeling of losing control.

With this out-of-control Electro, Spider-Man and X-Man have a decision to make. Nate comes from an extremely brutal future, it comes as no surprise that he wants a "permanent" solution to the Electro problem. Not so Peter . . .


spider-man and x-man
				debate what to do

Let's get a better look at Spider-Man's insulated suit.


spider-man insulated suit

It's been a hard slog for the Webslinger but its finally "game over".


spider-man punching electro

Unfortunately, things do not play out the way Peter would want them to and we are witnesses to the death of Electro.


death of electro

There is a subplot here where some True Believer ninjas exhume the remains of one Otto Octavius prompting a panel showing the reaction from the current Doctor Octopus.


the female doctor octopus

But. That's for next issue.

All in all , this double-sized issue did not disappoint - a classic Super-Hero/Super-Villain fight comic; its nice to have one of those from time to time..

Posted - June 27, 2014 | August 26, 2015


Amazing Spider-Man 492
Digger


1957 mafia hit + 2003 military gamma experiment =


the birth of a gamma zombie

A Hulk-like zombie wandering the environs of Nevada. Hulk-like is a bit of a stretch, this is more the welterweight divison to the Green Goliath's heavyweight chops.

Art is by John Romita Jr who does this excellent location panel.


night at the train tracks

Let's take a closer look at that gamma-irradiated zombie:


gamma zombie tussles with somebody

Back in the 50s, thirteen mobsters got assassinated by another mobster named Fiorelli. This zombie is an amalgam of all thirteen mobsters. As luck would have it, Fiorelli's organization is still active in Vegas and the monster happens upon some Fiorelli henchmen.

This zombie is no mindless monster. It has come back for revenge on Fiorelli, and only Fiorelli. As can be seen below a pimp is asked to leave. He isn't one of Fiorelli's men, so he can go.


gamma zombie only goes after 
				fiorelli's people

Ever wonder what it would it be like to look at MJ half-naked from across the room? Wonder no more:


mj prepares to go out

I seem to have forgotten to show something. Oh yeah - Spider-Man


spider-man meets up with lamont

The guy holding the boom box (is that term still valid?) is a police officer named Lamont and the stereo is his innovative way of "summoning" Spider-Man - he just plays somebody screaming.

The funniest panel in the comic has got to be this one:


the zombie wants some sinatra

This mobster-zombie happens upon a show. Maybe the band is playing, rock or alternative, or hiphop, rap even. Whatever is being played its not torch music a la Sinatra and company, the only kind of music a self-respecting mobster-zombie can appreciate. So its flying into a rage screaming for some classic tunes.

Just as Spidey confronts the zombie the issue ends.


spider-man confronts the 
				gamma zombie

Posted - June 28, 2014 | August 26, 2015


Amazing Spider-Man 495
The Balancing of Karmic Accounts


The best thing about this issue isn't the action scenes - its the brilliant dialogue from J. Michael Straczynski. Join me, I'll be stopping by all the amusing panels.

Let's start with this one (although this doesn't have any dialogue).


spider-man illegally using
				lab equipment

Believe it or not, but this panel shows Spider-Man breaking the law.

He needs some lab analysis. It's expensive. This is Peter Parker before Horizon Labs and Parker Industries, so he can't afford it. What he does is he breaks into a lab to use their equipment.

That's a crime isn't it? No excuses. Spider-Man is breaking the law. More than that he is using the resources, the assets, of somebody else without giving that person something of value in return. That's stealing.

I'm looking at this and I'm thinking: Captain America will never do something like this. Daredevil is a lawyer, he wouldn't do something like this either - besides Matt Murdock, is nearly always loaded. This is a Spider-Man thing.

So Peter's doing his clandestine work and a couple of janitors come in to do their work. One of them has got something interesting to say about waking up in the morning:


all about waking up in the 
				morning

This monologue just speaks to me. I am exactly like that. I often wake up before the alarm, and it's like five, ten or fifteen minutes to the ringing. And I can't stand lying in bed anticipating that grating sound going off so soon so I turn off the alarm. Just like this janitor, I'm stuck in bed staring at the ceiling halfway between sleep and waking. I've always known I wasn't alone but its nice to read about it and confirm that this is a shared human experience.

What happens next is magic. Spidey gets discovered by this janitor. but instead of calling security this quick-witted fellow is ready to make a deal.


making a deal with spider-man

Moments later . . .


selling spider-man collectibles

Looks like somebody is going to have some extra cash.

Beautifully done John Romita Jr. panel of MJ and Peter.


peter and mj

Here's another great piece of dialogue. Officer Lamont just came off from breakfast and there is this exchange.


lamont the miser

" . . . Maybe next time you'll leave a tip!". That is gold! And since when were diner personnel public servants? I'm laughing but in one sense this isn't funny. I just learned that waitresses and restaurant people typically get two dollars and change per hour. No kidding. These people live off tips, so Lamont is really doing a disservice here.

Here's the notorious Mr. Fiorelli.


fiorelli

Looks like Peter doesn't know about his little 1950s-era massacre.


spider-man 
				doesn't know fiorelli's bloody past

It's action time: Spider-Man vs. the gamma-irradiated zombie known as Digger:


spider-man 
				vs. digger

Digger has a little spiel about how it was much better in the old days.


digger talking about 
				the good old days

This bastard forgot to add details like, oh, colored people knowing their place, rock and roll being demonic, homosexuality being a disease. The "good old days" are exactly where they belong - in the past.

All's well that ends well as Spider-Man takes care of the big, bad, Digger. Fiorelli, though, does not get away with the murder of thirteen people. He's on record:


a recording being played

And under arrest.

The "my kind of woman" exchange below is another great piece of dialogue.


lamont and spidey exchanging banter

So is this "cactus" exchange.


spider-man talking to fiorelli
				during a stall in the fighting

Surprise! Surprise! Peter Parker is no longer allergic to money.


spider-man gets a well-deserved
				paycheck

Good for him. This is how he spends it though.


the gwen stacy library

Wrong. Granted that a library benefits the community. No question. But one's first obligation to the community is taking oneself off the poverty list and KEEPING oneself off the poverty list. Is Peter so well off that he can throw money into a library instead of himself? NO. Bad move Mr. Parker. Leave the library building to the Foundations.

One last, one last piece from this issue. Peter says something about superheroes in general and about the Hulk in particular.


some insider insights from peter

I'm remembering World War Hulk. So Peter could have pulled the trigger all along? Hmmmm. I have my doubts.





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