Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spider-Man versus who!?

It has been a while since I had time to write about the comics that I've been reading lately. Due to some major problems with my apartment, comics have taken a backseat to dealing with real life. But hey! I'm back, and I have a moment to write about the topic that came to me a week or two ago. I realized a couple weeks ago that I haven't read anything with our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in a very long time (All I will say is that I was a fan of Peter and Mary Jane together.) So, I thought this lack of Spidey in my comic diet needed to be remedied. Into the Marvel box I went and grabbed some Spider-Man issues. As I read them, one saying came to mind that you hear in the special features of any superhero movie DVD: "Heroes are measured by the villains they face." If this axiom is true then Spider-Man should only be considered a mediocre hero at best, and the comics you find in the bargains bin are proof. Sure, the Webhead has gone up against the likes of Doc Ock, Venom, and Dr. Doom, but he has also fought a lot of losers as you'll see from the books I read.

First, we have Spectacular Spider-Man #167 written by Gerry Conway with Sal Buscema on art. Our hero is in Liverpool, England to hunt down two super powered assassins. These two assassins are our first examples of Spider-Man's not-so-spectacular victories. They are Knight and Fogg. Right off the bat, we break the stereotype meter. All we need is Bad Teeth Man, The Guv'na, and Tea Time and you can have the most evil coalition in British history. Apparently Spidey fought Knight and Fogg in the previous issue, was knocked unconscious when he fell in a river, and got amnesia. Of course, his memory returns to him just in time to defeat these two evildoers and save the day. Honestly though, becoming fog is a superpower you would expect in a bad superhero comedy movie. What boggles my mind though is that these two ne'erdowells came from the mind of Gerry Conway, the same man who created the Punisher and wrote the death of Gwen Stacy. I guess I just need to chalk this up to nobody's perfect or maybe editorial needed a script as soon as possible. Knight and Fogg might be bad but it gets worse, I assure you.

Now we move from total stereotypes to a total copy. If I said guess the supervillain that is the most accurate marksman ever, wears a high tech mask and wrist mounted guns and a name that starts with "Dead," most, if not all, comic fans would guess DC's Deadshot. As Spectacular Spider-Man #210 (by Steven Grant and Sal Buscema) shows us, there is another character that fits the description, just not as well. The ripoff in question is named Deadaim, and Spider-Man must prevent him from killing the Foreigner (who is also a former Spidey villain that turned semi-good). This issue was honestly hard to read not only because of the extremely unoriginal villain, but also the subplot of J. Jonah Jameson not having enough time for his wife. This copy cat character couldn't feel a whole issue, so we have to see how JJ is obsessed with the Daily Bugle and doesn't appreciate Mrs. Jameson. Not only does the main plot leave enough space in the issue for a subplot, but there is a backup story as well. Actually the backup was the only readable part with some real dialogue between Felicia Hardy and Flash Thompson. So if you see Spectacular Spider-Man #210 sitting in the quarter bin, just leave it. You aren't missing anything.

Time for the worst of the bunch, and this will be very ironic because it would not surprise me if this issue is in a lot of peoples' collections. I am talking about Amazing Spider-Man #299 by David Micheline with art by the famous Todd McFarlane. In case you didn't know, the reason this issue is special and is in a lot of collections is that fact that this is the first appearance of Venom. "But Mike, Venom is one of Spider-Man's best villains!?" Yeah, he is but he doesn't appear until the last page. Before we get to that point, Spider-Man has to spend the whole issue dealing with and eventually teaming with the villain on the cover, Chance. Chance is a gambler and gun for hire who has no powers, but thinks he is so good that he wagers all of his pay on if he can complete the contract. That is his whole schtick. I'm not kidding you. How many nerds have found this issue somewhere, realizing what it is, and waited all issue to see Venom just to endure an onslaught of suckiness that is Chance?

As you can see, Spider-Man has had his fair share of terrible villains to fight over the years. Let's just hope the trend has ended for now and we won't have any more Foggs or Deadaims or Chances for a long time.

Funny sidenote: I wanted to link to bio of Deadaim like I did for the other characters, but he is so forgettable that I couldn't even find one.

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