I Have Issues (7)

“The Legend Begins Anew!”
J. Ryan Buck (Lostscribe)
The new Amazing Spider-Man movie is out bringing the Spider-Man saga back to the big screen in a revamp of sorts. No matter what your opinion of Spider-Man 3 was, it was clear we needed new blood on this franchise.
Amazing Spider-Man #300

(W) David Michelenie (A) Todd McFarlane

This is an important issue for several reason. This was Todd McFarlane’s breakout Spider-Man issue that really popularized the character for the 1990’s as well as making McFarlane a household name. Of course this would eventually give us Image comics and awesomely detailed toys. This is also the issue that features the first battle between Spider-Man and Venom. This a great issue so lets get to it!
First page we have a a great spread of Mary Jane. Tears are streaming from her eyes, her hands are up to her faces and she is looking more scared then we have ever seen her. As much credit McFarlane is given for this run, David Michelinie is neglected. Sure, without McFarlane Spider-Man doesn’t get the huge boost in then 90’s, but McFarlane doesn’t do this alone. If you want to know how important Michelinie is to this run? Read the Spider-Man title that McFarlane demanded to have for his own. In short, it’s pretty but it sucks! Go ahead buy the first five issues or pick up the Torment trade, I dare you! McFarlane got a little better with Spawn but still I would challenge the notion that Todd can write. Accompanying the amazing page with Mary Jane looking traumatized we get these words. “Her name is Mary Jane Watson-Parker. But she doesn’t know that. At this moment she knows almost nothing. For her mind has been harshly numbed, all thought cruelly drowned in an onrushing tide of primal fear. An emotion that may never fade.”
For those who weren’t reading Spider-Man back in the day, Venom was scary. He was a villain that had that rare quality of making you feel like the hero was in danger. This panel and the fact that they slowly built up the character in previous issues really assembled Venom’s rep. Marvel knew they had something special here and did not rush it.
Mary Jane is begging to be left alone and we find she is scared of Spider-Man who quickly takes off his mask. She realizes it’s her husband and while crying on his shoulder, tells him she was visited by someone or something that looked just like Spider-Man. He also somehow grew a grotesque mouth right on his mask.
Next, Venom is creeping right into the window of the abandoned building he’s been holding up in. Eddie Brock (Venom) wills his costume away and decides to pump some iron. Eddie Wants to be at his physical peak when he finally confronts Peter Parker.
It’s midnight and Peter can’t sleep. He thinks he knows who is stalking him but he doesn’t know how it’s possible. We get some flashback panels of the awesome saga of the black costume for those who just tuned in to Spider-Man for McFarlane’s art. Basically Spider-Man was on the Beyonder’s planet during the Secret Wars crossover and his costume was trashed during all the battling that was done in that crossover. The Beyonder had a device that can repair costumes as he knew that the heroes would get dirty in the combat he forced them into. Spider-Man lays on the table for the machine to stitch his threads back up but unbeknownst to him, an alien drops down and covers him in a new black costume. Spider-Man gets up and wonders why it gave him a different costume instead of his normal red and blue, but decides this new costume fits him pretty well. (Spider-Man was given the costume mainly because Marvel was trying to give him a grim and gritty edge. Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns were such big successes that so many comics tried to emulate the dark style in the 80’s.) Parker can also change out of his costume with a mental command and he has built in web fluid. (Plus the costume just looks badass. I have honestly never met another comic fan that did not love this costume, if Spider-Man’s red and blue costume was not so iconic I believe this would have replaced it for good.) The comic glosses over the details of the storyline so I will fill you in. Peter puts his costume up at the end of the night and eventually it starts to slink back to him in his sleep. Not long after this the costume takes his sleeping body out for webslinging. (sleepslinging?) Worried about this strange course of events Peter visits the Fantastic Four and gets Reed Richards to scan the costume. Parker finds to his shock that the costume is alive and has bonded to him. Using a sonic blaster they sear the costume off of Peter and trap it in a capsule. Then two of the funniest moments in comics happens that this issue doesn’t even mention.
One, Peter doesn’t have a costume now so the FF lends him one, but they don’t wear masks so he puts a paper bag over his head. Peter tries to go home without being noticed but ends up stopping a crime on his way, while the New Yorkers comment on this goofy new FF member. (I always loved how they took this creepy symbiote story during the grim and gritty era and put this funny moment in the issue. It’s almost inappropriate with the timing, but I think that’s what makes it so funny.)
Two, as expected the black costume escapes from the capsule and going outside takes over the first guy it finds. The man comes across as overweight but in all honestly it’s probably what most of us would look like in a form fitting Spider-Man costume. So now we see a chubby black costume Spider-Man swinging awkwardly across New York while the denizens are thinking “Wow Spider-Man has really let himself go.”
Both of these moments have to be seen to get the full effect, but they are pretty funny in their absurdity.
The costume finds Peter and bonds to him again, this time to a more permanent effect. Parker fighting himself in the costume lures the alien to a church tower and with a clang of the bell seemingly kills the symbiote.
Back to the present and Peter thinks the symbiote may not have died in the battle of the bell tower. Borrowing the sonic blaster from the FF, Parker is ready for the costume to take a crack at bonding with him again. Meanwhile Peter and Mary Jane are moving out of his tiny apartment into a condo which of course he is not sure if he can even pay for. He look’s around his apartment at the packed boxes and remembers coming through the skylight so many times in the past. Leaving the apartment in the normal way as Peter Parker, he gets the distinct feeling that he is being followed. Peter knows this is impossible because his spider-sense would set off if he was being followed, wouldn’t it? Eddie Brock is indeed following him and gets angry when he has to follow him into an alley where Peter disappears. Next we see Spider-Man playing it safe and swinging out of the alley.
Next scene Peter and Mary Jane are checking out the new condo as Peter comments that he wishes he could help pay for it. Mary Jane feels bad that she makes more money then Peter and tells him that he could do fashion photography because it pays better. The two then engage in a faux fashion shoot but in the end Peter slumps back into depression as he knows that that kind of photography is not for him. Mary Jane knows how to cheer him up and undoes her top, to which the narrator feels the need to mention that Peter feels his spirits start to rise. (Gotta love those double entendres that are almost single entendres.)
Back to Eddie Brock who is now visiting the church where the symbiote was ripped from Parker. Eddie and symbiote want the revenge to take place here where it would be most poetic. A young freckle faced cop encounters Eddie and pulls his gun on him. The kid assumes that Eddie is the one who has been stealing from poor boxes. Eddie waves him off because petty crimes are beneath him. The young police officer just wont listen to Eddie and the symbiote coats the kids head, suffocating him to death. Eddie is remorseful at killing innocents but will not let anything stand in his way.
Peter and Mary Jane’s friends are helping them move into the condo. Robbie the current Editor in chief of the Daily Bugle asks Parker if he has given any thought to getting out of photography. Peter mentions that he has been thinking of getting back into science. Peter knows the photography like being single and living in a small apartment are all a part of his life as young man and that maybe it’s time to move on to a more grown up endeavor. During this poignant turn in Peters life, he sees the black costume swinging by his building. It’s showdown time!
Spider-Man with the sonic blaster on his back swings in the direction of the symbiote. Seeing the alien crawl into the window of an abandoned building, Spider-Man man confident in his spider-sense’s ability to keep him safe charges in. Immediately upon entering the window, the web-slinger is thrown against the wall. Spider-Man man knows it’s his old costume but just can’t figure out who is wearing the alien suit. Introducing himself as Venom he comments that he will be poison for Spider-Man who destroyed his life. Venom then reveals himself to be Eddie Brock the former reporter for the Daily Globe. During a murder spree of a serial killer known as the Sin-Eater, Eddie felt he got the inside scoop as a man confessed to him at being the killer. Using this inside source Eddie got famous and after public pressure, he revealed who the killer was and his paper sold in the records thanks to his article. The one problem, the man talking to Eddie was a serial confessor and not a serial killer. The killer was in fact a police officer who was brought in by Spider-Man. This action not only ruined the Daily Globe as a trustworthy news source, this also made Eddie Brock a pariah who was fired shortly after the incident. (Everybody got that?)
Back in the present Spider-Man is trying to quietly reach the sonic blaster.
To cope with the depression, Eddie began to work out. It sculpted him an amazing physique, but the anger still would not go away. Eddie thought only of destroying Spider-Man who he felt had destroyed him. With no other options to clear the anger from him, he visits a church and prays. Just as he finishes the prayer to ask for help, his body is coated in the alien symbiote. The Alien, like Brock hated Spider-Man and together the two beings joined into a focused beam of hate that wanted nothing else but to make Peter Parker/Spider-Man pay for what he had done.
Spider-Man lunges for the blaster, but is met with a two-handed pounding from Venom that stops him. Thrown down to the floor below, Peter starts to think that he just may be in trouble. Venom is bigger stronger has all of Spider-Man’s powers and does not set off his spider-sense. Peter knows the only thing getting him through this situation is his experience. Putting Venom in a head lock from behind, Spider-Man is attempting to lead Venom to where the blaster is. Venom’s strength however proves to be too much as he grabs Spider-Man and slams him onto the floor. Spider-Man gets out and grabbing a steel girder, smacks Venom across the room. Before the Alien can recover, Peter reaches his sonic blaster and fires. The symbiote pulls away from Eddie, but doesn’t separate. It’s too late, the alien has bonded to Brock and that means if he kills the Alien he will kill Brock. Needing to regroup, Peter leaps out of the window and Venom webs the heroes foot and pulls him back into the apartment… through the wall! Then with one punch he knocks the Web-Slinger out.
Hours later, Parker wakes up and finds himself with two tons of webbing, constricting him inside the bell of the tower. The alien symbiote has transformed Eddies costume into that of a preachers, as Venom declares he is going to exercise a demon. When the bell tolls at midnight it will break Spider-Man’s body to pieces and making the classic villain mistake, Venom leaves saying he will return to inspect the remains. The bell clacker pulls back and Spider-Man forces his hand with all of his strength to bust through the webbing and stops the impact of the first strike. The next strike will break his hand and eventually turn it to powder before it crushes the rest of him. Parker grips the clacker on the back swing and holds on with all he has, to use the momentum to pull him free from the webbing. The move works though his hand has taken a beating, the bell tolls above him, nearly making him deaf. Venom reappears and Spider-Man may not be dead but he is in horrible shape. Not sure if the bells will even stop Venom and not able to hang around in the shape is in, Spider-Man swings out of the tower with his good arm and lands on top of the tower. Trying to figure out what will stop Venom, he remembers that the webbing he used when he wore the costume came from the suit itself. Swinging with everything he has, Spider-Man kicks Venom off the tower. Venom predictably shoots a line to pull himself back up and Spider-Man severs the strand to which Venom again shoots a line but is running out of strength as he used so much to trap his foe in the bell. Venom falls to the ground and is knocked out upon impact. Peter left the moving party at his new condo so quickly that he’s sure Mary Jane must be worried about him. Peter thinks, “I just hope I can remember Mary Jane’s calling card number.” (Calling cards, classic.)
Spider-Man has locked Venom up again in the FF headquarters capsule. Next back at home, Mary Jane is giving Peter Parker the cold shoulder because she is still freaked out by the black costume after her treatment by Venom .Peter agrees about the black costume being tainted by Venom using it and on the next page we get a great full page splash of Spider-Man in his familiar red and blue costume with the words, “The Legend Begins Anew!”
As usual you can read all previous installments of “I Have Issues” at http://lostscribe0.blogspot.com/