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Flashback: Review of Amazing Spider-Man 340 (October 1990) June 2, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews, Flashback.
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In Flashback, LOTRKing reviews a random back issue (in most instances, one he hasn’t read before) and attempts to make sense of both the story and its place in Marvel history.

There are four types of female villains. One, the hot: these are the ones that you don’t care whether they are good or bad, they are just fun to look at. They can be anywhere from a genius mastermind to a simple minion, but you don’t care as long as they stay on the page. A current example is Sin in Captain America. Two, the cool: these may not be eye candy (in fact they may be quite unattractive at times), but their characters are interesting and/or they have extremely cool powers. A current example is Paper Doll in Spider-Man. Three, the lame: they are neither attractive nor unattractive, in fact they are not much of anything at all and are quite forgettable, example: Screwball from ASM. Fourth, the ugly: not only are these villainesses repulsive to look at, they don’t have any redeeming qualities to fit into the “cool” category, in fact, you wish their characters would disappear altogether. Most unfortunately, this issue of Amazing Spider-Man has not just one female villain from the fourth category, it has a team of four from the fourth category. But I’m getting ahead of myself, I’ll touch back on these villains in a second.

The opening actually looks promising (if you ignore the hideous cover) as Spider-Man is stopping a department store robbery (and boy do the villains’ clothes and hairstyles make it obvious what time period this is!), and we get some classic Spidey humor as he takes them down. As Peter comes home, we get a horrible reminder of what late 80s/early 90s Spidey was like: fun stories, horrible art. (Well, in my opinion anyway. As a side note, I ‘spose I should mention now that I have read all of ASM, and they will likely be the only stories that I have already read in my Flashback column.) Erik Larson (the penciler) comes out of the same mold as Todd MacFarlane, and both of their art was waaaaay to cartoony. (Not to mention that MacFarlane introduced the BIG hair MJ that haunted those pages for over half a decade.) As Pete, MJ, and May share a scene together, we see that Pete has a square head with the face of a five year old, Aunt May’s face looks like an old wrinkly dog, and MJ just has the aforementioned impossibly BIG hair.

After we get more fun supporting cast dynamics, Peter meets a scientist who wants to research Spider-Man’s powers and Pete, worried about how some gas he had inhaled during the earlier robbery might be affecting him, decides to visit him. During their experiments, Spidey is subjecting to some rays that seem to very temporarily rob him of his powers. He jumps out of the way, and asks the scientist to destroy the machine, and he agrees he will once he determines what went wrong. Of course, the scientist turn out to be a dodgy guy, and we see that he arranges an attack on an incoming international delegate to draw out Spider-Man. This attack brings us back to the Femme Fatales (the name of hideous quartet). A large part of what makes them so ugly is their costumes. Given, quirky costumes are a part of this genre that just have to be accepted, but these costumes are just plain badly designed. These women were already unattractive, but these costumes try sexualize them (especially in the *erh-herm* “bosom” area), so what we get are ugly women in sexualized clothing. Not a good mix. Anyway, horrible art aside (and that’s a big aside), the fight scene is pretty action packed, though unfortunately lacking in witty humor (or any humor for that matter).

After Spidey saves the day (as always), he can’t stop thinking about the scientist’s machine and, worried about Aunt May and her recent loss of Nathan Lubensky as well as what any foul-turned superheroics may mean for her or MJ, decides to have the scientist remove his powers once and for all. (*Duhn-duhn-duuuhhhhhn!*) And that’s the big cliffhanger for the issue. If I remember correctly, the machine does successfully take his powers away, but somehow or other, he gets pulled into another fight with Femme Fatales, and Black Cat comes in to save his butt, and just as it looks as they are about to be defeated, he regains his powers (it was apparently only a temporary loss) and saves the day (again). Though I could be wrong, I’m too lazy to read the next two or three issues to remember exactly what happens. (Wow, I just used all three forms of “to/too/two” in a sentence. Sorry, done marveling at strange grammatical occurrences.) So anyway, if you feel like reading this issue for some reason, read only the first half (fun), but skip over the second half (not so fun).

As a final note, I thought I’d mention that the reason I list next week’s issue for Flashback the week before is so that if anyone is crazy enough to want to read the issue too, they can follow the review better, and/or completely agree or argue vehemently with me. That said, the way I pick out the issues is orderly, yet random. I go in the order of Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, but I use a random number generator to pick out exactly what issue to read.

Next week: Avengers 248