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Flashback: Review of Amazing Spider-Man 284 (January 1987) September 2, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews, Flashback.
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Picture this: a six-part Spider-Man saga, involving a Green-Goblin inspired villain, whose identity remains a mystery, a group of villains led by a mastermind, a close friend of Peter acting mysteriously, two rivals vying for one of the most powerful positions in NYC, throw in some troubles that Peter is having with a new publisher at the Bugle and add in the fact that Peter is currently not married to Mary Jane, and what do you get? Well, it’s certainly not the current “New Ways to Die” storyline, if that’s what you’re thinking. No, this describes 1987’s lesser known (unfortunately) “Gang War.”

In this instance, the goblin villain is the original Hobgoblin, his identity was just as much a mystery as the original Green Goblin’s was, and as much as the current Menace’s is. (One of these days, they’ve gotta create a new Goblin and tell us who he or she is right off the bat.) The funny thing is, all three of the major contenders for this role (included who it actually turned out to be) appear in this issue, all acting suspiciously (namely, Ned Leeds, Flash Thompson, and Roderick Kingsley – and if you don’t know who it turned out to be, you better do some research, because it is actually a fairly complicated story.)

As for the power fight, it is not a mayoral election, rather a war between gang-lords to fill the recently vacated seat of the Kingpin. While Hammerhead and Silvermane make a play for it, the two biggest contenders are the Arranger (who was left in charge by the Kingpin at his departure) and the Rose (whose identity remained a secret at this time, but when revealed, not only fit the story perfectly, but showed that he had as much a claim to the Kingpin’s “throne” as the Arranger did).

The entire saga relayed the power struggles of the various groups, the resulting violence in NYC, and the reactions of Spider-Man and other heroes to this power-grab. I don’t know if this was ever released in TPB (I doubt it), but despite not being legendary, it was an extremely great read. ASM 284 is the first part, and it runs through 289. If you ever get the chance to read these issues, I highly recommend it. I my eyes, this is one of the best “unremembered” Spider-Sagas.

Next week: Fantastic Four 157



Flashback: Review of Fantastic Four 378 (July 1993) May 26, 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.

As mentioned here, welcome to the first round of Flashback! Though this was my first time reading the issue, I am somewhat familiar with what was going at this point in history. Johnny had recently accidentally burned much of Empire State University in a fight with villains (if I recall, this is one of several instances in Marvel history where something similar to the SHRA was almost introduced) and is currently on trial for his actions. This issue also has guest stars galore, including Spider-Man (who was going through Maximum Carnage), Silver Sable (where has she been anyway, anyone know the last time she popped up?), Sandman (back when he was good and worked for Silver Sable), Daredevil, and the Avengers.

This issue opens in the middle of an intense fight between the FF (along with Lyja, who apparently is pregnant with Johnny’s baby. I knew that they were once married, but I never realized that she got pregnant. I’m assuming that she went the way of MJ and had a miscarriage?) and a group of villains (I’m assuming the current incarnation of the Frightful Four, as the only villain I recognized was Klaw) taking place in the middle of the court room. The issue evolves as the battle moves from the court to the city streets, and the majority of the story is devoted to it as the fight becomes more intense and life-threatening. Spider-Man and Daredevil (who were present in the court room as their alter egos) quickly join the fight, and finally when it looks like our heroes may be defeated, the Avengers arrive. The Avengers at this time consisted of Vision, Crystal (the only two I recognized), Thunderstrike (who looked a lot like Thor, not sure if Thor changed his name or if he was a copycat), Sersi, and Black Knight. Upon their arrival, the Frightful Four realize they are extremely out numbered and one of their members opens an extradimensional portal to ensure their escape. The last thing we see is that Ben’s former girlfriend Sharon Ventura, then going by the moniker Ms. Marvel (I’m assuming Carol was Warbird at this time), is captured by agents of Dr. Doom (who was supposedly dead at this time, so I’m assuming this was the shocking reveal of “he’s still alive”) and is transformed into a hideous monster, which is the cliffhanger of the issue. I’m also assuming that this was the beginning of her transformation into “She-Thing,” but I could be wrong. (Lots of assumptions on my part.)

Overall I get mixed feelings from the issue. The fight scene was a lot of fun, and the art was very well done. Luckily, it was early enough in the nineties that the art was not yet bleeding with color and over-the-top indistinct action. Likewise, I loved all the guest appearances, it almost felt more like “Marvel Team-Up” than Fantastic Four. However, most of the dialogue in the thought bubbles was cheesy and narrative and sometimes downright childish. Had I read this when it came out, I probably would have loved it (given, I was about a year away from learning how to read when this came out, so I couldn’t really have done this), but since I’m not five years old, the dialogue just didn’t entertain. So if want to read an issue that took place in a somewhat important time in Marvel history, that had several fun guest appearances, a good fight scene, and a rare example of enjoyable nineties art, take a look at this, just try your best to bear with the dialogue.

Next week: Amazing Spider-Man 340