There are three stories here, so will go through them individually, the whole comic was edited by Danny Fingeroth.
1st Story: Second Rate Chances
Credits: Written by Tom Lyle, pencils by Ron Lim & Phil Gosier, and Tom Palmer on inks and finishes.
Cast: Ben ‘Scarlet Spider’ Reilly, Rich Gannon and assorted thugs and bystanders.
Plot: Ben Reilly is eating Chinese in between Web of Spider-Man 119 and Spider-Man 52 and sees a cheque cashing place being robbed. He dons his mask and foils the robbery in true ‘not quite the real Spider-Man’ style. Elsewhere, down on his luck Rich Gannon finds a $5 bill, but realises that he is as invisible as he ever is. Ben visits May in hospital, ruminating over his counterfeit nature, but flees when Peter arrives. Closer to his new place, Ben is oblivious to local thugs running drug deals on the corner and Rich’s need to find work. The thugs start hassling Rich, to keep him away from their drug dealing corner. Ben eventually steps in to help get Rich out of there, but has to beat a hasty retreat, to avoid getting in any trouble wearing Peter Parker’s face. Another bystander tries to intervene, but doesn’t get away so easily. Once home, Ben gets into his Scarlet Spider costume and heads back to deliver a comprehensive beat down to the thugs. The good Samaritan helps Rich up and apropos of nothing, offers him a job. Later Ben broods on the side of building, starting to believe that he may deserve a second chance.
Notes: As writers go, Tom Lyle is a good penciller. Unlimited was an ancillary title, running alongside the main books and was often less than vital to the main narrative, offering smaller stories and a showcase for up and coming talent. With that in mind, it wasn’t really a comic I was expecting very much from. With such a low bar, it would be hard to disappoint.
And yet it did. Bad dialogue, woeful art and a resolution for the homeless guy that was both ludicrous and to be honest a little preachy. But primarily it was the worst thing that a story could be…it was boring.
Writing: A trite and uneven plot coupled with obnoxiously bad dialogue made this damn near unreadable. 1/5
Art: A misfire for the usually reliable Ron Lim, before the second half wasted that goodwill 1/5
Overall: Not much more to say really. 2/10
I hope the second story is a little better than this, though worse would be tricky.
2nd Story: A Conflict of Interest
Credits: Written by Tom Breevort and Mike Kanterovich, penciled by Bob McLeod and inks by Randy Eberlin.
Cast: Eli ‘Cardiac’ Wertham, Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker, James Kapoztas and his secretary.
Plot: The cyborg vigilante Cardiac has targeted James Kapoztas, whose corporate negligence has resulted in the deaths of several drivers but he himself has not been held liable for and has got away scot free. Cardiac bursts into his office and attacks, the resulting battle injuring several security guards. He’s about to finish his mission when Spider-Man arrives, hearing of Cardiac’s flying rig being seen nearby. The costumed pair battle as Kapoztas flees, but he suffers a major heart attack. Spider-Man finds him and tries to help, it’s clear he needs a hospital and Spider-Man gets him there. Cardiac uses this opportunity to escape and makes it to his office in his civilian identity as cardio thoracic surgeon Eli Wertham, who works at the same hospital that Spider-Man and the critically ill James Kapoztas have just arrived at. Cardiac finds himself in the position of having to save the man he had just been trying to murder. The surgery goes well. As Cardiac he flies by the hospital window, gazing on his work both good and bad and Spider-Man catches up with him and the battle resumes. During the fight, Kapoztas codes and the other doctors try in vain to restart his heart. Cardiac escapes again and Spider-Man learns that he has failed to save James and heads out to bring Cardiac to justice, while Eli Wertham wonders how hard he really tried to save his patient and what all that means.
Notes: This story felt like listening to the Sugababes/Girls Aloud cover of Rum Dmc/Aerosmith’s ‘Walk this Way’. I read this and am sort of reminded of a version of this story that was so much better than this. In this story’s case, I don’t know where that story is. OR even if it exists. There’s good stuff in here, the vigilante vendetta juxtaposed against the Hippocratic oath adds a layer to pathos and complexity to a quite frankly forgettable character like Cardiac, but with hackneyed dialogue and art that only lends itself to the comment of ‘well the lighting’s good’ leaves me looking at a story that seems well conceived, but ultimately the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
Writing: Good idea, but like I said, poorly executed. 2/5
Art: Good colouring let down by inks that overpower Bob McLeod, who is either having a bad day or is really badly inked. 1/5
Overall: A somewhat underwhelming story that left me feeling cold and even less keen on the Unlimited format. 3/10
3rd Story: To Protect and Serve.
Credits: Written by Seve Vrattos, pencils by Phil Gosier and inks by Keith Williams.
Cast: Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Spider-Man and Boomerang.
Plot: Mary Jane has been ditched on date night by her husband Peter, so he can as Spider-Man deal with the hostage crisis/rampage of D-list villain Boomerang. Dejected and more than a little pissed off, Mary Jane reads a conveniently placed magazine with a feature on how it feels to be the wife of a police officer. The words of the article is the shown opposite the battle between Spider-Man and Boomerang as shown by the news footage. There’s a bit of a scare for MJ at the end and when Peter returns home, she is grateful he is home safe.
Notes: I am going to completely by-pass the crass false equivalence between cops and super-heroes and take this story at face value, otherwise we will be here all night.
The bad, lets get it out of the way, the art is awful. There’s no getting away from that. No one looks on model at all, nor are they particularly consistent panel to panel. If there’s any good, we will have to go to the writing. Remember, I did say if. The dual narrative is effective and conveys the idea of she who waits well enough. Quite well, considering the lack of room which the writer has to work with. The main problem I have with it, is how inconsequential it all seemed. It didn’t connect to the current story-line or related themes and could quite easily be told anywhere at any time. It is filler in a rather bland comic to begin with.
Art: Terrible, there’s no other way to call it. 1/5
Writing: A good idea that sort of lacks in the final product. 2/5
Overall: A bit of an arduous read. 3/10
I am going to have to look at how vital the Unlimited issues are to the Clone Saga, before I subject myself or this blog to another one.
Next Time: Back to the Age of Apocalypse, were we catch up with the Summers Brothers.