Spider-Man Unlimited 8 – This is Die Hard, right? I mean I can’t be the only person who sees that.

Credits: Written by Tom Lyle, breakdowns by Ron Lim, finishes by Ton Palmer, Al Milgrom, Harry Candelario and Scott Hanna with Danny Fingeroth editing.

Cast: Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker, Ben ‘Scarlet Spider’ Reilly, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Rich Gannon, Lt Dan Carrr, Ken Ellis andTerror Unlimited.

Plot: Mary Jane meets her friend Carly for lunch estolling the new virtues of her husband Peter, they are faced with the restaurant they are in (at the World Trade Centre) being taken over by men wearing golden coloured power armour.

Elsewhere, Ben Reilly meets Rich Gannon, who he first met being attacked in Spider-Man Unlimited 7 who has got his life a bit more on track again and Ben caring what happened to him, helped with that.Rich then goes to the South Side Mission to volunteer. Later on Ben reads in the paper about the untimely death of Doctor Octopus and this upset inspires him to go webslinging, looking for trouble.

Peter Parker gets home and crashes on the bed, a note left for him tells him where she is. Where she is, now has become a crime scene, headed by Lt Dan Carr. He is negotiating with the armoured men, who identify themselves as Terror Unlimited. To show that they mean business, they fire a rocket out of the twin towers and into the South Side Mission. At the Daily Bugle, city editor Robbie Robertson has assigned Ben Urich to the twin towers terrorist incident, but up and comer Ken Ellis sneaks in to get the destruction of the South Side Mission story.

At the towers, Terror Unlimited decide to split between the two buildings, but an over zealous security guard takes a shot at one of the amoured group, killing one of them and depriving the group of their detonators. The guard is thrown out the window to his death in response.

At South Side Mission, Scarlet Spider finds the dead body of Rich Gannon, he also finds a survivor and asks the surivors what happened and they direct him to the World Trade Centre. Ken Ellis arrives as Scarlet Spider leaves and interviews the survivors. Inside the restaurant, one of the hostages is killed for asking to use the bathroom and Terror Unlimited’s leader kills the one who did it when challenged over the incident by Mary Jane. Mary Jane sees someone scaling the next tower and assumes it’s Peter, but it’s Ben, Peter is still at home getting a shower. The news on the radio brings him up to speed and he too heads to the towers.

Terror Unlimited fire at a police helicopter after getting the detonators from their fallen comrade, the helicopter falls from the sky, but is saved by Spider-Man (weirdly this was repeated in a promo for the 2002 Spider-Man film, but was canned after the tragic events of 11 Sept. 2001) but a tracer on one of the armoured goons keeps him in the game as he chooses to save lives over going straight for the bad guys. Spider-Man speaks with Dan Carr, who informs Spider-Man that Terror Unlimited are nuclear-capable, or at least claim to be.

Inside Scarlet Spider finds the drones with the payload and takes them out with little difficulty. As that happens, Ken Ellis sneaks into one of the towers, making his way to the hostages and he begins speaking with one of Terror Unlimited. Spider-Man takes advantage of this distraction and with Mary-Jane’s help, gets the hostages out.

At the other tower, Scarlet Spider takes one of the TU drones outside and after delivering a mid- air beating hands him over to Carr, whilst to save Ellis’ life in the first tower, Spider-Man beats up the leader of Terror Unlmited. With these final bad-guys dealt with, both Spider-people explain that they are there simply because they care to Ellis and Carr before swinging away in different directions , both unaware of the other’s presence.

Notes: There are two very important things about this comic and it’s themes that I need to address straight away. One is that this is another Spider-Man story involving a hostage crisis in the World Trade Centre in New York (the other was the X-Force/Spider-Man crossover Sabotage), this time it’s a lot more terrorism themed. Within 7 years, these twin towers would be destroyed by an actual act of terrorism in the real world and it’s hard when that is trivialised in this manner. It’s not this comic’s fault though, written as it was 7 years before that day and I have done my best to view it as a product of it’s time.

The second thing is that this is Die Hard, no seriously it is. Terrorists have taken over a large skyscraper in a major US city, the main goal of this terror is financial and the only one who can save the day is a guy who fights crime, but shouldn’t be at that place, all alone. That’s the plot of that film, multiply it by two and add Spider-powers and that’s what this is. I found that more jarring, than anything else.

Got that out of the way, now I see that this is a cleverly put together story. Spider-Man has someone from Scarlet Spider’s supporting cast to talk to and Scarlet Spider has one of the NYPD to speak to, much more Spider-Man’s thing. The pair deal with the bad guys in a parallel manner and then go home which makes a bit of lacklustre story into something a bit more interesting. But I suppose that’s the problem here, a bit more interesting isn’t really cutting it compared to the rest of the Spider-Man stuff of this era, the conflicts aren’t very interesting, there’s little in the way of stakes and so the whole thing has a sort of inconsequential feel to it. This is the era of multiple titles per character and as a result a lot of these comics are no more than filler as the parts of the overall narrative that matter are in the core books and these ancillary books are a cash grab and that’s what this feels like. I had real problems getting through this comic and writing about it was something of a chore, not something that should be felt when reading a comic from an era you love and a character you care for.

Art – 2 out of 5: Ron Lim is a good artist, he has a good line, very good fundamental grasp of story-telling and his character design is usually more than a little interesting. His layouts here are fair and tell the story well enough, but a handful of inkers giving the title it’s finishes take away from the good work that Lim can do and make this at best a middling level of art, not bad, but not memorable either.

Writing: 2 out of 5: There’s only so much that any artist can do with a lacklustre story idea and this is no different Lyle does his best, but with little stakes and no real reason to invest emotionally, this is a couple of half decent fight scenes that elevate a story that isn’t even that good.

Overall 4 out of 10: This comic was guilty of the worst crime a comic can be guilty of, it was boring. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad, it was just meh. The idea of the heroes battling the bad guys and not ever seeing each other was a good one, but in all honesty, it’s an idea seeking a better story. It is the definititon of skippable and that is something of a shame.

Next time: Back to the Age of Apocalypse and we catch up with the X-Men

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