Spectacular Spider-Man 224: Wow, over-thinking the revenge plans a bit there.

Credits: Written by Tom DeFalco, pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Bill Seinkeiwcz and edited by Eric Fein.

Cast: Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker, Ben ‘Scarlet’ Spider, 3Pete, Kaine, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Dr Judas Traveller & Scrier

Plot: 3Pete’s body mutates as he mentally devolves in the presence of Peter, Ben and Kaine. The four battle, 3Pete shifts his shape as he rants that he is the original and the Jackal will restore his humanity once the other three are dead.

Outside the prison, Dr Judas Traveller debates his maintaining the illusion of Peter being in prison with Scrier. Ben and Kaine battle whilst Peter gets Mary Jane to safety. Mary Jane gets Peter to go back and help battle 3Pete. Peter relents and heads back into the fray, which has now moved up to the streets from the sewers. Kaine uses an empty car to blow up a nearby propane truck which was next to 3Pete, who seems to be killed in the resulting explosion. Kaine is not, but silently leaves.

After the fight, Peter yells at Ben, accusing him of the killings Peter is in prison accused of. Ben offers an alternative, he goes to prison in Peter’s place. Since they are identical, it’s the perfect solution as Ben trusts Peter will prove his innocence, while still being there for his wife and as-yet unborn child. Under the view of Dr Traveller, Ben Reilly enters the prison, taking the place of Peter Parker.

Notes: After all the 3Pete build up, we get him becoming a shape shifting end of level boss. Huh? Really? But this leads to an action-packed part 4, the battle moves from under the city to a building site. The fight is intercut with Peter trying to get MJ home but tells him he knows the right thing to do is to go back.

This coupled with Ben’s choice to take Peter’s place in prison, so that he can be there for his family adds some emotional weight to an issue that could have been a bog-standard slug fest. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s nice when you can care about the aforementioned slugfest. Honestly though, that’s a single pro alongside a lot of cons.

Verdict

Writing: 4 out of 5 – It’s hard to write 3 characters who are supposed to be the same person at least up to a point and yet still give them their own voice and it doesn’t get much easier when that number is dropped to 2. Without 3Pete (and am so grateful that he’s out of the way) we are left with Peter and Ben they do get their own distinct sounds here. Peter sounds weary after all the recent trauma and is focused only on saving MJ. Ben’s stuff is more rage against Kaine, part of their as yet unclear history together as well as his own battle for survival, although there is a lot of common ground between them. Kaine remains a man of mystery, but this is another of MJ’s moments to shine where she tells Peter that he has to go and save Ben and stop the other 2. He doesn’t want to do it, she doesn’t want him to do it, but she knows it’s the right thing to do. It remains one of my favourite things about Spider-Man. Being Spider-Man is not a benefit to Peter. It’s cost him friends, loved ones, jobs, relationships and often forward movement in his life. He knows this, but he always answers the call. The nobility in his responsible decisions is probably one of the reasons MJ loves him. But this isn’t exclusive to Peter. It’s a show of trust in Peter that he will do the right thing by Ben. It brings both men together in a way they haven’t been, adding a positive moment to this story that only exists through the writing.

Art: 1 out of 5 – I will once again estoile the virtues of the pencils of Sal Buscema. His solid house style and great storytelling adapts to action really well and gives most issues his does great action beats and panel progression. But once again we flog the dead horse of slagging off the inks of Bill Seinkewicz. I cannot honesty think of why this team was paired. Their styles clash so much and all of the issue suffers. The colours also don’t help, giving the whole thing a dank look. But (I imagine you ask) it’s set in a sewer, well yes, it is, but the whole issue looks like that. Seinkewicz is a genius in panel design, character look and artistic style. Inking Sal Buscema’s pencils is not where he belongs, it doesn’t play to his strengths and doesn’t do any favours for Sal’s pencils either.

Overall: 5 out of 10 – A good story, let down once again by the art, or a bad issue redeemed by good writing. It’s the monthly mis-step in the middle of Clone Saga.

Next Time: …..sigh….. Spider-Man Unlimited.

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