Spider-Man 59 – Looks like Peter’s walked into a Star Trek story

Credits: Written by Howard Mackie, breakdowns by Tom Lyle, finishes by Sam DeLaRosa and edited by Danny Fingeroth

Cast: Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker, dressed as the Scarlet Spider, Dr. Judas Traveller, Jacob Raven, Connor Trevane, Scrier, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Boone, Medea, Chakra and Mr Nacht.

Plot: Spider-Man (Still dressed inexplicably as Scarlet Spider) sees the wreckage of New York that Traveller says is down to him. Peter swings over to his apartment, his only thought being his pregnant wife. Traveller gets there before him, again pointing out that Peter could prevent this all. With a snap of his fingers they are back in the present and before the cataclysm to come.

Subplot time and Jacob Raven goes to see Det. Connor Trevane, the detective who arrested Peter for the killings that Raven now realises were committed by Kaine, the evidence being on Raven’s face. Connor is taken aback by this appearance and also by Raven’s belief that Peter is innocent, despite the mountain of evidence against him.

Traveller tries to convince Peter that if he does nothing, the city will be destroyed. If he leaves with Mary Jane, then only the problems he has will cease to be. Peter asks for details and Traveller explains that his Host (Medea, Chakra, Boone and Mr Nacht) are going to sabotage a nearby Geothermal Heating Station. He however will remain there to protect MJ, so Peter has to decide to try and stop them, or do nothing and keep himself and MJ safe. As he goes to see MJ, Scrier shows up to warn Traveller that he is over-reaching himself. Traveller reacts badly to this, but Scrier doesn’t stress the point. Peter declares his love once more for MJ and apologies for his radioactive nature putting their unborn child at risk and tells her he has to go.

Peter comes across Traveller’s Host at the heating station and is able to defeat them, but that’s when it gets a bit Star Trek. A trans-spacial time vortex has opened and when it collapses in upon itself, it will cause far more damage than was planned, to the cost of millions of lives.

Scrier informs Peter and the arriving Traveller that it’s Traveller’s fault that the vortex is open and it’s trying to pull him back into it. Travellers accepts his fate and prepares to sacrifice himself. Peter saves him, getting a touch of Travellers memory in the bargain. The vortex closes, without Traveller in it and he doesn’t understand why Peter has done this and Scrier warns Peter that this isn’t over, but Peter replies that he is not so difficult to work out. Whilst Peter holds his wife, Scrier, Traveller and the Host all disappear and it’s over, at least for now.

Notes: The story starts off well, with the antagonist testing the hero by offering him an easy way out and the hero doing their usual noble sacrifice thing. It’s a good one of those with Judas Traveller struggling to understand the good person that Peter is. He is trying to understand the nature of evil, but seems just as confounded by its opposite. The Host remain as bland and uninteresting as they ever are, clearly a good idea waiting for a chance to be more interesting. Traveller again is almost fleshed out, the idea of a man studying evil is an interesting one and his testing of Peter makes sense. Heroism comes through many paths, Captain America is a great example of a man for whom heroism comes naturally, whilst others are thrust into it, Doctor Strange and Iron Man are good examples of that. Spider-Man’s thing is that the heroics aren’t easy to come to. Peter’s first instinct with his powers are to make money and elevate himself. His main source of income is to sell news pictures of himself. This shows that every heroic act is a conscious choice. He is trying to atone for a mistake which cost him dearly and so will choose to do the right thing, because he feels so responsible and this is all good stuff that fits directly into Spidey’s mileu.

Then we get a time/space vortex thing just showing up. I mean this just looks like a couple of pages of a Star Trek: the Next Generation script got mixed up in the middle of this. It just feels so incongrous.

Verdict: Writing – 2 out of 5

This isn’t really Howard Mackie’s fault, he isn’t the writer DeMatteis is and he’s left to finish off a story that he may or may not know how to resolve, but the deus ex machina ending does give us a messy ending that doesn’t really fit either the genre of the story, or the rest of the story up to now.

Art: 2 out of 5

This is not the best Tom Lyle work in this era, still better than most, but not the best. The story telling is okay and everyone’s on model, but this story lacks something.

Overall: 4 out of 10

This felt a little bit of a filler story between the double sized Web #125 and Spectacular #225 and as so doesn’t really fit with a lot of the surrounding issues. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but its harder to hide the problems when you aren’t doing anything else interesting in the comic. I am glad I read this, but only so I can move onto the next thing.

Next Time: A Green Goblin and Peter wears his own pants again.

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