Amazing Spider-Man #315
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #315
First thing is that i neglected to mention that for some reason Marvel has been tagging Spider-Man as "The Non-Mutant Super-Hero!" since issue #312, with obtrusive trademark symbols making the box extra weird. But the main thing is that just totally irreverent snark from Venom. So weird and so not something that goes on a cover. I think it's funny, but it marks the coming of a very different tone, and it's interesting to see stuff like this during the otherwise very reverential Tom DeFalco/Mark Gruenwald period (e.g., this issue would have sat on shelves alongside Ron Frenz homages to Jack Kirby).
Inside, Venom's portion of the story is about him escaping from the Vault...
...and making his way back to New York city for a rematch with Spider-Man. He laments killing that guard, but "sacrifices have to be made".
Meanwhile, Venom turns out to be correct, and Hydroman doesn't come close to winning his fight with Spider-Man, which begins with no set-up.
I've just read Jim Shooter's editorial criticism of a random fill-in issue of Captain America (Captain America #240; see JSFan's comment), and one of the repeated critiques was that the artist didn't put in any establishing shots when switching from scene to scene. And with that on my mind, i'll point out that in the sequence above, when that word balloon saying "Hey Spider-Man! He's slippin' down that storm drain!" appears, there is absolutely no indication who is talking, and it's only at the bottom corner of the panel on the next page that we can barely see that Spider-Man was fighting in front of a crowd.
Very odd storytelling. And really it's more on David Michelinie's side; he didn't have to put in that word balloon, or it could have just been "Oh, no, he's getting away!".
Another scene where the art and script seem to be fighting each other is when Spider-Man returns to the makeshift dark room that he's set up in Aunt May's boarding house (at least as much for privacy and secret identity preservation as for actual use). Why is Peter so sad?
That's basically it for action this issue. The rest of the issue is Peter discovering that Nate Lubenski has been stealing from Aunt May to pay off gambling debts...
...weirdly agreeing to keep it a secret from May...
..and helping to fend off some mob collectors (which i guess does count as action).
Despite his close calls, Nate continues to gamble.
I'd been enjoying the Peter/MJ relationship in David Michelinie as well as the run through Spidey's rogue gallery, and even enjoying Todd McFarlane's art for its splashy coolness despite the lack of storytelling and overall sparseness. But this issue is especially content-lite. The fight with Hydroman is clear filler and the big mess of everyone (including MJ's cousin Kristy) living at Aunt May's house is annoying, and the amount of forward development (Venom escapes and a reminder that Nate has a gambling problem) is worth about two pages, not an entire issue.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 271,100. Single issue closest to filing date = 251,000.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Hydroman's appearance here and the Thing's pineapple shaped appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #317 have to take place before Fantastic Four #326-328.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Spider-Man Legends vol. 3: Todd McFarlane Book 3 TPB
Inbound References (7): show
Yes! Venom is back and he's the best villain ever next to Carnage!
Anyway isn't it pretty common to have word balloons on the cover? "If I do not re-take my hammer I shall become mortal Donald Blake in five seconds and I will be easy pickings for the Executioner!"
Or is it just the snark itself? Well it fits for Venom one thing I do like is his sense of humor.
I really Hydro-Man and prefer he looks more like a beach jerk than a thick muscle type.
Posted by: david banes | September 19, 2014 5:33 PM
Yeah, it's not the existence of the word balloons, it's the kind of breaking of the fourth wall and making fun of the main villain of the story on the cover that i find unusual.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 19, 2014 6:12 PM
I'm starting to wonder if there was some sort of factor of the tongue and cheekness of DeFalco's direction at this point considering how the 4th wall was starting to break down so rapidly in '89, from Mannikin's little breakdown in Alpha Flight to Venom on this cover to ultimately the start of Shulkie opening the door in Sentational (and that's before a certain Merc with a Mouth blows the door from ever being repaired in a couple more years) The fact its happening all now doesn't just seem coincidence.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 19, 2014 7:46 PM
Deadpool's fourth-wall breaking didn't really start until after DeFalco was fired as Editor-In-Chief in 1994, though. You're right about the others.
Posted by: Michael | September 20, 2014 10:01 AM
Wasn't saying anything particular about Deadpool. I was just making jokes about how Deadpool sort of was the standard-bearer but he isn't around yet and yet here in '89 we have all these other examples, particularly and most notably Sensational Shulkie starting this year.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 20, 2014 10:16 AM
A letter to Alpha Flight reacting to AF #66 reminded me that the television show Moonlighting was breaking the fourth wall a lot, which is why the device may have been popping up elsewhere. It was also happening in Grant Morrison's Animal Man around this time.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 20, 2014 11:42 AM
A few years down the line, the father of the guard Venom kills at the beginning of this issue would fund the creation of The Jury. Whether that effects the historical significance or not is up to you, though.
Posted by: MegaSpiderMan | October 9, 2014 10:04 PM
I think that'll just be a Reference when we get there, but thanks MegaSpiderMan.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 9, 2014 10:14 PM
A few early reports of Inferno stated that Venom would appear in that, but evidently his reappearance got pushed back to here.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 16, 2015 5:17 PM
Comments are now closed.
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