Amazing Spider-Man #326
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #326
This issue is the first of Spider-Man's Acts of Vengeance issues. Spidey's Acts of Vengeance contribution is unusual, but this first issue goes exactly how the villains probably expected the whole thing would go.
But first we're introduced to Flash Thompson's current girlfriend Sambouka and see that Jonathan Caesar is still harassing Mary Jane by sending caterers to the housewarming party she and Peter were throwing. MJ does her best to not let Caesar get to her. And Flash, despite his current girlfriend's objections, has decided to become a professional boxer.
Additionally, we check in on Aunt May, who has asked all of her other boarders to leave so that Nate Lubenski, who is dying from a heart condition, can live out his days in peace. Despite the big haired pseudo-McFarlane art, Doran does manage to get a lot of panels in per page allowing us to cover a lot of supporting characters. There's also a touchpoint on Puma's takeover of the Daily Bugle.
But the big news is that Graviton has been contacted by the Kingpin to attack Spider-Man.
Peter is working as a lab assistant for his new boss, a Dr. Lubisch (who will be indirectly important to Spider-Man's future Acts of Vengeance issues) when he sees a building floating up above the skyline. For once it's not the Fantastic Four's building; it's the Daily Bugle.
It's worth noting that Graviton knows to find Spider-Man by attacking the Daily Bugle, and this won't be the last time this happens during Acts of Vengeance. It does make you wonder if Peter Parker's secret identity is worth a hill of beans.
In any event, it definitely does get Spider-Man's attention.
That "gravy train" joke throws me for a loop. I assumed Graviton's name is pronounced like "gravity" minus the "y" and plus an "un". Which sounds nothing like "gravy train". In fact, i can't figure out a sensible pronunciation of "Graviton" that sounds remotely like "gravy train".
What i do know is that Graviton is extremely powerful. Like, "fights all the Avengers on his own" powerful. So he should trounce Spider-Man. And, despite what could have been a cheap plot serving bit of help from Nick Katzenberg, he does.
It's only because Graviton is nutty and arrogant that Spider-Man isn't simply killed. This is a pure loss for Spidey.
The good news for him is that when he drags himself home he finds out that Mary Jane got the part on the soap opera that she auditioned for.
This isn't a great issue by any stretch, but it's nice to see the basic conceit of Acts of Vengeance actually working. It would have been even cooler if Graviton had managed to injure Spider-Man so that he was removed from the crossover for the duration, making it seem like the villains were really having some success. But we'll actually go entirely in the other direction beginning with Spider-Man's next appearance.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Spider-Man's chronology early into Acts of Vengeance is a little confused. In this issue Kingpin has hired Graviton. But we'll see Kingpin get recruited into the Acts of Vengeance villain cabal in Spectacular Spider-Man #158, where it's said that the Trapster's attack on Spider-Man was the other cabal villains' way of enticing Kingpin into the group. But Trapster tells Spider-Man that he's the second villain to attack Spidey thanks to the Acts of Vengeance experience, with Graviton being the first. And Spidey gets his Captain Universe powers during the Trapster issue. So this must take place first. Maybe the Kingpin joined the cabal and then had second thoughts and had to be enticed back? Maybe Loki even had to mind-wipe him? Beyond all that, i want this issue to be relatively early in Acts of Vengeance chronology. In Avengers #311, Quasar is told that lots of super-heroes are already being attacked by random villains. I think the high profile raising of the Daily Bugle would be a good way to make the Avengers support staff aware of that.
Crossover: Acts of Vengeance
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
FNORD - when you say "It does make you wonder if Peter Parker's secret identity is worth a hill of beans." I would have to disagree. Everyone knows that Spider-Man has a "relationship" with Peter Parker in regards to pictures being taken. So, the easiest way to get Spider-Man to come to you is to threaten Peter. And since Peter works at the Daily Bugle, that's where most people would start. Of course, most people might take him hostage in the Daily Bugle building hoping to trap Peter Parker. However, this is "gravy train". It's beneath him to initiate contact that way. He can just raise the Bugle building and have the hostage come to him.
Posted by: clyde | March 24, 2015 4:25 PM
But that's why i say the secret ID isn't worth anything. The point of a secret ID is to protect the innocent people you associate with from super-villain attacks. That's obviously not working. Everybody at the Bugle was put at risk because of Parker's "association" with Spider-Man.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 24, 2015 4:31 PM
One of the letter writers complained that Colleen Doran's men were too feminine in appearance. I remember that Coleen Doran said (not referring to that particular letter) she heard that criticism a lot and she considered it sexist.
Posted by: Michael | March 24, 2015 8:18 PM
Coleen really isn't suited for superhero books. Or at least she wasn't at this time. Some of this is "Marvel Try-Out Book" caliber.
Posted by: Robert | March 24, 2015 8:32 PM
Colleen tends to have trouble taking any criticism of her work--when she was doing "A Distant Soil", one of the frequent criticisms was that she'd give characters hair so long that it'd drag on the floor and pick up dust and crap. She's had issues with some publishers as well(not just Dave Sim).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 25, 2015 10:54 AM
I remember buying this issue on a whim when I was in junior high school, and I came away from it cold, due to Doran's art (yes, I'm a McFarlane fan, true blue and all). I didn't like Erik Larsen's work, when he took over for McFarlane (who got a break in the biz, courtesy of Ann Nocenti), so the idea of not liking an artist because they're female isn't written in stone and is quite asinine. I like Amanda Conner's work. So there.
Posted by: Roy | November 25, 2015 3:00 AM
The Acts of Vengeance omnibus (and I'd imagine the recent trade of the Cosmic Spider-Man storyline) concurs with your placing of this.
Posted by: AF | April 7, 2016 3:57 PM
Nice to see Jonah genuinely worried and outraged over 'his people's safety even if he doesn't own the Bugle anymore.
And you bet Graviton would have murdered a whole lot of people in that building instead of sparing their lives had THAT major crossover happened today.
Posted by: OverMaster | June 19, 2017 9:45 PM
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