Characters Appearing: Aunt May, Bernard Scudder, Bomblast, Evan Swann, Firearm, Mary Jane Watson, Mary Parker Duplicate, Nick Katzenberg, Nova (Rich Rider), Orwell Taylor, Ramshot, Richard Parker Duplicate, Screech, Sentry (Jury), Spider-Man
Amazing Spider-Man #383-385
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #383, Amazing Spider-Man #384, Amazing Spider-Man #385
But at least you're in better shape than Nova.
Poor guy. I bet that happens all too often.
Anyway, the people detecting Nova are the Jury, who are really looking for Spider-Man. After failing to "render a verdict" against Venom, they are now going after Spider-Man. That's the sort of cold hard logic that puts you in the "maniac" category as far as i'm concerned. One member of the Jury, Ramshot, is having similar doubts.
Spider-Man is aware that surveillance equipment has been set up all over the city, and he's paranoid enough to (correctly) assume that he's the target. But he's not on solid legal ground when it comes to confronting the people setting it up.
That sort of thing seems to happen a lot to poor old Spidey, which is i guess why we see him beating an immediate retreat. He's on familiar ground.
But he later decides to lure out whoever is tracking him. So he goes and triggers one of the tracking devices. But he doesn't have a plan (and also decided to not get help from the likes of the FF) and he winds up basically in the same scenario as if he were ambushed.
Gee, Spidey, too bad you didn't get your powers from a creature known for setting traps and luring in prey. Couldn't you at least have strung a few webs around?
Spidey is caught and brought to the Jury's base for "trial".
Issue #384's cover says, "Maximum Carnage fans: you must not miss this issue!". But, Maximum Carnage fans, i will tell you a secret: it's ok to skip this issue. It has nothing to do with Maximum Carnage. There are admittedly a few flashback panels depicting some scenes from Maximum Carnage, but they don't add anything new and you can live without them.
Despite #384 being padded with flashbacks (mostly) outlining the history of Venom, there isn't much of a trial to speak of. Which i was a little disappointed by, because i had a whole defense prepared for Spidey where he puts all the blame on Reed Richards (who wasn't concerned about the Symbiote costume when he saw it in Secret Wars, and who took the responsibility for containing it after it was determined to be alive). But Spidey is basically flooded with drugs and we get a lot of flashbacks, and then Spider-Man himself decides that he's guilty.
Ramshot protests that despite Spider-Man's "guilt", the Jury has no right to kill him. Ranshot is grounded for his disloyalty, but Orwell Taylor agrees to let Spider-Man live if he'll help the rest of the Jury steal a gun that can kill Venom. It's actually half a teleporter, but at the moment the government research center has only figured out how to take apart a target's molecules, not put them back together, so it's effectively a disintegrator.
In his addled state, Spider-Man agrees to help the Jury even though it goes against his No Killing code. And he's pretty effective in infiltrating the research center.
But his head clears when they make it to the gun and he realizes he doesn't want to aid the Jury in killing anyone, even Venom.
I like the idea of distinguishing between "guilt" and "responsibility". The two often get muddled in Spider-Man books (which is understandable, since Peter's lack of responsibility lead to his uncle's death, hence guilt).
It also turns out that Taylor never intended to kill Spider-Man; this was all a ruse to trick Spidey into helping them get the gun. Taylor kept that detail from the Jury in an effort to circumvent Spider-Man's spider-sense.
Spidey manages to damage the gun, which short-circuits one of the Jury's armor. And with Ramshot grounded, there are only three members of the Jury left, so he's able to beat them.
He leaves them for the research center's guards to deal with. When he returns to the building that Taylor and the Jury's support crew were operating out of, it's empty.
At the end of this story, Peter takes Mary Jane to see Nick Katzenberg, who is at the hospital. It turns out that he is dying from lung cancer, and this is an effort to scare MJ straight.
MJ is angry at first, but it works.
Also in these issues, Aunt May continues to be suspicious of Peter's "parents". She confides in MJ that she and Ben had a "secret ceremony" six months before their public wedding, and only Peter's parents-to-be knew about it. It was the fact that they didn't know about the secret wedding that caused May to become suspicious. MJ says she's sure there's a reasonable explanation, and May asks her not to tell Peter about it. May also harangues her private detective, Bernard Scudder, because he hasn't found any evidence of anything suspicious.
I like Mark Bagley! I can't say i'm super-excited by the Jury, but i guess they're a change of pace. I wish more was actually done with the (ludicrous, in my opinion) idea that he's responsible for Venom, either to actually make that case (i.e. was he irresponsible in bringing the suit back from Secret Wars, and are heroes at all responsible for villains that become obsessed with them?), or to make it clearer that Taylor and company are out of control vigilantes, and nuts. I'm glad to see Mary Jane's smoking subplot conclude (it was dumb and should have never started in the first place). One thing that really brings me down is anything relating to Peter's parents. I'm not interested to begin with, and it just doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Nova's costume is not the new one that he gets in New Warriors #42 (with the red arm bands) so this should take place prior to New Warriors #40-42. MJ quits smoking at the end of this arc. Nick Katzenberg is attempting to reach Peter Parker to coordinate this visit in Web of Spider-Man #108, so that takes place before this.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I remember picking up these issues in my old school's library and being impressed by Mark Bagley's art. He was the artist for Ultimate Spider-Man at that time, and I thought it was odd how different he drew Spider-Man there (skinny but muscular). Years later I found the Brazilian issue printing this story in a store for old books and bought it, back when I made an effort to collect comic books.
Posted by: Enchlore | March 8, 2017 6:21 PM
Yes, quitting smoking is as easy as simply throwing away the cigarettes, one encounter with a lung cancer patient and MJ is off the death sticks.
Tempted to make a Trouble joke about the May/Ben/Richard/Mary revelation...
Posted by: Morgan Wick | March 8, 2017 6:30 PM
It seems that MJ's desire to quit finally outweighed her desire to keep smoking. When that happens it really is that easy to just quit. I think we can give Michelinie a pass for not depicting a week or so of headaches,irritability,and sleep disturbances.Sometimes the neat bow that comics ties problems off with is an advantage.
Posted by: Mizark | March 8, 2017 7:18 PM
@Mizark- but this is a pattern with Michelinie. The ending of Demon in a Bottle was also too quick and easy.
Posted by: Michael | March 8, 2017 8:23 PM
Posted by: Mizark | March 9, 2017 12:14 PM
I find it interesting that Orwell Taylor tried to manipulate Spider-Man the way he did by making Spidey think Taylor held him responsible for Venom. The fact that it was all a ruse to get Spider-Man's help and Taylor didn't intend to kill him at all shows that Taylor actually doesn't hold Spidey at least completely responsible for Venom. So while Taylor acts maniacal in his efforts to kill Venom, that doesn't include Spider-Man, so he's not completely insane.
Posted by: mikrolik | March 9, 2017 1:51 PM
Note that Peter flashes back to the fight with the Hulk in the last story- another reason why that story can't be a dream no matter what PAD thinks.
Posted by: Michael | March 9, 2017 7:35 PM
FNORD - I'm not sure if you saw this -
HDSteckley wrote this in the "thread of shame" -
"Amazing Spider-Man #383 needs to be pushed back before Nova receives a (slightly) new costume with red bits in New Warriors #42."
Posted by: clyde | March 22, 2017 9:03 PM
It was already done and the Considerations were updated to reflect it.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 22, 2017 10:27 PM
Comments have been disabled for the summer while i'm not around to moderate.
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