Untold Tales of Spider-Man #20-22
Issue(s): Untold Tales of Spider-Man #20, Untold Tales of Spider-Man #21, Untold Tales of Spider-Man #22
Review/plot: A good use of the Vulture in issue #20, which takes place during the time period where Aunt May is ill. As we saw in Amazing Spider-Man #18 the Vulture was shown saying "How could the Green Goblin beat [Spidey-Man] when I, the Vulture, couldn't?" We see an expansion of that scene in this issue, and we also learn how he got out of jail. He was freed from prison by a mobster named Nicholas Lewis so that he could be a hitman.
The Vulture comes across Jason who is contemplating suicide over Sally's death. The Vulture tells him to fill his life with something. If he's got nothing else, use hatred. It works and Jason focuses on Spider-Man. This is an opposite usage of Vulture than we will see in Daredevil #225, where Vulture tries to encourage someone contemplating suicide, which feels like a better role for him, but this was interesting.
The Vulture's target is the Kingpin.
Spidey runs into the Vulture and talks him out of being a hitman, and the Vulture turns himself in.
It's a very good and very different type of superhero story. It will be a long time until the Vulture's next appearance, where we'll see him on his deathbed in prison, and only the idea of an impostor taking over his identity gets him back into crime.
Issue #21 does a better job of playing with the discrimination themes from the X-Men than most actual X-Men comics, classic and modern. Peter and Liz Allan bump into each other in the city and go to the Coffee-A-Go-Go, the X-Men's favorite hang out.
The X-Men are there too.
While they are all there, people are reading about the mutant menace. Then there is a commotion due to a nearby robbery by 'mutants'. Both the X-Men and Peter sneak off.
Spidey shows up a few minutes later and initially thinks that the X-Men are the mutant menace in question, but in a nice touch, instead of the standard fight scene, they talk it through...
...and then Team-Up to fight Menace, who turns out to be a guy in a battle suit with some robots who was just exploiting mutant fears.
There were in fact a group of "Menaces" who attack stores in quick succession to make it appear that 'he' can teleport, but when the X-Men invite Spider-Man to join them in going after the others, he refuses because Aunt May is still sick. The X-Men take it to mean he's not comfortable working with mutants.
The Beast's 'eloquent' dialogue matches his early X-Men appearances exactly. I'll let you decide if that's a good thing or not.
Very good issue overall.
In issue #22, trying to get pictures of the Scarecrow to pay for Aunt May's medical expenses but still avoiding fights, Spider-Man flees when the Scarecrow sees him, furthering Spidey's reputation as a coward.
The Green Goblin offers the Scarecrow a place in his crime empire but Scarecrow refuses.
Both are full of themselves for having "defeated" Spider-Man. Later, after May has recovered, Spidey returns and defeats the Scarecrow. The coup de grace is when Spidey tricks the Scarecrow into opening one of his web cartridges.
Meanwhile, Jason is taking up the Vulture's advice and has stolen Flash's Spidey costume (it's not yet revealed that Jason is the thief).
Scarecrow makes a much better Spidey villain than Iron Man. He's really not in IM's league.
This is a good issue but dragged down somewhat by Defalco's awkward scripting.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: According to the continuity chart in UTOS #25, these issues takes place during ASM #18. Aunt May is ill in issue #21, still recovering from her surgery in issues #22-23. The Beast and Iceman have been to the Coffee-A-Go-Go before, but the other X-Men haven't, placing this soon after UX #7. Professor X is also away, having left at the end of issue #7. Flash has a black eye from when he got beat up by thugs while he was dressed as Spider-Man.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAngel, Aunt May, Aunt Watson, Beast, Bernard the Poet, Betty Brant, Cyclops, Flash Thompson, Flint, Green Goblin (Norman Osborn), Iceman, J. Jonah Jameson, Jason Ionello, Jean Grey, Kingpin, Liz Allan, Scarecrow, Spider-Man, Tiny McKeever, Vulture, Zelda
I believe this is another appearance for Bernard the Poet! Does Zelda actually make an appearance or is she only mentioned?
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | November 18, 2013 3:34 PM
I double checked and yes she does! :D
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | November 18, 2013 3:46 PM
Added them both. Thanks, Jay!
Posted by: fnord12 | November 19, 2013 6:44 PM
Yeah a fun series for awhile but once others started helping with the writing (particularly DeFalco) the quality dropped off. One other thing that irritated me is that we get to the point that entire scenes from the original comic are replicated with new dialogue replacing the old. Usually, with this series, we had new material that sort of fit in-between scenes from the original issues but here we get scenes from the original comic repeated but with new dialogue. Stuff like that and the scene between Flash and Spidey at the end of #22 just bugged me.
Posted by: Robert | February 10, 2016 6:15 PM
Fnord, the mobster Nicholas Lewis you mention above is the Crime-Master, so he should be listed in the Character Appearing section. :)
Posted by: Andrew Burke | September 22, 2016 9:43 AM
Lewis only appears in flashback in issue #20. He's already tagged as Crime-Master in issue #23, when he appears in realtime.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 22, 2016 1:39 PM
Comments are now closed.
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