Web of Spider-Man #19
Issue(s): Web of Spider-Man #19
Lots of characters have insect powers and themes, but with Humbug, it's different. He's an out of work entomology professor that has developed the ability to amplify the sounds of his various "friends".
We start with what i'm calling a flashback (see the Considerations section below), not long after Peter's spider-sense failed him on the subway last issue. He deliberately gets himself into a situation where he'll be attacked by criminals, and waits undefended for them to attack. His spider-sense does kick in, confirming that whatever happened in the subway didn't signify a permanent loss of his extra senses.
Also on the scene is Humbug, who intended to steal the same black pearls the thugs attacking Spider-Man were stealing, but when he sees Spider-Man dispatch the thugs he decides to withdraw.
We then have an interlude in Europe, showing a mysterious Punisher-like figure execute some terrorists in West Berlin.
I've always felt like Solo was just a low-rent Punisher duplicate, but the focus on terrorism is at least a unique angle. There's really nothing to judge him on here, and he actually seems to have been dropped for this story arc, which seems to have been initially designed to have him cross paths with Spider-Man, who back in the US, is sent on assignment to Europe with Joy Mercado to cover a Margaret Thatcher speech on terrorism. The change in direction is likely due to the reaction to the upcoming IRA story.
Peter's European assignment gets him some nice vouchers from JJ's deep pockets as Editor of NOW magazine, and he uses the money to bring flowers (and hopefully some cash) to Aunt May, who is seeing her boarders leave in the aftermath of the attack from the punks in Spectacular #113. She's already asked her fiance Nathan Lubenski to leave after his behavior in that issue.
Peter has to get a passport in order to go to Europe (something that can apparently happen in a day? When i got mine i had to submit some forms and then wait weeks for it to get mailed to me.), and while he's waiting on line, Humbug attacks an armored truck outside.
Humbug's various insect noises have unique effects...
...but the character and story is clearly played for laughs...
...and he's no match for Spider-Man.
Christopher Priest has written that Marc Silvestri was having trouble meeting a deadline (and so he suggested that he try the X-Offices) and this issue is looking a little sketchy. But it's a fun story.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This story begins only "a few minutes" after Peter was pushed onto a train at the end of last issue, which was Spider-Man's return from being Missing In Action. But it ends with him prepared to leave for a trip to Europe "the next morning" that lasts until midway through issue #23. And Spider-Man's appearances in other books have to fit somewhere. After opening scene we switch to the Solo interlude, and then back to the Daily Bugle, and somewhere in that gap the MCP places a few other Spider-Man appearances: Vision & the Scarlet Witch #11, Web of Spider-Man annual #2, and Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #118. I'm following suit, treating the opening scene as essentially a flashback and using the rest of the issue for placement.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAunt May, Harriet Rose Palermo, Humbug, J. Jonah Jameson, Joy Mercado, Martha (Aunt May's Boarder), Solo, Sophie (Aunt May's Boarder), Spider-Man, Victor Palermo
For years I wondered why David Michelinie briefly introduced Solo in this issue and then didn't have him show up again until three years later in "The Assassin Nation Plot" arc in Amazing Spider-Man. I hadn't realized that there had been behind-the-scenes problems with this story in Web and that there had been last-minute changes to it.
Posted by: Ben Herman | June 7, 2015 10:49 PM
It's amazing that comics got done with all of the craziness
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | June 17, 2017 11:15 PM
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