Characters Appearing: Anne-Marie Baker, Evan Swann, Killer Shrike, Mary Jane Watson, Spider-Man, Tinkerer
Amazing Spider-Man #310
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #310
This issue features the relatively obscure Killer Shrike as the bad guy. It's not exactly the most promising of introductions. "Hey, this guy is based on a bird that is kinda small, and mainly eats bugs."
Spider-Man manages to stop him from robbing an armored car...
..but the Shrike does manage to get away.
In a bit of an incongruity, Peter hopes that the Daily Bugle will buy the photos he took of the fight, since he's going back to school and needs the money.
As mentioned, Peter is getting a grant and he's getting money from his Webs photobook, and that's on top of the fact that he's married to a wealthy supermodel. We're well past the point where Peter should be worried about getting a few bucks from the Bugle, but Michelinie is giving it a try anyway. Unfortunately, for me at least, Peter's coming across less like a regular guy that has to struggle to get by just like us, and more like your grandparent who had to live through the Great Depression and so still steals ketchup packets from McDonalds.
I do like those pin-up panels by McFarlane, i have to admit.
With Peter going back to college, we have new supporting characters: fellow Research Assistant Anne-Marie Baker and the professor they'll be working for, Dr. Evan Swann.
Unfortunately, Swann is apparently into something suspicious, setting off Peter's Spider-sense and also Anne-Marie's budget sense, since he's apparently over budget on the exotic equipment he's been ordering. Peter returns later and confronts Swann with what i have to say is the most straightforward investigation method i've ever seen...
...and it turns out Swan is allowing the Tinkerer to work in his lab.
And the Tinkerer's current customer is Killer Shrike.
Spider-Man tries to keep the Shrike away from the Tinkerer and the power booster that he made for him.
But he's distracted when Swann is put in danger. The Shrike doesn't have the money to pay the Tinkerer, thanks to Spider-Man's earlier efforts, but he intimidates the Tinkerer into giving him the power booster anyway.
However, the Tinkerer doesn't like to be intimidated.
Spider-Man knocks out the Shrike, but the Tinkerer manages to get away. Swann is also arrested for helping the Tinkerer. It turns out Swann has been lying about his degrees - he doesn't even have a high school diploma - and Tinkerer found out and was blackmailing him. We'll nonetheless be seeing more of Dr. Swann.
Michelinie does some nice things with the marriage here, like having Peter first making up some excuse as to why he's running off and then immediately realize he can't lie to his wife, so he tells her the truth and she begrudgingly understands even though she'll worry. I'd like to see the money situation resolved, though. Michelinie also manages to fit some cute twists into the fight interactions despite McFarlane's huge honking panels, but it's worth noting that there are no subplots or anything going on here. If it wasn't for Mary Jane having the locks changed after her kidnapping last arc, this would practically be a fill-in level story in terms of continuity or character development.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Spider-Man Legends vol. 2: Todd McFarlane Book 2 TPB
The fight scenes are so poor. One panel Spidey is across the room, the next he's next to Shrike. I wish the artist had taken lessons on how to make action flow, rather than just pin up shots.
"If somebody wrote this in a story, nobody'd believe it." Its amazing how writers think pointing out how stupid their poor writing conveniences are somehow excuses them.
poor issue all around.
Posted by: kveto from prague | August 4, 2014 3:20 PM
I'm still tryng to work out how Todd became such a super-star. His art isn't that great. Art Adams is much better, shame he couldn't commit to regular books.
Posted by: JSfan | August 4, 2014 4:05 PM
I thought it was a fun short fight. Didn't Shrike first appear in Spectacular Spider-Man where he attacked Jonah's girlfriend?
I love it when the Tinkerer is shown to be more than just some old guy. He's dealt with lots of bad guys and he knows plenty will try to double cross him.
Posted by: david banes | August 4, 2014 4:30 PM
Well, you answered your own question, at least in part.
Speaking of regularity, fnord, have you mentioned ASM's biweekly status on the blog yet? Further experiments with the 'new market' of the time.
Posted by: cullen | August 4, 2014 4:47 PM
"I do like those pin-up panels by McFarlane, i have to admit."
And why shouldn't you? I know I still like looking at Tood McFarlane's art. It was amazingly cool when I started reading comics and I think it still holds up pretty well.
Posted by: Uncanny Michael | August 4, 2014 5:27 PM
@Cullen, yeah, that started with Amazing Spider-Man #304-305, and i mentioned it there.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 4, 2014 8:00 PM
Cool, my oversight.
Posted by: cullen | August 4, 2014 10:57 PM
Has it been mentioned anywhere the idea that maybe MacFarlane's art, especially with capes, is inspired by Marshall Rogers' classic run on Detective Comics and the way he drew Batman?
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 14, 2015 11:50 AM
I don't see much of a 'shrike motif' in the Killer Shrike's costume or powers.
I still like this old-timey Todd MacFarlane art, but it's definitely a product of its time. The 90's have a bad rep but I don't really think the new millennium showed any improvement. It was an even steeper downhill slope in terms of plot. In any event, the 90's did make media moguls out of great artists like Todd McFarlane and they really lost all restraint.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | August 14, 2015 6:27 PM
I always liked Killer Shrike. He looks great, and "killer" makes up for any loss gravitas with the "shrike". I always thought he had good potential in the hands of a good writer. He really should be in someone's rogues gallery.
Posted by: Chris | August 14, 2015 9:36 PM
Comics have a lot of "Shrike" characters, probably because writers think the bird's eating habits are intimidating: they impale bugs on thorns and twigs to build up a "pantry." There's a reason The Minnesota Shrike is the media name for the serial killer Will Graham originally captures in the backstory for Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon, better known now as the debut of Hannibal Lecter.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 28, 2015 9:08 PM
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