Amazing Spider-Man #330-331
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #330, Amazing Spider-Man #331
This one starts with some Code approved violence.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man comes across a mini gang war instigated by the fact that the drug supply is running out.
When Peter gets home, he finds that Mary Jane isn't there, and the dishes still haven't been put away from when Flash and the Black Cat visited after the end of last issue. We get a flashback to that visit.
Meanwhile, Venom fakes a suicide while imprisoned in the Vault, which is apparently currently being run by a nine year old.
In issue #331 he escapes during the autopsy thanks to the fact that the symbiote was
And now back to the Punisher. At the time of my writing of this entry, i recently linked approvingly to a post by Tim O'Neil of The Hurting talking, among other things, about how the Punisher is probably more pro-gun control than you would think. But here's the counter-argument.
The Punisher definitely remains a foil for Spider-Man's traditional super-heroics, but the more proto-Image-y the art, the more difficult it is to determine which side the creators are on.
Spider-Man and the Punisher have both wound up at the docks where there's a ship full of drugs, and they fight their way through to get to the shipment.
Comics Code Authority, activate!
Spider-Man finds a magnetic card on the ship. The Punisher then sets up the ship to explode allowing (for Spider-Man's benefit?) a minute for all of the remaining thugs to abandon ship. The Punisher's ally Micro then reads the info on the card and discovers that the person buying up all the drugs is in fact the US army.
Back at home, the Black Cat is paying a visit to Mary Jane.
Now hold on here. What are we doing with the Black Cat? Jealous is one thing. Jealous and batshit crazy is something else. I know she's been crazy in the past, but she's been rational in recent years, and making her Fatal Attraction crazy is not welcome, in my opinion.
Peter returns home to hear about the situation, but he's due to go back out to finish his Team Up.
Conveniently, the Punisher will be going nonlethal for the rest of this mission, since they'll be going up against US soldiers not necessarily involved in the drug business.
That's especially the case when it turns out that the drugs are being held at a military academy guarded by children.
(I wonder if that's why Larsen drew a kid at the Vault? Miscommunication in the plot?)
The guy in charge of the drug operation at the academy is Charles Bronson.
Bronson explains why the government has been hoarding cocaine.
Ok, the country was once on the gold standard, but... no. No! I'm not going to dignify this insanity by trying to refute it. I'm not even discussing it. It's madness. The cocaine standard!
This story is obviously playing off of the CIA crack cocaine story; we've seen similar references in other comics around this time. But this... this is nuts.
Spider-Man and the Punisher fight some robots and then destroy the drugs.
Also in this arc, a fan - or maybe i should say viewer - of Mary Jane's soap opera berates MJ for the actions of the fictional character she portrays, and then is killed in a hit & run. That's a continuation of the Jonathan Caesar storyline. MJ learns at the end of issue #331 from an Officer Goldman of the NYPD that he's out on parole.
I definitely don't want the government stockpiling drugs to use as currency! As much because it's insane as for the moral implications. But the beginning of this arc shows that the government buying up all the drugs did put a dent on supply in New York. So maybe they should keep up that end of the program? Or would supply eventually get increased to meet the new demand? Ah, too complicated. Just let the Punisher shoot everyone.
Why am i even contemplating this? I think David Michelinie must have been losing his mind at this point, maybe from working with these new artists.
On the other hand, i do like the art.
People in the lettercols are not happy that Todd McFarlane has left the title, but I think Erik Larsen is taking the elements of McFarlane that worked and improving upon them. That's especially noticeable with Venom, but more on that in the next arc.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: My faith in Peter Parker's cleaning habits is such that i don't really care how long he let the dishes sit out after Flash and Felicia's visit (even in this story, it's said to be "from a couple nights ago". The MCP have this during Spectacular Spider-Man #162, after Avengers: Deathtrap: The Vault, which features what must be an earlier breakout attempt by Venom.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAunt May, Black Cat, Eddie Brock (Venom), Hal Goldman, Mary Jane Watson, Microchip, Nate Lubenski, Punisher, Spider-Man, Venom Symbiote
You know, I never really thought about it, but I'm starting to think I really don't like the Black Cat as a character.
Half the time she's written as a crazy obsessed stalker, but never in a way that makes the stalking as creepy as it should be. Which makes these stories somehow both aggravating and boring. And even if it was done right: wouldn't a stalker ex be a better antagonist for Iron Man than for Spidey?
The other half of the time Cat is written as a bad-ass femme fatale anti-hero, yet never in a way that's particularly compelling, I find. Just a generic anti-hero, with only the skin tight outfit and the cleavage setting her apart from the other billion anti-heroes that will rise during the 90's.
So she's boring in one of two ways. Put those two together and things get creepy though: we're supposed to buy the crazy stalker as cool and sexy? How unpleasant.
Was there ever a really great Black Cat story? Because at the moment I'm thinking it might have been best if she had been a one-off Catwoman expy to show the difference between how Spidey and Batman would handle such a character.
Posted by: Berend | April 28, 2015 5:40 PM
The symbiote wasn't hiding in Brock's bloodstream according to what Brock says in the scan: the symbiote merely mimicked Brock's outward appearance, without a pulse or respiration. It was still the symbiote over Brock like a costume, though, not inside his bloodstream.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 28, 2015 5:49 PM
You're right, Walter. Fixed it.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 28, 2015 5:52 PM
I actually prefer the Black Cat to MJ as a potential mate/wife for Spidey, but not the way she's presented here. Yeesh.
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 28, 2015 6:08 PM
One thing I really liked that Larsen did is how he changed Spider-Man back into his original red and black appearance. It was a gradual change, but the blue was essentially phased out of his costume.
Posted by: Bill | April 28, 2015 6:51 PM
Totally agree with Berend. Just re-read the "Alien Costume Saga Part I" and got to a point where I was thinking "If she says 'My Spider' one more time I'm gonna throw this book against a wall."
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 28, 2015 7:05 PM
Fnord, you might want to keep track of any evidence that Flash knew (or didn't know) Felicia was the Black Cat, since Steven Grant tried to convince us he knew all along. In issue 330, Peter moves to attack Felicia and Flash is surprised as to why. You'd think he'd just assume Peter recognized Felicia. Besides, if Felicia's identity is publicly known, Peter should be able to just tell Flash.
Posted by: Michael | April 28, 2015 9:36 PM
I'm not a fan of the whole Madelyne Pryor plotline, so I don't know enough to comment.
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 28, 2015 10:07 PM
Michael's Madelyne Pryor comment was directed at me. He plans to passive-aggressively attack me over our difference of opinion on Louise Simonson's half of Inferno on every post until the end of time.
Added Hal Goldman!
Posted by: fnord12 | April 28, 2015 10:20 PM
Comments are now closed.
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