Web of Spider-Man #16-17
Issue(s): Web of Spider-Man #16, Web of Spider-Man #17
This issue starts with Peter Parker being desperate for cash - exemplified by the fact that he doesn't even have any clean clothes and therefore has to wear the ridiculous shirt you'll see below - and so he goes to the Daily Bugle and tries to sell some reject photos to Robbie. But instead he is swept into JJ's new part of the building...
...where he has finally revamped Now Magazine, with Joy Mercado being the first reporter (note that Peter seems surprised to see Joy, despite being told in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #115 that he was helping Joy on her last assignment for the Bugle before transferring to Now).
JJ has an assignment for Joy and Peter to go to Appalachia and investigate some potential unrest at a factory there. But when they arrive they find that there's no unrest, and instead everyone is getting paid off and they don't like reporters snooping around. They wind up getting into a fight with the locals...
...and are rescued by a woman named Charla who is also in trouble. Her son, an autistic kid named Seth Hanks that excels at math, has been taken.
The cover of this issue and the intro scene where the boy is kidnapped show a character vaguely reminiscent of Freddy Kruger...
...but he's really got nothing to do with the story. Just a farmer who helps kidnap the kid.
Peter and Joy help the woman investigate, and wind up getting captured by armored goons in gas masks.
And they turn out to be working for the obscure Magma.
You'll notice that Peter has managed to get away and switch into his Spider-Man identity. But unlike some past stories, there's an active concern about this; Peter had been fighting the regular goons without his costume earlier but at this point he's realized that he needed to be Spider-Man to help Joy and the mother and boy.
As we saw in Spectacular #115, Joy is not surprised to see Spider-Man show up.
We learn that after Magma's first defeat, he got hired by Roxxon to research natural geothermal power sources. He's been using the autistic boy Seth to calculate how to beam energy that can excite electrons of any matter, essentially creating bombs anywhere on Earth. And this is just a means to an end in pursuit of his goal to "providing the world with cheap energy without the moronic restrictions applied by left-wing ecological dreamers".
Magma may look like a He-Man figure wearing a cheese grater, but thanks to Roxxon he's definitely well-funded and he's a challenge for Spider-Man.
Spidey berates himself for his "childish" wisecracks during the fight, which sounds like a real identity crisis to me.
Spidey/Peter (he changes back and forth as necessary) manages to help the others escape...
...but he himself winds up getting caught in an explosion while in final battle with Magma.
This kicks off a Missing In Action mini-event that involves all three Spider-Man titles.
I'm using the word "event" instead of "crossover" because it's really just some unrelated stories that happen to take place during Peter's absence, and the reason Peter is missing isn't really important. In that sense, Magma works as well as anyone as the villain here, and he does have a cool underground base and a unique motivation (that also makes him a natural fit for Roxxon).
It's pretty amazing how different Silvestri's pencils look with Colletta instead of Baker...
...and i'm not sure that the art on either book represents Silvestri's "pure" style, but his art definitely hasn't fully evolved to its signature look yet.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Amazing Spider-Man #279 and Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #117 are part of the Missing In Action event and take place while Spider-Man is missing. The last page of issue #17 here with Joy Mercardo wondering what happened to Peter/Spider-Man is repeated at the end of those issues (although i think it makes more sense to think of that scene as happening earlier than the events of the other issues or else Spider-Man hasn't really been missing that long yet). Missing In Action ends with Spider-Man's red and blue costume destroyed, which affects placement of his brief appearance at Iron Fist's funeral in Power Man & Iron Fist #125. Additionally Spider-Man has just finished repairing the tear in the black costume from Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #116 "this afternoon", which means we shouldn't see him in the black costume between that issue and this arc.
Crossover: Missing In Action
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showJ. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Joy Mercado, Magma (Jonathan Darque), Spider-Man
The neat thing for me about the "Missing In Action" story was the covers of the issues that month combining into one big picture. I saw this when Spider-man had it's Secret Wars 2 crossover. But, it was still a new concept for me. Plus who can forget the Black Cat's battles with the Foreigner & Dr. Strange?
Posted by: CLYDE | December 24, 2013 3:08 PM
The "broadcast power" Magma sought in this story is the same as in the Aladdin Effect Graphic Novel, which Michelinie co-wrote. In fact, there's a lot of common elements in the two stories- a small town easily corrupted, a small child that holds the key to everything.
Posted by: Michael | December 24, 2013 5:48 PM
This is the second issue in a row where I feel as if Michelinie is using villains suited to Iron Man in Spider-Man.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 15, 2015 10:06 AM
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