Web of Spider-Man #35-36
Issue(s): Web of Spider-Man #35, Web of Spider-Man #36
Gerry Conway returns to Marvel and Spider-Man with these issues, although Web Of is still in a bumpy fill-in period, at least in terms of writers. After these two issues, Conway will be moved to Spectacular Spider-Man where he'll have a long run. However, he'll also return to this title next year and will be writing Web and Spectacular concurrently for a while. For now, though, two issues here and then a move to Spectacular. In terms of artists, Alex Saviuk is moved here from Amazing with these issues as Todd McFarlane takes over on Amazing. Saviuk will be the regular artist on Web (with some breaks) for a long while.
Peter Parker has agreed to be a substitute teacher at his old high school. He finds that the school has been taken over by post-apocalyptic new wavers.
And he wasn't given any lesson plans.
He also runs into a nerdy kid named Steve Petty who is in a conflict with a "dumb jock" named Jake Dorman, in an overt parallel to Peter's days in high school with Flash Thompson.
Note that it's been "six years" since Peter won a science fair medal while at school. Steve also says that Peter's medal was the only medal that anyone at the school has ever won. Steve shows Peter a computer lab set up in the high school with equipment donated by his father, but Peter rubs Steve the wrong way when Peter suggests that Steve spend less time with his computers and more time trying to make friends, remembering how Flash Thompson later became a good friend of Peter's. The parallels with Flash get more overt, and more specific, when Jake breaks Steve's glasses.
Peter doesn't arrange for the two to fight in the gym, though. However, among the equipment donated by Steve's father is the old Living Brain robot from the same story where Flash broke Peter's glasses.
Steve is controlling the robot and using it to punish Peter for telling him to make friends. He then sends it after Jake. Peter changes into Spider-Man to stop the robot.
But the antique robot gives him way more trouble than you'd expect, and Spidey winds up on the run!
Spidey tricks it into the elevator shaft where it hits an electric box and melts into slag.
Issue #35 ends with Peter unable to locate Steve and a To Be Continued blurb, but issue #36 opens with Peter threatening to rape his wife.
Hah, hah, just kidding you guys. Just a joke.
It's just part of Peter and MJ's weird foreplay routines.
Meanwhile, Steve Petty goes full super-villain.
He goes after Peter, but gets Mary Jane instead.
Mary Jane has been away on modeling shoots a lot after the wedding issue. So after Kraven's Last Hunt, this is the second post-marriage Spider-Man story that she's appeared in. So that's how long it took for her to be used as a hostage.
That explosion tore up Peter's leg, but he changes into his Spider-Man costume and drags himself after Steve.
Once Steve gets his wires around him, Peter starts to feel Steve's emotions. But MJ is able to help him break out of it.
But Steve is really defeated when Jake Dorman shows up and apologizes to Steve and says that they're friends.
Pfft, sure, whatever. A decidedly different, and very retro, tone compared to recent stories like Kraven's Last Hunt and even David Michelinie's run. I also love how among the Bronx Warriors urban decay of Peter's old high school there's these three clean cut characters that just needed a little lesson in respecting each other.
Meanwhile, in "the peasant town of Santa Maria" in a country ruled by a military junta, a man named El Arana shows up to beat up some priests...
...and kill the boy they've been giving sanctuary to. He's then assigned to a mission to hunt down refugees in the United States, and given a Tarantula costume.
And not just a costume. Also a painful super-soldier serum.
And his mission is revised so that in addition to the refugees, he should kill Spider-Man too.
On his way to his first day on the substitute teaching job, Peter Parker prevents a taxi that was driving too fast from hitting an ambulance. We find that the passenger, Roland Rayburn, thinks that he'll meet Spider-Man again.
Later, after stopping for a hair dye, Rayburn is seen trading cocaine for business secrets.
And he's being tailed by a whispering albino named Tombstone, who Joe Robertson recognizes.
Roland Rayburn (aka the Persuader), Tombstone, and the new Tarantula will next be seen in Spectacular Spider-Man once Gerry Conway moves there.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Since Mary Jane is home, this should take place after Amazing Spider-Man #297 when she was still out of town. The Tombstone and Tarantula subplots don't end on cliff hangers and Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #137 doesn't take place directly after this issue. Black costume Spider-Man appearances need to take place prior to Fall of the Mutants due to Amazing Spider-Man #298-300, so this is pushed back in publication time.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showJoe 'Robbie' Robertson, Living Brain, Mary Jane Watson, Persuader, Spider-Man, Tarantula II, Tombstone
It was at this time that I started collecting a Spider title on a regular basis and that title was Web, starting with the Phreak-Out issue. Prior to this I just picked up the occasional issue of Amazing. Eventually I was collecting all three (then four) titles regularly but it started with Web. I can't really remember why. I liked Alex Saviuk's traditional artwork, for one thing. As a kid I preferred these types of artists to the more experimental ones. I think I stayed with Web from this point until after the Clone Saga, when I dropped collecting monthly altogether.
Posted by: Robert | May 18, 2014 1:22 PM
One of the first things Conway does is bring back (a) Tarrantula, his pet character. While I like the Tarrantula, he always felt way below Spidey's league and would have made a better villain for a non-superstengthed character.
Posted by: kveto from prague | May 18, 2014 1:37 PM
This story suggests that maybe Peter was partially to blame for his problems with Flash. Which is fine, except that less than two years ago Flash hit Sha Shan. Was that partially her fault? I don't have problems with either the idea that Flash is a bully with anger-management problems and it's not anyone's fault if he loses it with them or the idea that maybe Peter was partially responsible for his problems with Flash. But the writers need to pick one and stick with it. Doing one story that suggests the first interpretation and another that suggests the second in rapid succession has Unfortunate Implications.
Posted by: Michael | May 18, 2014 1:41 PM
Kveto, at least this Tarantula is given a super-serum, which almost seems like an answer to Roger Stern's use of the original Tarantula (where it became clear that he was no match for Spidey). Although to Michael's point in a roundabout way, i don't know if Conway had been paying attention to what other writers had been doing on this title.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 18, 2014 2:02 PM
Well, that's par for the course for Conway...
Phreak is way too much like the computer-based villains Conway created in DC's Firestorm.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 18, 2014 6:29 PM
This is where the whole Tombstone tormenting Robbie Robertson story starts.
Posted by: JSfan | May 21, 2014 3:42 AM
Spider-titles kind of lost their coherence over the past year, you think? He's been off Firestorm a while and shaken off a self-professed dark period, but now that I have read a good bit of that title, I really see the similarities between that and this. I didn't care for Phreak at the time, but Gerry's going on to a pretty solid return. I am about to interview the ol' chap re: Firestorm, so I wonder about the kitschy-sounding computer villains mentioned above! Such a timely trend, but can anyone name an enduring 80s computer villain?
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | February 11, 2018 1:28 AM
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