Web of Spider-Man #73-76
Issue(s): Web of Spider-Man #73, Web of Spider-Man #74, Web of Spider-Man #75, Web of Spider-Man #76
The only thing tying the two arcs together is the setting of New York's art galleries. For issue #1, Willie Lumpkin gets invited to one of Alicia Masters' art exhibits, and he brings Aunt May, Peter Parker, Mary Jane, and Kristie Watson along with him.
I thought maybe Peter's classy burp was going to be a kind of Chekhov's Indigestion. Because the plot of the story is that Chondu wants Spider-Man's body for his own.
So i thought he'd get a hold of it while Peter is feeling gassy (from Willie Lumpkin's lasagna) and then decide that there was something wrong with Spider-Man's body and reject it. That's not the plot, however.
Alicia's party includes such dignitaries as Prince Namor and Roy Lichtenstein.
And of course the Human Torch.
And, not invited but in the general area, is Colossus, who at this point in time is living as an amnesiac artist.
The Headmen are able to trace Spider-Man to the gallery, but don't know his secret identity. So when they attack, it's the Human Torch that they have to fight (Namor has already left).
But that gives Spider-Man enough time to sneak off and change into his Spidey costume.
Alicia Masters, who is blind, recognizes Peter Parker's voice even when he's in his Spider-Man mask. So he has to play along and pretend (well, you know what i mean) that he's Peter.
But the Human Torch gets the wrong idea, and gets back at Spider-Man by singling out Mary Jane for assistance.
Seems like that scene only works if the Torch knows that Spider-Man is Peter Parker.
Colossus enters the gallery when he hears the fighting, but he's not aware that he's Colossus. He nonetheless feels that there's some way that he can help. He winds up escorting Kristie.
Colossus likes 'em young, i guess.
Spider-Man and the Torch defeat the Headmen and make a joke about Marvel Team-Up and all the books that Spider-Man is in nowadays.
And then Peter has a "happy ending" in the bathroom.
To start off the story that comprises the next three issues of "Art Attack", Peter takes Kristie to a different art exhibit because she showed interest in art while at Alicia's. They start off with a weird performance piece.
Kristie enjoys it, but most of the art critics dismiss it as cheap theatrics, and indeed it's more like a magic show than performance art.
But those are two of our three villains for this part of the story. If you have a really good memory, you may recognize Bora from her single previous appearance in Moon Knight #35. The other guy is Spark, who only appears in this story. And they are both led by a villain that you'd really need a good memory to remember: the Painter, from Strange Tales #108.
Of course he wasn't covered with cockroaches at the time.
These three call themselves the Avant Guard, not exactly an original name even just for Marvel comics (Saturnyne had an Avant Guard in the Captain Britain series).
Tony Isabella has another callback for us: Steve Ditko's foot painting from Amazing Spider-Man #22. According to Mark Drummond's comments on that entry, Ditko put that picture in his story in response to criticism that he couldn't draw feet (maybe Rob Liefeld should have done something similar). So when i first saw this scene...
...i thought maybe it was commentary on modern artists that weren't respectful to Ditko's legacy. But i couldn't figure out if "Mr. Nicholas" was meant to represent a specific artist. But then i turned the page and remembered that Peter Nicholas is the name that Colossus is using at the moment.
Some funny commentary on how both Peters have similar shaped hair and heads.
The Painter uses his powers to modify Spark...
...who then goes on a rampage. Spider-Man stops him...
...but the Painter brings him back before he is captured.
Unfortunately, Ditko's foot painting is destroyed in the battle.
The Avant Guard's next attack is a giant snowstorm, created by a combination of Bora and the Painter's powers, that covers the whole city. Issue #75 is chock-full of guest stars as heroes help New York through the latest unnatural blizzard.
Iceman is blamed for the storm by some of the locals.
Almost a Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends appearance here:
The rest of the New Warriors (and i dunno, some random people out on their honeymoon; they don't look familiar to me):
And Thor's supporting cast:
Spider-Man is then attacked by Spark again...
...but it's Bora that manages to freeze him in an ice block.
But Spider-Man manages to break free, and then the Human Torch comes along to warm him up.
Spidey and the Torch then trade notes and the Human Torch learns that his old foe, the Painter, is involved. So they track down the Avant Guard.
The Painter is able to keep restoring his minions when they are defeated.
But he eventually decides that such repetition is not worthy of his art, so he paints his minions away.
And then it turns out that he himself is basically a bag of skin full of cockroaches.
Earlier, in a recap of the Painter's origin, it seemed like the original space aliens that brought the magic paint to Earth were also bugs (this picture was also in the original story but the buglike nature of the aliens is perhaps a bit more pronounced here).
The situation with the Painter here is of course a big part of the Marvel Appendix's Cockroach Conspiracy.
These issues are lighthearted fun. Nothing hilarious, but enjoyable. And i like how Isabella, especially, makes use of lots of elements of present and past continuity.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 209,174. Single issue closest to filing date = 202,200.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This can't take place while Colossus is possessed by the Shadow King, between Uncanny X-men #277-280. Takes place while X-Factor's Ship is still around, before X-Factor #65-68. Thor is beardless, placing this before Thor #431. Quasar is wearing his costume from Quasar #18. Captain America is unable to contact Dr. Strange for help with the blizzard.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showArthur Nagan, Aunt May, Beast, Bora, Captain America, Carrie Alexander, Chondu, Colossus, Firestar, Hercules, Human Torch, Iceman, Jarvis, Jerry Morgan, Justice, Kevin Masterson, Kristy Watson, Lyja the Lazerfist, Marcy Masterson Steele, Mary Jane Watson, Mr. Fantastic, Namorita, Night Thrasher, Nova (Rich Rider), Painter, Peggy Carter, Quasar, Ruby Thursday, She-Hulk, Ship (Prosh), Speedball, Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Thing, Thor, Willie Lumpkin
Aren't the couple Clark Kent and Lois Lane?
Posted by: kveto | September 24, 2015 4:19 PM
Never heard of 'em.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 24, 2015 4:22 PM
The Painter's quote from the "macabre king" is from, well, Stephen King.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 24, 2015 4:56 PM
Nooo, not the foot painting!!! And just when we had people who needed to see how its done! (looking at you, Liefeld)
And...the Painter is a bag of bugs...I suddenly have a weird fusion of Oogie-Boogie and the cockroach alien from MiB in my head from that image.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 24, 2015 4:58 PM
Here you go, fnord https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clark_Kent
Posted by: kveto | September 24, 2015 5:11 PM
I believe they are, Kveto.
Posted by: JSfan | September 24, 2015 5:23 PM
@kveto, seems to be describing some kind of alternate universe. Not a fan of those.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 24, 2015 5:44 PM
Posted by: kveto | September 24, 2015 6:34 PM
The Alicia iMasters Storm in this storyline is the same one later retconned to be Lyja the Laserfist, who isn't blind and doesn't have especially keen hearing, so the plot element of her recognizing Peter's voice no longer makes sense.
Leaving that out, this is one of my favorite story arcs from the 90s.
Posted by: Matt Posner | September 24, 2015 7:26 PM
That's not the only thing about this story that contradicts the Lyja retcon. DeFalco suggested that Ljja couldn't sculpt realistic sculptures. But in this story, Alicia presents Namor with a statue of himself. The annoying thing was that DeFalco tried to pretend Alicia had been sculpting nonrealistically since she'd been with Johnny, when she'd been sculpting realistically up until a few months ago.
Posted by: Michael | September 24, 2015 9:20 PM
Where have Johnny Storm and Peter Parker (not in his Spidey alter-ego) actually gotten to know each other on a personal basis? I know they have met, but nothing where Storm would have remembered him.
Posted by: Chris | September 24, 2015 10:08 PM
@Chris: As of publication time of this stories, I can't think of anything, but Johnny might remember Peter's brief career as his personal photographer early in their careers that Dan Slott would establish in SPIDEY/TORCH #1.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 24, 2015 10:15 PM
Peter made time with Dorrie Evans in Amazing Spider-Man #21.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 24, 2015 10:18 PM
These issues were a lot of fun, maybe the ending peters out a bit but there's plenty of good jokes (and nostalgia) from both Byrne and Isabella. I'd got bored of both Conway and Michelinie so these were my favourite Spidey issues in the past year or more. As Fnord points out, Johnny had a grudge with Peter after Amazing Spider-Man 21, and when they met again in FF 35 Johnny made a similar comment to the one here about Peter just following Spidey around, so it was established Johnny knew who Peter was and didn't like him.
Posted by: Jonathan | September 25, 2015 8:16 AM
The Painter being full of roaches may have been taken from the ending of "They're Creeping Up On You" in the "Creepshow" movie, a collection of Stephen King adaptations(and an excellent graphic novel adaptation too).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 25, 2015 6:01 PM
Shouldn't Spidey recognize this "Peter Nicholas"? Presumably he saw Colossus in his human form during Secret Wars, when Zsaji was treating his injuries?
Posted by: Tuomas | September 29, 2015 7:44 AM
Also, it strains credulity that only Alicia Silvers with her "keen senses" would recognize Spidey's voice to be the same as Peter's. Human voices tend to be quite unique and easily recognizable, so if Alicia notices Peter and Spidey have the same voice, so should anyone else who's talked with the two... Like Johnny, who (according to this issue) apparently knows Peter too.
The logical question of "why doesn't anyone recognize the costumed hero's voice?" is something that comics usually get away with, because, obviously, they are mute, so the readers don't normally think about how the characters sound. (With movie/TV adaptations you can't get away with it so easily, hence we get things like Batman's bat-growl in the Nolan movies, or Green Arrow using a voice modulator in "Arrow".) I think more recent Batman comics have explained this away by saying Bruce alters his voice while in costume, just like in the movies... But I can't remember seeing a similar explanation in Spider-Man comics, so it's still a valid question.
Posted by: Tuomas | September 29, 2015 7:57 AM
Whoops, I wrote "Alicia Silvers" there, when I meant "Alicia Masters". I guess I was thinking of a certain Batgirl...
Posted by: Tuomas | September 29, 2015 8:01 AM
The explanation is that Peter's mask disguises his voice-we've seen it the first Amazing Spider-Man Annual.
Posted by: Michael | September 29, 2015 8:20 AM
That does put all of Spider-Man's wise-cracking into perspective.
Spider-Man: Mphf mmph mmph mphf MMPH!
Posted by: fnord12 | September 29, 2015 8:29 AM
I'm pretty certain that's Stan Lee in the background of the party scene and the woman standing next to him as well as the couple nearby are far too detailed to just be randos.
Also you forgot to list Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
Posted by: JC | October 24, 2015 9:33 AM
And you'd think knowing they were bugs the Torch would just immediately burn them all to death.
Posted by: JC | October 24, 2015 9:36 AM
JC, you may be joking, but just in case: i don't actually list DC easter egg characters (the MCP does, though).
Posted by: fnord12 | October 24, 2015 12:07 PM
At this point, how does Johnny not know that Peter is Spider-Man. It's just ridiculous.
And Claremont has his slave fetish. Apparently Byrne is obsessed with heads? Certainly seems to be the case lately.
Posted by: Erik Beck | November 22, 2015 8:31 AM
Posted by: Mizark | January 31, 2017 10:39 AM
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