Originally posted Dec. 13, 2008
Spectacular Spider-man. I've always thought of these as B-Sides compared to ASM. But PFJ inadvertently caused me to start reading my copy of Spectacular Spider-man Essentials Vol. 1. So here are my thoughts
The first issue features the Tarantula, it is sort of an unremarkable start. Tarantula and Kraven team up in issue two and it was kind of fun to see them bicker. And there is a new villain named Lightmaster in issue 3. I guessed who Lightmaster was from the start.
I thought Issue 4 was a great issue, maybe my favorite of this whole bunch. The villain is the Vulture. Issue 5 has the Vulture again but also a Punisherish character named the Hit man who I didn't think much of, but Issue 5's Cockrum's cover is great.
Issue 6 is a reprint of a Spidey and Torch team-up against Morbius story from MT-U 3. Which turns out to be a warm up for a new Morbius story in 7 and 8, where Morbius has been taken over by an Empathoid from another dimension or something. These two are okay. The art is great, the story is just kind of flat. How many times can a super villain just happen to capture one of Spidey's close friends? (this time Glory Grant) I do like that Spidey beats the Empathoid with quick thinking.
Considering I was reading an Essential, I love the irony of the cover of issue 9 which says brags that it's the first time the White Tiger has been seen in color!
Anyway the story in this one made very little sense to me. The President of the university is this racist guy that shuts down ESU's night school and the African American and Latino community protests. However, they come off as just as racist when Hector Ayala tells Peter Parker the protest isn't his concern because he's white. So all white people are rich and don't need night school?
Then they talk about the Erskine Manuscripts. The school got a bid for a million dollars to sell them. I guess someone thinks the secret to the super soldier formula is in them. Anyway the important part is that the manuscripts plural suddenly become one book when the White Tiger fights Peter Parker (he forgot to change to Spidey)and steals the lone volume.
Then the story becomes more convoluted at the end when it is revealed that an Ethics Studies professor impersonated the White Tiger and stole the volume. Then how did he trash Parker without Super-strength?
Issue 11 is by far the worst of this bunch. I expected much more from Chris Claremont considering his ggreat run on MT-U. This issue is all downhill after the trippy splash page. Spidey needs some kind of serum to help a man that saved Pete and Mary Jane from being hit by a Rand/Meachum truck outside of Central Park. How this guy's reaction time is better than Spider-man's who knows?
The serum is apparently very complicated so it was made somewhere else and was coming to the hospital in an ambulance. That makes sense until you find out the somewhere else was somewhere in the vicinity of Coney Island! Have you ever been to Coney Island? Not a scientific Mecca by any stretch of the imagination. Spidey goes to check on the ambulance just in case. Turns out the ambulance was attacked by Medusa. She stole the serum and Spidey and her fight in and around Coney Island. Spidey keeps pleading someone is going to die unless I have that serum. but Medusa doesn't seem to care. Finally Medusa reaches the rest of the Inhumans, it turns out they needed the serum to save the whole world by disarming an anti-matter warhead. But of course there turns out to be enough serum to save the guy in the hospital too.
One of those issues where if the characters just stopped fighting and talked, the issue would have been 3 pages long!
Issue 12-15 is a four part story featuring Flash Thompson. (who is so far the only real recurring supportive character for Spidey in these issues) The four parts are all good because the story keeps changing, first Spidey is fighting Brother Power and Sister Sun, then Razorback who turns out to be an ally, than it turns out the real villain is the Hate Monger. Then it turns out to actually be Man-Beast.
Issue 16 turns out to be a surprise gem by fill-in writer Elliot Maggin. The story concerns a risk taking cop Macone. the story shows that he is a true hero too, but it seems to come with a price as his wife is seen possibly leaving him at the end of the story because he continues to "take too many risks." The story is so good, you almost forget how lame a villain the Beetle is.