Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Jay Anacelato
Colorist: Brian Haberlin
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicscraft
At the hospital, following surgery, Phil, Doris, and Dr. Geoffries discuss the specifics of the second stage of lung cancer and treatment recommended. With chemotherapy, Phil has a chance of five years, but without it, six months. Phil won’t stay an extra day. While he tells Doris it’s because he wants to discuss the next book with his publisher Bennet Schwed, he just wants to run from the cancer business. At Schwed’s office, Bennett tries to sell Phil on the idea of doing a book focusing on super-villains entitled “Menaces: The Dark Side of the Marvels.” Phil is undecided. He stops by the Bugle to try and see some familiar faces, but he chooses to leave. He tries to hang with his fellow photographers and reporters back in the day, but even that doesn’t take. And watching news footage of Captain America and the X-men battling SHIELD troops only adds to his mood. He leaves without letting anyone know. In the streets, he lights a cigarette and spots Hawkeye running across the roof. He throws the cigarette to the ground in outrage at the unfairness of his situation and thinks he’s wasted his life.
At home the next day, while watching a news report of a giant bunny rabbit, Phil’s interrupted by Doris who wants to talk about the chemo. He can’t, and goes into the backroom and comes across a photo of the mutant girl, Maggie, who he and his family sheltered for a while until she ran for fear of what mutant haters would do to them if she stayed. Doris assures Phil they did everything they could, which only makes him snap again about the apparent meaninglessness of his life.
Begrudgingly, Phil accepted an invitation to a Bugle party celebrating Peter Parker’s nomination for Photographer of the Year. Robbie Robertson notes that it’s nice how, since Phil won for his Latervian piece years back, Peter’s nomination keeps it in the family. Sheldon doesn’t hide his disdain for Peter’s work – photos of Spider-Man used to smear his good name – a secret and scoffs at that “in the family” comment. He abruptly leaves and practically shoves Peter and Mary Jane out of the way. On street level, in a rain-filled alley, he lets out all his hatred at the heavens and tears off plastered headline shots of Captain America from the walls. His noise attracts the attention of street hoods. Phil falls back and the next thing he knows…Spider-Man has all of them webbed up over a street lamp. He tells Phil to either head back to whatever party he was at or head home. The sight of the hanging streethoods and the appearance of Spider-Man strikes a chord in Phil. He walks home and realizes his misery isn’t at the unfairness of the cancer…it’s because he walked away from what he loved doing. He tells Doris Florida will have to wait and arrange those chemo treatments as he heads into the back room to dig out his photos. He decides his book is going to be showing the public that this mass hysteria is all for nothing about the Marvels and that there’s nothing to be afraid of. As he decides this, however, the Punisher is running across the rooftops…
TO BE CONTINUED…
- Phil’s introspective look at his own life and accomplishments and the “bigger picture” in the scheme of things
- His anymosity towards Peter and its interconnectedness with the above point
- Peter and MJ cameo!
- Jay trying his best at photorealistic depictions
- Phil’s remembrance of Maggie
- Inserts of classic Marvel battles
- some of the figures look a little stiff or too thin in some parts
I know someone who is a cancer survivor, which is why it’s easy to see Phil’s personal pain. He feels as though his time on earth is running out, and his entire career has been photographing other people living their lives while sidelining his own with his wife and family. And he tries to shut out that which he felt he wasted his time on until it invades his personal space to save his life. Busiek manages to capture that “angry at the world” mentality perfectly. After all, this is late 1960s medical options, and the prospects weren’t as hopeful. What I also like is that, for a change, Peter Parker is the odd man out, the one who’s not accepted, OUTSIDE of the Midtown High crowd. His resentment of Peter’s exploitive photographs of Spider-Man is played out realistically and (if you didn’t know the connection between Peter and Spidey) can be empathetic at best. Sheldon’s made it his life to capture truth on film, and Peter, the only man seemingly able to capture the most dynamic Spider-Man photographs is (at face value) using him and Jonah’s distrust of him, to further his own career. The irony of Spider-Man saving Phil’s life in the streets is not lost to the reader. Busiek showed in this issue a very conflicted soul still trying to process this latest turn in his life.
Jay Anacleto’s art is very good in the sense that he’s trying to maintain the painted comic motif, but while his depiction of regular people – their proportions, their body language, their walk – are good, it’s his depiction of superhero battles that are lacking somewhat. At times they look slightly stiff and misproportioned. Take Thor, for example; this is a GOD and Jay designed him with almost the proportions of a regular sized man. He’s just really tall and not that bulky. And also there are times when he’s trying to emulate Ross too much, such as the seams and buldges in Spider-Man’s costume. However, the fact he’s bringing in supporting characters from the Bugle staff – as well as a dead-on accurate Mary Jane Watson – redeems him in the viewer’s eye. I also like the timing of seeing Frank Castle – the blot on the Marvel-verse hero community – make his way across rooftops while Phil’s vowing to make the public realize there’s nothing to fear from the Marvels. This moment reminds me of that Jason Bateman scene in Hancock where he’s showing Will youtube vid footage of that whale on the beach and then adds “And along comes Hancock.” Well, along comes Frank…
All in all great writing, and the artwork seems to hold up. Good job you guys!
Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 Webs
Cover: 5 out of 5 Webs
This is really an eye-catching shot. It indicates that Spidey plays a significant role in the plot: he’s both the inadverted antagonist in Phil’s life, and his redeemer as well. This is a better shot of Spidey, for it shows that Jay’s retaining the design of the insignia Alex established in the last series. However, the only thing off is the fact that Spidey is swinging – or slinging, because I don’t see much of an arc in his body – through a crowd and only a kid takes notice. I understand that, but not everyone’s looking to the left, and surely there’d be a buildup of commotion behind the people either reading the paper or getting about their day. Or maybe they’re indicating that Peter’s done this SO MANY TIMES the public is indifferent to them.