“The Sting”

Writer: Fred Van Lente

Penciler: Michael Gaydos

Inker: Michael Gaydos

Colorist: Michael Gaydos

Cover Art: Michael Del Mundo

Be warned – there are SPOILERS ahead!

“Ah, a creature for my amusement …” (Space Fury arcade game, 1981)

It was with great honor and knee-buckling fear that I accepted the “job” of becoming the new Amazing Spider-Man reviewer for the Spider-Man Crawl Space.  I hesitate to call it a job because it isn’t – to me, comic books are and always will be a fun diversion from the calamity of everyday life.  I want to have fun writing these reviews, and I hope that you can all have fun reading them.  If nothing else, I would like to think that I can provide some measure of entertainment to coincide with foisting my opinions upon you.

And with that public service announcement out of the way, let us begin our grand adventure …

The Plot

Peter investigates a hunch about an acquaintance of Michele, only to become embroiled in a larger problem.  Lady Scorpia strikes.  Peter comes to an understanding with Michele.  The Kravinoffs continue to scheme behind the scenes.

The Good

Finally, Michele is a character! Kind of. Unlike the racist stereotype that she had been up to this point, Michele shows another facet of her previously nonexistent personality. When Peter and Michele meet in the bar at the end of the issue, I got a sense of hope that she might turn out to be something after all. It took them far too long to get here, but at least we’re here.

The art by Gaydos is mostly good, and he does very good renditions of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, and Michele Gonzales.

The Bad

The story in this issue was poor and full of glaring holes.

For starters, the premise of the Hood having a bunch of thugs battle over the Scorpion suit doesn’t make much sense considering the Hood’s access to superhuman criminals. Also, the entire point of the Scorpion was that he was superhuman, so putting a random thug in the suit accomplishes nothing.  As eddie3429 points out on the message board, the Hood can grant superpowers upon a skilled heavy – but this is not established in the issue.  Unless you have been reading Bendis’ Avengers books (which I gave up on long ago), you wouldn’t be aware of that aspect of the Hood at all.

Another glaring inconsistency is Peter’s “anonymous white guy” disguise. He banks on his anonymity to avoid getting the crap beat out him … which wouldn’t really work considering that he was all over the newspapers and television only days earlier. I mean, damn, it was only last issue that people were recognizing him on the street and the unemployment line. At least one thug would have recognized him, and then the stories of Peter Parker associating with gangs and criminals would dig him an even deeper hole.

Yet another problem with the story is how Spidey deals with the criminals: he sends tons of steel girders falling on them. Remember, this is the guy that doesn’t kill supervillains because his life is an enormous guilt trip. And he drops tons of construction materials onto the bad guys to get away. Right.

And this is one top of little mistakes like Scorpia being able to sting Spidey without any warning from his Spider-sense, or Spider-Man’s webshooters suddenly having more recoil than a shotgun.

I was also a little disappointed that Van Lente chose to include both Bushwacker and Tombstone, only to give them such meaningless roles in the story.  They were simply throwaway hoodlums here.

The Ugly

Gaydos draws the worst renditions of Bushwacker and Tombstone that I have ever seen. In fact, I wouldn’t have even recognized Tombstone if he hadn’t been identified by name, because Gaydos drew him as a blonde white guy instead of an African-American albino. Whoops.

The Bottom Line

I’ve already aired my big problems with this lackluster story, so I don’t have anything else to say on that front. On the flipside, I liked the art for the most part, outside of my problems with Bushwacker and Tombstone. I don’t care for Gaydos’ coloring, but his linework is pretty solid – and that is more or less the only thing worth buying the issue for. 2 out of 5 webheads.

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