FLASHBACK REVIEW: Web of Spider-Man #4


This issue is cover-dated March 2010. Mysterio is the focus of the origin story here, preparing for his Gauntlet story in Amazing Spider-Man #618-620 by Dan Slott and Marcos Martin. Mysterio first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #13 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (cover pictured to the right).

Production: Paul Acerios

Editor: Tom Brennan

Supervising Editor: Stephen Wacker

Cover Artist: Jelena Djurdjevic

 

 

 

 

 

“GAUNTLET ORIGINS: MYSTERIO”

Writer: Fred Van Lente

Artist: Barry Kitson

Color Art: Jeremy Cox

Letterer: Joe Caramagna

THE STORY: Quentin Beck talks to his SFX mentor, Ray Bradhaus, about not believing in the powers of “the Marvels” and Bradhaus’ own impressive special effects career, specifically an effect with a demon on a wall. Beck gasses Bradhaus, changing into Mysterio, then briefly reminisces on his being blacklisted following an actor catching on fire from one of his own effects. He then goes into Bradhaus’ rather impressive dungeon in search of the secret of that demon effect, only to be attacked by the demon. When said demon disappears, Beck thinks he’s beaten the effect and now no longer needs anything from his mentor. Meanwhile, Dr. Strange revives Bradhaus and they reveal that the demon was real, and was beaten by Strange, not Mysterio.

MY THOUGHTS: Ok, so there’s nothing really wrong with this story on the face of it if you like a little supernatural story starring Mysterio, but once again I find myself asking – what’s the point? I’m going to revisit my three criteria I used last issue for the Rhino origin story. 1) Did this story present useful information? As with the Rhino, it seems to be a bit of a primer only for someone who’s never ever heard of Mysterio, ever. So maybe that is the target audience for these issues. Brand new to Spider-Man and don’t know who this guy coming up in the Gauntlet is? Here’s a tiny bit of info so you can feel like you’re slightly in the know. Though there’s really nothing here you couldn’t get from the Gauntlet story in ASM. It pretty much just tells us Mysterio’s an effects guy – which EVERY Mysterio story tells you – and that he was blacklisted for burning an actor…which doesn’t actually matter. 2) Does this story add to the upcoming Gauntlet story? This is a flat-out no. I can’t see anything here that could be considered to enrich Slott’s concurrent story. This is totally separate and unrelated in every way. 3) Does it offer entertainment value on its own? This is where this story really wins over the Rhino story. While I don’t think it really offers anything as a Gauntlet prelude, when looked at on its own I really have no problem with it. It’s a decent little Mysterio story with references to his first plot (impersonating Spider-Man) that includes some good examples of his ingenuity. And, as usual, Barry Kitson’s art is gorgeous. It’s a crime that he’s not one of the permanent artists on ASM right now or a regular on one of the satellite books. If there’s one thing I miss about the Brand New Day era, it’s Kitson’s art. He draws beautiful looking characters with dynamic action every single time.

I also want to take a minute here to talk about that cover (though it won’t factor into this story’s specific grade). Jelena Djurdjevic is an excellent artist and has done many beautiful covers in her career, but this Mysterio cover might just be my favorite. She makes Mysterio mysterious – and creepy! The eyes on his costume look like very real eyes, and with the eyes on his actual face in shadow, that makes it all the more creepy. If we saw images like this more often, maybe people would stop making fun of the fishbowl.

GRADE: 3 webs out of 5. A decent little short, but it loses points for failing to support the story it’s supposed to be a prelude to.

 

“THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-GIRL in THEY FIRST MAKE MAD”

Writer: Tom DeFalco

Pencils: Ron Frenz

Inks: Sal Buscema

Colorist: Bruno Hang

Letterer: Dave Sharpe

THE STORY: Spider-Girl battles Fury the Goblin Queen while Darkdevil battles symbiotic Spider-Girl clone April. April reveals that there’s a bomb around her neck controlled by Fury, so she may not have actually fully switched sides. At Cafe Indigo, did Wes just figure out that May is Spider-Girl? At the police station, Rene DeSantos is taken from local authorities to be held by Kaine’s government team. Meanwhile, Black Tarantula pulls his associates Arana and Chesbro out of the rubble from last issue’s explosion. Back at the big brawl, April slips the bomb off her neck and tosses it at Fury, saving the day. Kaine says Fury will be dropped in a deep dark hole somewhere. April and May swing off into the night together.

MY THOUGHTS: Another solid chapter from the excellent classic Spidey team of DeFalco, Frenz, and Buscema. This chapter actually feels much stronger, though, because it doesn’t feel so cluttered and busy. There’s still plenty going on, but I didn’t get whiplash from seemingly unrelated things popping up all over the place. The one-page check-in with Black Tarantula even felt less out of place this time since the possibility of a mob war was mentioned elsewhere in the issue. All in all this was just a solidly entertaining story with flawless art (which I could praise all day but can’t really add much to what I said last issue). I’m definitely hooked for what’s to come.

GRADE: 4.5 webs out of 5. I can’t quite bring myself to give this a perfect score because I know this team has bigger and better stories in them, but there are no flaws in the way this one was told.

 

Eric Canete’s pen and ink art before colors.

“HAMMERHEAD in WESTERN PROMISES”

Writer: Frank Tieri

Artist: Eric Canete

Color Art: Andres Mossa

Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher

THE STORY: Hammerhead is sent by Mr. Negative to take out a Russian called The General. Hammerhead instead makes The General an offer to get out of the country, because the General once helped Hammerhead’s dad get out of Russia. Hammerhead mentions that Mr. Negative won’t always be in charge and he might call on his friends one day.

MY THOUGHTS: Unlike the Gauntlet Origins stories in this series, this Hammerhead short comes over a year AFTER the character’s return in Amazing Spider-Man. And it sure seems like it’s setting up some things to come, but it’s been nearly three years since this issue’s release now and it has still come to nothing. It’s not a bad little story, it just seems in want of a point. I certainly wouldn’t have minded seeing some mob war material by Frank Tieri pop up in Amazing Spider-Man or a satellite title – he’s a writer that is right in his wheelhouse with this sort of thing.

As for the art, I still don’t find Eric Canete’s style aesthetically pleasing, but he does tell the story adequately and his characters do act pretty well, so I can’t fault him too much just because his style isn’t to my taste. Definitely better stuff here than in his Spidey/Deadpool team-up issue in ASM #611.

GRADE: 3 webs out of 5. Not bad, but seems to be a lead-in to absolutely nothing. 

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(7) Comments

  1. the series supernatural

    I'm truly enjoying the design and layout of your site. It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Excellent work!

  2. Kevin Cushing - Post author

    Thanks guys, glad you're enjoying these! @3: I have a stack of comics here and I'll review them as I have time, probably around 1 per day over the next little stretch of time. After I wear out this stack, it'll just be a matter of when I can find and afford some cheap back issues of the rest of the missing entries on my list. But I've probably got 2-3 weeks worth of material here right now if I keep it to one per day. @4-5: Just to clarify, Frenz and Buscema did not draw Mysterio in this issue. The Gauntlet Origins: Mysterio story was done by Barry Kitson and the excellent Mysterio cover was done by Jelena Djurdjevic. Frenz and Buscema only drew the Spider-Girl story.

  3. Boomstick

    Just a quick follow up: When this issue came out, it almost actually rekindled my interest-however briefly-in the current version of Spider-Man. I'd very much liked to have seen Franz/Buscema in charge of Spider-Man art instead of Ramos. I'd have loved to have seen more of that vision of Mysterio -pity there was never any follow up. Thanks for the great review. :)

  4. Boomstick

    Always nice to see DeFalco writing Spider-Girl. Though I'm no great fan of Steve Wacker (whose editorial touches come across as heavy handed), I have to give major props to Franz and Buscema, whose artwork pulled off a major coup and made Msterio-complete with classic fish bowl helmet-geniunely creepy. Given the right treatment, Mysterio could well rise to be one of Spider-Man's major nemeses in a Watcher-in-the-Shadows/noire vein.

  5. Kevin Cushing - Post author

    Oh you're definitely right that the idea of putting these Gauntlet Origins stories in Web was to get readers of Amazing to pick up Web, no question. But the idea SHOULD be that ASM readers should pick up Web to get some good background that adds to the ASM story that led them here in the first place. It's not enough to say "Buy this because there's an 11-page short about a character that also features in ASM." If you're going to put the same arc title on these shorts (The Gauntlet), and specifically make them origin stories of returning characters, they need to do SOMETHING to support the main Gauntlet event.

  6. E. Wilson

    I'm kind of in the same boat re: the Mysterio story, but even then, I wonder if it couldn't have gone a little further. Why not have Mysterio interact directly with Doctor Strange, perhaps even take inspiration for his masked persona from the good doctor? As-is, it's nothing special. I kind of think you're approaching these Gauntlet Origins from the wrong direction, in terms of their goal. Despite what Marvel may have said, I think the purpose of them was to get readers of Amazing to pick up Web, not for the stories in Web to do anything for Amazing. The second volume of Web barely lasted a year, if I recall. ...the covers are bad-ass, though.

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