The return of our favourite Spider-Scribe continues in this exciting edition of “Amazing Spider-Man .1 issues that should have replaced the actual numbered issues”. Conway hits it out of central park once again.
WRITER: Gerry Conway
PENCILER: Carlo Barberi
INKER: Juan Vlasco
COLORS: Israel Silva
LETTERER: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER ARTISTS: Arthur Adams and Morry Hollowell
VARIANT COVER ARTIST: Gabrielle Dell’Otto
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: Our plot begins with Hammerhead, and The Goblin King having a discussion over how they will settle the territory dispute they are having. They agree to do a one on one arena match with two of their strongest fighters in order to see who lays claim to Tombstone’s territory. Their meeting is rudely interrupted by our intrepid wall crawler who proceeds to web up all of their henchmen as the two gang lords slip away into the night. We then reconnect with Watanabe who is getting chewed out by her chief for disobeying direct orders and arresting Judge Howell. Her chief then tells Watanabe that Howell wants to meet with her in prison. Watanabe angrily drives off, on her way to prison Spidey pops in on her car and the two have a heated debate about the effectiveness of law enforcement. When Watanabe gets to the prison Howell admits to buying pain medication in order to help his dying wife, and then explains that he had no idea Tombstone was behind the drugs. He pleads with Watanabe in order to get the collusion charges dropped, saying that he fears his life may be in danger. Watanabe declines and while leaving the building she has yet another encounter with Mr. Negative who lets her in on the secret location that Hammerhead, and The Goblin King are having their ring match at. Spider-Man, and The Wraith join together in order to stop Hammerhead, and The Goblin King, and interrupt just as Hammerhead demolishes The Goblin King’s fighter. During the fray Hammerhead gets Spider-Man into the ring. Spider-Man clocks Hammerhead with a single punch, and tries to talk Watanabe into being a true hero. The issue ends as an amused Mr. Negative looks onward.
PLOT: I loved this issue it feels like classic Conway through and through. Asides from the differences in the art style, and the modern continuity you could swear it was an issue from the 70s. Every line of dialogue from Spider-Man was on point, and truly felt like the character. The only one seemingly out of character this issue is Watanabe, a character trait that is easily explained due to her dealings with Mr. Negative. For those who don’t remember Mr. Negative has the ability to bring out either the dark, or the light in people he comes into contact with. In this particular instance the former is clearly in play. This point is further hammered home by the watchful gaze of Mr. Negative at the end of the issue.
This issue had a great sense of fun to it. I enjoyed the use of Hammerhead, and The Goblin King in this issue, both characters felt well used. The concept of having the two characters have two of their envoys duke it out in order to find out who gets the territory is a fun idea. In the minds of Spidey readers this is essentially how all Gang Wars are settled anyways, its just usually Spidey on one side, the head mobster on the other. The only minor disappointment about this issue was the speed at which Hammerhead was taken out by Spider-Man. Sure Hammerhead is not the strongest Spider-Man foe by a longshot but it would have been nice to see him do some actual damage to the Web-Head and have a nice proper fight. It lessens the threat of the foe if he can’t even muster a credible threat to our hero. This being said it’s sort of a nitpick as the fight was most likely done for space reasons with so few pages left in the book. Inversely its nice to see a Spider-Man team-up where he carries his own weight, and kicks some major tail.
Overall this is the Spider-Man story I think we have all been clamouring for. A tight story with interesting characters, and a solid premise. Add in a bit of mystery, and a not completely predictable plot. What is Mr. Negatives real scheme, will Watanabe realize she’s been affected by his powers, will Spider-Man and Black Cat have an in character interaction next issue? All are questions I eagerly await the answer to, good work Conway we’ve all missed you.
ART: The art in this issue is really great, and worthy of note/praise. I will definitely be seeking out Barberi’s artwork in the future.