Dave Galanter
December 1st 1969 - December 12th 2020
He was loved.

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Post By
Dave Phelps

Subj: Spider-Man Revisited 30: Howard Mackie Part Five
Posted: Mon May 18, 2009 at 07:23:16 pm EDT (Viewed 186 times)

PP: SM #13 (Living in Oblivion)
Cletus Kassidy, unable to deal with not having the symbiote anymore, covers himself in red paint and starts killing people. Spider-Man beats him up and goes home to find out MJ is dead.

ASM #14 (Surfeit of Spiders)
Byrne writes this one. Another encounter with the various Spider-Women continued into an issue of Spider Woman that I haven’t read in awhile, but thought made for a disappointing follow-up to this one. I know it’s wrong, but the cliffhanger with Mattie thinking Peter and her were “made for each other” was cute.

PP: SM #14 (Denial)
Pete’s in denial about MJ’s death and picks a fight with the Hulk. Dummy.

ASM #15, PP: SM #15 (Doomed Again)
Somebody calls Peter to tell him MJ’s alive and in Latveria, leading to Spider-Man fighting a renegade Doom robot. Don’t think we ever find out who. (She's not.)

ASM #16 (Coming Home)
Spider-Man goes to Tricorp long enough to stop the Ghost from destroying the place, encounter a time traveling librarian (tying into the Lost Generation series) and get fired.

Webspinners #13-14 (The Time Before)
Peter goes to the Negative Zone again, finally gets around to rescuing Dusk, and gets a temporary costume change to tie into the Spider-Man Unlimited cartoon they were airing at the time. Carnage gets a new symbiote. Anti-Mackie people piss and moan about how now we’re stuck with him on all three Spider-Man books for a couple of months. Good times…

PP: SM #16 (Cliche)
Plot by Mackie. Story idea and script by some guy named A.A. Ward. A commentary of sorts on 90s comics and Spider-Man comics with random new villains, the hero caught in the middle of a villain fight, and other cliched storytelling devices. Might have worked better if it didn’t read like every other issue in the post reboot run… And Venom decides he wants to kill the other 5 Sinister Sixers. Venom takes a bite out of Sandman, leading to a three writer, four story sequence getting Sandy back to snuff, starting with…

ASM #17, PP: SM #17 (Venom vs. Sinister Six)
Sandman’s falling apart, but want to take Mysterio with him. Doesn’t work out. Venom pounds the snot out of Electro. Mysterio goes away to parts unknown. (Or rather a DeFalco penned mini-series we’ll get to later.) Vulture doesn’t bother to make an appearance. Neither does Dr. Octopus, but Venom wasn’t angry at him. Kraven gets caught. Venom gets caught in a Ring of Fire, but is left to escape. (And since Venom’s vendetta against the Six was never picked up on again, his time in the fire helped him cool off?) Randy Robertson returns, freshly divorced because “he was too young when he got married.” (Sigh)

ASM 2000 (Old Acquaintances)
We finally get a hint of what Norman and the Scriers have been up to since SM #98 and a computer simulation of Harry gets Normie past his hatred of Spider-Man (guess it didn’t stick). The funny thing is that, had they not brought Norman back, this story could have worked as a “final victory against the Osborn legacy.” Pity.

ASM #18, PP: SM #18 (Green Goblin Returns)
At long last – the secret of the Goblin in Spider-Hunt is revealed. And he’s a pile of goo. Oh yeah, that was worth waiting over two years for. Peter and Randy become roommates.

ASM #19 (Mirror, Mirror)
Spidey (using his black costume because he was out of red and blues) vs. Venom as Venom’s ex-wife freaks out and kills herself. I guess it was supposed to be tragic, but I found myself wondering if Mackie was capable of writing a female character in this series who didn’t become a blubbering wreck at the slightest provocation.

PP: SM #19 (The Box)
Peter, long in denial about MJ’s “death,” is convinced by a mysterious box. Unless the box contained MJ’s severed head, I don’t understand how that was supposed to work.

ASM #20-21 (Slayers to the Left of Me)
Spider-Man fights Alistair Smythe’s (now looking human again) latest crop of Spider-Slayers. Spidey takes out the hardware and then Jonah beats up Smythe with a baseball bat. Okay.

ASM #22-24 (The Distinguished Gentleman from New York)
It’s finally time to resolve the Senator Ward storyline. He messes around with Venom for a bit so we can see how cool he is, and then turns into a lumpy pink thing which will unleash a really nasty virus on New York in the name of the Z’nox (from the original X-Men run). And Ranger comes back one last time to take Ward out once and for all. Geez.

ASM #25 (Darkness Calling)
The Green Goblin terrorizes Peter’s friends and family. In the end, we discover that it was Peter doing the terrorizing. Credit where credit is due. This one was pretty good.

ASM #26 (The Mask)
Wow, two good ones in a row – Pete decides it’s time to learn about his real dad (long overdue if you ask me) and the Squid (from the silly group of villains in PP: SM #16) is taken seriously to good results.

ASM #27 (The Stray)
Holy crap, THREE good ones in a row?! Spider-Man gets in the middle of a fight between a stinky cat and two gentlemen assassins and Peter and Jill finally get around to mentioning that it would be bizarre if they started dating.

ASM #28-29 (MJ returns)
Ah well. It was nice while it lasted. Spider-Man encounters Jimmy 6 vs. the Enforcers (okay, but it seemed pointless in the end) and we discover that MJ really is alive after all. (Still whiny, but she’s been imprisoned for awhile so I guess we can cut her some slack.) Then we find out the secret of the stalker, and see that it was all just a convoluted attempt to get at Spider-Man after all. Eh.

ASM 2001 (MJ/Pete Together Again… Briefly)
If there’s one thing I can point to more than anything else about why I have a poor opinion of Mackie’s run, it’s his handling of the Peter/MJ relationship. This one’s is completely focused on that. What do you think my opinion of it is? ;\-\) Okay, the part where MJ is doing the wistful “we were so young…” bit when she was looking at pictures of her and Peter when they were 8 was amusing, but I don’t think that was intentional. (Seems like that should have been a wedding photo or at least a picture of them at the Coffee Bean shortly after they met for the line to make any sense.)

In summary…
Mackie was good at presenting a somber mood, especially when JRJR was in the artist’s chair. He wasn’t so good at the lighter stuff. I think that’s why I was found his work perfectly satisfactory when he was on his own, but not so hot when he was The Guy in Charge. The post-reboot books were like this unending stream of melodrama and misery that quickly became unpleasant to read. I know Peter is supposed to be a “sad sack,” but not every friggin’ issue. You have to remember to throw in the “ups” as well. And Mackie’s handling of MJ, May and Flash was terrible.

At least he didn’t cause any “permanent damage” to the character (The returns of Aunt May and Norman were editorially directed, and as I understand it, Byrne and possibly Macchio were the ones pushing to make Sandman a bad guy again, so I don’t ding him for those.), but I would have appreciated him more had he left the reboot to other hands.

There’ve been a number of comparisons made between Brand New Day and the reboot, and I notice that the two things I found most annoying about BND (Peter’s “I’m Too Young” bits and the handling of MJ) were present here as well. At least the BND crowd softened the annoying stuff as they went along (although we’ll see what happens when MJ comes back); Mackie just kept amping it up.

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