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 havenâ€™t read in awhile, but thought made for a disappointing follow-up to this one. I know itâ€™s wrong, but the cliffhanger with Mattie thinking Peter and her were â€œmade for each otherâ€ was cute.
PP: SM #14 (Denial)
Peteâ€™s in denial about MJâ€™s death and picks a fight with the Hulk. Dummy.
ASM #15, PP: SM #15 (Doomed Again)
Somebody calls Peter to tell him MJâ€™s alive and in Latveria, leading to Spider-Man fighting a renegade Doom robot. Donâ€™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 weâ€™re stuck with him on all three Spider-Man books for a couple of months. Good timesâ€¦
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 didnâ€™t read like every other issue in the post reboot runâ€¦ 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 withâ€¦
ASM #17, PP: SM #17 (Venom vs. Sinister Six)
Sandmanâ€™s falling apart, but want to take Mysterio with him. Doesnâ€™t work out. Venom pounds the snot out of Electro. Mysterio goes away to parts unknown. (Or rather a DeFalco penned mini-series weâ€™ll get to later.) Vulture doesnâ€™t bother to make an appearance. Neither does Dr. Octopus, but Venom wasnâ€™t angry at him. Kraven gets caught. Venom gets caught in a Ring of Fire, but is left to escape. (And since Venomâ€™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 â€œhe was too young when he got married.â€ (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 didnâ€™t stick). The funny thing is that, had they not brought Norman back, this story could have worked as a â€œfinal victory against the Osborn legacy.â€ Pity.
ASM #18, PP: SM #18 (Green Goblin Returns)
At long last â€“ the secret of the Goblin in Spider-Hunt is revealed. And heâ€™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 Venomâ€™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 didnâ€™t become a blubbering wreck at the slightest provocation.
PP: SM #19 (The Box)
Peter, long in denial about MJâ€™s â€œdeath,â€ is convinced by a mysterious box. Unless the box contained MJâ€™s severed head, I donâ€™t understand how that was supposed to work.
ASM #20-21 (Slayers to the Left of Me)
Spider-Man fights Alistair Smytheâ€™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)
Itâ€™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 Zâ€™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 Peterâ€™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 â€“ Pete decides itâ€™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 sheâ€™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 Againâ€¦ Briefly)
If thereâ€™s one thing I can point to more than anything else about why I have a poor opinion of Mackieâ€™s run, itâ€™s his handling of the Peter/MJ relationship. This oneâ€™s is completely focused on that. What do you think my opinion of it is?
Okay, the part where MJ is doing the wistful â€œwe were so youngâ€¦â€ bit when she was looking at pictures of her and Peter when they were 8 was amusing, but I donâ€™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.)
Mackie was good at presenting a somber mood, especially when JRJR was in the artistâ€™s chair. He wasnâ€™t so good at the lighter stuff. I think thatâ€™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 â€œsad sack,â€ but not every frigginâ€™ issue. You have to remember to throw in the â€œupsâ€ as well. And Mackieâ€™s handling of MJ, May and Flash was terrible.
At least he didnâ€™t cause any â€œpermanent damageâ€ 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 donâ€™t ding him for those.), but I would have appreciated him more had he left the reboot to other hands.
Thereâ€™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 (Peterâ€™s â€œIâ€™m Too Youngâ€ 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 weâ€™ll see what happens when MJ comes back); Mackie just kept amping it up.