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

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In Reply To
Dave Phelps

Subj: Re: Spider-Man Revisited 43: Al Milgrom
Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 10:40:51 am EDT (Viewed 7 times)
Reply Subj: Spider-Man Revisited 43: Al Milgrom
Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 at 07:48:02 pm EDT (Viewed 9 times)

    Original opinion: Liked the Spectacular run. Round Robin was disappointing. I had completely forgotten about those two Amazing back-ups.

Al's art is among my least favorite of all the artists who have extended runs on a Spidey title. That hurts my opinion of his books, since he was writer/artist for most of his Spectacular run.

    Spec #90 (Where, Oh Where Has My Spider-Man Gone?)
    Spider-Man's off at the Secret Wars and the Black Cat's looking for him. Unfortunately, she's looking at all of Peter's usual haunts which just means wall to wall awkward moments. Sometimes amusing, sometimes not. Milgrom's following Mantlo's lead on the Cat's characterization, which wasn't the greatest. Mantlo made her kinda whiny.

I agree that the Mantlo and Milgrom Black Cat stories did not do much to put the Cat in a positive light. I found her carelessness with Pete's ID to be incridibly irritating.

    Spec #91 (If It Wasn't For Bad Luck...)
    The Blob's friend Unus dies (well, until Grant Morrison used him New X-Men because he didn't know about it) and the Blob takes it poorly. Spider-Man and the Cat save the day (sort of), but cause a nasty traffic jam. The last panel with Blob sobbing and the poor drivers honking was darkly amusing. I wonder how they ever got him to move? Meanwhile, we have the beginning (IIRC) of Flash's portrayal as The Guy Who Peaked in High School and the beginning of the end of his relationship with Sha Shan.

The only element of this era's Black Cat / Spider-Man relationship that I really liked was that Cat's photos were much better than Peter's automatic photos, and Peter had the moral dillema of taking credit for someone else's work.

    Spec #92 (And the Answer Is...)
    Introducing... the Answer! It's a good thing he didn't last too long, since Kingpin spends most of his time in Daredevil's book and the Answer wouldn't have fit in over there, but I liked him over here. Maybe because he only lasted five issues so his whole "answer" shtick didn't have time to get annoying? And Peter gets to see the upside in getting caught up in his own webbing. I guess having the Cat with him helped...

I found his Answer schtick to be annoying by appearance three or so. Since his revival (in Lethal Foes, maybe?) he seems to just be another lame villain for group shots (like Bar With No Name or the Hood's endless crew of villains). Maybe that's for the best...

    Spec #93 (A Hot Time in the Old Morgue Tonight!)
    Spider-Man and the Cat have a nasty fight about the secrets the Cat has been keeping (and her constant risking of his). Fortunately, the Answer is there to help them make amends, in between snagging a mysterious corpse.

    Spec #94-96 (The Final Answer)
    The corpse is revealed to be old-gangster-turned-Cyborg Silvermane. The Kingpin and the Answer manage to partially revive him (he never does get a speaking role in this story) in hopes of making him the Kingpin's new top assassin. But Silvermane (even mostly brain-dead) has his own agenda - which has a detrimental effect on the one who killed him, Dagger, and (indirectly) her good buddy Cloak. One big free for all in the Kingpin's tower later, the Answer sacrifices himself (somewhat accidentally) to revive Dagger. She helps pull Silvermane the rest of the way back to the living and gets Cloak back to normal. Sadly, she refuses Kingpin's request to help his wife Vanessa recover from the traumas she suffered back in the Miller Daredevil run. (Just as well. "Living light" is a dubious cure when therapy would (and eventually did) work just as well. Although her full recovery apparently turned her into a completely ruthless woman capable of killing her own son so maybe it WOULD have been better in the long if Dagger had just waved her hand...) Since Spider-Man and the Black Cat were part of the reason the Kingpin wasn't able to put Dagger to proper use, he re-swears vengeance on them. Why he didn't use his resources to recapture Dagger, I don't know. Oh, and Betty and Flash make their first tentative steps into adultery. Fun!

Did anyone enjoy cyborg Silvermane? Doesn't it seem like a vast perversion of the original aging mobster from ASM 73-75?

    Questprobe #2 (Mysterio Times Two)
    This one has a perfectly decent Spider-Man/Mysterio story with the Chief Examiner getting in the way to convince Spider-Man to go through the portal. The thought of two beings using a globe to cover their head is too much for Spider-Man so he thinks that the Examiner is Mysterio in a different outfit. Huh. There's also some stuff to tie into the large Questprobe storyline, but the book was cancelled an issue later so worry about that too much. (#4 ended up in Marvel Fanfare and Gruenwald later tied up the main threads in Quasar.) The real highlight of the issue is the computer stuff on the letters page. All those questions about whether the games will be available "on tape," comments about how the games need a computer with 12k of memory, text vs. graphics... How... quaint? I never did actually see any of the Questprobe games when I was a kid. Where's the nostalgia market when you need it?

I think this is the second issue you've covered that I haven't read. (There was another guest appearance in there somewhere.) It sounds fun.

    Spec #97 (Hermit-age)
    Spider-Man encounters a guy who's too brilliant at giving advice and reading the Market for his own good. All he wants to do is to be left alone and he gets forced into advertising and helping a crook plan robberies. Fortunately, Spidey has some good advice of his own to give. And for once, it's not "with great power comes great responsibility."

Herb Trimpe art greatly enhances my enjoyment of this issue. I noticed "Lotto Cola" billboards in a bunch of PPTSS issues around this time, but I can't recall seeing them ever again. Maybe they went under when they lost their top ad executive?

    Spec #98-100 (On the Spot)
    Oh dear heavens, I just caught the joke. Johnathan (Johnny) Ohnn - the Spot. Ouch! Silly puns aside, I liked the Spot; he had a neat gimmick. Bringing most of the storylines to a close - the final battle with the Kingpin (for a year or two, anyway); the end of Spider-Man's relationship with the Black Cat (for a year or two, anyway); explaining the ways and wherefore's of Kingpin's master plan (what he's been up to for the last year or two, anyway), etc. Although Kingin's goal of "heartbreak or death" was somewhat undermined by Pete dumping the Cat for unrelated reasons. Also continuing the melodrama with Betty, Flash and Sha Shan, which DeFalco would later attend to, as Flash attempts to re-attain gridiron glory and fails miserably.

Not necessarily a part of this story, but I found the dialog between Flash and his teammates about "the organization" to be unrealistic and really forced to make you think something seedy was going on. That irked me. Misdirection is great, but you have to have the real explanation be plausible.

    ASM #353-358 (Round Robin: The Sidekick's Revenge)
    One nice thing about reading some truly terrible Spider-Man stories - it makes the "merely bad" ones seem a lot better by comparison. It's Spider-Man, Darkhawk, Nova, Night Thrasher, Punisher, and Moon Knight vs. Midnight (clearing an open thread from Dixon's Moon Knight run), the Secret Empire, Thunderball, an evil cyborg nurse and the Seekers (who just happened to be created by the editor... hmmm...). It should have been a fun adventure in the Marvel Team-Up style but it didn't quite work out that way due to some pretty wince-worthy dialogue (every time Night Thrasher says "partner" or "teammate," take a shot). Okay, Peter and MJ's exchange about "Spidey action" was cute.

While this doesn't hold up well at all, this storyline (can't recall the exact issue) was my first exposure to Spider-Man, and I fell in love. I think I picked it up because I had just discovered Darkhawk (with issue 7 of his series).

I recall the

"What's wrong, Spidey - Lose your other playmates?"
"Yep! They took their pails and shovels and just went on home! I threadened to hold my breath till I turned blue - but did that stop them? Nooooooo..."

conversation to be incredibly hysterical to 11-year-old-me. I was also in awe of Mark Bagley's art. By the end of the storyline, I had subscribed to ASM and was hooked for life (with a six year gap from 1995 to 2000 initially due to financial concerns). A random stop into the LCS in the summer of 2000 and the picking up of Essential Spider-Man vol 1 and I was back for good.

So while the story doesn't hold up well (at all), it still holds a very special place in Spidey lore for me.

    ASM #371 (Strained Relations)
    One of a series of back-ups with the Spider-Man supporting cast's reactions to the return or Peter's parents. In this case, MJ. She's trying to be happy for Peter, but her own parental issues, concern about whether or not it was a trick from one of his enemies (err...) and a degree of selfishness keep her from succeeding. Poor thing.

    ASM #372 (Punch... Counter-Punch)
    Now we're on Flash. He tells Pete to be happy since Pete isn't famous enough for anyone to want to screw with him. (Err...) Then we're back to "real reasons why Flash picked on Peter" - this time it's because Flash's dad was a bookworm who was mean to Flash. And now dead. JM had a slightly different take on Flash's dad, which we'll get to before too much longer.

I prefer JM's take on this (he is my favorite Spider-Writer after all).

    In summary... he did okay. Some creative new bad guys, a reasonable resolution to the Black Cat/Spider-Man relationship set-up by Mantlo, and mostly harmless fill-ins.

I've found that his writings have aged well for me, as with each reread I can further distance myself from his art (which I still don't like) and can judge the writing on its own merrits.

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