Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Writer / Scripter: Cary Burkett
Penciler / Artist: Greg LaRocque

Three team-ups, one villain throughout.

Despite the cover to #146, the first issue is initially a team-up between mild-mannered alter-egos Peter Parker and Jack Monroe.

As strangers thrown-together by circumstance, together they take-on a NY street gang, each one careful not to give-away their super-identity to the other. Afterwards they hit it off as mates and head off to the cinema together to watch John Wayne's Rio Bravo. As the day wears on, the package Monroe is delivering to Marvel Comics for Captain America's alter-ego Steve Rogers gets stolen, so the two split-up to chase the assailant, each secretly planning to change into their super-identities.

The fact that the rest of this issue features Spider-Man and Nomad battling the same villains together but each never realising that the other is the same person who they were earlier fighting alongside, despite their voices, is one of the inherent flaws in the superhero genre. You really just have to roll with that one.

Along the way they, and an impressed kid bystander, face two villains who I don't think I've come across before - the Taskmaster and the Black Abbott.

The Taskmaster is summed-up by Spidey thus:

Spidey: "If I remember right, he's got some talent he calls 'Photogenic Reflexes'-- --which lets him duplicate exactly the abilities of Hawkeye, Captain America, and a zillion other heroes he's watched in action! But as good as he is at copying natural skills, he can't really do anything superhuman – like matching my spider-speed!"

It sure is a subtle distinction, but it brings Spider-Man and Nomad up against a guy who embodies significantly weaker versions of their many other super-buddies, all rolled into one.

This idea really got my attention, however the villain who lasts-out this trilogy turns out to be the Black Abbott.

(all together now –

Black Aaabbott,
Black Aaabbott,
He wears a jet black tweed,
Black Aaabbott,
Black Aaabbott,
He's very bad indeed...


The Abbott can do all kinds of weird religious-ish stuff to his foes, including humbling Spidey with a psychic bolt, and reducing another character to ashes. In that deathly cloak, it's tempting to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger delivering his lines...

Black Abbott: "Learn now the fruits of your trespass... as you fall in abject penitence at my feeeet!"

Alas, on page 18, he accidentally dissolves his own arm.

#147 finds the now one-armed Abbott, along with a mysterious two-armed double, hypnotising the Human Torch to obey him. It's a spell which Spidey, in time-honoured comic-tradition, realises he can only break by making Torchie lose his temper. Although this is a family comic, the writers pull no punches.

After the trance is broken, we're told that it takes only "several minutes" for Torchie to calm down after that somewhat shocking goad. I guess that means that at least one of them was showing some restraint.

#148 solves the mystery of the Abbott's double (dubbed by Spidey "the Black Costello") when it's revealed that there's a whole gaggle of versions of him around the world, called the Black Apostles. The kid from part one returns to try to help out, along with the Mighty Thor.

Although all three issues are pencilled by Greg LaRocque and inked by Mike Esposito, the third episode really stood out to me as having some good artwork. The close-ups of Thor particularly suggest a lot of mood behind his otherwise often silent countenance.

(with thanks to Herschel)


0 comment(s):

Post a Comment

<< Back to Steve's home page

** Click here for preceding post(s) **

** Click here for following post(s) **