Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Sal Buscema

I've been following the Marvel Chronology Project order to read these, and that lists this issue's prologue as coming just before Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #100. So I made sure I read those opening four pages before that issue.

D'oh! Maybe I should have read those pages in retrospect...

Anyhow, if I've been praising Tom DeFalco's recent scripts for being so comedy-based, then Peter David is making those issues look like a Greek tragedy.

After the finely gag-packed parody Compulsion!, this time David weaves a shameless slapstick around the mishaps of Spidey's wannabee sidekicks.

The Toad, the fabulous Frogman and the spectacular Spider-Kid all share the same dream – that of replacing the Black Cat as Spider-Man's partner-in-crimestopping. The fact that the job isn't even available doesn't deter them from fighting each other for it, in a clumsy 7am battle which Spider-Man proves unable to prevent.

The biggest danger for Spidey is from the 47 gunmen who set-out to get him, nine of whom show-up hungover, while the other 38 just don't show-up.

The gags flow thick and fast, far too many to quote here, and Sal Buscema's pencils have to keep-up with Malcolm-In-The-Middle-esque daydreams, breaking the fourth wall (page 8 panel 6), a cameo from a muppet and, most challengingly, having to coax some funny facial expressions from just two white eyes on that black spider-mask.

When Spider-Man solves his problem by accidentally convincing them all to form a super-group without him – called The Misfits - we actually get several sarcastic alternate names from him, each complete with their own comicbook logos and ™ signs.

One of them - The Spastic Three™ - erm, dates the strip a little. (this was 1985)

Peter David may not display the depth and long-term planning of Tom DeFalco's over-arcing plots, but he sure sees the Marvel Universe as a good excuse for a whole lot of fun.


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