Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Plot / writer / script: David Michelinie (#16-19), Larry Lieber (#21), Len Kaminsky (#23)
Pencils: Marc Silvestri (#16-19), Larry Lieber (#21), Jim Fern (#23)
#20 & #22 bear no credits.

Spider-Man's eight-issue run-in with the evil Roxxon conglomerate looks to be one of his more haphazard capers.

In a good way.

It all starts with the wallcrawler sneezing in the rain as he swings around New York. With no clean dry clothes, he has to go into work at the Daily Bugle wearing a pink Strawberry Shortcake t-shirt.

Here he's teamed-up with Now Magazine reporter Joy Mercado, and flown all the way down to Virginia to cover some labour unrest. They spend a whole two issues uncovering illicit activities in a gigantic underground complex, before the whole place duly explodes, with Spider-Man trapped inside.

Three days pass during which the webslinger is missing in action, and cannot even appear in his other two current titles - Amazing Spider-Man #279 and The All New, All Daring Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #117.

Believe it or not, it turns out that he has unexpectedly survived the blast, although his last red-and-blue costume can't say the same, ripped to shreds right down to his undies. Basically, in an arguably genius merchandising tie-in, Peter Parker is at last wearing an actual pair of Spider-Man underpants.

Stealing food and clothes, he tries to hitch-hike home before winding-up in prison, where he uncovers and busts an illegal human war game.

Once back in New York, he and Joy are dispatched to London to cover a speech by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on terrorism. Understandable really, after all the repair work that's evidently been done to London since the devastation of Captain America #306.

Ahh yes, Marvel Comics' always entertaining version of Her Majesty's capital is all coming back to me now...

Blimey mate, this is a London where all the lads are dropping their aitches, red double-decker buses share the road with bright yellow taxicabs, and the IRA can successfully bomb Heathrow Airport by targeting a flight into Gatwick.

At one point Peter says that he can't believe that innocent people are being killed because of a threat that hasn't existed for hundreds of years. Perhaps he should apply this reasoning to his choice of British currency in 1986?

Peter Parker: (THINKS WHILE TIPPING THE BELL-BOY)"Darn. Is a farthing more than a shilling? What the heck's a 'bob'?! Oh, nuts. (OUT LOUD, DROPPING SOME RANDOM COINS INTO THE BELL-BOY'S HAND) Here."

Bell-boy: "Thank you, guv! (THINKS) Few more like that, an' I can bloody retire!"

There's no inker credited on issue #20, so I guess it'll be okay if I ask what happened to Maggie Thatcher's face?

Anyhow, despite the pair's official mission, Joy is still intent on following up her leads on Roxxon, so they decide to follow the trail over to Ireland.

The next issue is entirely devoted to the ferry journey, as Peter develops a cold and has a 22-page flashback to the last time he had one. Hummm, wasn't he sneezing at the start of this epic yarn? This self-contained issue appears to have been held-over for a few months, being by a different writer/artist, and enjoying an extra-page on the start and end showing Peter and Joy on the boat. Heck, this flashback's so long, it even contains its own flashbacks!

Anyway, that detour over, the next issue opens in Belfast, where there's a firefight between the army and the 'black hoods'. Curiously, the ayrish seem to speak with a bit of a London accent, dropping their gees, and peppering their language with 'mate' and 'bloody' too.

Liam: "I saw ya nabbed outside the pub, mates! Couldn't stand by and not help a couple o' drinkin' buddies out of a nasty bit of business now, could I?"

I must confess, it all sounds very Irish to me, but then I've never even set foot there.

Anyway, Roxxon are up to no good in Belfast too, but at least they're not doing it alone. No wait, that's worse. They're in league with the terrorists, various Members Of Parliament, and even 003 of the British Secret Service. Peter Parker seems to feel like he's wandered into a Bond movie.

Peter: "I don't believe this! Atomic cannons! Secret agents! Terrorists! This is crazy!"

He obviously has yet to notice that he's saying this while the master-villain has tied him and Joy to two chairs, and proceeded to spend the next two pages graciously explaining his plan to them before they die.

In summary, we really have seven different stories here (I haven't catalogued them all). I guess the authors could have submitted seven self-contained tales with no overall thread running through them, but I'm glad they didn't. I like sagas.

Still, on their flight back home to New York in the final issue, there's one overall plot-point that really needs addressing. Surely Joy Mercado has noticed that, everywhere she and Peter have travelled, Spider-Man has always shown up to rescue them? She must have worked it out by now, surely. She can't be that galactically stupid, can she?

Well, she does have a few stern words to say to Peter on the subject... (as they argue in a toilet in first class)

Oh what a tangled Web Of Spider-Man we weave.


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