Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Writer: Tony Isabella
Penciler: Greg LaRocque

The Daily Bugle sends Peter Parker (Spider-Man) to Cleveland to cover a science-fair. Jim Rhodes (Iron Man) is also present, hoping to make a few business contacts. However neither hero realises that Mark Scarlotti (villain-for-hire Blacklash) is also mooching around, churning over the mess he has made of his personal life.

The meat of this story is in that it's mostly told from Scarlotti's point-of-view. We get to see his estrangement from his parents, his rejection by his friends, and his hopeless employment prospects. He's a villain who really wants to make good, but life just doesn't seem to be offering him that option.

Or is it? When old school buddy Rusty throws him a line hoping he'll bite and land a security-guard job, Scarlotti initially turns it down, reasoning that he wants something better.

I say initially, because the offer to meet Rusty's boss remains open, but before anything can develop, the mob are making him a counter-offer. I guess tellingly, Scarlotti jumps at this chance...

At least, I think he's being offered a job. There are four speech-balloons in that clip, but clearly two people's handwriting. There is only one letterer credited – Diana Albers – so I guess the editor must have been through changing these, and several other, lines before the original US publication.

It's the sort of rewriting that we're used to getting in reprints in the UK, so of course I just had to cynically wonder – did Marvel UK's version by any chance endow the panel with a third set?

Yes, they did.

Here's the same excerpt from this tale's reprinting in the British Spider-Man Summer Special 1985:

Yeah, yeah, they cut-out the pivotal moment at which Scarlotti was offered the hit-job. It's what sets the rest of the story in motion, is part of the reason why he busts-up the bar for the next two sides, and is the whole reason why he strikes at the science-conference and spends the rest of the issue battling Spider-Man and Iron Man, but that doesn't matter. Marvel UK cut the whole of that page.

Still, at least they were good enough to convey all of that plot-setting in the following specially-designed page which replaced it:

As if removing such a key plot-development and replacing it with an advert for the mag that you had already bought wasn't creative enough, Marvel UK also saw fit to tone-down Iron Man's jibber-jabber. I'm no expert, but in the US version, the African American inside the Iron Man costume definitely sounds a bit, erm, funky:

Now see if you can spot the subtle adjustment in the retelling for British readers:

Ahhh, good old Marvel UK.

You can always depend upon them to make a face of things.


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