Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Spider-Armor Always Sucks

Web of Spider-Man #100 marks the end of a truly painful story dramatically titled "My Enemy's Enemy." Earlier, we, the loyal Web readers, had been introduced to Blood Rose, a mysterious masked vigilante who was killing various and sundry goons in an attempt to fill in the power vacuum left by the Kingpin's departure from New York. Also vying for the top spot on the New York ladder of crime were the New Enforcers, who we'll get to in a minute, and the Foreigner, who is a crappy villain and a jukebox hero.

Spidey, as is his custom, is stuck in the middle of all the infighting.

We open on Spider-Man confronting the Vanisher, de facto leader of the New Enforcers since he gets the most lines, as the latter teleports two of his crappier henchpeople away. Vanisher has a cough, which is either a plot point (Hell, he probably had the Legacy Virus) or an opening for Spidey to make a joke about how Telford's going to have to get it looked at by the prison infirmary. Since that's where he's headed, see, after he gets beat up.

Anyway, Vanisher's no fool. He trades out Blitz and the Eel in favor of the Dragon Man, a Dreadnought and the Super-Adaptoid. Why he ever bothered hiring extra help when he had three robots that had previously fought the Fantastic Four, Iron Man and like half the Avengers to standstills, respectively, is beyond me, but I suppose he thought there was strength in numbers.

Spidey dispatches the robot trio in three or four pages, making use of my personal favorite Hero Is Outnumbered But Clever! tactics: baiting two villains into a head-on collision (which can be easily modified into tricking two villains into shooting each other).I desperately need to try this in real life. I can't imagine it works half as well when you aren't trained by, like, GI Joe, but it's worth a shot.

Fearing angry letters from hardcore Marvel Zombies ("To whom it may concern: Your lack of respect for the Super-Adaptoid is troubling and shows and obvious dearth of research on your part. Super-Adaptoid is the height of AIM engineering, and simply colliding with a far inferior Hydra android would never stop him, as erroneously shown on page 6 of Web of LIES #100. Please rectify this grievous error, or risk losing a loyal reader forever!"), writer Terry Kavanagh has the two robots start sparking and glowing after plowing headlong into each other's arms. It seems, and I'm quoting Spider-Man directly here, that "conflicting Hydra and AIM technologies must've created an energy feedback loop between Dreadnought and the Adaptoid."

Which is precisely the same reason you can't keep a PC and a Mac in the same room. Damned energy feedback loops, always looping fedback energy.

Spidey tags Dragon Man with a Spider-Tracer and the three robots run away for no readily apparent reason other than to move us into the B- through D-plots.

Blood Rose was revealed to be Richard Fisk, son of the Kingpin, in the issue prior. Problem with that was the fact that Richard Fisk had be thoroughly disposed of and tossed into a river sometime before. The apparently dead Richard was actually the real Richard's friend, Alfredo, who had undergone plastic surgery to look like the actual Richard so as to run New York's underworld in the absence of the Kingpin and the true heir to the Kingpin's empire. Alfredo had washed up on the shores of some vaguely tropical island where he was nursed back to health by one Dr Kevin Trench who is, in actuality, the vigilante Nightwatch. Alfredo stole one of Nightwatch's power gloves (I love the Power Glove. It's so baaaaad) as well as a motor boat and headed back to New York. You got all that?

Here's Gauntlet, also known as "Richard Fisk," also known as Alfredo McIDon'tThinkHeHadALastName, recapping things more concisely than I. And also crashing his boat for some reason.
The dock was right there. He could've just tied his boat off and climbed out. Silly Q-list Spider-Man villains, always being more melodramatic than necessary.

Now that we've gotten that mess out of the way, we cut to an alleyway helpfully labeled as "out of the very night itself," wherein Nightwatch, in New York to find his stolen glove, is beating the Hell out of some generic thugs. If you don't recall Nightwatch, God bless you, that means you can play a fun game I like to call "Who Was Nightwatch Ripped Off Of?"Oh, Marvel, way to stick it to Todd McFarlane. You sure showed him.

Nightwatch floundered around for a while, generally muttering grim things while standing on rooftops, as is the wont of Spawn ripoffs the world over. The last time I remember seeing him in a Spider-book was at the tail end of Maximum Carnage, where we saw him muttering grim things while standing on a rooftop with Morbius. Anyway, he needs his glove back so as to fix the temporary asymmetry of his costume. And also because it has potential that could be FATALLY UNLEASHED.

Cut to: Peter Parker working on some stupid science experiment. If you've ever read Spider-Man for any length of time, you've seen this bit a million times before. Peter's pouring chemicals while thinking about the Vulture or the Shocker or Aunt May being sick and that distraction causes him to inadvertently blow his little chemistry set up. This time around, post-explosion, Pete decides to use the ESU science lab for his own personal gain and whip up another batch of web-fluid, as well as "some kind of edge against this new coalition's heavy metal front line." That's seriously the longest dramatic pause in history. It's positively Shatnerian.

While Peter feverishly pounds out a new batch of web fluid and his ONE BIG STONE (my God, to WHAT could he be referring?), Nightwatch, Gauntlet and Blood Rose all head towards a house on the "edge of Manhattan." Blood Rose has run a "computer trace" leading him there, Gauntlet has used... I don't know, a magical Fisk-detecting tool and Nightwatch can sense his pilfered glove's "subtle energy surges." It doesn't really matter how they all got there, really; it's all just an excuse for a bench-clearing brawl.

Blood Rose gets the drop on the three robots from earlier, using vaguely-defined pseudoscience to turn the Adaptoid into "a giant magnetic pulse generator," which is apparently "an android's own worst nightmare" (I'd've thought electric math classes where they realize they're naked, but I guess it's magnetic pulse generators). With the three of them taken off the board, Rose is jumped by the remainder of the New Enforcers and everything goes bee-aye-en-aye-en-aye-ess. Let's take a look at this lineup, shall we? Vanisher's up in the back. He's useful strictly as transportation, if nothing else. On the ground, from left to right, you've got Thermite, Plant Man, the Eel, Blitz and Tangle. A real murderer's row. Rhino couldn't get nights off this particular week, I guess.

Now, you've already got Dragon Man, who breathes fire, and the Dreadnought, who shoots fire and ice, so Thermite's all kinds of redundant. Especially since you'd actually have to pay him, unlike the two robots. And you can't ride around on Thermite's back and scare people.

Plant Man and Tangle serve, as near as I can tell, the exact same purpose: they both use vines to tie people up. Plant Man's more versatile in theory, I guess, as he could also grow you a salad.

Blitz punches people really hard, but, again, you've got the damn Dragon Man. The Eel shoots lightning, giving him the only unique offensive power on the team.

Point is, whoever was recruiting here did a bang-up job. Got a real varied lineup.

Anyway, Spider-Man has been hiding in the shadows for God knows how long waiting for a proper line to come in on. He gets it, albeit awkwardly, when the Eel says that "Plant Man and Tangle will immobilize [Blood Rose] long enough for Blitz to--" Which is, obviously, time to yell "Clear an extra-wide path for... blah blah blah Spider-Armor blah." Once you give Spider-Man an opening, you can't shut the guy up. Incidentally, he's lying about the "Steel Spider" thing: the armor's made of a new webbing compound, which Pete whipped up during his earlier night-long dramatic pause. Why it's shiny, I'll never know. Why Spidey keeps referring to it as being metal, I'll never know. Damn if that webbing isn't versatile, though.

The very shiny Spidey makes short work of the Enforcers, until Thermite freezes him, at which time comic book science catches up with Pete.That's a law of Comic Book Physics, right there: Intense Cold Makes Armor Brittle and Extremely Breakable. There's the Iron Man Corollary to that law, which states that the above is null and void if you are, in fact, Iron Man.

De-armored, Spider-Man, with an assist from Nightwatch, finishes off the Enforcers and catches Gauntlet and Blood Rose, leaving him with two Richard Fisks and ending probably the only Spider-Man anniversary issue that doesn't recap his origin or somehow include the Green Goblin.


CalvinPitt said...

Ah, the Spider of Steel. I love that Spider-Man generally fights by relying on speed and agility to jump and around and confuse his enemies, so the logical step is to wear something that reduces said speed and agility, especially when fighting five or six enemies at once.

I thought Peter was supposed to be smart.

Jon said...

Imagine how embarrassed he must've been when he showed up to the fight and realized that the three guys who he'd built armor specifically to face had already been taken out by freakin' Blood Rose.

I mean, now you've got stupid armor on to fight Plant Man.

Chuck T. said...

Hey, it was the 90's, and for a while it seemed like everyone had to make their own armor: Thor, Cap, Hawkeye. How there was no Battle Armor Wolverine I don't know, except maybe he missed the seminar Iron Man gave. (With helpful tips like "How to Reroute Power," "How to Maintain the Same Size While Wearing a 50-Pound Chestplate under an Armani Suit.")
I remember Rose from the Hobgoblin issues of Amazing. Richard has to be pretty...comfortable with who he is, to wear a leather mask and call himself "Rose," then "Blood Rose." I know he was killed off in Bendis' Daredevil for letting slip DD's secret id, which may be the one thing he ever accomplished, and I'm not sure how he knew. (His dad doesn't seem like the type to let it slip in casual dinner conversation.)

Jon said...

I'm sure Kingpin goes off on near-orgasmic rants mid-meal, muttering vaguely coherent things like he was Orson Welles doing an ad for peas. Somewhere in there, I'm betting there was an "oh, God, this ham is DELIGHTFUL mattmurdockisdaredevil OH YES!

Because, as Randall Graves taught us, people say weird shit during sex.

King said...

Yes, we do all say weird shit during sex. I once called this chick mom.