With its recent 3-parter, SSM is now way ahead of the other titles for me, so time to play catchup, starting here. Tony Daniel was a guy who did a minor Image comic, then some work for Todd McFarlane on Spawn, and then I don’t know what all, really, aside from recent covers for SMU, before eventually settling in as an artist at DC in the 2000s, notably illustrating much of Grant Morrison’s legendary Batman, and writing & draw his own Batman later on, among other things. Can sure see that McFarlane influence here. But inside, former Spider-Man assistant editor Mark Bernado writes for the now-dependable SMU penciller Joe Bennett, inked by Joe Pmentel & Tim Dzon and colored by the great Christie Scheele. Sometime back, Betty Brant was off to do a story in Latveria. Well, that’s not gone so well, as we find her in a dungeon on page one. Her captor comes in and tells her her reporting has led to the need to execute her. And he looks like this:
Really making some fashion choices. Is Doom not currently in charge of Latveria? Oh, wait, he’s probably in the Heroes Reborn universe right now. But he should be back soon. Back in New York, Spider-Man is at the docks late one night, watching an illegal export of something or other from, wouldn’t you know it, Lateveria, who’re under an embargo from the US. So, setting up his camera, he goes down to pick a fight.
A final goon tries to fight Spider-Man with a staff, which is far dumber than trying to shoot him, and that goes as you’d expect. Then our man cracks open a crate and finds it’s high-tech weapons being illegally exported. As he retrieves his camera and takes it to develop film at The Bugle, he confirms my suspicion that Doom is still presumed dead after Onslaught, and says Latveria has been really unstable since. When he reaches work, he finds a lot of lights on, which strikes him as odd for the time of night, but…
Peter Parker with the casual Sandman cosplay.
Pete heads down to find JJJ deep in his cups and feeling sullen. As Jonah rambles about why he’s bad company tonight, Peter realizes JJJ blames himself for Ned Leeds’ death (We’ll get there someday), and now that he’s sent Betty to a warzone to be executed, he’s really beating himself up. When Peter asks if he and Ben Urich can go try to help (Let’s be honest, how could they help?) JJJ storms out on him.
With both The FF and The Avengers presumed dead, Spidey really doesn’t have any friends in New York to send him on a globe trotting mission. But, MJ lets him know there was a story on the news about a message on the Times Square TVs today that read “SPIDER-MAN: THE TORCH AT 12 NOON — SABLE.” So, that’s that. The next day, Spidey arrives at The Statue of Liberty, wondering how Silver knows about he & The Torch’s old meeting spot. He doesn’t know she found out about it in ASM 407 when Ben was Spider-Man, or that Ben met her at all, but he figures it out. She says she’s been contracted to “bring down the revolution in Latveria.”
Well, that explains why this “Dread Knight” is so goofy, he’s from 60s Iron Man. Not the best rogues gallery, Iron Man. Over in Latveria, we learn Dread Knight’s mysterious US backer is none other than Roxxon Oil. No surprise there. They’ve offered to provide material support to the revolution in exchange for stripmining Latervia’s nature resources once Dread’s in charge.
Rude. Nearby, Silver, Spidey and the gang make contact with the Zefiro, the Romani people Doom himself comes from. They’re the ones who’ve contracted Silver to stop Dread Knight at great personal cost. They also have Doombots. They say Doom left them to protect the tribe, but when they see Spider-Man, the recognize him as “an enemy of the master” and open fire on him. So he blows them up. I mean, surely he coulda just left or something instead of depriving these poor people of such powerful defense. Oh, well.
Alrighty. That “everything can be knocked out by hitting one powersource” thing is sure is convenient. An hour later, the assault begins. As The Wild Pack, which seems to include some D-list Marvel characters now instead of just nameless goons, make their attack run, Silver and Spidey approach the back way in. But Spider-Man tells Silver he’s here to rescue a friend, so she should wait for him before attacking. She doesn’t, of course. Inside, Betty gets one of her guards to open her cell door by causing a ruckus, and then rather unconvincingly knees him in the junk despite him being in full armor, and that takes him down, allowing her to run for it.
They shouldn’t have made that guy look like the dude in Phantasm if they wanted him to scan as a physical threat. Elsewhere, Betty’s attempt to escape brings her right to where ol Dreadknight is… Just kinda sitting around on his horse? But before he can do anything to her, Spider-Man appears.
Somehow, this guy on a winged horse, indoors, whose only gimmick is a big awkward lance, gives Spider-Man a run for his money for awhile. It’s really hard to buy. But he has to so we can cut away to The Wild Pack mopping up the armored guys outside only to be met with reinforcements, and then to Silver rallying and taking down her unimposing opponent. But, it turns out she managed to turn on the 3-minute EMP before he hit her, and it’s already run its course, so Dreadknight’s stuff powers back up back at the main fight.
Spidey leaps down after him, goading his foe into shooting some of his lance’s weird coils into the generator, and…
Boy, “Bram Velsing.” Sheesh.
Wah wah waaaaah. For once, Spider-Man was actually willing to take Silver’s money, and he’s not getting it.
I wonder how many comics on this blog end with Roxxon scheming in the shadows? I believe I can think of 3 more off hand. Kind of a recurring theme. As far as SMU goes, that was a pretty solid issue. Silly villain, but otherwise, could be a lot worse (As we have surely seen!).