This one, I never understood. Why does Spider-Man need what’s more or less Man-Bat from the Batman comics? It’s weird and kinda silly in Batman, it’s even weirder in Spider-Man. Al Vey is joined by Pam Eklund on inks. We open on some rich people enjoying rich people things at night in the city, with leathery wings swooping above them.
That’s sort of the first time Jason Ionello is named, a character who is curiously going to be part of the supporting cast in this book, but wasn’t really in the original comics. I’m totally confident Kurt could point to him in a panel somewhere, but he’s only really a character in this series. He’s not the only one, either…
“Sally” there was named in AF15, but in this series, she’s Sally Avril, full-fledged member of the gang. Slightly awkward early mention of Kraven, but it’s a fun thing to do to make him a celebrity before we meet him. Jumping ahead, Spider-Man looks for the creature after school, really wanting that reward, but no dice. Back at home, aunt May tells Peter he stays out too late these days and neglects his sleep, but he defuses her with a joke, as usual. At The Bugle the next day, JJJ rants about how no one has pictures of “the thing they’re calling BATWING,” and he wants them. Why would people settle on that name, other than anything else might prompt legal action from DC (Or Weekly World News)? Bit weird. He catches Peter once again trying to ask Betty out and runs him off to go find Batwing.
Yes, Tiny McKeever is also going to be a cast member of this book, but not ASM. The bullying is less cruel in the originals, and the bullies are less nuanced. And it might seem hypocritical, and maybe it is, but this doesn’t bother me as much as all the long-standing villains and Flash Thompson all developing abusive fathers in the 80s and 90s. Mostly because this is part of who Tiny is from jump. He’s not retroactively being given a bad homelife as a gross explanation for his villainy or to make us feel sorry for him, he’s just a kid in a bad situation. It just doesn’t feel the same to me. At any rate, later on, Cherry is throwing a lavish rooftop party, which Spider-Man is secretly watching and waiting for the Batwing thing to attack. A murmur runs through the guests, who know it could come and that Spider-Man is there. We’re told, but not shown, that Norman Osborn is there. And then…
Guy sure has it in for the bat. Spidey catches up to his prey, his belt camera going just in case, and lands on his back. He gets a swipe of claws for his troubles and flips away, but then Batwing zooms back at him, catching him off balance, and they fight their way through the sky for awhile, until Spidey lands a good hit that changes his foe’s behavior.
Obviously, our man is now very concerned for the kid, and wants to try to help him, but the kid’s mom told him scientists would cut him up if they caught him, and he’s scared and tries to run, right into the hands of Cherryh’s goons. Cherryh is delighted.
I don’t know if a lot of people would agree with me, but my vibe for Pat Olliffe’s Spider-Man is kinda like “What if Todd McFarlane actually knew how to draw human beings?” Olliffe does a lot of the same kind of twisty anatomy, does the lots-of-webs thing, even does shots like that bottom panel that are very McFarlane-y, but he’s not doing an impression, and his figures look solid and not all lumpy and weird. It’s interesting to me.
Some quite heavy stuff, especially sandwiched between issues from 1962. The chance for Peter to swallow his pride and help Tiny is really nice, though. Will it lead to any sort of friendship? Well, we’ll see, won’t we? But not next post, as it’s back to ASM.