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Peter Parker: Spider-Man #54

Posted: Tuesday, April 8, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Zeb Wells
Artists: Michael O'Hare (p), Wayne Faucher (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
As the consortium of wealthy business men continue their little game of organizing battles between super-heroes & villains, so they can lay bets on the final outcome, we see Spider-Man finds himself fighting his old enemy, the Scorpion.

Comments:
It's an amusing enough framework device that essentially allows Zeb Wells to deliver what is essentially a string of pointless battles between Spider-Man & some lower tier villains in the character's rogues gallery. However, I've always been of the mind that even a battle that is being produced largely to generate laughs has to meet the basic elements that I enter most battles seeking. I mean Zeb Wells makes if rather clear that neither he, nor Spider-Man consider the Scorpion much of a threat, so the battle basically consists of his batting the clueless villain around until he can deliver his final attack, which I'll admit was rather cute. A battle that is so clearly structured so that one party is continually established as being the hands on favorite to win is never all that entertaining unless the underdog is the hero.

Now there's some funny stuff to be found here, as one has to smile at the killer robot that announces its attacks before it carries them out, and the Scorpion is allowed to be amusingly self-aware of the absurdity of this situation, with the conversation with the robot before they move in to attack Spider-Man being the highlight of the issue. As for the art, Michael O'Hare delivers a fairly energetic style, but it's not as clear as I'd like to see, especially during the action sequence.

Final Word:
If last issue hadn't delivered essentially the exact same story that we received in this issue I might have been able to work up some more enthusiasm for this material. However as it stands while there's are funny moments to be found, and the overriding plot that is driving this arc is an interesting one, the simple fact of the matter is that this issue is essentially a repeat of the previous issue, with the only difference being the villain inserted into the mix is now the Scorpion. Zeb Wells is a pretty amusing writer, and his name is starting to become a welcome sight in the credit boxes, but I am a bit concerned that he's creating his plots simply to act as framing devices for his jokes, as after he sets up an amusing premise (e.g. Spider-Man trapped at an MTV style beach party, Spider-Man being an unwitting participant in a televised fight), we get very precious forward movement, as the focus shifts to simply delivering funny moments within the confines of original premise.



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