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Spectacular Spider-Man #22

Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



"The Infernal Triangle"

Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artists: Talent Caldwell (p), Norman Lee (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
As Spider-Man stumbles across a city block that is being subjected to a overpowering sense of depression he discovers the source of this wave of sadness is a homeless individual that he knows by the name Mindworm. As Peter wonders if his previous battles with this man was the cause of his current down and out situation, we see Peter decides to help Mindworm get back on his feet, but he comes to this decision too late.

Comments:
I rather like the idea that Paul Jenkins holds a fondness for the grade-Z villains that have appeared in the pages of the Spider-Man titles over the decades, as some of the more entertaining stories can result when a writer challenges themselves to do something interesting with lame duck characters like the Big Wheel, or Stilt Man. Now this issue Paul Jenkins resurrects a villain by the name of Mindworm, who I have a vague memory of, as I seem to recall he was the villain when Peter briefly moved in with Flash Thompson. Now while I like the path this issue takes with the character, as Peter discovers that after his defeat at the hands of Spider-Man, Mindworm has become on of the many homeless individuals that populate the streets of New York. However, the whole question of that Peter asks about whether helping Mindworm get back on his feet is something he should be doing is a bit of a non-starter, as his past encounters with the former villain had clearly established that Mindworm was a far greater danger to the public that the average homeless individual, and that the reason why he's not able to be a productive member of society is a bit more complex. If nothing else one has to wonder why Peter didn't give the X-Men a call as if there was ever a problem that fit into their sphere of influence it's Mindworm, but instead this issue asks us to accept the idea that Peter would be so unsure of what his next step should be that he would spend the issue wracked by indecision until the situation escalated into a full-blown crisis, and Paul Jenkins could offer up a tragic finish.

Talent Caldwell has a polished style that does a pretty good job of telling the story in an easy-to-follow manner, and while his art doesn't really jump off the page, I did enjoy the greater clarity that comes with his presence on the title. The art also does a good job on it's big impact visuals, from the credit page shot of Mindworm, to the one-page spread where Mindworm lashes out at his attackers. The art also deserves credit for the sheer effectiveness of the scene where we see one of his attackers is run down by a elevated train, and the art does a nice job capturing the raw emotion of the final page. I also have to give the art full credit for the cover visual, as it's an engaging image that left me curious about the story inside. My only problem with the art is that it's does seem like the art on this title is a little obsessed with the idea that whenever there's a battle it has to be raining, and frankly I've become a little bored with this visual element.



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