Sunday, October 21, 2012

Retro Review: Spider-man #95

A lot of Spider-man fans shit on Howard Mackie. I never thought he was a great writer but he was a decent one and he wrote a few gems, this issue among them. But then Mackie, along side John Byrne gave us the relaunch in 1999. That was one of the most maligned times in Spider-man history and for good reason. But I feel like most of blame for that falls on Byrne, from what I understand he was the one who had the most say in the direction of the Spider-books. Mackie was just following orders as it were.

The time right before the relaunch is one of my favorite times in Spidey history. From right after the clone saga ended with Ben Reilly's death to right before the relaunch I was loving the Spider-man books. This little gem was during that time.

At the time of this issue Norman Osborn had recently returned from seeming death and had positioned himself into sort of a Lex Luthor "legitimate businessman" role in Spider-man's life. At one point Norman was fucking with Spidey enough he got him to lose his temper, break into his office and beat the living shit out of Norman. Unfortunately that was on the security camera and it lead to Spidey being a wanted man for a while. Norman truly had himself in a position where Spidey couldn't touch him. The tension was thick and I thought it was an exciting time.

The story of this issue is Norman, Peter, Betty Brant, and Norman's grandson Normie are all in an elevator together in the Bugle when Norman is attacked by Nitro the Living Bomb blast who was sent by the Kingpin. The elevator crashes to the ground and Norman and Peter are the only ones left conscious. Norman taunts Peter, asking if he will use his strength to get them out knowing their might be a security camera on them. The two back and forth for a while and Peter finally decides he must get them out of there and frees himself, then Betty and little Normie. Normie, now awake says to Peter "What about grandpa?" which Norman obviously enjoys saying "Yes Peter, what of the boys grandfather?" So poor Peter is put in a situation of having to rescue his mortal enemy with both of them knowing full well he could get himself out.

This issue made for a damn fine character study of both Norman and Peter, and again, the tension at this time was incredibly thick. If you've always crapped on Howard Mackie you should give this issue a shot, you might see him a bit differently after reading it. And frankly if you're just a Spider-man fan you should check out this issue.

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