Sunday, December 23, 2012

Retro Review: Amazing Spider-man #420

Ho Ho Ho! Christmas is nearly upon us. So let's look at yet another Christmas issue, this time Spider-man and X-Man celebrate Christmas. Some of you might be wondering who the hell X-man is. Well, X-man, AKA Nate Grey, is the son of Jean Grey and Cyclops from an alternate universe where the mutant villain known as Apocalypse rules the world. He ended up in the regular Marvel Universe somehow and amazingly had a series that lasted 75 issues. That's a pretty decent run for a book that started in 1995. In the mid 90's the bottom fell out of the speculator market and a lot of good books at Marvel got the ax as Marvel went through financial problems and even bankruptcy but somehow this survived until 2001. This issue was the start of Spidey and X-Man becoming fast friends.

Our story starts out with Peter looking at a pair of boots he wants to get for MJ for Christmas. He doesn't really have the money so to make it he takes a Daily Bugle assignment of taking pics of a new street prophet that is gathering quite the following in Central Park. This turns out to Nate Grey and when Peter shows up Nate immediately senses he's Spider-man and confronts him. The two go somewhere private to chat, Peter denies he's Spidey but Nate uses his telekinesis to rip off his civilian cloths like on the cover. The two share their respective origins with each other then Spidey invites Nate over to his place to have Christmas dinner with MJ and MJ's aunt Anna. There were also some sub plots featuring the assassin Delilah fighting another assassin but they have nothing to do with the main story.

Now, I've mentioned over and over that my favorite time in Spidey history, the time right after the clone saga and right before the relaunch. That being said, of the 4 Spidey books at the time, I thought Amazing was the weakest. The art really suffered after Mark Bagely left and I've never been a very big fan of writer Tom DeFalco. This artist, Steve Skorce, had a style I found very unpleasant. Everyone looked so ugly. I often wonder if this artists new style was the reason DeFalco began shifting Delilah's personality from femme fatale to butch amazon. Also the friendship with Nate Grey was very odd to say the least. This was before Spidey became a staple of the Avengers, and other then Human Torch and Daredevil Spidey had no close relationships to any other super heroes. Sure ,Spidey would team up with anyone and everyone all the time, but he had Nate over for Christmas dinner. Spidey would appear in X-man's book a few times over the next couple of years and Nate would show up here and there in Amazing. Once the relaunch happened to the Spidey books the new creative teams forgot all about Nate Grey and this little bromance fell into obscurity. Most writers never bring it up, hell in the 2003 Spider-man Encyclopedia hardcover I got Nate Grey didn't even get an entry, and they gave Nightcrawler and entry in that.

All and all this was a decent issue. It's not great but it's worth checking out. I like how Christmas isn't a main plot point, it's just something happening in the background. That's kinda how I feel serialized fiction should handle holidays. Rather then do a full holiday themed story just have the holiday happening as life goes on. So like I said, this issue is worth checking out if you're a Spidey fan or if by some chance you're an X-Man fan.

1 comment:

  1. I really liked X-Man. I also liked this friendship, although from a 'sales' standpoint it's a nightmare -- do I buy Spidey books or X-Men books, as I don't have money for both, and with the crossovers happening all the time you can't miss out! So it sucked in another sense.

    But Nate is a favourite and I was sad to hear he's back in Dark Reign. I didn't read it, as I heard he got jobbered, and really that shouldn't have happened.

    His Spidey friendship did lead to the one singular Morbius story I have ever liked, though. :)