The Spider-Man Project

Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man 001 (Story 1), 002, 003

Posted by dave, October 18, 2007 at 6:05 pm · No Comments ·

Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man 001“…As Dreams Are Made On…” Part One: Crash and Burn
Written by: John Marc DeMatteis
Art by: Michael Zulli
Letters: Bill Oakley
Colors: Christie Scheele
Originally published: January 1999

Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man 002As Dreams Are Made On Part Two: In the Nightmare Factory
Written by: John Marc DeMatteis
Art by: Michael Zulli
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Christie Scheele
Originally published: February 1999

Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man 003As Dreams Are Made On Part 3: Wake Up Call!
Writer: John Marc DeMatteis
Illustrators: Michael Zulli & Vince Locke
Lettering: RIchard Starkings
Colorist: Christie Scheele
Originally published: March 1999

The cover of this issue is really great. It’s really dark and dramatic, and a pretty sweet style that I’m not used to seeing for a Spider-Man book (or any Marvel book, really). It was a really pleasant surprise to see that the inside was just as amazing looking. Unfortunately, in the third issue there’s a noticeable, if subtle change in the look of the book. Vince Locke is credited along with Zulli on this issue, but I doubt that’s why. I get the impression that, for some reason, there just wasn’t as much time spent on this issue as with some of the others. It still looks good, mind you, just slightly less good.

The prologue of the first issue overlaps a bit with the end of ASM 38, with Peter defeating Joe Smith and heading home. When we get to the title splash page though, we’re thrown for a huge loop – a shot of J. Jonah Jameson’s tombstone! Whoa! That got me interested. The book takes a slightly weird point after that, with future Peter Parker being introduced as the narrator and breaking the fourth wall for a couple panels. It was kind of annoying, but I can look past it.

Anyway, the first issue is almost entirely setup. There’s a lot of time spent comparing Quentin Beck (Mysterio) and Peter Parker, showing how similar they are and stuff in their normal lives. Some of it seems kind of strained, but it’s not completely unbelievable or anything. They’re both in a funk, and Beck decides to fix his by going after Jameson and Spider-Man. He ends up kidnapping Jameson and making him think he’s dead and gone to hell. Meanwhile, he fakes Jameson’s death and frames Spider-Man for it.

Spider-Man, to his credit, figures it out pretty quick. Thank you John DeMatteis for not dragging that out – I hate when the hero is dumber than me. This second issue continues the theme of how similar Peter and Beck are, but focuses it more on their similarities as costumed weirdos. There’s a lot of exposition from Peter about how much fun he has with these fights, and how much he likes fighting bad guys and stuff. It’s pretty obvious that he’s not taking this seriously enough, and that something bad is going to happen. And, after Spider-Man saves JJJ and confronts Mysterio, something bad does happen – some sort of big explosion, the exact details of which are not explained until issue three. In addition to that particular cliffhanger, there’s also a more literal one – Joe Smith, playing the hero, grabs onto the giant flying sphinx that Mysterio takes off in, and is last seen hanging from the edge as they fly away.

(On a side note, there was one detail of this second issue that I loved: it ended with “to be concluded”, like Back to the Future Part II! Whoo!)

In the final issue we find out that the explosion turned out to be a special effects fake – kinda predictable, kinda disappointing. Spider-Man zips off to find Mysterio, who is fighting with his childhood girlfriend / current love interest (sorta) / future biographer, Betsy, on top of the flying Sphinx. Before Mysterio can do her any harm, though, Joe Smith shows up and saves her. He also gets thrown off the side of the sphinx to plummet to his death. Luckily (and, again, predictably) Spider-Man catches him.

After that it kinda gets weird. Mysterio and Betsy have apparently made up, so he makes her dress in a Princess Leia metal bikini and a big skirt. Then Mysterio pushes a button on his “experimental virtual reality machine” and turns Manhatten into ancient Egypt. That’s bullshit. I was with this story the whole way, but what the fuck is with Webspinners and fucking virtual reality? There was one in one of those other issues I read too. Were people really that obsessed with virtual reality in the 90s? This was such an annoying way for the series to climax.

VR wave = balls

The most annoying thing about it is that once Spider-Man shows up and begins to fight Mysterio, there are actually a lot of really awesome surreal panels of Beck changing the “reality” around them. It looks fucking awesome, and it’s a shame that there wasn’t a better way for DeMatteis to fit it into the story, without relying on fucking VR.

Anyway, Mysterio is about to self-destruct the VR machine (because virtual reality machines always have self-destruct functions), but Joe Smith unplugs it and then everything’s fine. Also, Joe Smith and Betsy fall in love. And Peter publicly embarrasses Jameson by leaking video of him when he thought he was in hell, crying and freaking out, because Peter is an asshole like that.

Like the art, the writing is a lot darker than any of the other Spider-Man stuff I’ve seen up until this point. It’s also pretty good overall, even with the lame-ass virtual reality. I think the thing it suffers from the most is being too…languid? The pacing is incredibly slow through the whole thing, and the narration is really, really wordy. Personally, I probably would have liked it more as two issues, or maybe even one. I still enjoyed it, though, and with the sweet art it made it a pretty decent read.

Rating:
XXXX/

→ No CommentsCategories: Years, 1999, Ratings, 4.5, Characters, Big Man / Patch (Frederick Foswell), Credits, Bill Oakley, Credits, Christie Scheele, Characters, Green Goblin (Harry Osborn), Credits, Joe Smith, Characters, Man-Wolf (John Jameson), Credits, Michael Zulli, Characters, Mysterio (Quentin Beck), Credits, Richard Starkings, Spider-Man, Characters, Spider-Man / Spider-Lizard (Peter Parker), Credits, Vince Locke, Books, Web of Spider-Man Annual

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