‘Lost in the Longbox’ with Brad Gischia, Episode 8

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“Web of Spider-Man” #1
(Marvel Comics, 1985)

WRITTEN BY:  Louise Simonson
ARTWORK BY:  Greg LoRocque & Jim Mooney
COVER ARTWORK BY:  Charles Vess

Greetings from the Wasteland!

As a comics fan, I can hardly discount the profound impact that Spider-Man has had on my comic reading experiences.  I’ve always looked to old web-head for an enjoyable read, and I have for the most part seldom been disappointed.  (The clone thing was confusing for everybody.)  I found this copy of Web of Spider Man #1 at the comic shop for a buck, and it was worth it.  The storyline and the art bring me right back to 1985, when I was just a little kid spending lawn-mowing money to get comics.

The cover of this issue is a classic by Charles Vess, an image of the black costumed Spider Man atop a building with a couple of gargoyles.  In continuity, this is post-Secret Wars, so post symbiote Spider Man, and is the re-introduction of this character into the Marvel Universe. The alien costume, after being imprisoned at the Baxter Building by the Fantastic Four and Spider Man, has escaped and hidden itself in Peter Parker’s apartment.   Peter is “feeling funny” and mentally chastising the “nutty teenage sunbunnies” who live next door and make his entrances and exits from the roof as Spider Man difficult.  (I can’t help but wonder at this.  He was always so upset that the two eligible young ladies were on the roof, sunbathing!  Seems like Uncle Ben may have forgotten a very important talk with young Peter.)  The costume disguises itself as one of the original red and blue stripy pjs, and Peter puts it on without knowing what it is, though he soon finds out, and we have a brief run-through of the events at the end of the Secret War, with Spider Man and the FF capturing the symbiote after separating it from Peter Parker.

Cut to the villains, because we all know that Spider Man never has just one entrée on his plate, four guys who have had contact with the Vulture, and have used his engineering expertise to build some bird suits for themselves, which they use for banks heists.  They call themselves the Vulturions.  No.  Seriously.  The Vulturions.  I admit that these are totally throwaway characters, pushed into Spider Man’s path just so we can see what a badass he is.

The Alien makes Spider Man his puppet on the streets of Manhattan, throwing him through alleys and close to buildings, trying to keep him from reaching the Baxter Building and the only hope he has of help from the FF.

The Vulturions, Spider Man and the symbiote trip over each other as they fly/swing through the city, and the Alien takes control of Spider Man long enough to beat the hell out of the Vulturions, which also helps Spider Man to swing into a church belfry just as the bells are ringing.

Peter Parker and the Alien are both hurt by the sound of the bells.  Parker collapses and the alien shrugs off of him and flees, but returns when it sees that Peter isn’t conscious.  The Alien drags him away, a final act of help that proves their symbiotic relationship.

Like I said, the Vulturions are throw away characters, easily beaten by Spider Man alone, more easily beaten when the Alien is in control, but they serve a purpose.  Even a Spider Man who is not in total control of himself can whip them, and they help him maneuver to the church.

LoRocque uses perspective to help show Peter’s helplessness in the face of the Alien, and I loved seeing the inky black tendrils coming from Spider Man’s body as he swung around.

The whole point here was that the alien costume, one of the most innovative changes to a major player in the Marvel U, which had been captured, had returned.  It was a great moment in comics, and later it proved to be even more important to Spider Man himself when the costume met Eddie Brock and became one of the greatest new villains in comics.

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Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter:  @comicwasteland

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