Comics : Marvel Age: Spider-Man #9

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

In the same way as a thirty-year old can be made to feel ashamed of the cool clothes he wore as a teenager, Marvel is clearly ashamed of one of the best early Spidey stories ever. How can I tell? Look at the horrible things they did to it!

In Detail...

"The Enforcers!"
Marvel Age: Spider-Man #9
Oct 2004 : SM Title
Summary: Enforcers (Re-telling of ASM #10)
Editor:  C.B. Cebulski
Plot:  Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Script:  Todd DeZago
Pencils:  Patrick Sherberger
Inker:  Rob Campanella
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Marvel Age Digest #3

The Big Man is just some dopey crook in a mask who has three hapless sidekicks who are so completely interchangeable in their black outfits, green vests, and wireless headsets that there isn't even any point in them having the names Montana, Ox, and Fancy Dan. (Actually, "Fancy Dan" is simply "Dan" in this issue because he, like everybody else in this story, is ashamed of his origins.) Collectively they are called the Enforcers, which we know because it says so in the title but I can't find a single instance of the name being used in the story because Marvel is ashamed of that too. They pull a couple of bank jobs and try to kill Spider-Man but they get beaten as easily as possible and the Big Man turns out to be Daily Bugle reporter Frederick Foswell.

But that's not even the main plotline in this issue because Todd DeZago is apparently ashamed enough of the old issue to ignore the point of this series (which is to redo old issues of Amazing Spider-Man, if you can't tell by recent episodes) and try to slip by ASM #10 entirely. Instead, the bulk of this issue is taken up with events that shouldn't show up until next time. Not that it matters. It looks like Marvel may be ashamed of that issue too. Anyway, Peter finds out that Betty Brant has a brother named "Ben" (because he's ashamed of the name Bennett, I suppose) who is not a mob boss's lawyer but rather a punk kid who hooks up with "a two-time loser" named Blackie Glaxon who gets "dropouts and loners to pull his jobs with him". (Don't ask me why Blackie's last name was changed from "Gaxton" in the original unless Todd wrote this whole thing from memory. Not that it matters which name is used. As we can tell by Betty's comment, "That can't be somebody's name, can it?" Todd and Marvel are ashamed of Blackie's name no matter what it happens to be.) Spider- Man tries to help Ben out but Ben ends up robbing a store with Blackie and running from the cops with all the loot. He'll be back next issue.

In General...

I think I need to remind Marvel and Todd (since they seem to have absolutely forgotten this fact) that Amazing Spider-Man #10, March 1964 is one of the best issues of Spider-Man of all time!!! It has everything you could want. The first mystery villain, the first gang war and a trio of unique colorful villains in the Enforcers who work well together. (Don't let anyone ever tell you that the Enforcers are stupid. They've only been used in stupid ways. If anyone would bother to treat them respectfully in a new story they could be as impressive as they were in 1964.) By the time it is done, the reader is treated to Spidey being dead wrong about the Big Man's identity (he thinks the Big Man is J. Jonah Jameson), to Jonah's first hints as to why he hates Spider-Man and to some of the best Ditko fight scenes of all time. (Which means, some of the best fight scenes of all time.)

So, Todd takes this and does what? Eviscerates the Enforcers, turning them into mush. Completely eliminates the gang war, putting in boring bank jobs instead. Ignores any characterization for J. Jonah Jameson. And dispenses, for all intents and purposes, with any fight scenes. Not content with that, Todd brings parts of ASM #11 into the picture and ruins them too. Suddenly, lawyer Bennett Brant whose character gets him to bite off more than he can chew is turned into a cheap punk kid with no real characterization at all. Blackie is turned into a guy in a turtleneck with a goatee and ponytail, sort of like Ultimate Spider-Man's Ben Urich gone bad. All because the old issue is dated? You don't think this will soon be dated? You don't think all of this won't be something to be ashamed of even just a few years down the line? Todd should be ashamed of it right now.

But nobody seems to care, really. Todd can't even get Blackie's name right. The Big Man gets caught because he drives his van right up to the Daily Bugle and runs into the offices with his disguise still on! And let's not forget about the cover. It features a generic shot of Spidey doing his web-swinging thing because Marvel is so ashamed of the Big Man and the Enforcers that they don't want them seen on the comic racks. They put the new goofy Living Brain on the cover a couple of issues ago, for God's sake! But not the Big Man, no. On the other hand, maybe it's the new mushy Enforcers that they are ashamed of. I wouldn't want them on the cover either.

Are you getting the picture yet? This is the worst issue of Spider-Man I have ever read. Worse than Maximum Carnage, worse than spider-armor, worse than Mary Jane's stalker, worse than all of those clones.

Overall Rating...

That's not one web. That's MINUS ONE WEB. The system just won't allow me to enter that. Worst issue ever. Todd, what in the world happened to you? Only three issues in and you've fallen about as far as you can go... I hope.