Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #343

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This story is part of an Arc: "Powerless"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Peter recently agreed to let Dr. Turner take a blood sample and analyze it to gain some additional insight into his powers. The only knowledge he gained was that a brief exposure to the machine analysis beam temporarily removed his powers. Later on Peter sought to abandon his life as Spider-Man. He returned to Dr. Turner's lab and stepped into to the machine's beam for a longer period of time which resulted in permanent power loss.

Unknown to Spider-Man, Turner has an agenda and contacts the Tarantula (issue #341) and Scorpion (#342) to gives them an opportunity to kill the now powerless hero. Peter is forced to confront his enemies and survives thanks in large part to Felicia Hardy (Black Cat). It's an awkward situation as she has returned to his social circle by dating Flash Thompson. What started out as Felicia's revenge on Peter for marrying Mary Jane has backfired. Felicia realizes that she has true feelings for Flash and won't hurt him to get back at Peter.

Peter managed to attach to him before he escaped (again last issue). They know that Turner has turned the situation to his advantage. The question is why.

In Detail...

"War Garden!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #343
Jan 1991 : SMURF 343.500 : SM Title
Summary: Powers Return, Chameleon
Arc: Part 3 of "Powerless"
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  David Michelinie
Pencils:  Erik Larsen
Inker:  Randy Emberlin
Cover Art:  Erik Larsen
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 Reprinted In: Complete Spider-Man (UK) #14
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Black Cat, Bloodlust, Chameleon, Knockout, Elizabeth (Allan) Osborn (FB), Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Mindblast, Scorpion, Tarantula II, Whiplash

After their exhausting battle with the Scorpion, Peter and Felicia return to the apartment Peter and MJ share in SoHo. After a short break, they hear the sounds of the Osborns and Flash Thompson arriving. Peter and MJ forgot that they had invited them over for dinner – and 2/3s of them are in their costumes.

While Peter heads to the bathroom to change, MJ tells Felicia to find some of her clothes in their bedroom closet. Moments later when MJ greets their guests Peter and Felicia return. Peter is dressed in clothing that covers his injuries, but Felicia is dressed in one of MJ's more revealing evening gowns. Flash is ecstatic, but MJ is somewhat annoyed that Felica would do this just to show off. The dinner continues without further incident.

After their guests leave, Peter and Felicia begin searching Manhattan for the tracer's signal. Their search leads them to the Botanical Gardens where they find Turner, the Femme Fatales, Tarantuala II, Scorpion, and "the machine". As they eavesdrop, Turner reveals himself to be the Chameleon. He explains to his hired guns that he acquired this device from The Tinkerer. It's purpose was to immobilize Spider-Man so that he could be killed later. However the major side-effect is that it *suppresses* Spider-Man's powers. He felt this little diversion was worthwhile, since he can't resist helping those in need. But now the fun is over and they really should kill him.

Deep in his gut, Peter knows that Chameleon's right - he'll always help those in need. However he's got to get his powers back before he dies trying to do what's right. Felicia understands and tells him to work the machine while she provides a distraction. She then crashes through the skylight and makes herself a target for the Chameleon's operatives. To her credit, she takes out Tarantula, Knockout, and Mindblast. However this leaves her open to attack from the rest of the villains. The recognize this and press their advantage.

Peter fumbles with the controls, but eventually determines how to put it "reverse" and reactivate the "spider" cells in his body, restoring his powers. This comes at the perfect time. Felicia has just been beaten by Bloodlust, Whiplash, and Scorpion and is thrown into the beam with him. With his powers restored, he turns his attention to the remaining enemies.

Spider-Man makes short work of the Bloodlust, Whiplash, and the Scorpion. In the confusion the Chameleon escapes. As the police arrive, Spider-Man destroys the machine to prevent it from being used again. After he and Felicia are a safe distance away, she realizes that her exposure to the beam removed her powers. Peter realizes his mistake, but Felicia tells him this is for the best. Her career as the Black Cat may be over, but at least Flash won't find out.

The next day at Aunt May's house, Peter questions whether or not he should just go ahead and tell Aunt May that he's Spider-Man. MJ doesn't know how to advise him. When May appears, Peter poses a "hypothetical" situation. Should he help someone in danger even if it meant he might die? May responds that if he didn't, he wouldn't be welcome in her house any longer. Not living up to the values she and Ben instilled in him would be more painful for her.

At that point May's guest, Willie Lumpkin, arrives and brings her a bouquet of roses. She thanks him for his gift. He responds in a variation of MJ's famous line: "Face it Tigress, you hit the jackpot".

Later at Blessing Hospital, Dr. Wirtham is cut by one of of his drug-addicted patients. He orders the man to be sedated while he treats himself. The true reason he chose to clean his wound is to avoid having a member of the hospital staff discover that his flesh is pseudo-skin covering a vibranium mesh. He makes the necessary repairs and decides the time is right to embark on his crusade as Cardiac.

In General...

Ok, I'll go along with the plot device of a machine that is calibrated to immobilize one superhero could suppress said hero's "superpower gene"; that's probably *how* it would work. I'm not sure how you could reverse such a complicated process with approximately 10 minutes of study. And I'm less sure how a machine designed to work with spider-powers would have any impact on the Black Cat's powers.

As deus ex machinas goes, its about as believable as anything else. I just wanted to point out the somewhat questionable link between restoring Spider-Man's powers and removing the Black Cat's powers. Then again, I'm still scratching my head over how potato chips with olestra could have the comically disturbing side effect that it did.

May's comments about Peter helping those in danger are both uplifting and somewhat strange. Super heroes put their lives on the line for friends and strangers alike, so the concept of sacrificing one's life is not foreign to us. For Peter this philosophy started with Ben and May. My only comment is that to hear May make the statement that - essentially - she'd rather Peter die while helping someone in danger (the hero's way) than ignoring his responsibility (the coward's way) is rather shocking.

I know that the purpose of this scene was to remind Peter to live up to his responsibilities, but this comes across as forced. I would have expected a bit more moderate response. Perhaps along the lines of "If you can help people in need you should" and skirting the death issue. The implication that she would be proud of him is already there.

Overall Rating...

3 webs. Despite the revelation that Peter's powers were only suppressed, this was a relatively decent conclusion to this three-part story.