Comics : Spider-Man Newspaper Strip 21 November 2016 -

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This review was first published on: 22 Nov 2016.

Background...

Well, what do you know? That last story was shorter and better! So, what happens next?

This story actually started mid-week but I refuse to accept any starting day other than Monday. So far, MJ has told Peter that her Broadway show is on hiatus for theater repairs (again) and Peter has suggested a vacation. You may recall that the Parkers took a cruise last year, real time, because of theater repairs. But if you consider the strip time that passed, it is considerably less than that. Now, there was a period in the middle of the Subby story where a few weeks went by but the Dr. Strange story had to take place right after the end of the Subby story. At least, MJ and Pete are still talking about it in Washington Square Park when Xandu shows up. And that story (if we can believe MJ at the end) takes place in one day! On that same day, JJJ receives the news that the Daily Bugle has a new owner. So, in Spidey-strip time, didn’t Pete and MJ just have a vacation about a month ago?

Oh well, let’s begin.

In Detail...

"Westward Ho, the Parkers!"
Spider-Man Newspaper Strip 21 November 2016 -
Nov 2016 : SM Title
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  Alex Saviuk (Sunday Strip), Larry Leiber (Daily Strips)
Inker:  Joe Sinnott
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Review

November 21, 2016

In his office at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson takes a call from Peter Parker. “I just got the Bugle back – and you’re splitting for Los Angeles, Parker?” he says into the phone. From the phone’s receiver, Peter replies, “MJ’s theater is shuttering for repairs – and she’s needed out there to promote her new movie.”

(MJ's new movie is "Marvella 2" which she filmed in the 2015 strips that just preceded my entrance into reviewing the strip. The first "Marvella" movie was filmed during most of 2006.)

Panel #2 has Peter on the phone. He is winking at MJ who is in the background putting her bra on. (I’m serious. See Panel Image #1.) They have a picture on the wall of some sketchy guy. “Besides, I have it on very good authority that Spider-Man is ‘going Hollywood’ too!” says Pete. Panel #3 has JJJ sulking in his office, with Joe Robertson behind. Jonah tells Peter, “Sometimes, Parker, if it wasn’t such a crazy notion – I’d almost believe you were Spider-Man!” Jeez, Jonah, he completely gave himself away with his camera in the Egghead story. Get with it!

While we're in the earliest of stages, who do you think the villain will be? If the Parkers are going to Hollywood, then Mysterio makes sense...except he was just in the story with Black Widow and the Hobgoblin. The opponents for the last year have been unconventional, as Stan has been spotlighting guest-stars. Spidey's battled Subby then Xandu then Egghead. Will there be another guest-star and another offbeat villain? What do you all think?

November 22, 2016

It’s the 53rd anniversary of the JFK assassination and MJ and Peter can’t stop talking about it!

Kidding. They’re talking about their trip out west. In panel #1, MJ’s head fills up most of the left side while Pete is in the background on the right. MJ is putting on her hoop earrings. I don’t know when she ever took them off because, as we saw on Sunday, she wears them to bed. MJ says, “You got Jameson to let you off for a couple of weeks?” “Hey, I’m a freelancer, not a staffer,” Peter replies. In panel #2, he fills up the left side of the panel while MJ takes the background-right. Pete looks at his phone and says, “Now I’ll see if I can score us some airline tickets…” But MJ says, “Actually, Tiger…” and in panel #3, she throws her arms around him from behind and says, “I was kinda hoping we could drive out to California!” Peter, eyes wide, says “?” which means, “Are you kidding? I can’t drive! Or maybe I can! It depends on which universe I’m in. Can I drive in this universe?”

(After the slightest of research, I can report that Peter stole a car to trail the bank robbers who abducted Aunt May back on February 2, 1980 and he drove for the next week's strips like a professional stunt driver. So, I guess he can drive just fine in the Strip-Verse.)

So, it’s looking like a cross-country trip like one of those old Dennis the Menace comics! Spidey visits the Grand Canyon! Spidey visits the Cadillac Ranch! I can’t wait!

November 23, 2016

A two-shot of Peter and MJ. MJ still has her arms around Peter but now she is in the front. “You want us to drive to L.A.?” asks Pete. “As a couple of New Yorkers, we don’t get much chance to drive,” MJ replies. Panel #2 is all MJ as she says, “Besides, if we rent a car, we can enjoy the scenery.” Off-panel, Pete says, “All the scenery I need, honey, is right here in this room…” He finishes in panel #3 with, “But if you wanna do the ‘Route 66’ thing, count me in!”

(You know the bit, “It goes through Saint Louie, Joplin, Missouri, Oklahoma City is oh so pretty, you’ll see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona, don’t forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino, won’t you get hip to this kindly tip, when you make that California trip, get your kicks on Route 66.” Now, I don’t expect applause or anything but I just typed that from memory. Do you think we should tell Pete that Route 66 is now in such disrepair, you can’t drive its whole length anymore?)

MJ is so excited that she leaps straight into Peter’s arms…only she was already in Peter’s arms so maybe she projects herself forward to try to knock him over. Motion lines show that she is moving forward and Peter’s head is moving back. “Oh Peter,” she says, “It’ll be wonderful!” And then, Stan, that party-poop narrator, shoves a caption at the bottom that says, “Define ‘wonderful’!”

November 24, 2016

And so, “Peter and Mary Jane head west by car…” (according to the opening caption) on Thanksgiving day. They are two little smudgy silhouettes in a car that is across the Hudson from Manhattan in New Jersey. “Good thing we’ve got three days before you’re needed for that movie publicity,” says the smudge in the driver’s seat. “Actually, I told them I couldn’t be there till then,” says the smudge in the passenger seat. Panel #2 moves inside the car where Peter is driving and MJ is the passenger. She hold up her phone and says, “I’ve got the whole trip all mapped out by GPS.” (The whole thing on GPS! What could go wrong?) Peter looks over at her and says, “Honey, you’ve thought of everything.” And our party-poop narrator horns in again with, “Not everything, Peter…!”

November 25, 2016

And now, one day later, they are already on a deserted highway surrounded by mesas and cacti. Again, they are smudgy silhouettes in the car as the driver (still Peter) says, “New Mexico already! This road trip’ll be over before we know it! And what’s great is nobody’s recognized you anyplace we’ve stopped!” (Did they stop? They’re in New Mexico after one day!) MJ is not pleased by the implications of Peter’s comment. In a second panel that is a cutaway inset in the upper right of the first panel, she glares wordlessly to her left (at Peter). Panel #3 is a profile close-up of the two of them. “Honey, maybe I should rephrase that…” says Peter. “Maybe you should just stop while you’re not too far behind,” replies a stern MJ. (So, the whole point of being in a Broadway show is…fame? Unfortunately, a whole lot of people probably think that.)

November 26, 2016

And now a side view of the car amidst the mesas and cacti with those little smudge silhouettes within. One says, “Pull over, Peter! My turn to drive again!” “Oh that’s all right. I’m not tired,” says the other smudge. Panel #2 moves inside the car. MJ says, “But I want to drive. Back in Manhattan, I never get the chance.” “Well…okay…if you really want to,” says Pete. (Nice to see that he’s wearing his seat belt.) So where are they going to pull over to change drivers? There don’t seem to be any shoulders. (Good thing no one else is on this road.) Well, never mind. By panel #3, the deed is already done. With a SKREETCH and a cloud of smoke from the exhaust, MJ gets going. “With MJ at the wheel – it might’ve been more relaxing to take a nice slow plane ride!” thinks the smudge that is Peter. And, not only that, but she’s driving in the left lane of what appears to be a two-way road. (Good thing no one else is on this road.)

November 27, 2016

“Night in New Mexico, on the final leg of the Parkers’ drive west…” according to the opening caption. MJ is driving and Peter is in the passenger seat. The camera is “filming” from the passenger side window so we see Peter in profile, MJ turning toward him, and the mesas and cacti beyond. “The radio said there’s a meteor shower tonight,” says Pete. (A meteor shower is never a good thing in a super-hero comic.) “Great!” replies MJ, “In the city, you can never really see the stars at night!” In panel #2, MJ says, “I’ll pull over so we can really watch for them!” With a SCREEEECH, she pulls over into the sand. (Pulling into sand is never a good idea.) The panel shows the car with dust billowing out behind and motion lines that show that MJ pulled over fast. (I can almost read the license plate number. I think it’s “75 180.”) By panel #3, Peter and MJ have gotten out of the car. Amidst the stars, two meteors streak down. MJ points at them. (Peter smiles, looking like he’s having a wonderful time.) “Look!” she says, “There’s one…and there’s another, and…” Then a huge meteor flies close over their heads in panel #4. It is a silent panel with the meteor lighting their shocked faces (nice coloring job!). They are both still shocked and open mouthed (and still nicely lit with the coloring) in panel #5, as MJ says, “Wh-what was that?” “I don’t know, honey…” replies Pete. “But whatever it was, it came down hard and fast – Not too many miles ahead of us!” he finishes in panel #6, which is shot from behind the car and low to the ground. Peter is visible but MJ and the license plate are not. Ahead of them, smoke rises from a fireball that has hit the ground.

The “Next” caption is, “And so it begins!” and that’s what I’m worried about. A meteor landing in the desert? This has the potential to be very very dumb indeed. Last week’s “Next” was “Westward Ho, the Parkers!” as can be seen in the image at the top of this review and I suppose we can be thankful that it only took a week to get this far.

November 28, 2016

Pretty much a recap of yesterday. First we move back in time a bit so that MJ and Peter are watching the meteor fall. Spider-Sense lines radiate from Peter’s head. The caption tells us, “Peter and MJ watch a nighttime meteor shower above the New Mexico desert…” MJ says, “That wasn’t a meteor, was it?” “I don’t know, honey,” Peter replies. Then panel #2 shows their car speeding toward the spot where the “meteor” fell. By the position of the word balloons, it looks like Peter is driving but by the SKREEETCHH and the smoke, it looks like MJ is driving. “But my tingling spider sense votes we should find out!” says Pete. “I’m with you, Tiger!” says MJ.

So, something that is probably not a meteor falls in the middle of the New Mexico desert and one of the only two people around turns out to be Spider-Man. What are the odds?

November 29, 2016

Panel #1 might as well be a repeat of panel #2 from yesterday. It again shows Pete and MJ’s car racing toward the fireball of the falling “meteor.” The caption tells us, “As Peter and MJ speed toward where they saw a strangely bright ‘meteor’ fall…” From inside the car, either Peter or MJ says, “There was something weird about that ‘shooting star’!” The caption continues in panel #2. “…patrons at a diner a few miles ahead are about to have a close encounter…” And standing there holding his hammer is…the Kree warrior Ronan the Accuser! First Sub-Mariner, then Xandu, then Egghead, now Ronan. Stranger and stranger. Do you feel a Guardians of the Galaxy appearance coming? Ronan tells the diner customers, “This is where I shall begin my quest!” Two elderly diners give him a nervous look but my favorite is the only other diner pictured; a guy in the lower right corner, completely oblivious as he eats his meal.

November 30, 2016

So, here’s Ronan in the diner and two guys at a table (Bikers? Cops? Military?) look back at him. (The old woman from yesterday is also there in the background.) One guy says, “Hey, Sarge – do you see what I see?” and Sarge replies, “If I do, Carlos – then I think we’ve both been spikin’ our coffee!” In panel #2, Ronan looms over the couple from yesterday and says, “Where is it?” “Wh-where is wh-what?” asks the old man.

It’s like Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man. “Is it safe?”

December 1, 2016

Ronan looms over the elderly couple. “I asked you a question, Terrans,” he says, “Where is it?” The man trembles (as seen by the lines around his head) and says, “I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re…” But in panel #2, Ronan smashes their table with his hammer with a SLAMM. This should crush their legs but, apparently, leaves them unharmed. It turns out that Carlos from yesterday is a cop and Sarge is the diner counterman. “Hey!” yells Sarge. Carlos runs toward Ronan and the couple. “I’m on it, Sarge!” he says.

December 2, 2016

The elderly couple starts to sneak away in the background. (How did they get past Ronan?) Carlos, the cop, puts his hand on Ronan’s shoulder and says, “Okay, ‘Thor’ – put down that sledgehammer.” Turning to look at Carlos, Ronan says, “I do not know any Thor.” Panel #2 belongs to Ronan alone as he finally introduces himself. “I am Ronan the Accuser!” he says, “And I accuse this planet…” “…of insubordination,” he finishes in panel #3 as he punches Carlos with his left hand so that Carlos flies back and collides with something with a THWAMM. “Hnnhh,” says Carlos.

December 3, 2016

We move outside of Sarge’s Diner (so says the sign) where the couple is running for it. Ronan has stepped outside and watches them. “That helmeted man – he attacked that policeman,” says the woman. “Let’s get out of here!” says the man. (Anybody else get the feeling that these two know exactly what Ronan is asking about?) “Yes – run Terrans!” says Ronan. And then, suddenly, Ronan is back inside (as are we) as Sarge makes a run at him. “This is my place you’re trashin’, Mac,” says Sarge, “and I’m not running!”

December 4, 2016

The diner is looking kind of trashed and Carlos is unconscious on the floor as Sarge approaches Ronan. The first panel caption says, “An entity called Ronan the Accuser has invaded a New Mexico roadside diner…” Ronan facing Sarge says, “I see I must repeat myself – this time for your benefit. Where is it?” In panel #2, with Carlos in the foreground, Sarge confronts Ronan, saying, “You can ask any stupid question you want, Mac…but that cop you knocked out is a friend of mine.” Panel #3 is a close-up of Ronan, holding his hammer out in front of him, and Sarge, brandishing his fists. “And when you start trashin’ Sarge’s Diner – you gotta deal with Sarge!” says Sarge about Sarge.

Now, in panel #4, with only his hand and hammer in the frame, Ronan says, “You are of no concern to me!” And he either hits Sarge with his hammer or shoots out a bolt of energy from the hammer, knocking Sarge back into a shelf with a KBLAM. “Aaarr,” says Sarge. “At that moment…” says the caption in panel #5 as we move back to Peter and MJ. With MJ behind the wheel, Peter says, “Whatever the ‘meteor’ was that fell to Earth, it’s not glowing anymore – so we’re not likely to find it just by driving along.” In panel #6, they come upon Sarge’s Diner. MJ points out the diner and says, “Maybe somebody in that diner up ahead saw it come down!” “Well, it won’t hurt to stop and ask!” says Peter and the “Next” caption says, “It Actually Might!” which is one of my favorite “Next” captions yet. Last week’s was “And So It Begins!” and I guess it did!

December 5, 2016

The first panel illustration is essentially the same as yesterday’s last panel illustration. Peter and MJ are in the car, pulling up to the diner. This time it is Peter who says, “Maybe somebody in this diner saw where that ‘meteor’ landed…” Panel #2 jumps right into the diner where Ronan stands over Sarge and Carlos; both unconscious. Peter and MJ come through the door, take one look at the situation, and Peter says, “Honey – get back in the car!” Ronan, still on the same toot, looks down at the unconscious men and says, "Where is it?"

December 6, 2016

So, does MJ get back in the car? I suppose so. This strip is strictly Peter and Ronan. In panel #1, Peter confronts Ronan, asking, “Who are you – and what did you do to these guys?” Ronan replies, “Ronan does not answer questions. He asks them.” (Also, Ronan refers to Ronan in the third person.) In panel #2, a close-up of his head, Ronan says, “Tell me now – or face my wrath! Where is it?” Panel #3 gives us Peter and the back of Ronan’s head. Pete jerks a thumb over his shoulder and says, “What’re you looking for? That light that came down in the desert?” And Ronan says, “That light was Ronan – come from a far star!” (I thought Ronan did not answer questions. Okay, Ronan didn’t really answer Pete’s question. We’ll give Ronan a pass.)

December 7, 2016

Peter is so surprised by Ronan’s statement that his head wobbles. He points at Ronan and says, “Did you just say – you’re from another planet?” (Why should this surprise him? Hasn’t he run into hundreds of aliens over the years? Well, maybe he hasn’t in the strip-verse.) Ronan says, “Why waste my time with you? You clearly know no more than the two I struck down, so…” In panel #2, Ronan (only his hand and hammer showing)tries to bop Pete. The hammer swings with a SHOOOSH but Pete, spider-sense lines coming off his head, leaps away. He winds up, in panel #3, clinging to the ceiling. Ronan looks up at him. “What? You evaded the universal weapon?” he says. (That’s right! The universal weapon! It’s been too long since I’ve read Fantastic Four #65, August 1967.) “Not all that hard when you’ve got a spider sense!” says Pete, giving his secret identity away again, even if it is to an alien.

December 8, 2016

Peter hangs from the ceiling with one hand. (At least I think that’s what he’s doing.) Ronan looks up at him. “If you could avoid my blast, why did those others not do so?” he asks. “Maybe because they didn’t have a spider-sense,” replies Peter, giving away his secrets again. He leaps down and socks Ronan in the jaw with a THOK. “Let alone spider strength!” says Peter. Unfazed, Ronan says, “My translatron defines the word ‘spider’ for me.” He continues in panel #3, “It is an insignificant creature – to be crushed!” He swings his hammer and clobbers Peter (who, apparently, didn’t have the spider-sense to avoid the hit). “Oooph,” says Pete.

December 9, 2016

Peter gets up on one knee and puts one of his web-shooters on. The back of Ronan’s head says, “You’ve not lost consciousness like the others I laid low. You remind me of ones I fought previously upon this world.” Panel #2 shows Peter approaching Ronan who says, “They were called – the Fantastic Four.” So, now Ronan reveals that he has been on Earth before. Why is he so ignorant about the planet and its people? Peter responds to the FF namedrop, “If you went toe-to-toe with them, I’ve got my work cut out for me.” In panel #3, he webs up Ronan with a FWIP. “So let’s see how you like being webbed up,” he says.

December 10, 2016

Outside, MJ waits by the car. “Peter told me to wait outside while he dealt with that economy-sized stick-up man,” she thinks, “But – what if he needs help?” Her thoughts continue in panel #2 even though the scene moves inside. “Not that I could do much – except maybe try to phone the Avengers,” she thinks, even as Ronan tears apart the webbing with a RRRIIIPT.

December 11, 2016

“An entity called Ronan the Accuser has invaded a New Mexico roadside diner…” says the opening caption. MJ is up at the door, ready to go in. “It’s been too long since Peter went inside to stop that robbery or whatever it was,” she thinks, “I’ve got to see if there’s anything I can…” That thought is interrupted by panel #2 in which Peter comes through the glass door with a KRAASH, shocking MJ. In panel #3, MJ takes Peter’s head in her hands and wiggles it back and forth (if we can believe the wiggle lines). “Peter – are you all right?” she asks. “D-do I look… all…” says Pete. In panel #4, he passes out. “Peter!” cries MJ as, behind her, Ronan’s arm and the universal weapon appear in the window. In panel #5, Ronan says, “Defeating my last victim depleted some of my energy. These foodstuffs will help me replenish it.” And, using his weapon, he draws a pot of coffee, a submarine sandwich, a slice of cake, a bottle of ketchup, a steak, and some other hard-to-identify items toward him. (So, what does he do? Absorb all this? Bleeah!) Then, in panel #6, he busts out through the wall, even though he could have walked through the door through which Peter crashed. “Now I must find that which I seek,” he says, before it is too late!” To the side, MJ looks on, holding the unconscious Peter in her arms.

The “Next” caption is “Ronan on the Move!” because it may be about time that he looked for whatever he is looking for in some other place than Sarge’s Diner. Last week’s was “It Actually Might!” which responded to Peter’s comment of “Well, it won’t hurt to stop and ask!” And the caption was right!

December 12, 2016

We step back in time a few seconds for this strip. The caption says, “As MJ edges nearer the roadside diner…” and there she is as Peter comes through the door with a KRAASSH. “Peter - !?” she says. Panel #2 finishes the caption with, “…Ronan the Accuser exits in his own colorful manner.” MJ holds Peter as Ronan smashes through with a THRAKKK. Ronan says, “With my energy replenished, I must continue my search for the Sentry.” Ah, the Sentry! First seen in Fantastic Four #64, July 1967. So that’s what Ronan is looking for!

December 13, 2016

Ronan has apparently left the scene. MJ hugs Peter and says, “Oh, Peter – Peter – if that big bruiser hurt you -!” Panel #2 is a tight close-up of Pete and MJ as Pete opens his eyes, smiles, and says, “Actually…honey…” He finishes in panel #3 with “…nobody says ‘big bruiser’ anymore…” MJ grins broadly and holds Peter tight.

December 14, 2016

Peter stands up. MJ hangs onto him to keep him steady. “Are you sure you want to try standing right away?” she asks, “I mean – that guy hurled you through the diner’s window!” And, sure enough, there is a broken window behind them. I could have sworn he was thrown through a door. Panel #2 moves in a little closer on Peter and MJ. “He called himself Ronan,” says Pete, “and he’s obviously looking for something…” Seque to the caption of panel #3 where Pete finishes with “…but what?” And the illustration is of Ronan striding across New Mexico. “I can feel his energy coming from this direction,” he says.

December 15, 2016

Back to Peter and MJ in front of the diner. (There’s that broken window behind them again.) Peter cups his chin in his hand and says, “If only I knew what Ronan’s looking for.” “Didn’t you hear what he said when he smashed his way out of the diner?” MJ asks. Panel #2 is all Pete as he says, “If you recall, I was kind of semi-conscious at the time. What did he say?” Panel #3 is back to the twosome as MJ replies, “He said he was after something called – a Sentry!” Peter has obviously never read FF #64 because he says, “?”

December 16, 2016

An abrupt change from yesterday, as Peter is suddenly back in the diner. I’m glad to see that Stan and Larry didn’t forget about Sarge and Carlos, though. In panel #1, Peter talks to Sarge who is sitting in a chair. His place is rubble behind him, with a big crack in the wall and the “Today’s Special: Chili” sign all askew. “Thank heaven you two weren’t hurt badly,” Peter says. Sarge looks up at him and says, “Those bruises – did you get ‘em tangling with Ronan?” (In case you were wondering…yes, Ronan did tell these two guys his name…back on December 2nd.) From off-panel, Carlos says, “Don’t be crazy, Sarge…” He continues in panel #2 which features Carlos, Pete and Sarge. “With what that creep did to you and me, “says Carlos, “if this guy’d tangled with ‘im, there’d be nothin’ left of ‘im!”

December 17, 2016

Whoa! I’m getting whiplash! Suddenly we’re out in front of the diner again. Peter is with MJ while Sarge and Carlos stand by the diner entrance watching the couple walk away. The “Sarge’s Diner” sign is back up and all of the windows seem to be in fine shape. Peter has lost all interest in Carlos and Sarge. “Ronan’s hunting for a ‘Sentry’?” he asks MJ, “What kind of Sentry?” “He didn’t say,” replies MJ. Panel #2 is a close-up of Pete’s face. He says, “Well, whatever it is, we need to find Ronan before he finds it.” Panel #3 shows us Pete and MJ as they approach their car. “Can your spider sense tell you where he went?” MJ asks. “It warns me of danger,” says Pete, “but it’s not much use as a GPS.”

December 18, 2106

Our opening caption: “The aftermath of a battle with a towering space alien…” (Towering, I think, as in prodigious, not tall.) Peter and MJ drive off in their car. Sarge and Carlos stand around on the diner’s stoop. (Carlos is a cop. Shouldn’t he be reporting all this?) There is some rubble alongside the diner but the windows look fine. Peter, behind the wheel, pulls out his phone and says, “Those two are okay, so we can go hunting for Ronan.” “But how’ll we find him,” says MJ, “when we know nothing about him?” Panel #2 moves inside the car as Peter replies, “Maybe we don’t…but I know somebody who just might.” MJ says, “?,” so she doesn’t know what Peter is talking about. In panel #3, Peter calls the Fantastic Four. (How does he have their number?) He gets Mr. Fantastic’s voice on the phone. “Hello, this is Fantastic Four headquarters, New York City…” Peter chimes in, saying, “Uh, hi, Mr. Richards, this is Peter Parker – I’m sort of a friend of Spider-Man’s and…” (Now, I know what you’re wondering. “Does Peter really think he got Mr. Fantastic on the phone so easily?” That’s a good question but I’m wondering why he doesn’t say that he’s Spider-Man, instead of identifying himself as Peter Parker. It’s not like Mr. Fantastic can see him.)

It’s all moot, of course. In panel #4, a close-up of Pete and his phone, the voice of Mr. Fantastic says, “We’re currently in the Negative Zone, but your message is very important to us. At the sound of the tone, please leave a…” Peter hangs up. Panel #5 is back to a two-shot of Pete and MJ. “Maybe you should try the Avengers?” suggests MJ. “No,” says Pete, “We’re on our own out here!” (But why not try the Avengers?) “While, some miles away…” in panel #6, Ronan wanders the desert. “I’m getting closer,” he says, “ever closer! I can feel it…!” Well, Ronan, if you can feel it, then why did you trash Sarge’s Diner asking everyone where it was?

The “Next” caption is “Another arrival from Outer Space!” Last week’s was, “Ronan on the Move” and he certainly is!

December 19, 2016

As they race along the highway, a caption tells us “Peter and MJ are on the trail of the entity called Ronan…” From the car, Peter says, “You say he stomped off in this direction?” and MJ replies, “Generally, but it’s actually more…” Panel #2 is silent and from a weird angle. (Just outside the passenger side window?) We see Peter’s right hand on the steering wheel and MJ’s left hand pointing through the windshield to an apparent meteor crashing to earth. Panel #3 shows us Pete and MJ. MJ is still pointing as she says, “…that way.”

December 20, 2016

We’re outside the car again but, this time, watching from behind as Pete and MJ drive toward the glow of the crashed meteor. Peter says, “I’m betting that was no more a real meteor than the first one was. I’d have you stay here while I went to check it out…” He continues in panel #2, which moves inside the car with the camera pointing at Pete and MJ from the windshield. “But Ronan might come back this way,” he says, “So you’re probably better off sticking with a guy with spider strength!” Panel #3 is a close-up of MJ as she says, “I couldn’t have put it any better myself!”

December 21, 2016

The car is off the highway and driving on the sand but Peter stops it with a SKREECH. There is a cactus to their right and the glowing “meteor” in front. “Well, this is as close to that ‘meteor’ as we can get in the car,” says Pete. “What’re we waiting for?” says MJ, “Let’s take a look…” In panel #2, they both start to get out of the car but Pete looks over at MJ and says, “No, you’re staying here in the car…and that’s final!” Panel #3 is silent as Pete and MJ walk together to the crash site. Pete’s expression is priceless; like he just lost an argument. Yes, I know it’s a tired bit, this panel showing exactly the opposite of what a character has asserted (“and that’s final!”) in the previous panel but it works so well here. A nice laugh moment.

December 22, 2016

The camera shows Peter and MJ from behind as they approach the glow. “The ‘meteor’ must’ve landed just over this ridge,” says Pete, “Funny…this one didn’t land far from where the other one did.” Panel #2 is a wide-eyed MJ close-up. “And since it was surely some kind of spaceship,” she says. “I guess we really should’ve been prepared for this!” she finishes in panel #3 as she and Pete stand on a small rise and look down at a still-smoking, small metal spacecraft.

December 23, 2016

What’s Peter’s reaction to all this? He starts to take off his clothes. As he pulls his shirt over his head, he says, “Stay back, honey, I’m going in for a closer look.” MJ watches him from behind and says, “Okay – but are you planning to do it in your birthday suit?” Now in his underwear, in panel #2, Peter kneels down on the sand and pulls his Spidey suit out of his valise. (Valise? He had a valise? Yeah, he had it with him yesterday and the day before. I didn’t think it was worth mentioning.) MJ looks on and says, “I might’ve known you’d have your costume with you.” “Just in case it turns out there’s an astronaut inside…,” Pete replies. In panel #3 he has his costume on and is putting on his mask. “…No sense blowing my secret identity!” he says, finishing his sentence. So either he got that costume on incredibly fast or he was speaking very very slowly.

December 24, 2016

Spidey stands over the spacecraft as MJ watches in the background. “This may be some junior-size spaceship,” says Spidey, “But it sure wasn’t built by NASA or the Russians.” In panel #2, he decides, “Well - no time like the present to find out who did build it!” He grabs onto the nose cone and yanks on it, loosening it with a SKRRAKK. Really, Spidey? You’re just going to yank on it?!

December 25, 2016

Welcome to Saviuk-world where the spacecraft created much more debris in crashing than it did in Lieber-land. MJ stands up on a cliff, formed by the crater. Spidey crouches down and grabs the nose cone from the side instead of the top. The opening caption is, “Peter and MJ have found a crashed spaceship…” MJ says, “Be careful! It’s still smoking!” which it wasn’t doing in the daily strips. “That’s why I’ve got to get this hatch off,” says Spidey. In panel #2, he pulls the hatch off with a SKRAAKK (as opposed to yesterday’s SKRRAKK) as he says, “…so I can see if anybody’s inside!” In panel #3, Spidey moves into the spaceship. From off-panel, MJ calls out, “But – what if it’s another hostile like Ronan?” “There is somebody in here!” says Spidey, “Let’s get a good look at…” which leads to panel #4, a silent one, as Spidey’s spider-sense comes off his head in lightning bolts. Panel #5 moves us back to MJ. Her shirt, which has gone from low-cut to non-cut is very low-cut here. She calls out, “What’s wrong? Is there another Ronan type crammed in there?” From off-panel, Spidey replies, “No! This space-jockey’s – quite a bit smaller…” Spidey finishes in panel #6 with, “…and a whole lot furrier!” He holds up a raccoon who struggles to break free. “Leggo of me, you walking buncha cobwebs!” says the raccoon.

Merry Christmas! It’s Rocket Raccoon. And I have to say, I’m disappointed. After going through Namor and Dr. Strange and Ant-Man, I was hoping we were going to get a story without a guest-star, particularly one that is a guest-star that takes advantage of the movie franchises. No such luck. Too bad.

Our “Next” caption is, “Rocket Science!” which is a cute bit but tells us nothing. Last week’s was “Another Arrival from Outer Space!” which finally happened just today.

December 26, 2016

And it’s back to Lieber-land where the debris is gone, the cliff has become a hillock, and MJ’s shirt is not as low-cut. We also move back in time a few seconds as Spidey still holds the hatch and looks into the spaceship. (The ship is now too small for Spidey to step into it, as he did yesterday.) A caption tells us, “When Spider-Man yanks the hatch off a fallen spacecraft…” and Spidey says, “There’s somebody in there!” Now to panel #2 as Spidey holds Rocket in one hand and MJ walks down from the hill. “Or rather something!” says Spidey. “Who’re you callin’ a thing, web-face!” says Rocket. MJ says “?” which may mean, “Really? Rocket Raccoon? I thought we were going to get through a storyline without a movie guest-star.”

December 27, 2016

A two-shot of Spidey holding Rocket. “I expected to find a man or a woman inside the ship,” says Spidey, “but not a talking raccoon in a spacesuit!” “A what?” says Rocket. Panel #2 is a two-shot of MJ and Rocket (and Spidey’s hand). MJ leans in and says, “Is – is he really talking?” “Sure I’m talkin’, sister!” says Rocket, “And what I wanna know is…” Panel #3 is a one-shot of a grimacing Rocket as he says, “What in the name’a Betelgeuse is a ‘raccoon’?”

December 28, 2016

Spidey continues to hold Rocket in one hand as Rocket struggles. MJ’s face is down in the lower right corner of the panel. “If you’re not a raccoon, you sure look like one,” says Spidey, “except I never saw one in a spacesuit before.” (Yeah, I didn’t mention the spacesuit.) In panel #2, Rocket breaks free and dives into his spaceship. “Well, take a quick look…” says Rocket. “Hey! He got loose!” says Spidey unnecessarily. In panel #3, Rocket emerges from the ship with a big ray-gun. “…’cause here’s somethin’ else I’ll bet you never saw before! A little guy with a big ray-gun!” he says, unnecessarily.

December 29, 2016

Rocket stands on the top of his ship, brandishing his big ray-gun. MJ and Spidey look on. “Okay, raccoon! Put that gun down!” says Spidey. “Stop calling me that whatever-it-is!” says Rocket. Then, in panel #2, he fires the ray-gun with a ZZRAKKT. “My name’s Rocket!” he yells. “Look out, MJ!” yells Spidey as he grabs her and leaps away.

December 30, 2016

Spidey and MJ watch Rocket from behind a mound as Rocket remains on the top of his ship waving his gun. “What is that creature?” asks MJ. “That’s what I intend to find out,” says Spidey, “Stay here!” In panel #2, Spidey leaps at Rocket and fires his web-shooter. The webbing covers Rocket’s gun with a FWIPP. “Hey! You tryin’ to gum up my gun?” asks Rocket. “Nope,” says Spidey. In panel #3, Spidey yanks the gun out of Rocket’s hands. “I’m tryin’ to take it away from you!” says Spidey. Rocket shakes his fists at Spidey and yells, “You give that back!”

December 31, 2016

As Spidey tosses the webbed-up gun behind him, Rocket gets into a fighting stance, his fists in front of him. “Come out and fight like a man,” he says, “if there is a man under that stupid mask!” In panel #2, Spidey looks back at MJ, who is lying on the ground, peering over the top of the mound. He says, “Keep your head down, honey – just in case that furball’s got another weapon up in his spacesuit!”

January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! A brand new year, the same old storyline. (It started on November 21st so there’s probably a good month or two or three or four to go.) But, check it out! No opening caption. Instead we have MJ watching from behind a boulder that didn’t exist in the daily strips. She thinks, “Talk about surreal.” In panel #2, she continues thinking as she watches Rocket facing off with Spidey. “Peter’s moving in for a mano-a-mano – with a raccoon geared up like a refugee from ‘Star Wars’!” Rocket says, “Keep back web-face – I’m warnin’ ya!” Panel #3 is Spidey and Rocket as the web-slinger says “Look, Rocket – if that’s your name – I don’t wanna hurt you…” “Well, now,” says Rocket, who leaps in panel #4 and kicks Spidey right in the jaw with a THUMP! “Ain’t that a relief an’ a half!” says Rocket. In panel #5, Spidey recoils into a pile of debris with a SKRUNNTCH. “Hhnnph!” says Spidey. In panel #6, the web-spinner starts to get up. “On the other hand, maybe I will rough you up – just a little,” says Spidey. “Aw,” says Rocket, “Now you really got me trembling in my anti-gravity boots!”

The “Next” caption is “When Worlds Collide!” Last time, it was “Rocket Science!” which maybe we saw with the big gun.

January 2, 2017

Okay, so, “Spider-Man confronts an apparent raccoon who calls himself Rocket…” according to the caption. He marches toward Rocket, saying, “This little fracas ends now!” (And look! Way in the background! Between Spidey and Rocket! There’s MJ’s head peeking over a mound!) Rocket, his back to us, hands on hips, says, “Suits me. So, will you surrender right away…” In panel #2, Rocket leaps and slams into Spidey’s legs with a SLAMM (which is how I knew he slammed into him). “Or do you plan to wait until your shin heals?” says Rocket. Spidey, with wiggle lines around his back and head and arms, says, “Yeowch!”

January 3, 2017

With Spidey knocked flat on his back, Rocket stands over him and says, “They don’t build ‘em so tough on this backwater planet, do they?” “Maybe we’re…” Spidey begins in panel #1, then shoots webbing over Rocket in panel #2 with a FWIPP. “…Tougher than you think!” he says off-panel (only his hand is shown). “More of that web goop?” says Rocket, “I’ll just…” But in panel #3, with wiggle lines all around him, Rocket cannot break free of the webbing. “Hey! I can’t tear this stuff!” he says. “Finally!” says Spidey, “My last three bad guys tore through it like cotton candy!” (So, who are those three? Ronan, of course. But not Egghead, surely. Is he referring to Xandu and Sub-Mariner? Did Xandu tear through the webbing? I can’t even remember anymore.)

January 4, 2017

Spidey stands over the webbed-up Rocket and says, “Now that you’re all webbed up, we can have a little talk.” “Yeah, you do that,” says Rocket, then, in panel #2, he leaps straight at Spidey’s gut, striking him with a WHOOMP! “…Seeing as I’m so helpless and all,” says Rocket. Spidey, recoiling, says, “Oooph.” Spidey is flat on his back again in panel #3, holding off Rocket as best as he can. “Are you a raccoon – or a wolverine?” he says. “You’re just makin’ up all these nutty names, right?” says Rocket. (Heh. I kind of like that.)

January 5, 2017

Sitting up, Spidey holds Rocket at arm’s length. “Now, short-stuff,” he says, “You wanna tell me what we’re fighting about?” Rocket, webbed up, replies, “You don’t know? Then let me enlighten you…” And panel #2 is a silent close-up of Rocket’s confused face (good facial expression by Larry, in so far as a raccoon can have a good facial expression). In panel #3, as MJ approaches, Rocket says, “Y’know, I’m not too sure either!”

January 6, 2017

Now, Spidey is standing, still holding the webbed-up Rocket at arm’s length. There is one lonely cactus behind him. MJ fills up the right side of the panel as she approaches and says, “Is it okay for me to come out…Spider-Man?” “MJ – I’m not sure,” says Spidey but Rocket chimes in with “Don’t worry, Webbie – I don’t bite…women.” (Sort of like Bela Lugosi as Dracula: “I don’t drink…wine.”) Panel #2 is a twosome of Rocket and MJ. “Y’know, sister,” says Rocket, “You’d give Gamora a run for her money…if you was green.” (You all know Gamora, right? From either the comics or the “Guardians” movie?) Panel #3 is a threesome of Spidey, Rocket, and MJ, from left to right. Spidey still holds Rocket in his outstretched arms. (Don’t think about the perspective here. It’s sure to give you a headache.) “But enough stallin’!” says Rocket, “I wanna know – and I wanna know now – where’s Ronan?” Spidey and MJ both say “!?” which means, “Who? Ronan? Are we still in the Ronan storyline? Didn’t he disappear weeks ago?”

January 7, 2017

The camera moves in on a close two-shot of Spidey and Rocket with Rocket shown from behind. “You came to our world – looking for Ronan?” asks Spidey. “Yeah, you seen ‘im?” Rocket replies. The camera moves around behind Spidey to show Rocket with MJ behind him. “Seven feet tall,” Rocket continues, “carries a mallet – disposition like a saw-toothed rhino-tigrasaurus!” Shaken by this, with wave lines around her head, MJ says, “A what?” (A waste of a Saturday strip, MJ. Let’s get on with it!)

January 8, 2017

The opening caption reads, “Spidey and MJ are conversing with new arrival Rocket, who resembles a raccoon.” Rocket’s ship is behind the trio as Spidey now holds Rocket by webbing that is only stuck to Rocket’s head and back. (What happened to the rest of it?) “Before we talk about Ronan,” says Spidey, “Suppose you tell us who you are and where you come from.” The camera moves a little closer as Rocket struggles, his head yanked by the web. “All you need to know is that my name’s Rocket…owtch! Watch it!” he says, “And I’m the result of a genetic experiment that went south!” In panel #3, MJ leans in and points a finger at Rocket. “How is it that you speak English?” she asks him. Rocket turns and smiles at her. “I’m not, sister,” he says, “I’m talking basic Galactic.”

Panel #4 swings the camera around to face Rocket again. MJ is in the foreground and Spidey is in the background. “My handy little linga-trans does the rest,” says Rocket. “We should’ve known he’d have an app for that!” says Spidey. In panel #5, the camera pulls way back to a crane-shot. Rocket is rid of the webbing (actually, he was rid of it in panel #4) and standing on his own between Spidey and MJ. The spaceship is behind them. “Now, about this Ronan you’re after…” says Spidey, pointing at Rocket. “Actually, I’m not really after Ronan,” says Rocket, “I’m after what Ronan is after…” In panel #6, the camera swings behind Rocket. Spidey and MJ bracket him on either side. “…Namely, an intergalactic Sentry!” says Rocket. Spidey and MJ both say “?” (Each gets his/her own word balloon and his/her own “?”.) Meaning, “An intergalactic whaaaa?”

Our “Next” caption is “The Enemy of my Enemy is my…Something!” which I rather like. Last week’s was “When Worlds Collide!” which…okay…yeah…figuratively…I guess so.

January 9, 2017

“Spidey and MJ meet Rocket Raccoon…” says the caption, calling Rocket what the comics call him but the movie doesn’t. From left to right, we have Rocket’s spacecraft, Rocket (his arms folded in front of him), MJ (leaning down to talk to Rocket) and Spidey (just his head). “Ronan came here lookin’ for an intergalactic Sentry – and so did I!” says Rocket. “We had a run-in with Ronan earlier,” says MJ. “If my spider-strength couldn’t stop him, what makes you think you can?” says Spidey’s head. Panel #2 is a close-up of Rocket who exudes complete disdain (another great raccoon facial expression by Larry) as he says, “No offense, web-face…but I step on spiders!”

January 10, 2017

I got about a week behind with these but that’s okay. Nothing has really happened. In panel #1, headshots of Spidey, Rocket, and MJ, the web-slinger says, “What’s this ‘intergalactic sentry’ Ronan’s searching for?” “A robot built by the Kree to guard their military outposts,” explains Rocket. MJ, who hasn’t read any Marvel Comics, thinks, “Kree?” Panel #2 is all Rocket, unless you count the big word balloon pointing to an off-panel Spider-Man who asks, “Why do these ‘Kree’ consider our world a ‘military outpost’?” Rocket says, “To them, every planet’s a potential military outpost…” Panel #3 reduces Rocket to a small piece of the back of his head in the lower left corner. From there, he finishes his sentence with, “…and a military conquest!” MJ and Spidey, looking at him (and us) both say, “!” Which may be shorthand for “Damn!”

January 11, 2017

Rocket, on top of the ridge with Spidey and MJ (and one lone cactus) below, leans down to pick up his gun and says, “Well, I’ve stood here jawbonin’ with you locals long enough.” (That is the truth.) “High time I tracked down that Sentry.” Spidey, hands on hips, asks, “And just how do you mean to find it?” Panel #2 is Rocket brandishing his gun. “I don’t,” he says, “I’m gonna let Ronan find it.” And panel #3 is a close-up of Rocket, brandishing his teeth, as he says, “All I gotta do is find Ronan!”

January 12, 2017

Rocket returns to the crater with Spidey and MJ. He takes a look at his spaceship and says, “It’ll take ol’ Rack ‘N’ Ruin II here a while to recharge. By then, I should be back here with the Sentry!” (Rocket was the captain of the Rack ‘N’ Ruin spaceship, with first mate Wal Russ, when he was “Guardian of the Keystone Quadrant” back in his days before joining the Guardians of the Galaxy. Do I need to point out that both characters are Beatles-derived? Rocket Raccoon=Rocky Raccoon, Wal Russ=I Am the Walrus. The Keystone Quadrant is not Beatles-derived but riffs off of the old Keystone Cops movie shorts.) Panel #2 gives us Spidey filling up the left side with his profile, looking down on Rocket, who looks back at him as he begins to walk away. “What do you plan to do with that robot?” asks Spidey. “It’s not a case of me doin’ anything with it,” says Rocket. Panel #3 is another close-up of Rocket as he says, “It’s a case of stoppin’ Ronan from usin’ it to conquer this galaxy!”

January 13, 2017

All three characters are seen from behind in panel #1 as Rocket starts to walk away on his own. “Well, I’m off to locate Ronan,” he says. “I’m coming with you!” says Spidey. “So am I!” says MJ. In panel #2, the camera swings around to the front of the three characters as Rocket turns back to say, “How do you two figure that?” “You said Ronan intends to use that Sentry to ‘conquer this galaxy’,” says Spidey. “We just happen to live in this galaxy – so we’re with you!” finishes MJ.

January 14, 2017

The threesome again. MJ to Spidey’s left and Rocket in the background on the right. “Actually, MJ, you’re not coming with Rocket and me,” says Spidey, “Ronan – and the Sentry – are far too dangerous.” Panel #2 is a wonderful silent close-up of MJ glaring at Spidey (though actually glaring right at us). And panel #3 shows Rocket, Spidey, and MJ walking away together. “Are you always that persuasive, web-face?” asks Rocket. (It’s simple but I love it! One of my favorite strips in this story so far.)

January 15, 2017

And here we are on Sunday with Spidey, Rocket, and MJ climbing out of the crater created by the still-smoking Rack ‘N’ Ruin II which is left behind. The caption reads, “Spidey, MJ and the raccoon-like extraterrestrial called Rocket set out to find Ronan…” Spidey asks, “How’d you know Ronan would come here?” and Rocket answers, “We didn’t. For a while we thought he was dead.” (Is this a movie reference? I can’t remember.) Panel #2 moves the camera beside the trio with the spaceship still in the background (it is no longer smoking but there is a plume of smoke crossing in front of Rocket). “Who’s ‘we’?” asks MJ. “Just…some guys and me,” answers Rocket. Panel #3 brings the threesome back to the car. They are in silhouette with a large full moon behind them. (A nice panel by Alex.) “Does your group have a name?” asks Spidey. “Well… yeah,” says the reluctant Rocket. “So…what is it?” asks MJ. Panel #4 moves in on a grimacing Rocket. MJ can still be seen beside him but the camera has moved down too far to see more of Spidey than his torso. “The Guardians of the Galaxy,” Rocket mutters. “What was that?” says MJ, “I couldn’t…” In panel #5, Rocket spreads his arms (still holding his big gun) and yells, “The Guardians of the Galaxy!” so loudly that Spidey and MJ lean back in shock. Panel #6 gives us headshots of Spidey and MJ as Rocket walks on ahead to the car. “Who’re the other guys in the combo? Two rabbits and a squirrel?” asks Spidey. “Keep it up, webbie,” says Rocket, “an’ there’ll be nothin’ left of you but cobwebs!”

This strips doesn’t really get us anywhere but it doesn’t matter. I love Rocket’s hesitation to come out with his group’s high-blown name and I love Spidey’s crack about the “two rabbits and a squirrel.” This story started slowly but has become very entertaining. Can it continue?

The “Next” caption tells us, “Even an Army Needs a Pit Stop!” Last week’s was “The Enemy of my Enemy is my…Something!” which means that Spidey, MJ, and Rocket have now teamed up.

January 16, 2017

“The search for Ronan the Accuser…,” according to the caption. The group is now in the car. Spidey is hunched over the wheel and MJ is riding shotgun. “Watch it, Tiger! You almost ran off the road!” says MJ. “Sorry…,” replies Spidey, “So tired…I can barely keep my eyes open.” (It probably doesn’t help to drive wearing his Spidey mask.) Panel #2 is an MJ/Spidey close-up as she leans over and says, “Maybe I should drive…” “You?” replies Spidey, “You’ve been yawning for the past hour!” Panel #3 shows Rocket in the back seat as he calls out, “Don’t look at me! I just finished flyin’ 2500 light years without a pit stop!”

January 17, 2017

And here is the pit stop Rocket asked for in yesterday’s strip and mentioned in the “Next” caption in Sunday’s strip. The car is now in the parking lot of a motel called “Motel.” No other car is in the lot. (I don’t know, guys. Haven’t you ever seen “Psycho?”) From the car, Spidey says, “Tired as we are, we’d better crash for a while at this motel.” Rocket says, “Wadda you mean, ‘crash’?” MJ says, “It’s just a figure of speech, Rocket.” Panel #2 is a close-up of Spidey in a Loony Tunes spotlight (the first one of this story, I believe) as he starts to take off his mask. “I’d better change clothes before we go in…” he says. In panel #3, the trio is out of the car and, apparently, heading for the motel. But Peter must have backed up before parking because they now have a much longer walk than the one they would have had in panel #1. Pete is now in his civvies. Rocket turns to MJ and whispers “No offense, Red…but he looked better with the mask!” “Is that why you wear one?” asks MJ. (Another nice little bit.)

In General...

We shall see.

Overall Rating...

The Egghead story was the best of the last two years. How will this story fare?