Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #133
This story is part of a Lookback Series: Spectacular Beginnings
This review was first published on: 2005.
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #133
Dec 1987 : SM Title
Arc: Part 3 of "Mad Dog Ward"
Pete persuades Mary to wean him and the other patients off the drugs. He knows he is Spider-Man but can't do much because of the drugs he's on.
Elsewhere and Tanya and Jacob persuade their father to get their mum out of the asylum. He wilts but tells his kids they'll have to move away and start new lives.
In the Kingpin's office and the order is given that Pete's brain can be examined. The scientist is pleased but first goes back to patient zero.
A day later and Pete is feeling back to himself but the other patients aren't responding to a lack of medication quite as well. The ward has gone quite crazy. Pete ends up trapped in a room with Mad Dog (Brainstorm) while he was trying to save Zero. Pete batters brainstorm while the scientist looks on - not pleased. Frank then shows up with a gun saying he wants his wife freed.
The next day and Pete (in disguise so no-one associates Spider-Man with him) takes Ben Urich to the hospital. The Kingpin is one step ahead though and is holding a press conference denying all knowledge of what was happening there.
Part one starts really well with some nice development and some interesting allusion towards the Kingpin's motives for financing the 'Mad Dog' asylum. It really unravels at the end though with some major plot jumps that don't really make sense. How would two young children follow their father (without him knowing) not just to an asylum but manage to get onto the roof as well?
What's more, why are they even on the roof?
How does Spider-Man find them and why is it such an issue to him?
There's also no real motive for the security guy dropping the girl off the roof. It just seems to hark back to the early comics where bad guys were bad just because they were. Especially on the back of the Kraven's Last Hunt story, it all undoes what was a very promising beginning to the crossover story.
In part two and once again we've jumped forward. Pete is out of his Spidey costume, Tanya - who he's just saved at the end of the last part - has disappeared and we're inside the asylum. It's interesting to know that Kingpin and his top scientist know Pete is Spider-Man but surely if the Kingpin had one of his biggest enemies in the palm of his hand then he'd act on it?
Just leaving Pete in the ward makes no sense. It also doesn't make for an entertaining read and the middle section really drags.
Part three does pick up. For a start we get some of Spidey in action, we also have the scientist get his comeuppance and Frank, Vicky and the kids reunite. This doesn't quite ring true as Frank has recently physically assaulted her and wrongly had her committed ... yet she just seems to forget and takes him back on the last page. Hmmmmm...
Despite some of the annoying plot jumps and inconsistencies, what is good is the apparent change of direction. With this and Kraven's Last Hunt - 9 comics and 3 months real-time - the comics have really taken a turn. The stories are darker, bolder and have an edge to them.
The Kingpin was used sparingly and wisely so but the air of menace around him was still more than evident. Mad Dog Ward flows smoother across the three titles than Kraven's Last Hunt did. Kraven always felt like one story split up - sometimes at inopportune moments - whereas this has a better feel to it.
The small inconsistencies are a shame because, with a little bit more thought, the story could have been a really top-drawer affair. Instead they take the shine of what is still a pretty good effort.