Comics : Web of Spider-Man #33

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This story is part of an Arc: "Mad Dog Ward"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This story is part of a Lookback Series: World Wide Web of Spidey

This review was first published on: 2005.

In Detail...

"What's The Matter With Mommy?"
Web of Spider-Man #33
Dec 1987 : SM Title
Arc: Part 1 of "Mad Dog Ward"
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  Ann Nocenti
Pencils:  Cyndy Martin
Inker:  Steve Leialoha
Cover Art:  Bill Sienkiewicz
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Articles: Aunt May Parker, Jameson, J. Jonah

We begin in a large house where a woman (Vicky) is planning to leave her husband (Frank). He arrives home as she is leaving with their two children. She says things about not feeling right working for him any longer and goes to phone the police. There is a struggle and Frank ends up talking to the police himself. Whoever he is talking to is in on whatever his 'business' is and suggests putting Vicky away.

Next, in some sort of asylum, which we find out is privately funded (with its 'patients' selected) by the Kingpin. They are preparing for a new arrival.

Over at the Bugle and a page spread is being drawn up about the recklessness of superheroes. Pete's pictures of Spidey are to be used. He is upset about MJ being on a modelling assignment in Paris so soon after they got married.

Pete goes to Aunt May's but, later as he's leaving, he runs into Vicky's two kids. They are running after an ambulance with their mother in. Pete tells them he's sure their mum just needs a 'rest' and that they should go home.

Later and Pete can't forget about the kids. We cut to a scene on top of the asylum. Frank is there with his two kids. Apparently they followed him there (though no mention of either a) how two kids managed to do that or b) why they're on the roof). The young boy pulls a gun on his father while the girl bangs on the roof's door for her Mum.

Suddenly, security surrounds them but then Spidey shows up (no idea how he knew where to find them) and takes the security guys out. One remains and he has hold of the little girl, who he drops off the roof. Spidey swings down and saves her but appears to be shot as he crumples to the floor.

In General...

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.

Overall Rating...

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.