Comics : Web of Spider-Man Annual #2

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

This review was first published on: Jan 2013.

Background...

Warlock is one of the many members of the team, The New Mutants. Warlock obviously has the power to change his appearance and is a robot that wants to fit in with his fellow teammates.

In Detail...

"Wake Me Up I Gotta Be Dreaming"
Web of Spider-Man Annual #2 (Story 1)
Year 1986 : SM Title
Summary: Warlock & The New Mutants
Editor In Chief:  Jim Shooter
Editor:  Jim Owsley
Writer:  Ann Nocenti
Pencils:  Arthur Adams
Lettering:  L. Lois Buhalis
Colorist:  George Roussos
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Articles: Mary Jane Watson-Parker

In the dead of night, every kid in Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters has been sleeping, but one certain robot, Warlock, has stolen all of the televisions in the school and remains watching them in his darkened room. Soon, Warlock's friends burst into their rooms, telling him that his noise has woken them up, and that he is not being properly educated because of his addiction to TV. Illyana tells him, "You're getting this ridiculous warped moronic viewpoint of the world! You've got to get out and learn from real life!" The annoyed mutants start to leave, and one of them is about to wish Warlock sweet dreams, but forgets that he cannot, considering that he is a robot. Warlock asks her where he can find dreams, and she suggests New York City, where people find their dreams. As she's leaving, she tells him that it's too dangerous, but Warlock ignores her because he thinks that it's the only way that he can fit in. He turns into Speed Racer, and zooms away from the mansion.

Back in New York City, during rush hour, Spider-Man is web slinging when he spots a swarm of animals heading down Fifth Avenue. He finds that they are coming out of the window of a lab, and places him camera down for pictures that he can sell to The Daily Bugle. Inside, animal cruelty activists are releasing laboratory animals from their cages. Spidey tells them that the animals are getting hurt outside, and they make a mad dash for the door. He one of the girls because he figures that he has to "take in a representative of their organization. He tells her that the scientists who worked in the lab they vandalized save lives, and the girl replies to him that they have no right to hurt innocent animals and that she "feels closer to animals than [she's] ever felt to a human!" Spidey tells her that science saves people, but she tells him that they will start testing on humans next and that he looks like he was once a human experiment, and runs for the door. Spider-man lets her go so that he can help the animals, and considers that, in a way, she was correct and that he may have the victim confused. He grabs his camera and jumps down to help the animals.

Down the street, David Letterman is on a stroll, and a crowd has started following him. Abruptly, David transforms into a completely different guy so that he does not attract attention. That's not David Letterman! It's Warlock! Warlock is fascinated with New York City, and apparently his "self circuits" are "overwhelmed." A few guys need help lifting a heavy box onto the top of their car, but every New Yorker they've asked have rudely rejected them. Warlock overhears them and happily helps. His walk is ended when he finds Spider-Man returning the animals to the lab. (Gee, there sure are a lot of New Yorkers helping Spidey with the animals...) Warlock, immediately considering Spidey a friend, and starts introducing himself, but stops because he has compromised his identity. Spidey considers helping him, but goes back to work.

Warlock, fearing that he has betrayed his friends, sulks down a street when he is enthralled by a toy store's window. When he walks in, he is thought to be another toy and is a fan favorite with the kids. (Are people seriously too stupid not to see that he is a robot?) Two scientists, Karl and Dr. Weber find Warlock, and he is attracted to their "consumables." They tell him that they have plenty of food at their home, and they take him to their lab. Once Warlock is in their lab, he smashes their vacuum, accusing it of attempting to eat his foot. Once he has been fed a hamburger, he is encountered with a stomach ache (Dr. Weber said that he is overloaded by the electricity he drew out of a socket, but he is obviously eating a burger. Why would a robot need to eat a burger?) Karl, in his quest to become rich, takes a piece of Warlock for patenting. He analyzes it, and is amazed at the fact that it is alive. He hooks Warlock up to a machine, against his female partner's will, and Warlock overloads with power and goes nuts.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man is out web-slinging, and notices some people running frantically in the other direction of something. He thinks, "looks like they're filming one of those low budget monster rampage movies." (Really!??) Soon, he realizes that it is clearly not. Warlock, now in the form of Godzilla, is on a rampage, holding Dr. Weber. Karl is following, and she tells him to give the piece he took from it back. Karl explains the situation to Spidey, and he tells him to give the piece back. While Karl heads back to his lab, Spidey places his camera down and confronts Warlock. Spidey starts cracking jokes with him, but Warlock tells him to stop talking because it's taking all of his concentration not to blow up. That shut Spidey up.

Warlock turns into King Kong and climbs up a building. Spider-Man convinces Warlock to drop the scientist, and Karl shows up with the part just in time to have a reunion. Karl realizes that Warlock is a living thing, and that he was exploiting him, and Spidey finds that, by taking pictures of him, he's exploiting him too. Warlock figures that he cannot keep himself stable any longer, turns into a rocket, and blows up in the sky.

Spider-Man immediately hates himself for not helping him. Karl yells at his co-worker for thinking about cloning him with the piece they have left of him. Each of them are dead in thought until Karl notices something in the sky. A black string drops and coils up on the ground before them. It's Warlock!

Back in the lab, Warlock apologizes for the damage that he had done, and asks if he is like a real human now. Spidey tells him that he is better, and Karl and his Dr. Weber are in each other's arms. On the television, Warlock is appalled that they are blaming the whole thing on Spider-Man, and decides that he will "never watch TV again." Back at the school, Warlock is praised by his friends and has turned himself into a human to sleep. The girl he talked to wishes him sweet dreams.

In General...

Overall, I think that this was an enjoyable story. Warlock seems like an interesting character, and his character development in this issue is touching. I still have to admit that I really liked Spider-Man's confrontation with the activists. The whole "shade of grey" thing was used not too long ago (in Web of Spider-Man #13 to be exact) and it is always welcome in my book.

On the negative side, I feel like Ann Nocenti introduced too many themes in one story. Warlock wants to be a real boy, Warlock watches too much TV, Spider-Man's activist dilemma, don't abuse robots, and then, out of left field, Karl and Dr. Weber's romance. I was also bothered that Dr. Weber's first name is never revealed in the story. And I swear that Dr. Weber called Karl Dr. Weber in a conversation they had. You would think that Karl would have the decency to refer to the girl he likes by her first name... I was also annoyed that Warlock's portion of the book had about 10x the material as Spidey's. The first ten pages were good, but the six pages after that practically made me forget that I was reading a Spider-Man book. I do hope that another writer goes in depth with the whole activist vs. scientist thing, because I think that that was the highlight of the book.

I seriously think that Arthur Adams is a fool for not drawing Spider-man earlier. He has his body posture, flexibility, and awkward poses all right! His detail is excessive, but none of the panels feel crammed. It feels like he's been doing this for 20 years! I really hope that he continues illustrating Spidey in the future.

Overall Rating...

I think that the story could use some work, but it was overall enjoyable. Arthur Adam's art is awesome!