For the busy modern Spider-Fan, we present "Seventeen Second" reviews of some of the most popular Spidey stories. If you have more time, you should go check out the full reviews over in the Comics Database. In the meantime, enjoy these short version courtesy of our over-active staffers.
Unlimited #1-2, Web #101-103, Amazing #378-380, Spider-Man (1990) #35-37, Spectacular #201-203.
Carnage gathers lame psychotic castaway 90s Spider-villains into New Partridge family. Spidey gathers a bunch of heroes in need of sales boost to ineffectually oppose him, is dramatically forced to work with worst enemy Venom, also ineffectual, who still hates Spidey and tries to kill him. People die, Mary Jane smokes, readers suddenly discover Carnage has new power forcing New Yorkers to be mean to each other. (Hey, Hilary Clinton has that power, too!) Someone (Deathlok? Reed Richards?) invents a happy-alpha gun, entire problem solved with techno-"Care Bear Stare". And then they dig up somebody's mother, I definitely remember that part. I swear, it's on one of the covers...
Spider-Man (1990) #1-5.
It's THOOMA-THOOM-THOOM-and-uh-DOOM-DOOM as Calypso summons an nigh-indestructible Lizard to so something or other and not use vowels when spelling his name. Meanwhile, on the first page Mr. Caption says Spider-Man's powers are extraordinary and his webline is "advantageous" which I thought was about the dumbest thing I ever heard even back in 7th grade. Mary Jane's eyes keep switching from blue to green and back again ON THE SAME PAGE and her hair gets so big it tries to strangle her just so she'll have something interesting to do. Calypso decides to dress up as her dead lover minus his head, which is so messed up I can't think of anything to say, then she kills a rooster in a flashback. But she wasn't careful with her voodoo candle safety (Smoky the Voodoo Priest says: Never light your ju-ju candles near gas mains!) and so Kraven's mansion blows up for the sixth time.
God, the dialogue is so pretentious I expected to see McFarlane's capital letters sipping double mocha lattes and discussing stock options. Best part of these issues by far were the little Spidey heads McFarlane drew in the UPC box. I always loved those. One Web if you're counting.
Venom: Separation Anxiety #1-4.
Eddie Brock is separated from the Venom symbiote and he's busted out of the Vault by the five other symbiotes that were first spotted in the Venom: Lethal Protector limited series and the five symbiotes bring him to a warehouse and ask him to help them live with their symbiotes but he refuses because he's an idiot and then somebody's going around killing the Five and it turns out to be one of them who's a woman named Donna in the yellow symbiote outfit but just before she kills Eddie the Venom symbiote finds him and they reunite and take care of Donna who survives and shows up in two other late and unlamented Venom limited series.
Editors Note: The five symbiotes were Riot, Scream, Lasher, Phage, and Hybrid.
Spider-Man (1990) #18-23.
Some cyborg thing escapes, Spidey makes a joke about Dramamine that made me go look up the word Dramamine when I was twelve, Ghost Rider showing up makes everything kewl-er. Spidey goes cyborg, 'cause that's kewl too, the Sinister Six use some dimensional thing to steal alien ray guns, and they also bring back alien baby GOG. (Why would anyone DO that?) Sandman becomes a glass statue, then becomes a living pile of glass shards, I always thought that would sort of be tough to explain to his girlfriend. They like steal a HYDRA death satellite or somesuch to kill the world (if Hydra could have killed the world at any time before this... Hello?), and like 40 random heroes show up for a sales boost in the conclusion, which I don't really remember. Meanwhile, Erik Larsen's house actually burns down and the issue's only a WEEK late. (Take that, JMS! And you don't even have to draw it!)
Sensational #32, Amazing #440, Spider-Man #96, Spectacular #262, Sensational #33.
Some ancient magician guys came up with a really brilliant idea. 'Let's make five identical hunks of rock magical, but then make two of them filled with evil magic, to punish those who want to use our magic rocks!' Norman Osborn decides he's had enough with being a sensible corporate evil guy and gambles everything on a bid for as much power as Rocket Racoon already has. So he brings magic rocks together, and gets lots of power from the ceremony... no wait, he's totally insane! Good thing modern medicine cures magical-curse-induced insanity. And somebody mind controls Molten Man for no frickin' reason at all. Also, in the depths of someone (John Byrne's) hideous stagnant imagination, Spider-Chickie 3 is born. Spider-Man, to the best of my recollection, spent most of these issues washing his hair and reminding us how young he still is.
Web of Spider-Man #40-43.
When the hell was Flash Thompson dating Betty Brant? Did I miss a memo? Man, he goes through supporting chick characters like used kleenex. Anyway, Flash worries because his now-girl Betty joins a Love Cult, and she gives away all her personal possessions to weed gardens for the rest of her natural life - oh, but she gets HAPPINESS in return. Yeah, I think I'd rather keep my stuff and be miserable. Spidey investigates, thinks The Cult Leader is great, except he forgets the cronies-trying-to-kill-him-with-knives-and-flamethrowers part. Spidey falls for The Leader's "miracle" like a fat person off a diving board, and asks lame-o Dr. Druid about it, who laughs right in his face, even though Spidey sells a jagillion times more comics. And nobody seems to notice the firebug guy who wanders around giggling and striking matches and you just KNOW will burn it all down in the last part. Then they deprogram Betty in a dramatic scene by making her admit her favorite color is "Flash Thompson's Bare Ass in the Morning".
It's written by Peter David so it's actually pretty good, but it was actually colored by Janet Jackson, so that makes it bad.
Amazing Spider-Man #334-339.
Doctor Octopus for absolutely no reason other than to increase page count recruits Electro, Mysterio, Vulture, insane religious demon Hobgoblin (Good thinking!), a blackmailed Sandman who hates him and wants to kill him (Better thinking!) into joining him in a scheme that should have been a four page backup story. He plans to pretend to poison the world with a satellite, except he's really going to cure cocaine addiction and have addicts pay him to be re-addicted! (Oh, if there was a Nobel prize for super-villain plans...) Except that it really melts the ozone layer, except it doesn't because of some crappy thing called "burundite". Meanwhile, Nathan Lubensky kicks the bucket in grand Gwen-Stacy style as he is saved by Spidey's web inches from plummeting into the pavement, only to die anyway. Also, Felicia Hardy sucks on Flash Thompson's earlobe.
Amazing Spider-Man #340-343.
Spidey gets his powers analyzed by some doctor dude (It's the Chameleon) and his machine and his powers temporarily vanish. For the fiftieth or sixtieth time he decides to give up being Spider-Man, because, like Aunt May gets worried about him, weak heart and stuff, so he goes back for the full power-removing treatment. The doctor (Still the Chameleon) recruits the Femme Fatales, (I'd tell you their names, but only Erik Larsen cares), the Tarantula, and the Scorpion to kill Spidey while powerless. They pull the "kidnap some random guy and threaten to kill him if Spidey doesn't show up" plan from the standard super-villain playbook. Aunt May gets the hots for Willie Lumpkin, postman to the super-heroes. Spidey flounders and crashes around for three issues, Black Cat saves his ass each time, they track down the doctor (Yup - the Chameleon), and find out that hey, it's the Chameleon. Spidey puts himself in the machine and runs it backwards, Black Cat somehow being nearby loses her bad-luck powers or something. Or maybe it was her extra long fingernails. I think. All the villains escape, everyone turns their head in shame. Also, Felicia Hardy sucks on Flash Thompson's earlobe.