Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #14

Story Details

  Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #14
Arc: Part 2 of 'Sub-City' (1-2)
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Writer: Todd McFarlane
Pencils: Todd McFarlane
Inker: Todd McFarlane
Cover Art: Todd McFarlane
Articles: Morbius

Spidey's in the sewers battling off all the under-dwellers. He cracks that at times like this he wishes he wore a utility belt carrying spidey nasal plugs, since the under-dweller's smell is so strong. The green- cloaked sewer dweller from last issue is bemoaning the fact that Morbius has promised his fellow people food and clothing in return for bringing him victims, and now they're acting how the society on the topside acts. Spidey gets frustrated and webs all the under-dwellers together, tying them in web- pouches to his arms and legs. He demands they take him to their boss.

After dumping off the web sacks of sewer people, Spidey goes swinging looking for the leader. Morbius flies by, catching Spidey off-guard. Morbius calls him 'black devil', and doesn't recognize him in the black suit. Spidey thinks last he knew, Morbius was hanging around Dr. Strange's mansion, looking for a way to be cured. Spidey demands to know where all the kidnapped homeless are. Morbius replies he had no choice, that his urge for blood is stronger than anyone could imagine. Spidey tells him that Morbius has always searched for an alternative to his blood-thirst before, and that he can't give up on himself now, that Morbius was a doctor for God's sake. Morbius says everything he held dear has been stripped away, including his dignity, and that Spider-man should leave.

This banter between them goes on and on for a number of pages, as they half-heartedly battle it out. Spidey convinces Morbius to ask his sewer army himself who they've been bringing him to feed on. They say all the "bad people" from up above, which pretty much means everybody. Morbius freaks out on the fact that he's turned the innocents of the sewers against the innocents aboveground, and flies off shouting "noooooo!". Green-cloaked sewer guy (this guy doesn't even get a name) says he'll take care of his people from here on out. Spidey tells them to go, that he won't stop them. Later, Spidey is swinging above the city thinking he'll enlist Reed Richard's help in curing Morbius. He also thinks that donning the black costume and upsetting Mary Jane was pointless, since the underworlder's eyesight was so strong they could still spot him in it down below. He thinks he's lucky that MJ puts up with him at all.

General Comments

Well that was certainly anti-climactic. Todd should've called this arc "Sub-Par" instead (ba-dum-dum). Morbius and Spidey go toe to toe, but pages and pages are filled with pointless blather. It seems McFarlane over-writes to compensate for being criticized as a lousy writer. Over-writing doesn't really serve the story here at all. The line Morbius utters at one point, "..if you're looking for a fight, then mister, I'm in the perfect mood!" seems really out of character for him and comes off like something out of 70's era Marvel.

Todd McFarlane--the man once described by John Byrne as the "enfant terrible" of the comics world. He got better at scripting as this series went on, but this issue isn't a standout. This story is oddly bloodless for a vampire tale and the outcome is moot--Morbius is still free but has learned the error of his ways, the sewer people are still loose, and it seems Spidey didn't really get any photos for the Bugle story--hard to tell because that's never mentioned again. This short arc, McFarlane's penultimate story for the book, is like a knockoff of the much-better Batman story The Cult (and this story almost plays out like a test-run for his creator-owned comic Spawn).

Overall Rating

Interesting art, and Spidey's back in the black duds long before it became very fashionable again like the last few years. Nice to see McFar's take on Morbius, but the Spidey/Morbius fight never really pays off. Not much else to recommend this issue--for the completist only.

Footnote

The letters page has a box written by editor Jim Salicrup saying Todd took a baseball to the face playing semi-pro ball, and that Erik Larsen will be guesting next issue. Salicrup also goes on to say that he no longer be editing the title. One wonders if Salicrup leaving contributed to McFarlane deciding to leave the title (and ultimately Marvel) as well.