Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #18

Background

The Sinister Six had disbanded during the 'Return of the Sinister Six' storyline printed in Amazing Spider-Man #334-339. Doctor Octupus had betrayed the other members in his attempt for world domination, which was stopped by Spider-Man.

Erik Larsen, who had penciled the 'Return' storyline, is back again to pencil this six-issue arc, but this time he has also taken over the writing chores. This is the second issue he's written (Spider-Man #15 was the first). Marvel had basically handed this Spider-Man book over completely to Todd McFarlane and Larsen for its first 23 issues.

At the time, the two artists had been taking a lot of negative feedback for their writing skills.

Story 'Revenge Of The Sinister Six!'

The book opens with instant action as Spider-Man and Ghost Rider attempt to stop a rampaging cyborg in a shopping mall. Neither hero recognizes the half- man, half-robot and its dialouge doesn't lend any clues as to where he's come from. The cyborg is confused, scared, and lashing out wildly. He swats Ghost Rider away as if he were nothing and causes Spidey to dodge a hail of bullets before taking off into the sky. Spidey tags a web-line and is dragged into the air as Ghost Rider rides his bike up the side of a skyscraper, jumps from it and connects with a punch to the cyborg's face. Very cool move.

Spidey and Ghost Rider are able to weigh the cyborg down, smash through a billboard, and send him corralling into an abandoned building. The building collapses and buries the cyborg in debris as Spidey attempt to go after him. The two heroes only watch and wonder if they will ever know what this confrontation was all abour, but are happy its over. Spider-Man swings to drop Ghost Rider off at his bike and is then going to call S.H.I.E.L.D. to pick up the body. The cyborg, however, is stumbling from the rubble unnoticed and still mumbling gibberish.

Meanwhile, the Sandman is checking in on the Casada family. The Casadas used to let him board with them, but where forced to ask him to leave when the media was alerted to his presence there (Amazing Spider-Man #348). Doctor Octupus had threatened to kill the family if Sandman didn't go along with the last Sinister Six team-up, and there is still the concern that he'd go through with it since Sandman had betrayed them (Amazing Spider-Man #334-339). Naturally, the entire house explodes before his eyes. While holding one of the Casadas in his hands, Sandman swears revenge on Doc Ock and 'won't stop until you're dead!!'.

Doc Ock is busy obtaining the admantium arms that he had been searching years for. They were created a long while ago (Daredevil #165) and now he finally gets to use them. The 'old man' that he had gotten them from demands payment. Instead, Doc Ock kills him and then rips apart the army of robots that the old man had brought as back-up. The villian isn't even trying as he tears the robotic army to shreds and revels in his newfound might. After its over, he takes the massive amount of weaponry left from the old man while thinking of needing more (including men, 'some I can mold, manipulate to do my bidding').

There's a two-page spread of an argument between Peter and M.J. She was just offered a starring role in the new Arnold Schwarzenheimer movie, but it involves nude scenes. Peter isn't comfortable with it and M.J. storms off while calling him a 'square'.

Sandman meets up with the former members of the Sinister Six to get revenge on Doctor Octupus. Vulture, Mysterio, Electro, and the Hobgoblin are all in. Actually, its unclear as to wether this Hobgoblin is Jason Macendale or the demonic part separated from him in Web of Spider-Man #85. Anyway, Sandman lets them know that he's in this just for revenge for what happened to the Casadas. He goes to the hospital to visit Mrs. Casada and decides that he's going to need a back-up man because of his distrust for the Sinister Six.

He then hangs around the Daily Bugle for Spider-Man. Once they find each other, Sandman asks Spidey to come along as back-up to take down Ock. Spidey must have agreed, because the next scene involves the Sinister Five sneaking into one of Doc Ock's warehouses to take him down while he's watching from the rafters. Doc Ock lets them know he was expecting them as Spider-Man looks on, his spider-sense going off because of a huge figure on the roof of the warehouse.

General Comments

Not a bad first issue to this storyline, but not a very good one either. Everything happens a little too simply here and without much explanation. Why was Ghost Rider invlolved in the first eight pages during a fight with an unknown cyborg? Who was the 'old man' that Doc Ock got his new arms from and why wasn't he more prepared to be double-crossed? Any arms dealer with admantium tentacles for the murderous Doc would know what he's getting into. Who is behind the Hobgoblin character? Finally, if it were so easy for the Sandman to convince his former partners to get back together for revenge on Doc Ock, why didn't they do it sooner?

I think all of these questions are answered by the fact that Erik Larsen is a great artist but a terrible writer. How do you hide a story without much substance? Splash pages, guest-stars galore, and lots and lots of action. Unfortunately, the rest of this storyline has a lot more of the same.

However, anything with the Sinister Six is worth picking up. If nothing else, you get an update as to what Spider-Man's most menacing foes are up to.

Overall Rating

Fantastic art, weak story. The Sinister Six are always entertaining though, so...