Spider-Man Newspaper Strip 12 November 2018 - 23 March 2019

Background

Stan Lee has passed away on November 12, 2018, the first day of this storyline. It's a sad way to start. Rest in Peace, Stan. You were the Man!

So, is this the very last story in the long-running Spider-Man newspaper series? It appears so. But check out the "General" section to see what has been announced and to get Roy Thomas' comments. Roy, it turns out, has been ghost-writing the strip (with Stan's oversight) since 2000! Did everyone know this but me?

Story 'The Bulletproof Man - and the Human Spider! (The Last Strip-Verse Story)'

  Spider-Man Newspaper Strip 12 November 2018 - 23 March 2019
Nov 2018
Summary: With Luke Cage and Killgrave the Purple Man and... the end of the Strip-Verse?
Writer: Roy Thomas, Stan Lee
Pencils: Alex Saviuk
Inker: Joe Sinnott

November 12, 2018

This story actually started on Saturday or yesterday but I wanted to finish the previous story on a Sunday. That's okay, though, because today's strip pretty much just rehashes the last two panels from yesterday.

We begin this story with a caption: "J. Jonah Jameson is back in New York..." Joe "Robbie" Robertson and JJJ look out at us, which is where Jonah's office door is. "Here's the guy who's gonna help me bring Spider-Man to justice at last!" says Jonah. Panel #2 is like yesterday's panel #6 with the broken office door and even the freaked out Bugle worker in the background. "Robbie, meet Luke Cage, A.K.A. the superhero for hire!" says Jonah. "You people need to fix your doors to open easier," says Cage.

November 13, 2018

Luke enters the room. "Which of you two is J. Jonah Jameson?" he asks. (I thought everybody knew J. Jonah Jameson in this universe!) Robbie gestures at Jonah. "He's guilty as charged, Mr. Cage!" he says. His reward for that is to get cut out of the rest of the strip. In panel #2, it is just Luke and Jameson. Luke says, "Your message mentioned Spider-Man..." and Jonah replies, "He pretends to be a hero - but that's just a front for his supervillain activities!" In panel #3, Jonah pokes Luke in the chest. Luke clearly doesn't like it (he gets wiggle lines around his head). "You and I are going to expose him," says JJJ, "and put him behind bars where he belongs!"

This is starting to look like a remake of Amazing Spider-Man #123, August 1973. If so, it won't be the first time a story from the comic book was redone in the strip. We'll see what comes of this.

November 14, 2018

Luke takes off his shades as JJJ gets up in his face. "Now, here's my plan," he says, "First, you catch the wall-crawler and drag him into..." Panel #2 is a close-up on Cage as he says, "No." The camera moves behind Luke's shoulder, showing JJJ and Robbie. "What do you mean?" asks Jonah. "What part of N-O don't you understand?" says Luke, " I want no part of your half-baked scheme!"

November 15, 2018

Jonah is so surprised at this that he gets those wiggle lines around his head. Robbie is also stunned. His mouth hangs open. "Cage - are you saying you won't work for me?" asks Jameson. "I think he made himself pretty clear, Jonah," says Robbie. Cage waves him off. "I don't do the 'Hero for Hire' bit anymore," he says. Panel #2 is all Cage, looking very serious and pointing at Jonah. "Prove to me Spider-Man's a crook, and I'll haul him in for free!" he says, "But nobody buys or rents Luke Cage!"

November 16, 2018

Somehow, JJJ is nimble enough to get around Cage and block the doorway. (There's a Bugle employee walking by and looking in.) "Now, if you'll stand aside," says Luke. "No! You must help me capture that web-slinging menace!" says Jameson. The camera moves in closer on Luke and Jonah. "You're not leaving here till you listen to reason!" says JJJ, gritting his teeth. But panel #3 shows JJJ sitting in his trash can as Luke walks away (we see his leg). Joe Robertson seems very amused by it all. "I guess he figured he'd listened enough," says Robbie.

November 17, 2018

With two Bugle employees looking in (one of whom has a huge smile on his face), Robbie tries to pull Jonah out of his trash can. But JJJ is wedged in there pretty securely. With anger lines shooting off his head, Jameson says, "Cage will regret manhandling me! If you won't help me capture Spider-Man, at least I need new photos of that wall-crawler." ("If YOU won't help me...?" Who is Jonah talking to? Doesn't he realize that Cage has already left?) In a panel #2 caption, Jonah says, "Get hold of Parker - pronto!" The panel shows Peter walking on the ceiling and stringing up balloons all over the apartment. As he attaches some balloons to his television set, he sings, "There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight...""

November 18, 2018

Peter is still on the ceiling, putting up balloons (we see 15 of them) and channeling Prince. "Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1999," he sings. His phone rings (RRINNGG). In panel #2, he snags it with some webbing (FWIPP). "Hey, maybe MJ caught an earlier flight!" he says. But when he answers it in panel #3, it isn't MJ. "Parker? Jameson! I hear Spider-Man's back in town...and masterminded the collapse of that Broadway theater!" says the voice on the phone. "Boy, was that a lousy guess!" thinks Peter. Panel #4 switches to JJJ's office. Robbie is there, rolling his eyes, and getting wiggle lines around his head. Peter, on the phone, says, "Actually, I heard it was the Kingpin and the Golden Claw!" "I've got my own sources!" says Jonah, "Just get me new pictures of the wall-crawler!" He hears a KLIK and says, "Hello? Hello?" Yes, that's right. Peter has hung up on him. In panel #5, Pete is back to his party preparations. Still walking on the ceiling, he webs up a "Welcome Home" sign and gets back to his song. "...so tonight we're gonna party like it's 1999..." "As, some blocks away..." in panel #6, Luke Cage is crossing the street. A car seems to be barreling down on him but Luke's attention is taken by another man crossing the street in the other direction. We only see that man's legs but there is something about him that makes Luke say, "?"

Our "Next" caption says, "A Purple Haze Gathers!" That doesn't sound like a Jimi Hendrix reference. That sounds like a Killgrave, the Purple Man reference. Maybe Jessica Jones is going to show up after all. Last week's was "The Bulletproof Man - and the Human Spider!" which is what we are using for our title.

November 19, 2018

A one panel special. With a caption of "On a Dark Manhattan Street...," Luke Cage watches as the speeding car that looked like it was going to hit him yesterday, instead heads right for the other guy crossing the street. The car hits its brakes with a SKREETCH. Luke lunges forward. "Sweet Christmas!" he says, "That speedin' car's gonna hit that dude!"

November 20, 2018

The car is really trying to stop. It has a big SKREEEEETCH that stretches across two panels with one of Luke's thought balloons in the middle. In panel #1, Luke runs toward the car, thinking, "No time to knock him out of the car's path before it hits him." The guy crossing the street is oblivious. In panel #2, Luke crashes into the car with a SLAMM, pretty much totaling it. "So I'll haveta knock the car out of his path!" thnks Luke. The guy finally becomes aware of the danger. He leaps back and his hat pops up in the air, giving us a good look at him. You can't tell a thing in the black-and-white newspaper version but if you look online where the strip is colorized, you can see that the guy's skin is...purple. Oh oh.

November 21, 2018

Luke looks in at the dazed driver in the totaled car and thinks, "Good! The driver looks to be just a little shaken from our collision!" A little shaken! He looks ready for the morgue! "I'll check how the man he nearly hit is doin'!" he thinks. In panel #2, he checks on the dazed pedestrian who says "Uhhnn..." "Huh?" Luke says, "Are some clouds filterin' the sunlight - or is this guy - purple?" The closing caption says, "Hey, if this was a Sunday, dear reader - you'd see it too!"

November 22, 2018

Luke leans over the fallen man. The smashed car is behind them but the driver is nowhere to be seen. Also not seen are any bystanders. There's just been a car accident and nobody is around. "You okay, man?" asks Luke of the purple man, "You were nearly creamed by that car!" "Y-yes, I...I'm all right," says the man. In panel #2, Luke says, "You sure? Tell me your name." "A few seconds ago - I had no idea," says the man. Panel #3 is all the purple man as he says, "But now - I remember. It's Killgrave."

November 23, 2018

Luke is not impressed. "Killgrave?" he says, "That doesn't sound like a real name, buddy." "But - it is mine," says Killgrave, "and - what's yours?" Panel #2 continues the conversation. "Cage," says Cage. "And you were lecturing me about names that don't sound real?" says Killgrave. In panel #3, Killgrave gets up and puts his hand on Luke's shoulder. The driver is still trapped in his car. "Just - let me up," says Killgrave who is already up, "I must deal with that driver who tried to turn me into a hit-and-run statistic!" Luke says, "?" I'm saying it too.

November 24, 2018

Luke puts his hand on Killgrave's shojulder. "Waitamminnit!" he says. (Is that how you spell "Waitaminute?" I'd spell it the way I just spelled it.) "You don't know if you were hurt when you fell." "I'm fine," says Killgrave. But in panel #2, he looks at the poor driver who is either buried in snow or caught in his airbag. "But in a minute - the driver of that car won't be!" says Killgrave.

November 25, 2018

"Luke Cage saved a man from being struck by a speeding car, but now..." says the opening caption. Killgrave heads toward the car which now looks worse than ever and appears to be on fire. Luke, do you think you could use your super-strength to get that driver out of there? "That reckless fool of a driver might have killed me!" says Killgrave. "Wait! What're you plannin' to do?" says Luke. In panel #2, Killgrave turns to Luke and says, "Why - I'm going to kill him, of course." In panel #3, Luke grabs Killgrave by the shoulder and says, "No way! Okay, so you had a nasty shock - but you're not killin' anybody over it!" Yeah, Killgrave! Let the fire do it! "If you want something to do," continues Luke, "you can tell me..." In panel #4, Luke gets right in Killgrave's face and says, "Why'd you dye your face and hands purple??" "While..." in panel #5, Peter finally jumps down from the ceiling. "There! The place is all set for our private party when MJ gets home!" he says. In panel #6, he leans back on his couch, his feet up on the coffee table and says, "Nothing's gonna get me out of this apartment tonight!"

But the "Next" caption says, "The Purple Man rains on Peter's parade!" Last week's was "A Purple Haze Gathers!" and, with the Purple Man arriving, I guess it has.

November 26, 2018

A caption-heavy day. In panel #1: "As Peter prepares to welcome MJ home..." as Pete stands there in their apartment (he's put a second "Welcome Home" sign up; this one over the front door) and says "All ready for the greatest party two people ever had!" (Reminds me of that old joke. Guy invites another guy to a party. "What kind of party is it?" he asks. "Well," says the guy, there's going to be some drinking and some fighting and some dancing and some sex." "Sounds intriguing," says the guy, "what time should I get there?" "Don't much matter," says the other guy, "it's just going to be you and me.") In panel #2: "...a purple-faced stranger tells Luke Cage he demands harsh justice." as Luke tries to stop Killgrave from approaching the wrecked car (which is not on fire anymore, at any rate...and the driver has finally gotten out). "Whoa! Man! I can't let you kill that guy!" says Luke. In panel #3: no caption as Killgrave turns to look at Luke and says "You will not try to stop me!" Luke gets a very surprised look on his face and thick lines shoot out of his head. He says, "Huh? All of a sudden - I can't move!"

November 27, 2018

Luke is so surprised that he gets wiggle lines around his head and his hand. "Why can't I grab you?" he asks Killgrave who straightens his hat and replies, "Because I, Killgrave, ordered you not to." In panel #2, the driver comes up to Killgrave. This is the first time he has looked like an actual character in the strip instead of a prop and it's just in time to die, I suppose. "Hey, mac, I'm real sorry my car almost hit you!" he says. "Not nearly as sorry as you're about to be," says Killgrave. Luke now has dozens of spikes shooting out of his head as he thinks, "I'm strong enough to total a car with my bare hands - but I can't move a muscle!"

November 28, 2018

The driver walks up to Killgrave and says, "Hey! You're purple!" No, he doesn't. He doesn't seem to notice. Instead, he says, "Sorry I nearly ran you over. My foot accidentally hit the gas pedal." With Luke looking on incredulously behind him, Killgrave says, "No harm done, friend. You can make it up to me..." In panel #2, there is still no one else on the street but a convenient bus comes along. The wrecked car seems to be gone. Killgrave says to the driver, "...by stepping in front of that bus." "Yes - I'll do that," says the driver. Luke yells, "No!" and he realizes "Hey! I'm starting - to be able to move again!"

November 29, 2018

The driver has little exploding stars around his head as he walks right into the bus' path. The bus driver looks very freaked out and he hits the brakes hard. We know this because there's a sound effect of SKREEETCH. But it's not going to do any good except that, in panel #2, Luke leaps and knocks the driver away as the bus goes by. "Gotcha!" says Luke. "OOOPH," says the driver. But Killgrave joins them in panel #3 and he is not pleased. "You saved that fool - when I ordered you not to!" he says. "Now why don'tcha tell me not to punch you into next Thursday!" Luke replies, making a fist.

November 30, 2018

Luke cocks his fist, ready to lay one on Killgrave. "Are you - going to hit me?" asks the Purple Man. "After you tried to murder that guy?" says Luke, "Believe it!" Panel #2 is a close-up of a flinching Killgrave as Luke's fist starts to come at his face. "Don't!" says Killgrave. "NNNGN," says Luke's fist, which stops before making contact. Panel #3 moves back to show Luke grimacing as he tries to throw his punch but he can no longer move his fist. "Hah! I halted you again!" says Killgrave, "It's back! My power is really back!"

December 1, 2018

The bus is back! It drove past two days ago, yet here it is with the driver getting off and passengers looking on. The driver of the car has made a break for it. "The clown who nearly struck me with his car is fleeing," says Killgrave, "but all that matters is that I now have total control..." In panel #2, Killgrave pokes Luke in the chest and finishes with, "...over the most powerful being I've ever encountered!" Spikes fly off of Luke's head as he thinks, "Why can't I move? Why?" (I'm not sure either, Luke. He didn't tell you not to move. He didn't even tell you not to punch him. All he said was "Don't.")

December 2, 2018

Spidey has had the week off. Instead it's back to Killgrave and Luke who are now walking through an alley. The opening caption reads, "Killgrave, the Purple Man, contemplates recent events." And Killgrave says to Luke, "You snapped me out of my amnesia, Cage - when you stopped that car from hitting me!" (So, it's the old amnesia routine, eh?) Luke says, "How can you just tell me what to do - and I have to do it?" I'm glad you asked, Luke! It's the perfect set-up for an origin sequence that will take up panels 2, 3, and 4. In panel #2, Killgrave talks to us in a caption. "I've had that power since, as a freelance spy, I sneaked into an army ordnance depot..." And here's a non-purple Killgrave shooting it out with an MP. Killgrave's shot goes just over the MP's helmet but the MP's shot shatters a beaker filled with purple goop. "I wounded that guard, "says Killgrave, "but his bullet shattered that beaker!" How have you wounded that guard, Killgrave? I can see that your shot misses him. Still, in panel #3, the guard is lying down on the catwalk he is on while another guard runs up and cover Killgrave. He's not the only thing covering Killgrave. So is the purple goop that has somehow soaked him but left his clothes untouched. "Got you!" says the new guard, "We'll dry you off and run you in!" "I-I'm innocent!" says Killgrave, "Don't arrest me!" This is an interesting thing for Killgrave to say seeing as he doesn't know he has his powers yet. He's obviously not innocent. He just shot at a guard! But, surprisingly, in panel #4, the guard says, "Of course we won't, sir! We're very sorry we accused you!" A surprised Killgrave looks at his purple hands while, in a caption, Killgrave finishes telling his origin story with, "Something in that purple liquid had changed more than my skin hue!" (This is, indeed, Killgrave's origin as originally seen in Daredevil #4, October 1964.) We're back to the present in panel #5 as Killgrave says, "From that moment on, I could control people with just my voice!" And guess who makes an appearance in panel #6? Peter is still waiting for MJ. He is watching TV. There is a report of the wrecked car with a tow truck and driver at the scene along with a news reporter who says, "...the car's driver said the Harlem hero called Luke Cage saved his life." (Did he also say that Luke wrecked his car? Did he tell anybody about the Purple Man?) Peter says, "Glad to hear Spider-Man doesn't have to do all the super-heroing in little old New York!"

The "Next" caption says, "A Caged Champion!" Caged! I see what you did there! Last week, we had "The Purple Man rains on Peter's parade!" and, no, that didn't happen seeing as the Purple Man and Peter haven't met. If anyone rained on Peter's parade, it's MJ. When does her plane arrive anyway?

December 3, 2018

Luke and Killgrave hang around in an alley, right next to a dumpster that has an old tire in it. Killgrave is still gassing about his origin. "Ever since being immersed in the army's experimental liquid called 'Deep Purple,' the mere sound of my voice makes people do my bidding." (He can tell them "Hush!" Hah! A little Deep Purple humor there.) Panel #2 moves in on the two a little bit as Luke tries to shake off Killgrave's influence. "So how come I could shake off your control long enough to knock that guy out of the path of that bus?" he says. "Something altered my power while I had amnesia of which you accidentally cured me," says Killgrave. (Oh, good one, Luke!)

December 4, 2018

So, Killgrave can control you just by talking but does he have to keep talking? He just goes on and on. "First my superpower enabled me to order you around," he tells Luke, "But somehow, when I told that fool driver to step in front of a bus, I relinquished my hold over you." (I think it just might be the difference between the mayhem you can show in a Netflix series and what you can show in a newspaper strip.) Luke wonders, "You can only control one person at a time?" Panel #2 is Luke and Killgrave again but Killgrave yaks so much that his word balloon covers all of Luke but his right arm. "Yes, instead of several, as I formerly could," he says, "How fortunate the one man who now must obey me has the power of a Mack truck!" Blah, blah, blah.

December 5, 2018

Who's this guy in panel #1 amidst all the balloons? Oh yeah, Peter Parker. I nearly forgot about him. He looks very pleased with his decorating and says, "Everything's perfect for MJ's return. Now to go pick her up at the airport!" An off-panel voice says, "No need, Tiger..." and panel #2 reveals MJ walking through the front door. "I caught an early flight!" she says. "While..." in panel #3, it's back to the old grind of Killgrave controlling Luke with big angry spikes coming off of Luke's head. "Now that you're mine to command, Cage - I must decide how best to utilize you!" says Killgrave. I'm starting to sense a slavery allegory here...or am I making too much out of this?

December 6, 2018

Peter lifts MJ high over his head, up where the balloons are. "It's great to see you again, honey!" he says. "But if one of our neighbors spotted you lifting me over your head like a pinata," says MJ, "You'd have to start shopping around for a new secret identity," she finishes in panel #2; a chandelier shot looking down at MJ and Peter. In panel #3, with MJ back standing on the floor, Peter gives her a kiss on the cheek. "I just got a bit over excited at the homecoming of my wife, the movie star," he says. "Well, actually...about that..." says MJ. Hmmm. That doesn't sound good. But at least we got an entire strip without going back to Luke Cage and Killgrave.

December 7, 2018

Peter puts his hand on MJ's shoulder and asks, "Is there bad news about your new movie?" MJ closes her eyes and says, "Afraid so. They held previews for 'Marvella 2' - and audiences weren't exactly wild about it!" In panel #2, MJ perks up and says, "Course, I'd be satisfied with being a Broadway star - if a certain web-slinging wonder hadn't wrecked the theater!" And Pete replies, "Hey, that was the Kingpin and the Golden Claw, not Spider-Man!" Eh....well, it was sort of Spidey, too.

December 8, 2018

MJ hugs Peter in a room where the balloons are suddenly lower to the ground than they were yesterday. "Just kidding, Peter!" she says, "I know it's not your fault the Mammon Theater got totaled." (Except it kind of is.) "So, what do we do till they find a new theater to move your play to?" asks Pete. Panel #2 moves in to a close-up of MJ and Peter's faces. "I was thinking about that, all the way from Florida," says MJ, "How about a nice long vacation - in Australia?" Peter says "!?" which I think means, "We can't leave New York until this whole Luke Cage-Killgrave thing is settled, can we?"

December 9, 2018

The balloons seem to be higher again as Peter says to MJ, "What other star could find herself saddled with a flop movie - and minus a Broadway theater to perform in - and say, 'Hey, let's go vacation Australia?'!" In panel #2, MJ turns to Peter and says, "Why not? We've got more than enough money to tide us over - and my agent can always get in touch if something turns up." Panel #3 is more of the Parkers. MJ puts one hand to her cheek and points at Peter with a finger on the other hand. She says, "There's just one problem, really. Can you survive for a few weeks without J. Jonah Jameson bellowing in your ear?" Panel #4 is silent as Peter puts a hand to his chin and thinks about it as he looks at MJ. Then in panel #5 they both laugh so loudly it is a big orange sound effect across the top of the panel. HAHAHAHAH. "As some blocks away..." in panel #6, we return to the alley with Luke Cage and Killgrave. "All right, Cage - it's time to put you to work!" says Killgrave and Luke thinks, "If only I could summon the willpower to resist Killgrave!" But it looks like he can't.

The "Next" caption says, "The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Spider-Men!" So, does that mean the Parkers are not going to Australia? Last time we had "A Caged Champion!" and it looks like we still have him.

December 10, 2018

Peter and MJ are still hanging around their apartment. "What's wrong with my idea of you and me flying to Australia?" asks MJ. "Well, first, there's...uh...then there's always...er..." says Peter. Panel #2 is Peter alone as he finishes with "Y'know, honey - I can't think of a single thing! Let's do it!" Off-panel, MJ says, "!" which means "Yeah!" "While elsewhere in Manhattan..." says the caption in panel #3 and we're back to Killgrave and Luke. "Time for Luke Cage to get to work - for the Purple Man!" says Killgrave, referring to himself in the third person.

December 11, 2018

It's back to the alley this time where "Luke Cage is under Killgrave's verbal control..." Luke's head is still wobbling and Killgrave is still yakking. "I've done a bit of research on you," he says, "You received your strength and near-invulnerability from a scientific accident, just as I did." In panel #2, he sticks his purple finger right in Luke's wobbling face. "Thus, it's only fitting we team up," he says, "with myself in charge, of course." And Luke thinks, "I - can't move a muscle - since he commanded me not to!"

December 12, 2018

Now, let's visit the Daily Bugle, where J. Jonah Jameson has just slammed his cell phone onto his desk with a SLAMM. It's the equivalent of slamming the receiver down into the cradle on an old landline phone. Robbie Robertson enters, carrying a sheaf of papers. "Bad news, JJ?" he asks. "That ingrate Parker just informed me he and his wife are off to Australia!" says Jonah. In panel #2, Jonah holds up a newspaper we have seen before...back in the Iron Fist story. The headline reads, "Mysterious 'Iron Fist' saves FBI Agent from Murder Attempt!" (Let's check the last review to see if this is the exact headline...Yep, there it is, on July 15th.) "There goes my best source for Spider-Man photos," says Jonah, "Well, at least this recent article on the wall-crawler and Iron Fist reads great!" In panel #3, Jonah looks down at the paper and asks, "Who wrote it?" Robbie looks up at the sky and holds the side of his head with his hand. "Wait'll he reads the byline - and realizes it was Peter!" he thinks.

Okay, there's been a lot of talk in the strip about MJ and Peter going to Australia. But there's also this business of Luke Cage and Killgrave. Is this all going to dovetail into something coherent? Because, here's what I'm thinking...with no evidence whatsoever. I'm thinking that Stan only wrote so much of this story before his death (assuming he was still writing the strip at all). If so, someone else has taken over for him. And it sure seems as if that person wants to junk the Killgrave storyline and go to Australia instead. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

December 13, 2018

Panel #1 is a street scene with a cab from which two voices emerge. One says, "Australia, here we come!" "Good thing we kept our passports in order!" says the other. Panel #2 moves inside the cab where we see Peter and MJ and their cab driver (who I think is Dostoevsky). Peter says, "It doesn't hurt that my talented wife could spring for first-class tickets." (Which explains how they can be heading on their trip a day after deciding to go.) But then he peers ahead and says, "Huh? The cab's stopped! And what's all that racket?" Panel #3 shows two guys in an armored truck for the "3rd National Bank." Luke has stepped in front of the truck and stopped it with his bare hands. "What the - ? It's that Luke Cage guy!" says the guy in the passenger seat. "He stopped this armored car just like a kid's toy!" says the driver.

Okay, so maybe that Australia trip is not going to come off after all.

December 14, 2018

With the cab stopped and HONK HONNK blaring out around him, Peter climbs up onto the taxi roof as MJ looks on. "There's a real commotion a few cars ahead!" he says, "I'll just scramble atop the taxi and see what..." Peter doesn't finish his sentence. In panel #2, he looks, open-mouthed, as Luke tears the back door off the armored car with a THRAKK. One of the men in the truck is climbing out. Panel #3 is a nice little moment, with the camera to the left and behind MJ, as Peter leans in from the roof, his head upside-down. He says, "We may have to delay our vacation a few minutes, honey." (It will probably be a bit more than "a few minutes.") MJ whispers back, "Don't tell me - a Spidey-level emergency, right?"

December 15, 2018

Peter slips back into the cab. "Got to change to Spidey, but the cab driver'll see..." he says. Off-panel, Dostoevsky says, "You wait here, folks..." Panel #2 is Dostoevsky leaving the cab and saying, "I'll find out what's causin' this traffic jam!" Back in the cab in panel #3, Peter scrunches down and starts to take his pants off. "Lucky I figured a first-class flier wouldn't get strip-searched!" whispers MJ, "Keep down - else I can't shield you from view!"

December 16, 2018

It's always a letdown when the Sunday strip is a complete waste of time. Like this one. In panel #1, Peter is still taking his pants off down on the floor of the cab but his shirt is gone (did he throw it outside?) and he is more in his Spidey suit than in his civvies. The caption says, "An airport-bound Peter Parker had a change of plans..." and Peter tells MJ, "Finally managed to wriggle out of my civvies." But not completely because we can see that he is still pulling off his pants. MJ is blocking the view from outside and says, "Kind of undignified changing down there on the floor, though." In panel #2, Peter pulls his mask on and says, "Hey, I'm not Tony Stark, who can just press a button to become Iron Man..." This gives Alex the opportunity to draw a triptych of Tony becoming Iron Man. But that's not all. In panel #3, as Peter completes the donning of his mask, he says, "...or Bruce Banner, who tosses a hissy fit and zap! He's the Hulk!" And this time, the triptych is Bruce Banner changing into the Hulk. In panel #4, Spidey is in full garb but still on the floor. Alex sneaks in some birds and clouds in what looks like it could be a low window but actually is the TV that is set up for the back seat to watch. "Okay, so you have to put your costume on one leg at a time!" says MJ, "But you never told me - what's the problem up ahead?" Panel #5 is all Spidey and the TV screen. Spidey is still on the floor. The TV screen now has nothing on it. "It's that new 'hero'," says Spidey, "The one who calls himself Luke Cage!" (Actually, I don't think he "calls himself" that. That's his name. Granted, it's not his real name but it's still his name.) Spidey finishes his statement in a caption in panel #6. He says, "But what he's doing right now is anything but heroic!" And the illustration shows Luke with the back door of the armored car in his hand. He has torn it off its hinges. A guard stands in the doorway, aiming a gun at him. Another guard comes out of the passenger side door. And a third guard is in a car behind them, poking his head out of the passenger side window. Oh, and there are birds in the sky.

So, that was plenty of nothing. Next week's caption is "To Cage a Spider?" Ah, Cage...Spider...I get it! But we had a "Cage" pun two weeks ago. Last week's was "The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Spider-Men!" and, yeah, it looks like that Australia trip may not take place after all.

December 17, 2018

With Spidey still hunkered down on the taxi's floor, MJ takes a look out the window. "All changed!" Spidey says, "Now, if I can just get outta this cab without being spotted..." MJ says, "Frankly, Tiger..." Panel #2 moves outside of the cab and behind MJ so we can see other people looking straight ahead and getting out of their cars. "I don't think anybody around here is watching us!" says MJ. One guy, out of his car, says, "Can anyone see what's happening up ahead?" (MJ did not look behind her to see those people looking ahead and probably seeing Spidey emerge from the cab.) In panel #3, Spidey has already gotten out of the cab and leaps over four people in and out of their cars. "Hey! It's Spider-Man!" says one. "Where'd he come from?" says another. "Good ol' MJ," thinks Spidey, "Right again!"

December 18, 2018

Luke has entered the back of the armored car and he...well, let's have one of the two guards who are looking in tell us about it. "He tore our embedded safe right off its mounts!" he says. "How can we stop him?" says the other guard, "I hear he's bulletproof." Panel #2 moves outside of the truck as three guards point their guns at Luke as he carries away the safe. "Well, here's where we find out!" says one of the guards. Two of them shoot at Luke, giving off a BLAM BLAM. There is a BLAM BLAM BLAM in panel #3 as Spidey leaps over the stopped cars with drivers and pedestrians looking up at him. "Gunfire! Am I too late to stop a tragedy?" he thinks.

December 19, 2018

The three guards shoot at Luke but the bullets have no effect. "For all the good we did, we could've been shootin' blanks!" says one guard. "Watch out! He's..." says a second one. He doesn't get any further. In panel #2, two guards are sent flying toward a car whose driver is shocked by it all. "YEEOWWW," says one guard. In panel #3, we see the legs of the third guard as Luke flings him away. Killgrave is looking on and thinking, "To control Cage, I must stay closer to him than I'd like - but otherwise, things are going very smoothly."

December 20, 2018

Now, Spider-Man sneaks up behind Killgrave but he doesn't know who he is. He puts his hand on Killgrave's shoulder and says, "Get down, man!" "What in the..." says Killgrave. In panel #2, Spidey has moved on to confront Luke who is now carrying the safe from the armored car. Killgrave looks on and thinks, "It's Spider-Man! He's come to confront Cage! But he has no idea that I'm controlling him!" In panel #3, Spidey says to Luke, "Put the safe down, man - now!" but Luke replies, "Sorry, webhead! Can't do that - without orders!"

December 21, 2018

Luke raises the safe over his head. Killgrave is hiding behind a car watching Spidey confront Luke. "I said - lower that safe!" says Spidey. "I'm - not sure I can," says Luke. Killgrave thinks, "Got to risk a stage whisper here!" But in panel #2, a close-up, Killgrave puts his hand to his mouth and seems to yell "Cage - throw it at him!" Some stage whisper! In panel #3, Luke throws the safe at Spidey. "Sorry, man!" says Luke.

December 22, 2018

Spidey leaps over the tossed safe. It goes beneath him with a WHOOOSH and smashes through the hood and windshield of a car as two bystanders look on. "Missed me, Cage!" says Spidey. In panel #2, he and Cage look at the wrecked car and the shocked owner. "That poor guy's gonna have a heckuva conversation with his insurance company," says Spidey.

December 23, 2018

And so, "Spidey and a mesmerized Luke Cage face each other on a Manhattan street..." as we again see Luke throw the safe. This time, Spidey steps out of the way rather than leaping over and this time the sound effect is KRAASSH! In panel #2, Spidey confronts Luke, as a bystander in the background runs away. "You've got plenty of muscle, man," says Spidey. Panel #3 is a solo of Luke (hah, sort of a Star Wars riff there). He has 13 bullet holes in his shirt. From off-panel, Spidey says, "...and those stories about you being bulletproof must be true..." Now the camera swings around to show Spidey (and two bystanders in the background) as he continues, "But I've got the proportional strength of a spider - so if you're not gonna surrender..." And in panel #5, the camera moves to the side so we get profiles of our two heroes as Spidey leaps at Luke and says, "...I guess we might as well cut to the battle sequence!" Luke replies, "I'm ready for that, web-man!" Low in the panel, we can see Killgrave hiding behind a car. He thinks, "Because I told him to be!" But when did he do that so that Spidey wouldn't see or hear him? In panel #6, the camera swings around again so that, now, Killgrave is in the foreground and the two heroes in the background as Killgrave thinks, "He has no choice but to obey the dictates of my voice!" So that got us nowhere. Which, I guess, makes it the companion piece to last Sunday's strip of which I said, "So, that was plenty of nothing."

Next week's caption is "Mayhem in Manhattan!" which could be the caption for just about any of these Sunday strips. Last week, we had "To Cage a Spider?" with the question mark. The answer to that was "No, there was no cage and Spidey was not caged, unless you want to count the moment when Spidey was trapped on the floor of the taxi cab."

December 24, 2018

Two bystanders flee from the safe-crashed car. From off-panel, Spidey says, "Your three-pointer with that safe totaled that car, Cage..." Oops! Never mind. It's Killgrave who is speaking off-panel. In panel #2, he continues, "...but here's where we really turn this scuffle into a contact sport! Kill him, Cage! Destroy him!" As Spidey leans into the attack, the hesitant Luke says, "I..." Yep, that's all he says. Leading us into Christmas...

December 25, 2018

Welcome to a lot of dust and sound effects. It appears that both Spidey and Luke connect with hard punches to the jaw that make a SLAMMM. Panel #2 shows Killgrave shading his eyes from the dust. (So, two hard punches whip up a bunch of dust on a Manhattan street?) "Did Luke Cage kill the web-spinner as I commanded?" he thinks, "Their impact kicked up so much dust and debris - I can't see!" Nothing says Christmas like a bunch of dust and debris.

December 26, 2018

The dust clears. Luke is down on one knee, covering his eyes with his arm. "Uhhnnh," he says. Spidey is knocked out with little fairy-lines dancing around his head. Killgrave starts to run up to join them. "You were both stunned," he tells Luke, "but you're the first back on your feet!" In panel #2, Spidey is up on his hand and knees, one arm up to his face, as he tries to clear the cobwebs out of his brain. (Get it? Cobwebs? Spider-Man?) "Strike, Cage - before he can rise!" orders Killgrave, "I want him dead!" In panel #3, Luke swings at Spidey who leaps away, with spider-sense lines radiating from his head. Luke's fist hits the pavement with a SMAASSH. From off-panel, Killgrave says, "You - missed him?!"

December 27, 2018

Luke, still crouching, confronts Killgrave. "I - won't kill anybody for you, Killgrave," he says. "I should have realized!" says the Purple Man, "Just like with hypnosis - someone with a strong will - can't be commanded to commit murder!" Spidey now enters the panel in #2. "And that means it's all over for you, purple puss," he says, pointing at Killgrave who puts his left hand up and says, "Spider-Man - halt!"

December 28, 2018

Luke looks down at his palms. "Something's happening to me!" he says, "I'm startin' to regain control - over my body!" Killgrave looks at him and says, "Yes, you are..." The camera swings around in panel #2 to show Killgrave and a struggling Spidey. "But take a look at Spider-Man!" says Killgrave, pointing at him. "W-what's wrong with me? I - can't move!" says the web-slinger.

This would have been Stan Lee's 96th birthday. Sadly, as we all know, Stan died last month. Happy Birthday to Stan, anyway! He may still be the author of the strip for the moment. Unless he stopped writing it long ago. For now, his name remains alongside Alex Saviuk's. I'm keeping an eye out to see if Stan's name remains there forever, as with Hank Ketchum and "Dennis the Menace," or whether we eventually get the current writer's name.

December 29, 2018

Luke and Killgrave point fingers at each other. "You quit controlling me - so you could take over Spider-Man?" Luke says. "At my newfound power level, I can dominate only one of you at a time," replies Killgrave. In panel #2, Killgrave turns toward Spidey as Luke looks on. "I hope you forgive me for choosing the human arachnid!" says Killgrave. And Spidey, with lines shooting off his head, says, "Why - can't I move??"

December 30, 2018

"Killgrave no longer dominates Luke Cage with his mutated voice..." and Luke looks really happy about it even though he's wearing a shirt full of bullet holes. (What became of all those guards, anyway? Are they still knocked out?) "First time I've felt like myself - in hours!" he says, "But why'd you switch from controlling me..." Panel #2 brings in Killgrave and Spidey as Luke says, "...to controlling Spider-Man?" Spidey can't say anything more than "Hnnggg." Panel #3 belongs to Killgrave and the web-spinner as the Purple Man says, "At the risk of bruising your delicate feelings...I decided the wall-crawler will make an even more valuable puppet!" Panel #4 looks a bit like panel #1 above it except that the camera has pulled back to show Spidey and Killgrave along with Luke. "I'd pull your strings, Purple Man," says Spidey, "if I could just - move!" "Don't worry, web-man," says Luke advancing on Killgrave. Panel #5 looks a bit like panel #2 above it, as Luke raises his fist and says, "I'll handle him for both of us!" "Spider-Man..." says Killgrave. Panel #6 looks nothing like panel #3 above it. It's all Spidey with action lines radiating out all around his body as Killgrave, off-panel, orders, "Stop him - now!"

Next week's caption is "Cage vs. Spidey - Round Two!" Last time, it was "Mayhem in Manhattan!" which is one of those nice generic captions that could mean just about anything.

December 31, 2018

Luke comes after the Purple Man. "Killgrave, you're gonna regret droppin' your control over me!" he says. "Perhaps I would," replies Killgrave, "if I didn't have your replacement firmly in hand." In panel #2, Killgrave calls out, "Spider-Man - stop him!" and Spidey leaps at Luke. "This is crazy!" thinks Spidey, "He just speaks and I jump!"

January 1, 2019

Happy New Year, Spidey! Too bad you're still stuck in a story from November.

With a FWIPPT and a FWIPPT, Spidey covers Luke in webbing. "HNNHH," says Luke, struggling to break free. "Sorry, Cage!" says Spidey, "His voice - made me do it!" Killgrave says, "Spider-Man - stand down!" In panel #2, Luke strains against the webbing. "This webbing - too strong to bust out of - !" he says. Killgrave puts a hand on Spidey's chest and says, "Proving I made the right choice! My mid-season trade of Luke Cage for Spider-Man is definitely proving a game changer!"

January 2, 2019

As Luke continues to struggle, the police are finally showing up. Their siren sound of REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE runs through both panels. "I won't waste my time ordering you to finish Cage," Killgrave says to Spidey, "Just transport me - and that safe - away from here before the police arrive." In panel #2, Spidey web-swings away with Killgrave hanging around his neck. (I'm not sure how that's going to work. He has a web on which he's swinging in his left hand while he holds a web attached to the safe in his right hand. Is he going to let go of the left hand webbing, shoot more webbing from that hand, and then continue on? Sounds like quite a ride for Killgrave.)

January 3, 2019

Two cops finally show up as Luke tries to get out of Spidey's webbing. "That web must be strong stuff, Mr. Cage," says one. "Believe it!" Luke replies, "I can't snap - more than one strand - unnhh! - each time I strain!" (Though we do can a SNAPT sound effect and Alex's artwork makes it look like he's snapped the whole thing.) An off-panel voice says, "Actually, that's pretty good..." Panel #2 reveals the off-panel speaker to be someone else who should have shown up earlier: Mary Jane. "Most people would just get a hernia!" she says. "Huh? Who the Holy Hannah are you?" asks Luke.

January 4, 2019

It's the two cops, Luke, and MJ and it turns out one cop knows who she is even if Luke doesn't. "Sorry, Ms. Parker, you'll have to..." he starts to say. But then it turns out Luke knows her too. "Waitaminnit! Aren't you Mary Jane Parker - the actress?" he asks. "Well, the jury may still be out on that last count," says MJ. Panel #2 zooms in to eliminate the cops as Luke says, "Not with me! I saw your 'Marvella' movie - you were great!" "Thanks," says MJ, "now I need to talk with you about Spider-Man."

January 5, 2019

MJ and Luke just walk off. One cop, Phil, says, "Should we let Luke Cage just walk off without taking his statement?" and the other says, "We know where he hangs out in Harlem, Phil." Have they forgotten that Cage was the one who knocked out the guards and ripped open the back of the armored truck? What became of those guards, anyway? "As, a mile or two away..." in panel #2, Spidey arrives on the balcony of a penthouse apartment, still carrying Killgrave and the safe. "Home sweet home! Thank you, Spider-Man!" says Killgrave.

January 6, 2019

Time for a five panel soliloquy by Killgrave. In panel #1, he stands in his fancy apartment as Spidey lugs the safe in from the balcony. "No one below was looking up when you swung us into my penthouse suite," he says. In panel #2, Spidey sets the safe down. "Now we're at leisure to investigate the contents of this oh-so-closely guarded safe," Killgrave says. In panel #3, Spidey stands and looks at him. "Well?" says Killgrave, "Must I spell out that I want you to break it open?" In panel #4, Killgrave rubs his chin and says, "Oh, that's right! Actually...I do! You only respond to my spoken commands - not my thoughts!" In panel #5, he says, "So then - rip the door off the safe -there's a good lad! That should be easy for a man with spider-strength." Spidey proceeds to do just that. "While..." in panel #6, we switch scenes. MJ and Luke are walking down the street. Three bystanders look at them, with silly grins on their faces. No cops or security guards show up to arrest Luke for ripping the back door off the armored truck. MJ says, "Mr. Cage - you may be the only one who can stop Spider-Man from becoming Public Enemy #1!" So, has Luke told MJ all about what happened with Killgrave? If so...why? Because she's one of his favorite actresses? I'm sure she hasn't told him that she's married to Spider-Man.

Our first "Next" caption of the New Year is "New Alliances!" Referring, perhaps, to MJ and Luke? Last time, we had "Cage vs. Spidey - Round Two!" which pretty much was just Spidey webbing Luke up and escaping with Killgrave.

January 7, 2019

Killgrave gabs at Spidey in his penthouse. "My recent chance encounters have been extremely fortuitous!" he says, "The one with Luke Cage put an end to my brief bout of amnesia..." In panel #2, he sticks his finger right in Spidey's face. "...and now I have an even more powerful puppet!" (No puppet! No puppet! You're the puppet!) "While..." in panel #3, two bystanders look on, shocked, as MJ and Luke walk by. "You've got to help me, Mr. Cage!" says MJ. "Okay - but call me Luke," says Luke.

January 8, 2019

There's a doorman on the sidewalk and a bystander walking in the other direction, as Luke and MJ come along. "Seems to me, Mrs. Parker, I've seen photos of you and Spider-Man together," says Luke. "Please, the name is MJ," says MJ, "And, yes, he's saved my life once or twice." The camera moves in on the both of them in panel #2. "But this time I've got to save his," says MJ, "Or rather - we do!"

January 9, 2019

The doorman looks at them as MJ and Luke enter his building. "My husband and I have an apartment in this building," says MJ. "I figured a star like you'd live in a mansion," says Luke, "or at least a penthouse." (Hey, the place has got a doorman! It's not like it's a five floor walkup.) Panel #2 is all MJ as she says, "Having a hit play - and maybe a film career - is still pretty new to me. But Peter and I've talked about moving..." In panel #3, two of her neighbors give her the eye as she and Luke enter the elevator. (The guy who is already in the elevator doesn't seen to care.) "And I'll admit there are times when it'd be nice to have a bit more privacy!" says MJ.

January 10, 2019

So it turns out the guy in the elevator is a woman and she does care after all. MJ turns to look at her as the elevator ascends. "Nice running into you, Mrs. Guilliam," she says. "Indeed, my dear," replies, Mrs. Guilliam. The camera moves around, in panel #2, so that Mrs. Guilliam is looking straight ahead as she says, "Still, if you plan to hobnob with superheroes such as Mr. Cage...you might want to consider taking up residence elsewhere..." (The elevator stops at Mrs. Guilliam's floor with a PING.) In panel #3, Mrs. Guilliam exits the elevator, saying, "...before this building comes under attack from some dreadful super-villain!" MJ and Luke both say "!" (In fact, they say the same "!" since it is one word balloon with two pointers.) Which, in this case, might mean, "I thought that was a guy in the elevator with us!"

January 11, 2019

Okay, now that we've wasted a day with Mrs. Guilliam in the elevator, MJ and Luke arrive at the Parkers' apartment. "What time's your husband get home?" asks Luke. "His schedule's a bit...erratic!" says MJ. In panel #2, MJ appears to have opened a desk drawer...but it's not all that clear. Luke says, "So, you got any idea how to find Spider-Man and that purple dude - before he lands the web-man on the 'most wanted' list?" "That's why we're here!" says MJ.

January 12, 2019

Yes, she has opened a drawer. "It's gotta be here somewhere!" she says, "You said when Killgrave spoke, you had to do whatever he told you to?" "Yeah, but when Spider-Man showed, he decided he'd make an even better accomplice," Luke replies. Panel #2 is a Luke close-up, as he rubs his chin and says, "To tell the truth, that kinda stung! But he was probably right!"

January 13, 2019

MJ is still looking in that drawer. Luke says, "Even before you showed up, MJ, I'd decided to go after Killgrave and Spider-Man. But how do we find 'em?" Panel #2 is MJ and Luke from the front. "I'm going to let you in on a secret, Luke," she says, "Spider-Man gave me this little thing he calls a spider-tracer..." In panel #3, she shows the spider-tracer she has pulled out of the drawer and says, "It's like a GPS, so I can always locate him!" (I thought spider-tracers were so Spidey could track other people, but what the heck.) "You must really rate with the wall-crawler!" says Luke, who has to be figuring out that Spidey is her husband. But instead, in panel #4, he says, "How does your husband feel about that special relationship?" and MJ replies, "Uh...actually, Peter knows Spidey too!" In panel #5, Luke seems to fall for this. "Now I remember!" he says, "I've seen his name on all those pics in the Daily Bugle!" "We'd better get going!" says MJ, changing the subject. Finally, panel #6 brings us to the star of this strip with a "Meanwhile..." Spidey is still under Killgrave's power. We can tell because he has little "Tinkerbells" floating around his head. A smiling Killgrave says, "You'll be glad to know, my web-weaving friend...I've decided what crime you're about to commit for me!"

The "Next" caption is "The Wrong Arm of the Law!" which it appears is where Spidey is heading. Last week's was "New Alliances!" except those alliances were already established the week before that.

January 14, 2019

The doorman opens the door for them as MJ and Luke leave the apartment building. The spider-tracer seems to glow in MJ's hand as she says, "With this spider-tracer that Spider-Man gave me, we should be able to locate him." A guy walking a dog crosses their path as Luke says, "And when Killgrave orders him to fight me, you plan to clobber the Purple Man from behind?" Panel #2 is MJ, Luke, and the glowing tracer in close-up as MJ says, "That's Plan 'A' - and it'd better work - 'cause we don't have a Plan 'B'!"

I love the little touch of the guy walking the dog. Let's have more little touches like that, Alex.

January 15, 2019

We're back to Killgrave and Spidey. They are both looking up at something as Killgrave says, "Here's the place you're going to rob for me, Spider-Man..." The camera pulls back and moves behind them to show, "...the 369th Regiment Armory!" And Spidey thinks, "Why has Killgrave forced me to come here to Harlem? What can possibly be inside that building that he wants - or needs?" Didn't you just listen to what he said, Spidey? It's an armory!

January 16, 2019

Time for a Killgrave soliloquy outside of the armory. "I can sense you're curious why I brought you here," he says in panel #1, "My vocal powers have lessened - and I now can control only one person at a time." In panel #2, he points at the armory and says, "But inside the armory is the liquified nerve gas that gave me my powers. Once immersed in it again, I'll be as powerful as ever." In panel #3, he clutches his hands into claws, grits his teeth, widens his eyes and gets this wonderfully maniacal look on his face as he says, "Then this entire city will be mine to command!" And Spidey thinks, "And I can't move a muscle to stop him!"

January 17, 2019

Now we've got all sorts of head wiggle line action going on. Killgrave has lines shooting out of his head all over as he says, "Spider-Man! Get me inside that armory!" Spidey has two little wiggle lines around his head as he thinks, "If only - I could resist his vocal commands." But he can't so, in panel #2, he starts walking up the stairs to the armory. Killgrave follows but he mutters, "He's getting harder to control! Once he acquires the nerve gas I need to restore my full powers - I'll dispose of him!

January 18, 2019

But enough of that. Back to our favorite duo of Luke Cage and MJ. They step out into a mass of traffic with two sketchy bystanders walking along in the background. MJ is looking at her phone and says, "I'll call an Uber to take us in the direction the spider-tracer is indicating," but Luke says, "No need, MJ. Here comes a cab." Panel #2 is an MJ close-up as she says, "Don't you see he's off-duty." But Luke, off-panel, says, "Maybe so..." And in panel #3 he stands right in front of the cab. The shocked driver stops with a SKREETCH. The two sketchy bystanders turn to look. "But Luke Cage is definitely on duty," says Luke.

January 19, 2019

Just like that, MJ and Luke are in the cab. The driver says, "Okay Cage-man - you talked me into it. I'll take you and the lady wherever you wanna go!" (You have to wonder what Cage said that talked him into going back on duty.) "But where's that?" continues the driver. "Your play, MJ," says Luke. In panel #2, MJ holds the glowing spider-tracer and says, "Just head north! I'll let you know when we get there!"

January 20, 2019

"As Luke and MJ speed north..." we see them and the driver in the cab. MJ holds the tracer in her right hand and her phone in her left hand. "The spider-tracer indicates Spider-Man's in Harlem," she whispers to Luke. "Huh? What're he and Killgrave doing in my stomping grounds?" whispers Luke. Let's find out in panel #2 "As far up Fifth Avenue..." we get a bail-out shot of the entire armory with a couple of cars driving by. There are two tiny sketchy figures on the porch. One says, "Get me inside the armory - now!" and the other thinks, "I - have to do - what he says!" (I'll leave it to you to figure out which speaker is which.) In panel #3, the camera moves way up to show Killgrave watching Spidey push on the front door. "Hnnhh," says Spidey. The door makes a RRCKK sound. The camera moves, in panel #4, to show Spidey and Killgrave from the door's point of view. Killgrave grabs Spidey by the arm and says, "Stop! If you smash the doors open, some patrol car is bound to notice!" In panel #5, with a low-angle camera shot showing the two men looking up at the building, Killgrave points and says, "Take me up there! We'll enter through a window. That will be harder to see from the ground." And in panel #6, with the camera above them, Spidey starts wall-crawling; Killgrave hanging onto his back. Killgrave looks down and says, "Of course, my plan would be even better - if it weren't for my fear of heights!"

The "Next" caption is "Showdown!" and I'll believe it when I see it. Last week's was "The Wrong Arm of the Law!" which is fine except that Spidey hasn't done anything illegal yet.

January 21, 2019

And now for one of those annoying recap strips. "While MJ and Luke Cage speed toward Harlem in a comandeered taxi..." says the caption, which makes it seem as if they forced the cabbie to take them even though the cabbie said, "Okay Cage-man - you talked me into it" two days ago. MJ holds the glowing spider-tracer in her left hand. She says, "I'll let you know when we're near our destination, driver," then whispers to Luke, "As soon as the vibrations of the spider tracer tell me!" Panel two's caption is, "...Killgrave and the equally commandeered Spider-Man are already there!" (Ah, that's why the taxi was "commandeered." So "Stan" could make the comparison to panel two!) Spidey is climbing the wall with Killgrave hanging on his back. "Take me to one of the highest windows," says Killgrave.

January 22, 2019

Killgrave is still on Spidey's back. They approach a window. "Will this window do, Killgrave?" asks Spidey. "Yes, open it," says Killgrave, "Oh, and call me 'master'." Spidey mutters, "...master..." He obeys but is clearly not happy about it. Panel #2 is mostly a Killgrave close-up with Spidey peeking in from the bottom. "That looks like a thick pane," says Killgrave, "Are you sure you can..." There are two sound effects. FWIP and RRAKT. We all know what that means by now, right? Webbing shot that tears open the window. In panel #3, Spidey has moved the window out of its frame with his webbing. It's an odd panel what with Spidey still holding onto the webbing that holds the window and his legs in the air so that he is only holding onto the wall with his left hand. And the window hangs in the air as if he webbed it to the wall. That window should be falling and maybe taking Spidey with it, seeing as he also has Killgrave on his back. But never mind. Killgrave points at the opening where the window was. "Question answered!" he says (but not my questions), "Now get me inside!"

January 23, 2019

Now they are inside the armory but it looks like they are in a theatre balcony. In fact, it looks like the Mammon Theatre we saw in the Iron Fist story. Killgrave leads the way as they walk past the rows of chairs. He whispers to Spidey, "As soon as we locate the liquefied nerve gas stored in this armory...my powers of vocal command will be restored to their peak." In panel #2, they look down at a lower floor with not much in it except a door that says "Danger, Enter..." followed by an unreadable squiggle. (No sign of any guards, of course. Or any other people, for that matter.) Killgrave points down at it and whispers, "My sources indicated it's behind those locked doors!" as Spidey thinks, "If only I could break free of his control..."

January 24, 2019

Now, they slide down on some webbing to the lower floor; Killgrave again on Spidey's back. "This is decidedly not a good place for one with a fear of heights. But at last, the ultimate prize is nearly within my grasp," Killgrave whispers. (He mentioned that "fear of heights" four days ago. It's starting to feel like a plot point.) "While..." in the cab, the driver looks back at MJ and says, "Look, lady, it'd help if I knew exactly where we're goin'." "You and me both, cabbie," says MJ, then whispers to Luke, "But the spider tracer indicates we're getting closer." Waitaminute! Can it do that?

January 25, 2019

Spidey and Killgrave are at the door and we can now read the whole sign. "Danger Do Not Enter Restricted." The Purple Man points at it and says, "What I seek lies beyond this door, so - open it!" "Yes...master," says Spidey. In panel #2, Spidey tears the door off its hinges with a KREEEK. "HNNNPH," he says as he does it. Killgrave looks absolutely thrilled by the whole thing. In panel #3, his eyes grow wide as he walks into the room. Behind him, Spidey throws the door away. "Excellent!" says Killgrave, "I can't be 100% certain Luke Cage couldn't have done that - but I knew Spider-Man could!"

January 26, 2019

Luke and MJ have arrived. As Luke pays the driver, MJ looks up at the building. "Are you sure this is the place, MJ?" asks Luke, "I don't see any sign of Spider-Man!" "No need to depend on the spider tracer any longer, Luke..." says MJ. Panel #2 moves the camera way up on the building looking down. The window is in the foreground hanging by some webbing. MJ and Luke are tiny figures below as MJ says, "I'm betting he's up there!" (Nice perspective panel by Alex.)

January 27, 2019

It's Sunday and we continue the long tradition of things drawn differently on Sunday than in the dailies even though Alex is now doing both. We also have one of those blips where we go back in time a few seconds and things occur differently.

First, a caption that reads, "Harlem, New York City..." and a completely static panel only showing the window that Spidey has removed. Now, though, it is stuck to the wall by no visible means (yesterday's webbing is gone) and there seems to be no open window nearby. From off-panel, Luke says, "Okay, so if it was the web-slinger who dislodged that window way up there..." Panel #2 is a high-angle shot showing Luke and MJ looking up. Luke shades his eyes and finishes his thought, "What's he want in the 369th Regiment Armory?" "That's what we've got to find out..." says MJ. In panel #3, she runs up the stairs. (Luke is still looking up.) "...if we can get inside," she says. Panel #4's caption says, "As within the cavernous building..." but it says nothing about why we are now back to the moment that Spidey is sliding down the webbing to the lower floor with Killgrave on his back. "Well done, slave!" Killgrave says this time. Now, two days ago, the door had a sign on it that said, "Danger" and so on. Now it seems that the notice is painted on the door. And this time, Spidey doesn't gets around to tearing the door off its hinges. In panel #5, Killgrave gloats in front of the door, saying "Your vaunted spider-strength has brought me to the place I had to come." Then, someone off-panel says, "The only place you're going, man..." and panel #6 reveals two cops running up with their guns drawn. "...is a jail cell," says the cop who was speaking off-panel in panel #5. (I was wondering where these guys were!)

The "Next" caption is "A Clash in Darkness!" Is this going to save Alex some drawing time? Last week we had "Showdown!" I said I'd believe it when I see it. Well, I don't believe it because I didn't see it.

January 28, 2019

And now, suddenly, it's dark and one cop holds a flashlight along with his gun. "Hold it!" he says. "And that includes you - in the Spider-Man gear," says the other. Killgrave says, "Once, on my merest command, you two would have shot each other - without hesitation." In panel #2, he turns to Spidey and says, "But right now, I can control only one person at a time, so...Wall-Crawler! Execute them!"

January 29, 2019

The cops just stand there, aiming guns but doing nothing as Killgrave turns to Spidey and says, "Didn't you hear me? I ordered you to execute those guards!" Spidey says, "Hnnnn...." (and it looks like the doorway is now open behind them). Panel #2 is a close-up of Killgrave (with the flashlight cop behind) as he thinks, "He's resisting my power! A command to murder was a bridge too far!" So, in panel #3, he says, "Ignore that directive! Simply web them up!" And Spidey does.

January 30, 2019

Now the cops are trussed up, bound and gagged, with webbing. The door is definitely off the hinges and it looks like the only thing inside a very small room is something on a pedestal but covered by a sheet. (Which seems like a very strange way to store something at an armory.) Killgrave says, "Dealing with those security guards cost us precious time!" (Okay, Killgrave, okay, they're security guards, not cops.) "Bring me the metal cylinder beneath that plastic sheet!" he says. "Yes, master," says Spidey. In panel #2, Spidey starts to remove the sheet while Killgrave watches from behind. "Hmmm..." he says, "I never realized how quickly I would tire of hearing that phrase repeated. From now on, just do what I say - without speaking." ("Yes, master," Spidey says. No, he doesn't. Just kidding.)

January 31, 2019

In all this time, MJ hasn't gotten very far up those stairs but at least Luke is now climbing them with her. "I'm positive Spider-Man and Killgrave must be in there," she says, "but how do we get inside?" "You're kiddin', right?" says Luke. In panel #2, they reach the door and Luke pounds on it with his fist with a SMASH. "Huh? Oh yeah, I forgot," says MJ, "Spider-Man isn't the only superhero in Harlem tonight!"

February 1, 2019

Luke has now switched to a two fisted pounding. His fists make a THRUMP but the door hasn't budged. "What's the holdup, Luke?" asks MJ. "Whadda you think?" he replies, "These doors aren't exactly made of cardboard!" Panel #2 is all Luke, sweat on his brow, as he keeps pounding. From off-panel, MJ says, "Sorry. I know Spider-Man could've smashed his way in by now, so I assumed that you..." Luke says, "MJ - hmmff - you really know how to hurt a guy! Hnnhh!" But, in panel #3, he knocks down the door with a THRAKK.

February 2, 2019

MJ and Luke enter the armory. "You did it! We're in!" says MJ. "Yeah," says Luke, "but if it turns out the web-spinner and the Purple Man aren't inside..." He finishes in panel #2. "...I hope that movie you were just in paid real good!"

February 3, 2019

MJ and Luke are still entering the armory. "We'd better keep quiet," MJ whispers, "We don't want Killgrave to hear us." "Are you puttin' me on?" says Luke. Panel #2 is a close-up of the two of them. "I just busted through solid metal doors to get us in here," says Luke, "They probably heard it up in the Bronx!" In panel #3, they come upon the room where the cylinder was. (Now, I don't want to get picky but, first, how did they find it so quickly? Spidey and Killgrave climbed up the wall for several stories and then only went down one story once inside. Luke and MJ came in the front door. Shouldn't the room be up several stories from that? Second, what is the deal with the room now? There's stone rubble inside. It's not the shattered pedestal because the still-whole pedestal appears in panel #4. It shouldn't be the door, though the door has disappeared. And what happened to the webbed up security guards? And the plastic sheet?) "Here's another bust-in," says Luke, entering the tiny room. He and MJ look at the empty pedestal in panel #4. "Killgrave must've really wanted whatever was on this stand," says Luke. "And it looks like Spider-Man got it for him," says MJ. In panel #5, the camera moves outside and above as Luke and MJ exit. "So, where'd they get to?" asks Luke. And panel #6 shows Spidey climbing a wall with Killgrave on his back. There are two tiny figures in the background who must be Luke and MJ. "Climb faster!" Killgrave orders, "We must reach a place where I can open this cylinder!" (Why can't he open it where he is?) Spidey obeys but thinks, "If only - I didn't have to obey his commands!"

Our "Next" caption this time is "Armageddon at the Armory!" to which I can only say, "It's about time!" The last caption was "A Clash in Darkness!" and, yeah, I guess we got that for a panel or two.

February 4, 2019

Ugh. Another Monday recap. In panel #1, MJ and Luke are looking into the room. Now the rubble is gone and the plastic sheet is in its place. (Unless the rubble was the plastic sheet. Let me check the Sunday strip again. Nope. Still looks like rubble to me.) A caption says, "Within the dimly lit armory..." and MJ says, "I'd say Spider-Man broke in here, Luke - to get whatever was on that stand." Luke asks, "So where'd he and Killgrave get to?" (Yeah, and where did those webbed up guards get to?) Panel #2 shows us "Overhead..." with Killgrave clinging to Spidey's back as the wall-crawler wall-crawls. "Climb faster!" says the Purple Man, "I need what's inside that cylinder." "His voice forces me to obey him," Spidey thinks.

February 5, 2019

Luke has moved out of the room but MJ lingers. "C'mon, MJ," says Luke, "We gotta track down Killgrave!" "Just a second," says MJ, "I need to grab..." and in panel #2 she says, "...this!" as she picks up the plastic sheet. (It's a good thing it's back instead of that rubble.) Off-panel, Luke thinks, "?" I'm thinking the same thing. "While above..." in panel #3, Spidey is now on the wall ourside with Killgrave hanging on. "Get me up to the roof - fast!" says Killgrave. (Did they go back to the window they broke, climb out, and start to scale the outside wall? Why didn't they go up to the roof from the inside?)

February 6, 2019

Now on the roof, Spidey puts the cylinder down. "This spot will do, web-spinner," says Killgrave, "This cylinder contains the gas that gives me my powers of vocal command..." The camera moves in on the two of them in the second panel as Killgrave continues, "...in a special distillation that affects only myself!" (That's convenient.) "Smash it open!" he yells and Spidey raises his fist to do so. But someone off-panel calls out, "Not so fast, Killgrave!" Panel #3 reveals it to be, as Killgrave says, "Luke Cage!?"

February 7, 2019

Luke lifts Killgrave up by his shirt and cocks his fist. "Got you, Purple Man!" he says. "Spider-Man!" yells Killgrave, "Hurl the cylinder at him - hard!" "Can't resist...his voice!" thinks Spidey. So, in panel #2, he hurls the cylinder at Luke. It strikes Luke with a SMASH. ("Unnnh," says Luke.) And the gas releases with a HISSSS. Killgrave looks very pleased by the whole thing.

February 8, 2019

The gas continues to escape with a HISSSS. "This canister broke on my super-hard skin," says Luke, "but what's spewin' out of it?" "The gas that gives me my power," says Killgrave as the released gas heads right to him. In panel #2, he holds his arms over his head in triumph. "Now I'll again be able to control masses of humanity," he says, "not just one person!" Oh crap. Unless, there's going to be some quick and surprising resolution involving MJ and Killgrave's fear of heights, these new powers could mean another month or two of this furshlugginer storyline!

February 9, 2019

The gas continues to swirl around Killgrave and Spidey realizes, "With Killgrave distracted - I'm able to control my own limbs again!" But does he do anything? No, he just stands there. "It's working!" says Killgrave, "I'm absorbing the experimental gas - through my skin!" And panel #2 is a wild-eyed Killgrave amidst the gas thinking, "Another few seconds, and my full powers will be restored!"

February 10, 2019

The gas is still swirling around Killgrave. "You're too late, you pathetic losers!" he yells. Panel #2 pulls back to show Spidey and Luke just watching as all the gas settles around the Purple Man. "I'm absorbing the secret nerve gas through my very pores!" Killgrave gloats. In panel #3, he continues his gloat while Spidey and Luke just stand there. "It will quickly restore my full abilities," he says, "I'll be able to command both of you - to do anything I wish!" Panel #4 is only Luke and Spidey as Luke says, "What're we waitin' for, web-man?" "Can't think of a thing, Cage," says Spidey. But it's a little late to be having this conversation when they could have knocked Killgrave out several panels ago. Now, as they approach in panel #5, Killgrave calls out, "Ahh! I can feel my total powers returning to me!" And in panel #6, he holds out his hand and yells, "Stop - both of you!" Spidey and Luke both stop.

The "Next" caption is "With One Voice...?" You always have to be careful of the "Next" captions that end in a question mark. Last time was "Armageddon at the Armory!" and, while I wouldn't call it "Armageddon," I'll give it a pass.

February 11, 2019

"Killgrave, the Purple Man, has absorbed the special nerve gas..." and, yep, there he is, absorbing the gas as Spidey and Luke try to rush him. But they stop dead in panel #2. "Huh? It's happened again!" says Luke, "All of a sudden - I can't take a step toward him!" "Welcome to the club, Cage," says Spidey.

February 12, 2019

A distant drone shot of the three participants. Spidey says, "We've got to reach Killgrave!" Luke says, "Can barely move - but we gotta keep tryin'!" Killgrave, with the gas still swirling around him instead of dissipating, thinks, "They're resisting me - because my powers aren't quite 100% restored yet." Panel #2 is Killgrave with the gas swirling around him. He holds out his hands as if he's making a magical incantation when, in actuality, he can get what he wants just with his voice. "Must try a different approach," he thinks, and then says, "Spider-Man - Luke Cage..." Panel #3 shows Spidey, Luke, and Killgrave's right hand as his head, off-panel, orders, "...attack each other!"

February 13, 2019

Luke and Spidey's heads get that wiggle line around them to show they are trying to resist. Killgrave still has his hands out but no gas around him. "They're still resisting me! Must concentrate!" he thinks. Then he says, "You two - smash each other!" "His voice - echoing in my brain," says Spidey. "Can't..." says Luke. Then they succumb in panel #2, letting out a communal RRARRRGG as they attack each other.

February 14, 2019

Nothing says Valentine's Day like a ranting super-villain. In panel #1, Killgrave leers with delight as Spidey and Luke battle. "I'm gonna grind you into the dust, Cage!" says Spidey, even though we've previously established that Killgrave's commands affect your actions but not your thoughts. "You and what eight-legged army, web man?" says Luke, similarly controlled. In panel #2, Killgrave gets that wild-eyed look and shakes a fist. "Keep on fighting - until one or both of you is no more!" he shouts, "Then I'll be able to control the entire city!" He continues in panel #3. "...with my restored vocal powerrrgk." His last word becomes a cry of pain because a metal pipe hits him right in the throat with a THRAKK.

February 15, 2019

Killgrave writhes in pain on the ground, holding his throat and saying, "URGGKK." Spidey and Luke stop fighting, which they shouldn't do, right? Just because Killgrave can't speak doesn't mean his last order is rescinded, does it? "He's hurt - can't speak!" says Luke. "What happened to Killgrave?" asks Spidey. The unsurprising answer appears in panel #2. "I happened, Tiger," says MJ, holding a tarp. "MJ!" says Spidey. Now, honestly, didn't every one expect MJ to come to the rescue? She's the real star of the Spidey stripverse and often wins the day, rather than Spidey. But she must have quite an aim and quite an arm to throw a metal pipe with force enough to injure Killgrave's throat.

February 16, 2019

Spidey and Luke look up at MJ, who is crouched on the top of a vent pipe and holding that tarp. "You hit him in the throat with that piece of pipe!" says Spidey. "You must have some great aim, woman!" says Luke. (That's what I was saying yesterday!) Killgrave, still clutching his throat, says, "Hnnhnnn..." In panel #2, a modest MJ says, "Actually, I'd probably have missed him entirely - but just as I hurled it - I tripped!"

February 17, 2019

Killgrave is still grabbing his throat, saying, "Nnghhh..." Spidey says, "Killgrave can't talk since that length of pipe hit his throat!" for all those who missed the last couple of days. In panel #2, Luke helps MJ down from the vent pipe, which has turned into a chimney. "Nice shot!" he says. "Most of it was luck - and sheer desperation!" says MJ. In panel #3, they all look at Killgrave as he says, "Hnnn...m-must..." "Uh-oh!" says Spidey, "His voice is coming back!" Panel #4 shows Luke and MJ as Luke says, "Stand aside! I'll give 'im a love tap!" But in panel #5, MJ puts her hand on Luke's shoulder and says, "No - wait!" In panel #6, she puts the tarp over Killgrave's head and says, "This should do the trick!" "Huh?" says Luke.

Our "Next" caption says, "But - will it?" which is a legitimate question. Last week's was "With One Voice...?" which I've forgotten to what that even refers.

February 18, 2019

It's another Monday recap. We're back to Killgrave holding his throat and saying, "Nnggn." "That hunk of pipe MJ threw hit Killgrave's throat - so he can't talk!" says Luke. "Which means he can't control us!" says Spidey. "And now for my next miracle," says MJ off-panel. "Voila!" she says in panel #2, throwing the tarp over Killgrave's head. "Huh? Why's she throwin' a plastic sheet over him?" asks Luke. That's what we were all wondering, Luke...yesterday!

February 19, 2019

With the tarp over his head, Killgrave flips out. "Hnnh! Get this off me!" he says. "Uh oh! The Purple Man's voice is back - and that means trouble!" says Luke. Panel #2 is Spidey and MJ as Spidey replies, "Maybe not! I told MJ what our mutual buddy Daredevil told me about him - namely, that special sheeting blocks his powers!" Whoa! Whoa! Hold it! This is coming out of the blue! I don't recall any mention of this earlier in the story. In panel #3, MJ points at the tarped-up Killgrave and says, "Did Daredevil also say it'd make him go crazy?" Killgrave says, "Yyaaaaa!"

February 20, 2019

"Help! Take it off me!" yells Killgrave as the others look on. "What's goin' on under that plastic?" asks Luke. "It was chemically treated to neutralize the effects of the nerve gas," says MJ. I don't know how she'd know that but it's a better explanation than yesterday's, the one where Daredevil told them that special sheeting blocks Killgrave's powers. It's almost as if Stan (or whoever is now writing this) changed his mind between yesterday and today. In which case, he should have excised yesterday's explanation altogether. Spidey explains further, "Since Killgrave can't project his powers outward, they're doubling back on him." That's pretty lame. Stan should have just stuck with the "chemically treated" explanation. In panel #3, MJ recoils as Killgrave yells "Yyaaaa." "But - the feedback may kill him!" she says.

February 21, 2019

So, Killgrave starts running toward the edge of the building, yelling "G-got to get away!" He doesn't just take the tarp off his head, mind you. He panics and runs. "The guy's gone nuts" says Luke. Spidey encircles Killgrave with webbing, saying, "He's staggering toward the edge! We've gotta stop him!" But in panel #2, Luke and Spidey can't go anywhere. "Don't worry, I'll - huh? I'm movin' so slow - like I'm movin' through molasses!" says Luke. "Me - too! Must be the aftereffects of being controlled by Killgrave!" says Spidey. This is pure bunk. If they said that Luke and Spidey can't move because Killgrave's last command to them was "Stop - both of you!" (as seen on February 10th) I'd have been fine with it but Killgrave added that command of "Spider-Man, Luke Cage, attack each other!" which they shrugged off as soon as the Purple Man couldn't speak anymore. So don't tell me now that they're suffering some sort of aftereffect. Besides, didn't Spidey shoot webbing over Killgrave? What happened to that?

February 22, 2019

Well, yeah, there's that webbing around Killgrave but Spidey didn't hang on to one end so it only served the purpose of keeping the tarp on. Killgrave's leg hits the ledge. "He's falling off the roof!" says Luke. "Maybe we're still too groggy - to reach him," says Spidey. In panel #2, he finishes with, "But my web-shooter doesn't do 'befuddled'." And so saying, he shoots webbing with a FWIPP. I think maybe you should hang on to the end of the webbing this time, Spidey.

February 23, 2019

Killgrave goes over the edge. "Helllp!" he yells. Spidey adds more webbing with another FWIPP. "Got 'im!" he says, "Just as he went over the edge!" But in panel #2, Spidey finds himself heading over the edge, too. "Wha?" he says. Luke explains for us. "Man, you're even unsteadier on your feet than me!" With Spidey tugging in panel #3 and Luke and MJ watching, Luke says, "His weight's gonna pull you both off the roof!" Really? We've been reduced to this? Let this story end, already!

February 24, 2019

In spite of my plea yesterday, the story continues, beginning with an overly-long caption: "Still disoriented from being controlled by Killgrave, Spidey and Cage try to save him from a fatal fall." Now it looks like Killgrave, under the tarp, has just run right off the roof rather than tripping on the ledge. And in this version, he is in midair when Spidey snags him with his webbing with a FWIPP. "Gotcha!" Spidey says. In panel #2, with Luke looking on, Spidey skids along the roof, heading for the edge. (Whatever happened to his adhesive feet?) "Only, who's got me??" he says. "I do, web-man!" says Luke in panel #3 as he grabs Spidey by the ankle. Panel #4 shows Luke and Spidey's ankle with Luke holding onto the ankle with his left hand and a pipe sticking up out of the roof with his right hand. "But, if I hadn't latched onto this pipe - I'da been joinin' you on the fast track to ground zero!" he says. In panel #5, the pipe starts to collapse in his hand with a KREE-EE-EEK. Panel #6 shows Luke close up with sweat pouring down his forehead and all sorts of spikes and lights emanating from his head. "And I still might!" he says.

By the way, there are times, in this story, where Luke's shirt has all those bullet holes in it and times when it does not. This is one of those times when it does not.

The "Next" caption is "Going Down?" to which I can only answer, "It sure is." Last week we had "But - will it?" which was asking whether the tarp thrown over Killgrave's head would work and the answer to that was "yes."

February 25, 2019

MJ comes running as Luke hangs onto the pipe (which has gotten much longer than yesterday) with his right hand and Spidey's ankle with his left hand. Spidey is now hanging upside down over the ledge, helpless. "I grabbed Killgrave and you grabbed me!" he says to Luke. "But - I'm still too weak - to pull you both back up," says Luke. (What's weak here is this plot element. No one said a thing about being weakened by Killgrave's powers back when Luke was first entranced and released.) In panel #2, the pipe starts to tear free of the building with a KREEEKK. "And if that metal pipe gives," says Luke, it's a long way down!"

I'm sure you'll be thrilled to know that the bullet holes are back in Luke's shirt. And I wouldn't worry about this pickle Luke and Spidey are in. I'm sure MJ will come up with something. She's the real hero of this strip, after all.

February 26, 2019

The pipe is still tearing free and Luke still has Spidey by the ankle. "Can barely hold on to you," says Luke, "and this pipe's goin'!" "My brain's on empty - can't think straight!" says Spidey. In panel #2, MJ leans over a sweating, grimacing Cage and yells down at Spidey, "Hey, don't forget - you've got two web-shooters!" (What did I say about MJ being the real star of this strip?) Panel #3 shows Spidey and Killgrave hanging down from Luke's angle. "Huh? Oh - yeah - I forgot!" says Spidey as he uses his other hand (the one not holding Killgrave) to shoot some webbing with a FWIPP.

February 27, 2019

With a THWIPPT, the webbing...well, I'll let MJ tell it. "Way to go, Spider-Man!" she says, as Luke still hangs onto to the pipe and Spidey's ankle, "Your web snagged an air vent up here!" Panel #2 is all Spidey as he says, "Great! That'll give my brain a second to recover from Killgrave's mind control!" In panel #3, Luke has given up hanging onto the pipe but seems to have no trouble holding Spidey (maybe because Spidey now has that webbing attached to the air vent) and Spidey is still holding Killgrave. Spidey looks down at Killgrave and says, "But if that plastic sheet drops off ol' purple puss - he'll go back to makin' us try to murder each other!"

February 28, 2019

The camera moves to Killgrave's level and points up at Spidey and Luke. "Uh oh!" says Spidey, "The sheet's slipping off Killgrave!" Luke says, "That means he'll be able to gain vocal control over us again!" (I'm not sure how the sheet prevented that to begin with.) But, in panel #2, with the sheet slipping off, Killgrave swings on the webbing into the side of the building with a THUK. "Unngh," he says. Back to Spidey in panel #3, who says, "No sweat, Cage! He's out like a light - at least for the moment!" You know, with all the time these guys have spent hanging over the roof and all the traffic passing below them, you'd think someone would get the police.

March 1, 2019

So, after days of Luke hanging onto Spidey's ankle and the pipe breaking and Spidey shooting webbing onto the air vent, suddenly it's "Back on the rooftop..." and all three of our super-powered crew are safe and sound on the roof. We never do see how they all get up there. Spidey and Luke stand over Killgrave who is muttering, "Uhhnnn." "Finally shaking off - the last effects of Killgrave's control!" says Spidey. "Me too," says Luke, "But - he's starting to come around...." "Not to worry, boys..." says someone off-panel. It's MJ who, in panel #2, throws the plastic sheet over Killgrave with a SLAPPT. How did she get it? Didn't it fall to the ground? Well, let MJ tell it. "I'm kinda w-winded - from racing down three stories - and back up - But - I retrieved our security blanket!" Now, who's the real hero in this series? Repeat after me: MJ!!

March 2, 2019

With a FWIPP, Spidey shoots webbing over the plastic sheet. "There!" he says, "Killgrave can rant his purple face off inside that sheeting...but it'll neutralize his vocal superpower." In panel #2, Luke speaks for us all. "If I never hear that creepy voice of his again - it'll be two weeks too soon!"

March 3, 2019

Let's start with a drone shot of Luke, MJ, Spidey and then Killgrave under that sheet. "I think Killgrave's passed out inside the sheeting!" says MJ. "Good!" says Spidey, "Then his powers can't either feed back on him - or make us release him!" Panel #2 is all Luke. "Soon as we turn 'im over to the cops, he's their problem," he says (though I expect they'll take him out of the sheeting and he'll order them to release him and he'll become everyone's problem again). Luke continues, "Glad we stopped him before he made me waste you, web-man." In a Luke-Spidey two-shot in panel #3, Spidey takes offense. "Dream on, Cage," he says, "Okay, so you're bulletproof - and reasonably strong - but you were never gonna total a guy with the proportionate strength of a spider." Panel #4 is a lot like panel #1 only the camera is closer. "Oh yeah?" says Luke, "You know what we do to spiders where I come from? We step on 'em!" Panel #5 is all Spidey as panel #2 was all Luke. "You do, huh?" Spidey says, cocking a fist, "Well, you wanna try steppin' on this?" And panel #6 is like panel #3 except MJ has stepped between the two heroes. "Well, if you're puttin' it like that!" says Luke. MJ (our hero), holding them off with her arms outstretched, says, "Boys! Boys!"

The "Next" caption is "Round Three?" Oh, Lord, I hope not! Last week's was "Going Down?" Our heroes from the roof? No. But the story? Absolutely.

March 4, 2019

Killgrave is in the foreground, webbed up inside that plastic sheet like a mob hit victim. Spidey, MJ, and Luke stand over him. "That plastic'll block Killgrave's vocal powers if he wakes up! says Spidey. (I still wonder how they know this.) "Good!" says Luke, "Wouldn't want him to force me to total you!" In panel #2, Spidey and Luke turn on each other, as MJ tries to step in. "Aren't you forgetting?" says Spidey, "First chance he got, he switched from controlling you to controlling me!" "I didn't say he was smart!" replies Luke. "Hey, guys - chill!" says MJ.

I am very tired of this story and want it to end without these pointless additions but, I have to admit, I get a kick out of the two super-heroes arguing as to which one is more deserving to be Killgrave's puppet.

March 5, 2019

MJ gets in between the two men. "Don't get in a fight now!" she says, "It took both of you to beat Killgrave!" "Sorry, MJ - but you're wrong!" says Spidey. "You got that right, web-man," adds Luke. Panel #2 is all MJ (well, there's a smidge of Spider-Man) as she says, "What're you two talking about?" Spidey and Luke give her a hug. "It didn't take two of us to whip the Purple Man," says Spidey. "Nope! It took all three of us!" says Luke. Because MJ is the star of the strip, people!

March 6, 2019

Luke's shirt has the bullet holes in it again (but not in panel #2). He starts to leave, saying, "If you're sticking around to turn Killgrave over to the cops, I'm outta here!" Spidey, arms folded, says, "Actually, Cage - I was kinda wondering..." He holds up his smartphone in panel #2 (where was he keeping it?) and finishes with "...if you'd mind posing for a picture or two with me?" Luke looks back and says "?" which I think means "?"

March 7, 2019

Right. Bullet holes in panel #1, none in panel #2. Luke points at Spidey and says, "You want the two of us to pose for a selfie?" "Nothing as corny as that!" says Spidey. In panel #2 (a drone shot of all three of our players...but with Killgrave nowhere in sight), Spidey says, "I want us to make like we're having a battle royale - and MJ will take pictures of it!" Panel #3 is Luke and MJ only. Luke says, "I thought it was your husband who took photos for the Daily Bugle." "Well...don't tell the publisher but sometimes I help him out a little," says MJ.

March 8, 2019

MJ holds up the phone to film Spidey vs. Luke Cage. Cage (who has his bullet holes back) says, "Okay, let's get this playacting over with! You wanna take a swing at me - or do I take a poke at you?" In panel #2, Spidey says, "Let's just mix it up," and he kicks Luke right in the face. Understandably, Luke (whose bullet holes are gone) says, "Hey!" In panel #3, Spidey stands over Luke (no bullet holes) who is now on the ground. (At least someone is on the ground. Killgrave seems to have disappeared.) "...And see what develops!" says Spidey. "Easy, guys!" says MJ, Don't let it turn into a real brawl!" But Luke is looking very angry. And I don't blame him. Not cool, Spidey!

At this point, I suspect that Killgrave has escaped and taken over the world. By all rights, this story should end with Spidey and Luke fighting each other until the Killgrave-controlled cops arrest them and take them away.

March 9, 2019

Luke is up again with no harm done. He and Spidey throw punches at each other but MJ stops filming. "What's the problem, MJ?" asks Spidey. "Yeah! You stopped takin' pictures!" says Luke. "Because you two are terrible at throwing fake punches!" MJ says. In panel #2, Luke and Spidey look at her, each with a fist still pointed at the other. MJ has, apparently, thrown the smartphone away. "No way is the Daily Bugle gonna believe you're really fighting!" she says. Um, MJ, aren't you the one who said "Don't let it turn into a real brawl!" And, seriously, where the heck is Killgrave? His tarp-covered body hasn't appeared since March 4th.

March 10, 2019

So, now it looks like a real brawl. Luke hits Spidey with a SOK, hard enough for Spidey to say "Unngg." "How're we doin' now, MJ?" asks Luke. "Much better, Luke!" she replies. And look! Killgrave is back on the roof, all trussed up in that sheet. Luke's punch has sent Spidey to the ground so, in panel #2, Luke reaches out a helping hand. "Sorry, man!" he says, "I didn't mean to..." "Not your fault," Spidey interrupts, holding his jaw, "You're just doing MJ and her husband a favor." It looks, in panel #3, like MJ has both a smartphone and Peter's camera. (Has she been taking pictures with each?) "Which reminds me," Luke says to her, "What're we supposed to be fightin' about, anyway?" "Actually, Jonah Jameson doesn't care!" says MJ. Panel #4 shows a drone shot of all three of them as well as the trussed up Killgrave. "He just knows photos of Spider-Man sell his newspaper," says MJ, "and if he's getting beat up in them, so much the better!" (So, they are inventing news to sell to JJJ. Isn't this sort of unethical?) In panel #5, Luke cocks his fist at Spidey, saying, "Oh, okay! Anything to please a lady," but Spidey begs off. "Whoa!" he says, "I think we've got enough pictures." In panel #6, he and Luke look over the roof down at two squad cars with their sirens going SHREEEEE. "Besides, the cops are coming!" says Spidey.

The "Next" caption is "When Warriors Part - What Next?" Well, what's next in a couple of weeks seems to be reprints (see the General comments section) but for the next week? Who knows? Last week's caption was "Round Three?" and I guess we just had that, except it was staged. So that Peter can sell photos to Jameson! Which, really, should get him fired and casts great doubt on his ethics in spite of all the "great responsibility" business.

March 11, 2019

Three cops put Killgrave, still in his sheet, into a squad car. (I'm still wondering what happens when they take that sheet off of him. Won't he get all the cops in his power?) Spidey, Luke, and MJ look on. "If you've got enough pics of the web-man and me 'fightin',' I'll take off," says Luke. "Me too!" says Spidey. But first, in panel #2, one of the cops approaches them. "Uh...I hate to bother you guys," he says, "But would you mind if I took a selfie?" They let him do it in panel #3. As his phone gives off a SNAPT, he says, "For my kid, y'know?" And that cop now has evidence that MJ is involved with Luke Cage and Spider-Man and also that Luke and Spidey are not enemies at all, in spite of the fake fight photos MJ took yesterday.

March 12, 2019

That seems to be it. Spidey holds MJ as they swing through Manhattan. "That Luke Cage is quite a guy," says Spidey. "So are you, Tiger," says MJ. Panel #2 is a close-up of the two of them as MJ says, "But - would you mind dropping me off at street level - so I can hail a cab?" Spidey descends to the street in panel #3. "Sorry, honey!" he says, "I forgot that web-swinging makes you airsick."

March 13, 2019

The cab doesn't happen. Now that they are on the ground, MJ says, "It's such a beautiful night - why don't we walk home?" "Yeah, that'd do wonders for my secret identity," says Spidey, forgetting that he already took a selfie with a cop along with Luke and MJ. In panel #2, he ducks into an alley. "But - wait right there, okay?" he says. Panel #3 starts with an entirely unnecessary caption that says, "Moments later..." and now Peter, in his civvies, has joined MJ. She says, "Wish I could change clothes as fast as you can, lover!" and Peter replies, "No need. You're definitely worth waiting for."

Whoa, whoa! Wait a minute! Peter didn't have his civvies with him! What did he do, grab some clothes out of an alley dumpster? Lucky for him, they look just like the clothes he usually wears!

March 14, 2019

Today's scene is the Daily Bugle office of J. Jonah Jameson. He holds up a front page with the headline "Mayor Breaks Ground for New Condo Site," and shows it to Joe Robertson. JJJ says, "I can't believe my best photographer's running off to Australia leaving me with a front page of a politician and a shovel!" (That's right! Pete and MJ were heading to Australia when this whole Killgrave thing blew up. I completely forgot about that.) Someone off-panel says, "What was that about 'best' something-or-other?" That off-panel person is Peter who now, in panel #2, leans up against Jonah's office door, looking at his phone and whistling. Jameson does not say, "Why aren't you in Australia?" He says, "Oh, it's you, Parker. Your ears must be playing tricks on you!" Joe Robertson doesn't ask about Australia either. He grins in the background at Jonah making a fool of himself again.

March 15, 2019

Jonah looks at the photos on the phone. "I love this pic of the wall-crawler slugging Luke Cage," he says. Peter and Robbie look on. Peter says, "Really? I figured you'd go for the one where Cage hit Spidey!" In panel #2, Robbie whispers to Pete, "Jonah's mad at Cage 'cause he wouldn't try to capture the web-spinner!" Oh yeah, that's right! That happened back in November, didn't it? "I get it," Peter whispers back. In panel #3, Jonah pats Peter on the arm and says, "Now, Peter, my boy - about this wild idea of a trip to Australia..." Peter says, "?" right to Jonah's face. Is that like saying "Huh?" to someone?

March 16, 2019

So, we're back on this Australia thing. It's Jonah, Peter, and Robbie with some guy walking in the background. "What's all this nonsense about you vacationing in Australia, lad?" asks Jonah. "MJ needs a break after her movie junket," replies Pete. Panel #2 is JJJ and Peter. Jonah puts his hand on Pete's shoulder and Pete eyes it skeptically. "Yes - but why so far?" asks JJJ, "Why don't you just take her to Coney Island...or maybe the Catskills..." Panel #3 is still Pete and Jonah. Now JJJ has idea lines emanating from his head. "I'll pay a considerable bonus if you stick around to take more shots of Spider-Man," he says. Peter starts walking away. "Get thee behind me, Satan," he says.

March 17, 2019

It's the Daily Bugle lobby. MJ is waiting for Peter there along with two bystanders and a security guard talking to a woman behind a desk. "You were up there a long time, Tiger," says MJ. (A whole week!) "Was Jameson a hard sell on the photos?" Panel #2 narrows down to Peter and MJ. "Naw, he took 'em all!" says Pete, "And he offered me a big fat bonus - if I canceled our trip to Australia." In panel #3, the couple leave the Bugle building (with two other bystanders in the panel). "Oh? And what did you..." begins MJ but Peter interrupts her. "The only thing I could do, honey..." he says. In panel #4, the couple begins to walk down the street, with a guy who looks like the Phantom in his "Mr. Walker" guise behind them. "I told him, 'I'll throw another shrimp on the barbie in your honor, mate'," says Pete. "Peter Parker, I love you!" says MJ. Amidst 7 bystanders in panel #5, Peter, his arm around MJ, says, "Like somebody once said in a movie...'ditto'." (That "somebody" was Patrick Swayze in Ghost where "ditto" meant "I love you.") And panel #6 is...wha? Just an action shot of Spidey with no "Next" caption. Instead, it says "Excelsior!" Looks like somebody is wrapping up the Spider-Man newspaper strip.

Even though we have no "Next" caption, let's look at last week's. It was "When Warriors Part - What Next?" What next? Peter sells his photos and he and MJ go to Australia. And...maybe...the Spider-Man newspaper strip comes to an end.

March 18, 2019

But not just yet. First at "JFK Airport, NYC..." Peter and MJ (and others) are going through security. (I'm not even going to try to figure out how many days past their original flight date this is.) "Australia, here we come," says MJ. "In spite of Jameson's attempt to bribe me into staying here," says Peter. But, in panel #2, a TSA agent puts his hand out to stop Peter. "Sorry, sir, but I'm afraid we'll need to talk to you," he says. MJ whispers, "Maybe Jameson bribed this TSA screener...!"

March 19, 2019

With ghostly bystanders around in each panel (but no MJ), the TSA guy asks Peter, "Would you open your luggage, please, sir?" "Do I have to?" asks Peter, "I'm a real messy packer." In panel #2, the camera moves in on Pete and the agent. "Well, if you really don't want to get on the plane," says the TSA guy. "Okay...I'll open it," says Pete. In panel #3, the TSA guy is going through Pete's bag. "See? I told you you wouldn't find anything!" says Peter. (Somebody should tell Pete that everything he has said is just what you shouldn't say to a TSA agent. They may detain him for those comments alone.) The TSA guy says, "Now, if you wouldn't mind unbuttoning your shirt..."

Okay, I think I know where they're going with this. First of all, this "unbuttoning" is not a request I have ever heard a TSA agent make. I doubt they ever would. But, it's pretty clear that the point here is to make us think that the agent is going to find Peter's Spidey shirt underneath. But I suspect that he won't because I'm assuming that Peter is not bringing any of his stuff with him. There is not going to be an adventure in Australia because there is not going to be another new story...not for a while, anyway. (See the General section for more on this.) So, I think that "Stan" (Roy) is sending Peter and MJ off into the Australia sunset just as Marvel tried to send Peter and MJ off into the Portland, Oregon sunset way back in the original Clone Saga. Because even if the strip returns from reprints, it may be an entirely different universe where Peter and MJ aren't married at all. We shall see.

March 20, 2019

So, if you thought the TSA request for Peter to take off his shirt was unrealistic, how about this TSA guy explaining about the new scanner. When have you ever had a TSA person explain anything to you? The guy says, "I'm not sure why you and your luggage both set off our new scanner! It's experimental - maybe they haven't gotten all the bugs out of it yet!" Peter says, "Maybe my belt buckle or wristwatch..." (Peter, you're supposed to take those off before you get scanned.) MJ is back, by the way. Panel #2 also has MJ and a couple of sketchy bystanders as the TSA guy tells Pete, "No, one of the readings was like it was responding to you personally! So, like I said...if you'll just open your shirt!" Oh, this crazy strip-verse!

March 21, 2019

Now, there is a sign pointing to "Gate 4." So, the TSA station is right next to a gate? In JFK airport? There's a sketchy TSA guy in the background with a sketchy passenger as our TSA guy continues to harass Peter and MJ. "I can understand your reluctance to unbutton your shirt in public, sir" he says, "We can go to a private room..." "No, no...I'll open it!" says Peter starting to unbutton. In panel #2, he opens his shirt to reveal a white t-shirt underneath. "See? I told you," he says, "not even a tattoo!" He and MJ are all smiles as if that should be the end of it. But it's not like the TSA guy was expecting a Spidey shirt. He's looking for answers to why Peter set off his scanner. So, shouldn't he ask Pete to take off his undershirt, too? Well, no, because the whole point of this has been to worry us that Peter will have to reveal his Spidey shirt. And as the ending caption says, after Peter says, "not even a tattoo," "Or a Spider-Man outfit - on his person or in his suitcase!"

March 22, 2019

Now, there are three TSA agents in on this. A bald one, not the same guy who's been dealing with Pete, says, "Sorry we troubled you, sir. Must've been a glitch in our machine." Yeah, like that's going to happen. Peter and MJ walk away as Pete whispers, "Or somehow, it reacted to my radioactive spider-altered DNA!" Including the DNA you left on your suitcase? Remember the other TSA guy said, "I'm not sure why you and your luggage both set off our new scanner" (emphasis mine). MJ whispers back, "We're lucky I didn't set off the alarm..." In panel #2, with a sketchy bearded guy in the background, MJ unbuttons the top of her shirt to reveal a Spidey shirt underneath. MJ continues with her whisper, "...and have to explain why I'm wearing a Spider-Man costume under my clothes!" "Avant-garde fashion sense?" whispers the witty Peter.

So, this was the plan? MJ wears the suit? Well, why not? If it was found, she probably wouldn't have been suspected of being Spider-Man. But if Pete and MJ are bothering to bring the suit, then where are the web-shooters? And why didn't they avoid this whole problem by checking their bags?

March 23, 2019

Peter and MJ have taken their seats on the plane. Roy Thomas and Alex Saviuk are getting on the plane as well. (A final confirmation that Roy has been ghost-writing for Stan. I wonder how far back his ghost-writing goes?) MJ says, "All my life I've dreamed of going to Australia! My Broadway and Hollywood careers paid for this vacation..." In panel #2, there is a guy sleeping in a seat who looks like Salvador Dali. MJ finishes with, "...And we get to enjoy every minute of it together, Tiger!" "Which makes me one lucky guy, MJ!" says Peter as he holds a copy of the Daily Bugle. It has a picture of Spider-Man on the front page and the headline reads, "Nuff Said!"

Nuff said, indeed. I think we're going to get one last Sunday before the reprints begin. If not, I'll add a little bit more here later.

All right. It turns out that this was indeed the last strip. The Sunday is, I think, a complete reprint. It refers to Killgrave but, in panel #2, Spidey says, "Killgrave [was] revealed as the criminal he always truly was," which is not a reference to the latest story. There must have been a previous Killgrave story during that Spiderfan dead zone period where I'm unclear on the stories, which makes this a good choice to follow the last story. It's bound to confuse a whole lot of readers, though. The only seque granted to those wondering why Spidey is now web-slinging in Manhattan when he was on a plane to Australia is a panel #1 caption, reading, "Peter dreams of good times..." and one in panel #5, reading, "...and not-so-good times." The strip ends with MJ telling Peter that her Broadway show is closing. As soon as I can figure out which story this is, I may write a review of it but not a day-by-day review. Those days are over.

A week into the reprinted story, it is clear that it is "Marvella 2," which first appeared less than five years ago; a strange choice when you consider all of the Lee/Romita stories they could have tapped, not to mention all the never-reprinted stories of the 80s, 90s, and 00s. I hope this means that the reprints will be brief and that the revamp will keep Peter and MJ married. (Maybe this one reprint...which, in this case, is more than nine months...yes, that's how long this story is... then a strip showing Peter and MJ returning from Australia. How does that sound?) Spidey did not face Killgrave in the story before "Marvella 2" (I think this Luke Cage story was Strip-Spidey's only Killgrave encounter) so panel #2 of the March 24, 2019 reprint must have been redone. The villain that was "revealed as the criminal he always truly was" is probably Dr. Octopus. I don't think I have that strip in my collection but I will take a look and see if I can confirm this.

Follow-up: It turns out I did have a copy of the original. It is from November 16, 2014 and the second panel does indeed picture Doc Ock rather than Killgrave. And the newspaper headline in panel #3 was changed too because the original said, "Spider-Man Exposes Doctor Octopus! Wall Crawler Stands Alone As City's Major Criminal." Now it says, "Mayor Breaks Ground For New Condo Site."

Follow-up to the follow-up: And, now that I think about it, I know why this story was chosen. The main villain is Mysterio who is also going to be the main villain in this summer's Spider-Man film.

General Comments

It may have been common knowledge to others but it wasn't until this post about Larry Leiber's retirement in Septemberthat I learned that Roy Thomas has been ghost-writing the strip. With Stan's death, I figured the only change would be that Roy would get his name in the credits. But now here's this Daily Cartoonist post announcing that "Starting on March 25, King Features and Marvel will be re-running some of Spider-Man’s greatest hits." Oh oh. That doesn't sound good. However, it does promise that "We’ll be back soon with great new stories and art to explore even more corners of the Marvel Universe for you and your readers to enjoy." That sounds a bit better but it doesn't sound like Roy and Alex are going to continue. Is this promo the strip equivalent of the "TV Terror" Next Issue blurb in Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #2? I mean, have you picked up your copy of Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #3 yet? So...mother of mercy, is this the end of the strip-verse? Or, at least, of the strip-verse as we know it, since exploring "even more corners of the Marvel Universe" sounds like a bit of a shake-up. We shall see.

On March 23, Bleeding Cool published The Last Spider-Man Newspaper Strip Runs Today - Its Writer, Roy Thomas Looks Back. In it, Roy recounts how he started ghosting back in 2000, how he wanted to make Peter single again as they did in the books and even did a whole story that way until "Stan changed his mind, and I saw at once that I wouldn’t be able to change it back. So I wrote a Dallas-type scene in which Peter woke up (after going to sleep in Aunt May’s apartment as a single young man) to find himself married (again) to Mary Jane… and that’s the way we kept it from then on. Actually, I was increasingly happy with that, as an alternative to the bouncing around of the comicbooks, in which MJ and Peter totally forgot each other and their marriage, and who-knows-what occurred." As for the strip's "demise," Roy writes, "When the strip died (i.e., was killed), the Mammon Theatre where MJ’s hit play was running was shuttered by damage (in a Spidey-related fight, of course), and Marvella II had flopped, so the two of them took off to Australia for a vacation, and I wrote a couple of weeks of a continuity (along with a full outline approved by Michael Kelly [Stan's longtime assistant]) involving the villain the Kangaroo. Then Marvel decided to kill the strip and not print the final couple of weeks, and I declined to rewrite the last published strip or two to turn it into a “goodbye” strip. My feeling was that I had accepted the snuffing of the strip, and didn’t take it personally… it was just a business move (although when I was told the strip was being killed I wasn’t told—perhaps because those who informed me didn’t know–that Marvel was planning to either revive the strip with a new team or to start a new strip that might not be a Spidey strip per se, but more the equivalent of DC’s latter-day successor to its Superman strip, The World’s Greatest Heroes, which had featured the whole panoply of DC heroes). I felt that I had written what I had written for the strip, and they were welcome to do whatever they wanted to with the script (as long as I was paid for what I had done, naturally), but I preferred never to touch it again. When I’m done with something, I’m done with something." And this. "Alex Saviuk, bless him, graciously reworked the final strip to show the two of us in it, and to add a “‘Nuff Said!” headline on the Daily Bugle. He was perhaps a better sport about things than I was… and I admire him for that, since he had spent well over two decades penciling the Sunday Spider-Man and then had only recently been promoted to seven-days-a-week penciler… only to see the strip almost immediately canceled so that he was out of a regular gig. I hope he finds one. He deserves it."

I do too, Roy, and I'm sorry to see the strip go. It was plenty goofy at times and the recent stories seemed to stretch on forever but it had an innocence to it that I enjoyed and it was the only place to see Peter and Mary Jane still married. I suspect that will change with any revamp that may be coming our way.

For now, we've got reprints and, while I can't place the March 24 story yet, it does seem familiar and I suspect I've read it. So, there goes the pleasure of a new Spidey experience every day. I'm sorry we're never going to see the Kangaroo story and I'm not hot on the idea of a "World's Greatest Superheroes" strip so let's call it a series. It lasted over 42 years. That's not chopped liver.

Overall Rating

When writing these day-by-day reviews, I usually wrote my Rating section along the way so as not to forget things that happened months ago. I shaped it as I went along. Here is what I had so far... "The time slip in January 27th that changed what happened on January 26th is particularly egregious. The transition to darkness is pretty bad too. Guards disappear as quickly as they come. And I have to wonder why Killgrave can't open his canister right away. But I can deal with all that. What I can't deal with is the conclusion to this whole adventure with MJ's "accidental" incredible throw of a metal pipe (where did she get this pipe anyway?) that hits Killgrave in the throat hard enough to stop him speaking. Or the way Spidey and Luke no longer have to obey the previous order just because Killgrave isn't speaking now. Or that Luke has no trouble walking over to help MJ off the pipe/chimney but is suddenly walking in molasses, hungover from Killgrave's orders, when he needs to move swiftly to keep Killgrave from falling off the roof. (When has anyone in this story turned sluggish after being controlled by the Purple Man?) Or that Killgrave can't get it together enough to take a tarp off his head. Or that the tarp would block Killgrave's powers even though we are given two completely different explanations for that two days in a row."

It was around this point, though, that I learned that the strip was "cancelled." Aware of the end of an era, I have grown extremely nostalgic and suddenly find I can overlook all of the story's faults. It's the last Spider-Man newspaper strip story, people! How can I give it anything but five webs?