In honor of Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary, a handful of his previously-abandoned ancillary titles have been reinstated under Marvel’s new ‘Point One’ umbrella. The concept behind these relaunches is to share an ‘untold tale’ from some point in Spidey’s history. In this installment, the Sensational Spider-Man title is resurrected with #33.2 and the ‘untold tale’ comes from Spider-Man’s Brand New Day era shortly after J. Jonah was elected mayor of New York City.
In Sensational Spider-Man #33.1, Spider-Man and Carlie Cooper have teamed up to track down the people responsible for a recently uncovered human trafficking operation. Carlie's investigation had led to more harm than good as she soon found herself in the company of the Vulture!
This story picks up right from where the previous installment left off in which The Vulture (aka Brand New Day’s Jimmy Natale) is carrying his prey (aka Carlie Cooper) through the air high above the streets of New York City. It turns out that the Vulture snatched Carlie simply to find out why she was following him. Carlie explains that she was investigating a human smuggling racket to which the Vulture quickly replies, “I do not prey on the innocent.” Regardless, Carlie thought she was dead-meat and lucky for her, the loud scream she unleashed was within earshot of Spider-Man!
The web-slinger was in the middle of interrogating the thug who had been hired by a Russian mob boss, Balik Vorski, to kill Carlie. Spidey aborts his investigation to pursue the Vulture and at the first sign of the wall-crawler the villain dumped his cargo. Obviously Spidey abandons his pursuit of the Vulture to rescue Carlie and soon the two are back to focusing on the human trafficking case.
Using questionable tactics, Spidey returns to the hired thug and tries to force him to give up the man responsible for the hit on Carlie. The goon could not even get a word in before Spider-Man drops him from the rooftop, spinning him up and down like a yo-yo. The thug quickly gives up the whole operation in exchange for Spidey’s protection from the inevitable ramifications of betraying the mafia.
As Carlie’s concomitant investigation appears to stall, Spidey rampages through the underworld knocking heads together to get info. His efforts land him with a birds-eye-view of a secret meeting between reputed mob boss Balik Vorski and Special Agent Charles Devonshire (if that name doesn’t sound familiar check out the Sensational Spider-Man #33.1)! Spidey, of course, snaps a few photos of the dining duo. Those photos make their way to Carlie Cooper via Peter Parker and the two quickly realize something fishy is going on with the Feds. Soon after, Spidey tails Agent Devonshire only to see the villainous Vulture swoop in and abscond with the F.B.I. agent.
Back at the Federal holding facility, Carlie has a heart-to-heart with Agent Devonshire’s partner, Agent Casio. After demonstrating to Casio why his partner is corrupt, Carlie pleads with the agent to do right by the human trafficking victims. Meanwhile, Vorski wastes no time ordering his men to kill the thug that failed with his hit on Carlie Cooper. Spider-Man intervenes and lays a smack-down on the goons, protecting the man who ratted-out Vorski’s regime.
At police headquarters, Carlie’s lieutenant deliveries some fairly surprising news. Agent Devonshire has gone missing and apparently Balik Vorski’s security company has just been selected by the F.B.I. to secure the port of New York. By the way, Vorski’s going to be compensated $5 million for doing so! The victims of the human trafficking were deported back to their respective countries, but their fate was far better than that of Agent Devonshire and Balik Vorski. At the story’s conclusion, Vorski is confronted by the Vulture, who is looking to extort the mob boss’s recent big time payday…
I won’t spend too much time reiterating my sentiment (and complaints) concerning the shortcomings of this ‘untold tale’ from Brand New Day. Suffice to say, this story suffers as well and it truly escapes my comprehension as to why anyone at Marvel thought that an untold tale from Brand New Day was a good idea. Of all the eras in Spidey history, that era does not deserve this level of commemoration for Spider-Man’s 50th, at least in my opinion.
As far as the story itself is concerned, I don’t think it’s fair to criticize a Spidey tale simply because the web-slinger is not chiefly featured throughout it. In other words, I can’t hate this story just because it’s a Carlie Cooper special. But Spider-Man’s supporting character role in this story doesn’t really do him justice either. He comes off to me like a lawless vigilante dead-set on getting answers, with no hesitancy to break some faces in order to get them. From the yo-yo torture, to the thugs’ skull bashing montage, to his protection the ratting-thug. Spidey toed some ethical lines and he didn’t really question anything he was doing. I know Spidey’s done stuff like this in the past, but it seemed a bit excessive here and since there was no other character development to negate his skrull-cracking tactics, it left a bad taste in my mouth.
DeFalco came up a little short here and I understand that the deck was essentially stacked against him. But his odd use of the mainstay characters and the ridiculousness of his newly introduced ones (seriously, read this two-parter and tell me you get what’s going on with Carlie’s lieutenant) really squandered this ‘untold tale’.
Once again, 1 web. This one is as forgettable as they come.