Spider-Man Unlimited #15

Background

Mary Jane and Aunt Anna have gone to Pittsburgh; Doctor Strange has "had a trying and tumultuous year"; Thomas Fireheart has given up his (ahem) pumanity.

Story 'Facing The Void'

  Spider-Man Unlimited #15
Summary: Dr. Strange, Puma, Raptar
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inker: Tim Dzon
Cover Art: Tony Daniel

Above-average coloring and seps make the art stand out, and there is good use of blurring and computer textures (especially on Raptar). Granted, Jack Morelli (the letterer) misspells "Pittsburgh" on the first page--I think we could have done without textured potato chips if it meant hiring Comicraft to do the lettering. Another nitpick concerns Fireheart's life history flashback: there are no issue references to the events! When did he first encounter Spider-Man? When did the Beyonder come into the picture? This seems like the ideal place to put those little reference captions.

Regarding the writing, I was generally impressed. Fireheart is well-characterized in both his meditations and his more active roles; Raptar is an innovative character despite his stupid name; there's a nod to continuity when Peter thanks Fireheart for the funeral flowers; MARVEL VS. DC is given a tip of the hat with the reference to the two brothers, the Red and the Blue. The dialogue is consistent, if occasionally annoying--I don't know Fireheart's uncle very well, but I seriously doubt he makes it a habit to greet everyone with, "Hidy-ho!". It wasn't all peaches and cream, naturally. DeFalco definitely either watches too much television or tries too hard to identify with readers. This ish'll be dated in a couple of years, and the references are distracting. He rarely goes an issue without letting slip the name of a current show, movie, song, or dance (Macarena, anyone?). I'm not very familiar with his original run, but I hope he didn't always do this.

It was also a little cheap of him to have Peter figure out the alien transporter so easily. Despite the doubtlessly illegible layout and vast technological differences that must exist, Pete spends a few minutes with the thing and apparently bets their lives on his hunches. He's lucky not to have blown them all up. Pete might be good with computers, but so are a lot of netizens! DeFalco lays the repetition on a little thick--it would've been fine if what sounded like a forced moral to the story (the cosmic entity nonsense) had been left out. Not to mention that the "aliens" and the savages more or less fell by the wayside. This shouldn't have happened in a story of this length unless it was intended (i.e. if their story will be continued in the future). We didn't learn nearly enough about Raptar's and the savages' histories.

Regarding the art, I was also impressed. The layouts are effective, Bennett is better about drawing in the costume's webs, and he doesn't resort as much to the constricting eye effect...a marked improvement! Fireheart bears an uncanny resemblance to Frank Castle, and I doubt it's for literary allusion; that's just an observation, though. They do look somewhat similar, but I felt I was looking specifically at Thomas "Puma" Fireheart only once (p.24, last panel). The robots on the alien ship look like Image comic rejects--these robots are supposed to be aliens...there's no reason why they shouldn't look the part. They could just as easily have been newly-costumed Vault Guardsmen.

General Comments

I dwell on the negative aspects only because they bothered me more than the positive aspects didn't, but this issue is a definite improvement in all areas. And Spider-Man gets a Puma fetish :) . Let's hope this issue isn't the exception to the rule.

Overall Rating

4 webs!