Spider-Man Unlimited #16

Background

Jonah has sent Betty to Latveria on a special investigative assignment.

Story 'The Wages Of Conquest'

Once again, we're treated to the old standby...Spidey breaking up a smuggling operation. I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing some hotshot overconfident punk try to take Spider-Man by himself and get his butt handed to him - in three panels!

At first glance, this issue appeared to be very thorough. Each page is packed with speech bubbles, captions, and even panels. We rarely see a comic, nowadays, with this much text--or so I thought. Out of curiosity, I compared this issue to the last two, looking at the overall number of pages as compared to the number of story pages. SMU #14 had 64 pages in total, 54 story pages and 10 advertisements. SMU #15 had 64 pages also, again with 54 story pages. SMU #16, however, is different: it has 48 pages in total, and only 39 story pages... and it costs a few cents more, too! I guess that explains the congested pages.

To its credit, though, I didn't notice the smaller number of pages; rather, the pages half-filled with text reminded me of those older issues, when captions took up half the panel. And reading about Jonah's feelings about Ned and Betty brought everything home. Since the actual story doesn't appear to have suffered (it looks like it was just compressed into fewer pages), I don't mind paying the few extra cents for a slimmer, lighter UNLIMITED. Besides, it's cheaper to produce UNLIMITED with 48 pages--and from what I hear, Marvel could use the extra cash.

It was nice (if unrealistic) to see Betty half-escape on her own and not have to wait to get saved by Spidey. At least she didn't grab a gun and start mowing down guards, too. While looking over SMUs #14 and #15, I noticed a great improvement in the art from #14 to #16. Joe must be benefitting from all the work he's doing (ASM, Generation X, etc.). Spidey beats the bad guy using brains instead of brawn - if he had to rely on brawn, he probably would've gotten whupped. The dialogue was great; better, I think, than DeFalco's. I'm pretty sure EMP generators don't look like bike horns, but that's just me. The only thing I really wasn't too happy with about this issue was Ben Urich's appearance. The way Joe draws him, he just looks too (ahem) gaunt.

General Comments

This is certainly one of the better UNLIMITEDs, definitely better than the last two. I chalk this up to the different writer (it's a change of pace), Joe Bennett's improving pencils, and the absence of Ben Reilly!! :)

Overall Rating

Four and a half webs!