Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man #2

Background

Jonah Jameson is dead and Spider-Man has been framed for his murder. Wait, how can Jonah be dead if this is taking place immediately after ASM #38? Let's just say Mysterio's got something cooking....

Story 'In the Nightmare Factory'

  Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man #2
Summary: ...As Dreams Are Made On... (2 of 3)
Arc: Part 2 of 'As Dreams Are Made On' (1-2-3)
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils: Michael Zulli
Inker: Michael Zulli
Cover Art: Michael Zulli

Spider-Man's not the most popular guy in town lately. Fairly understandable, considering all three news networks have him on tape murdering J. Jonah Jameson. But great responibility still comes with great power, so Spidey finds himself swinging to the city morgue trying to find the truth. What he discovers, along with the coroner and Jonah's son John, is a replica of Jonah dummied up to look like the publisher "but no more complex than a grandfather clock on the inside." Spider-Man assures John that he'll find Jonah, who at that moment is being tormented by his own special devil: "Spider-satan." ("Now I know I'm in hell!")

Actually, Jonah is not in hell. He's just trapped in one of Mysterio's illusions. Mysterio, apparently still trying to compensate for his own feelings of failure and humiliation, is thoroughly enjoying Jonah's torment. So much so that he manages to call up his friend Betsy and ask her for a date (even though he couldn't do it without the mask on). To his surprise, Betsy agrees, and "Quenty" sets "Hell" on autopilot and leaves Jonah to his misery.

Spider-Man, feeling a lack of self-worth as well, has blown off an encounter with Gwen Stacy to go in search of Jonah and Mysterio, whom he has easily pegged as the guy behind everything. Along the way he runs into the Sinister Six (minus one). A brief battle reveals the five so-called supervillains to be nothing more than out-and-out frauds. Spidey questions "Doc Ock" and finds out what he wanted to know: Mysterio has Jameson at Silver Star Studios, which just happens to be where Joe Smith's new movie is filming. Ignoring that in search of Jonah, he quickly finds him and pulls the plug on "Hell," much to the publisher's embarrassment.

Just then Mysterio returns both from his date and with his date (you know how some guys are, one little kiss and they never leave their girlfriends). The two trade a bit of verbal banter, "proving that we weren't the hapless geeks everyone seemed to think we were," but are interrupted by Mysterio's giant sphinx as it bursts from the floor. It carries Mysterio and Betsy off into the sky under cover of exploding rubber duckies--yes, you read that right--and Spider-Man barely has time to catch his breath before the entire studio explodes around him, leaving only the guy named Joe (who's wanting to prove something himself) perched precariously on the foot of the sphinx as it flies away. But what of Spidey and Jonah. . . ?

General Comments

Help me out here. Issue #2, page 12, panel 3. Did Spider-Man just flip off the faux Doc Ock?

I griped about the art last issue so I'll refrain from discussing it further. Issue #2 ramps up the "severe introvert trying to make good" theme by throwing the guy named Joe back into the mix, and while it is well written, I'm starting to wonder if some of the biggest problems in the Marvel universe couldn't be solved by 50 minutes on a psychiatrist's couch. At least we have "Spider-Satan" and some exploding rubber duckies to keep things moving along. It's hard to ruin a story that features exploding rubber duckies. We need to see more of this.

Betsy's character seems a bit unrealistic, too. Sure, love is blind, but she seems awfully taken with a guy who can't even talk to her without wearing a fishbowl over his head. You would think she would be a little more hesitant about giving him a big smooch, but who am I to stand in the way of romance, even the creepy kind?

Call me crazy but somehow I doubt Spidey and Jonah are dead this time either, but we'll see.

Overall Rating

A great third issue could still make or break this story arc. For now it stands at three webs.