Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #295

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Kerry Wilkinson (E-Mail)

Story 'Mad Dogs'

We start after another plot point jump. Pete is on a gurney and being wheeled through the Mad Dog Ward. He is sedated after trying to fight and claiming he is Spider-Man. He is dropped off at the ward for people who think they have super powers.

Later and Pete has made friends with a worker called Mary. She lets him see Vicky, who is in solitary. Pete tells her he has seen her two kids - Tanya and Jacob. He is essentially helpless to do anything though because the drugs and sedatives have taken his strength.

Over at Vicky's house and her kids are rebelling against their father. They want him to get their mother home. He admits to himself that he can't else the Kingpin's men will come after him.

Back at the asylum and a scientist has been experimenting on a patient - subject Brainstorm - to erase his conscience and let him act in his sleep, therefore making him an ideal assassin for the Kingpin to use. We also find out that the Kingpin and the scientist know that Pete is Spidey. The scientist wants an opportunity to examine Pete's brain.

In the main building, Pete causes a rebellion after a patient is humiliated by one of the staff. They are all subdued though, even Pete. Back with the scientist and they are concerned about patient 'zero'. The scientist thinks it's time for a lobotomy.

General Comments

Part one starts really well with some nice development and some interesting allusion towards the Kingpin's motives for financing the 'Mad Dog' asylum. It really unravels at the end though with some major plot jumps that don't really make sense. How would two young children follow their father (without him knowing) not just to an asylum but manage to get onto the roof as well?

What's more, why are they even on the roof?
How does Spider-Man find them and why is it such an issue to him?

There's also no real motive for the security guy dropping the girl off the roof. It just seems to hark back to the early comics where bad guys were bad just because they were. Especially on the back of the Kraven's Last Hunt story, it all undoes what was a very promising beginning to the crossover story.

In part two and once again we've jumped forward. Pete is out of his Spidey costume, Tanya - who he's just saved at the end of the last part - has disappeared and we're inside the asylum. It's interesting to know that Kingpin and his top scientist know Pete is Spider-Man but surely if the Kingpin had one of his biggest enemies in the palm of his hand then he'd act on it?

Just leaving Pete in the ward makes no sense. It also doesn't make for an entertaining read and the middle section really drags.

Part three does pick up. For a start we get some of Spidey in action, we also have the scientist get his comeuppance and Frank, Vicky and the kids reunite. This doesn't quite ring true as Frank has recently physically assaulted her and wrongly had her committed ... yet she just seems to forget and takes him back on the last page. Hmmmmm...

Despite some of the annoying plot jumps and inconsistencies, what is good is the apparent change of direction. With this and Kraven's Last Hunt - 9 comics and 3 months real-time - the comics have really taken a turn. The stories are darker, bolder and have an edge to them.

The Kingpin was used sparingly and wisely so but the air of menace around him was still more than evident. Mad Dog Ward flows smoother across the three titles than Kraven's Last Hunt did. Kraven always felt like one story split up - sometimes at inopportune moments - whereas this has a better feel to it.

Overall Rating

The small inconsistencies are a shame because, with a little bit more thought, the story could have been a really top-drawer affair. Instead they take the shine of what is still a pretty good effort.

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Kerry Wilkinson (E-Mail)