Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #302

Background

Martin Jacoby, a representative of On-Line Research has offered Peter a job as chief assistant in Emporia, Kansas on the recommendation of Curt Connors. He has flown out to Emporia to tour the facility.

Story 'Chaos in Kansas'

While Jacoby shows him around the grounds, Peter overhears an argument between Dr. Royce Nero and construction foreman Wes Cassaday. They are in the process of expansion and the construction is "disturbing" Nero's sensitive experiments. Before Wes can give Nero a piece of this mind, they hear an explosion. An acetylene torch has ruptured and started a fire, moving rapidly toward the fuel storage area. The call is made to evacuate the area.

Peter changes to Spider-Man and prepares to stop the flames but is beaten to the save by Wes, who has powers of his own. His powers enable him to run at incredible speed which is used - along with several rolls of insulation - to put out the fire. Wes spots Spider-Man watching him and they both leave quickly.

Back in New York, Silver Sable discovers that special operatives will be needed to bring in Franz Kraus when five of six men sent to capture him are brutally beaten and dropped on the doorstep of the Symkarian Embassy. She enlists the aid of the reformed Sandman to assist her in this mission.

Peter looks up Cassaday's address and arrives there as Spider-Man, watching him from the roof of his house. Wes waits until his family is inside before he acknowledges Spider-Man's presence. Wes explains to the confused hero how he gained his abilities. During On-Line's initial construction, an experimental jackrabbit broke loose and bit him. He later discovered it died of radiation poisoning. After some initial sickness, he found that his legs muscles had increased in strength, allowing him to run at high speeds. He admits that he's kept this a secret from everyone because he's afraid of what people will think if they find out.

The next day Nero storms into Jacoby's office. He's decided to use the rejected riot gear he developed for the government to take all the top secret projects from Jacoby's vault. Peter and his tour guide arrive just after the alarm sounds. Peter changes to Spider-Man and confronts Nero, who gains the advantage using a built-in sonic weapon. Reeling with pain, he notices Cassaday in the gathering crowd and screams for help. Cassaday wants to but is afraid of being exposed as a freak and does nothing. Spider-Man eventually overcomes the sonics and defeats Nero, but leaves Cassaday feeling guilty for standing by while he needed help.

Peter returns to New York with some good news for Mary Jane: he's decided to accept the job and move to Kansas. She doesn't share Peter's enthusiasm.

General Comments

Ok, let me get this straight. Wes was bitten by a radioactive JACKRABBIT?!?! Granted we're reviewing the exploits of someone who gained superpowers from a radioactive spider, but this is a bit much. After an impressive introduction, we are let down with the rabbit explanation. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a funny or serious story. If you're going to do wacky, be wacky. If you're going to do serious, be serious. This way readers know if you're a bad dramatic writer, a bad wacky writer, or if you just suck at everything. Don't intermingle wacky and serious story elements because it leaves readers feeling confused.

The character of Wes Cassady was misused. They should have just left it at "he's a decent, honest, hard-working man" and had him help Spider-Man when he needed it during his fight with Nero. No rabbit-induced powers, just some average guy proving that one man can make a difference (thank you Knight Rider). As it stands this is a story about using your abilities wisely. Even rabbit-spawned abilities. I'm not sure why that was chosen to parallel Spider- Man, but it seems to be an example of creators on a deadline.

Nero is a character that should have been explored in more detail. His potential as a one-shot villain was wasted trying to work the "Amazing Rabbit Man" into the story. They should have allowed more time for Nero to perfect the riot gear to make him a more formidable opponent. Keep in mind that even in its current state, he actually held off Spider-Man for a bit. One additional gripe: the Devo inspired riot suit (bright yellow with a red exo- skeleton) is rediculous. This is an odd choice for a villain that's not of the MTV generation.

Overall Rating

If Michelinie and McFarlane had used my ideas (or something that was actually good) I would have rated it much higher. Lacking the ability to time- travel and warn them that this is not a good idea, even for a filler issue, we're left with this.

Maybe some of you can overlook the rabbit aspect of the story and enjoy it, but if I didn't already have it, I wouldn't get it. None of the events that occurred in this issue are mentioned again with the exception of "Peter went to Kansas" next issue.

I've read some bad Spider-Man stories, so I can say that this is one of the highest ranking "bad" stories. Even though they do a good job with a bad idea, it's still a bad idea. Given the streak Michelinie and McFarlane were on, this is even more disappointing.