Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #700.4 (Story 1)

 Posted: May 2014
 Staff: Cody Wilson (E-Mail)


I'm going to paraphrase the summary section of this issue because it summarizes what's happened so far efficiently:

"After [a] battle with the fiery Firebrand, the Amazing Spider-Man, badly burned, woke up in the Black Lodge -- the hospital for super villains!"

Also, the Surgeon General found out Spider-Man is in his hospital last issue...

Story 'Voluntary Discharge'

  Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #700.4 (Story 1)
Arc: Part 2 of 'The Black Lodge' (1-2)
Executive Producer: Alan Fine
Publisher: Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief: Axel Alonso
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
Editor: Tom Brennan
Writer: Joe Casey
Pencils: Timothy Green
Inker: Walden Wong
Cover Art: Andres Mossa, Pasqual Ferry
Colorist: Brad Simpson

Our story begins with Peter, covered in bandages, peering out his room door, thinking, “Still pretty weak…but I gotta get outta here. This wall-crawler needs to find himself a friendlier neighborhood A.S.A.P.”

Elsewhere, the Surgeon General sits before his many nurses, informing them of his discovery that Spider-Man resides among their patients. Calmly, he explains, “I don’t want to be a cause for alarm. This is merely an unfortunate situation and we must cope.” One nurse asks why they don’t quickly evacuate the hospital, and the Surgeon General replies, “Not necessary. I didn't get this far by overeating. There are ways to deal with this.”

The boss of the hospital explains that Spider-Man doesn't have a good reputation and is “mingled in the legitimate press,” so he won’t be missed when they take him out. “For now, we continue as normal. His injuries will prevent him from taking any significant action,” the Surgeon General exclaims. “In the meantime, I will confer with a few other patients…I’m sure they would be interested to know who they’re in here with.”

Later, Peter lies in his bed, speculating again if his attenders are suspicious of him, when the Surgeon General enters his room. He describes Peter’s condition to him, mentioning he’s lucky to be alive. While the Surgeon General explains how seriously he takes his job, our hero’s spider-sense goes haywire. The specialist decides Peter needs to stay one more day.

Tess, a nurse, walks into the room and checks Peter’s dressing, finding that the Surgeon General’s estimation of his healing rate was dead on. The Surgeon General decides that they’ll discuss billing later, reassuring his patient by saying that they’re “extremely accommodating.” Peter thinks the nurse likes him but, when leaving his room, she wills him to die.

In the next few hours, while making his rounds, the Surgeon General tells Puff Adder, Tiger, and the Eel about his surprise patient. He reveals that he’s looking for volunteers to kill Spider-Man and assures them that they’re physically capable to take on their unwelcome visitor. The Eel is uncertain since he’s in a wheelchair, but the Surgeon General persists to hand him his costume.

Later, Herman Schultz inspects his Shocker costume, explaining his insecurities of tackling Spider-Man so soon after failure to the Surgeon General. He decides that he’ll opt-out, which disappoints the specialist. “Hey, I paid you, man. A percentage of my last take. That’s what it’s all about for me. Someone breaks out the benjamins. I do my things. It’s all business.” As he leaves, he wishes his former caretaker luck.

At 10:00 at night, Peter decides it’s time to leave the hospital and, over the loudspeaker, a nurse expounds that the lights, telecommunications, and net connections are suspended for the night. While walking through the hallway, Peter’s spider-sense rings, and he is electrocuted. Then, Puff Adder smashes him through the wall. Peter manages to release himself from the villain’s grip, but is quickly thrown into the wall by Tiger. Luckily, he dodges Adder’s acidic barf and Tiger’s flying attack.

Meanwhile, the Surgeon General watches, explaining his confidence in the villains while a nurse urgently leaves the room. After bouncing off Adder’s back, Peter is shocked by the wheelchair-bound Eel, ranting that he’ll fry him like bacon. Tactfully, our hero hurls Eel’s wheelchair at Adder, sending him out the window.

While the battle continues, the nurse hastily attempts to wake Firebrand by spiking his adrenaline. This alerts the Surgeon General. Elsewhere, Peter continues to pummel Tiger and notices that he has wrecked the couch so many patients valued. Eel is infuriated by the destruction, to which Peter replies, “As a super villain, I obviously don’t cut it.”

In Firebrand’s room, the nurse is alerted when the patient she is trying to wake catches fire. The room they’re in explodes, spreading smoke and fire throughout the hospital. The Surgeon General evacuates the building, each of his nurses holding suitcases, and one nurse asks, “Y’think we shoulda done this ourselves, sir? One of us could’ve injected his I.V. with poison or something--” The doctor explains that he made a promise to a benefactor that he would cure everybody.

“Let them tear at each other like animals. We’re healers,” the Surgeon General sulks. The doctors and nurses all enter the black ambulances and as they depart, the specialist says, “The Black Lodge will rise again.” On the street, Adder rises to watch Peter leap from the burning building behind him, carrying Eel and Tiger.

Peter pulls off the bandages on his face, thankful that the Surgeon General is actually decent at his job. He decides to leave the scene to avoid “some bizarre arson rap.” Our hero ends the story by crashing on his bed, tired and hurting, wondering if he needs to see a doctor.

General Comments

This story isn’t really anything special, but it’s still somewhat satisfying. The plot is straightforward: Peter is trapped in a hospital for villains and must battle three B-lister criminals to get free. It’s nothing groundbreaking or innovative in any way, but the story is enjoyable as a quick read without much complexity. Really, it reminds me of David Michelinie’s run on Amazing Spider-Man with Todd McFarlane. There are pretty pictures and action scenes of multiple villains joining forces to battle a weakened Peter.

Story-wise, my major is that the Surgeon General’s method to stop Peter is a bit predictable and haphazard. The man is obviously portrayed as intelligent, and his plan to sic three villains on Spider-Man in hopes of defeating him is simply stupid. Why would he expect this to work if Spider-Man has beaten practically every villain he’s ever faced? Plus, why didn’t he release Peter from the hospital, and then have the villains attack him there, avoiding property damage?

Perhaps even more ridiculous is the Surgeon General’s justification of his attempted killing of Peter. He views himself as a healer and took an oath to treat every patient no matter what. The Surgeon General refused to simply have a nurse poison and kill Peter because he believed it was against his morals. But he found it proper to organize supervillains on the hero in hopes of killing him. How is that rational? In both scenarios, Peter dies because the Surgeon General orders someone to kill him.

Otherwise, Green’s art isn’t terrible, but nothing great at the same time. The action looks fine and he draws talking heads okay, but it’s not special. The layouts aren’t very clever or eye-catching, and few panels really stand out artistically. The battle simply doesn’t look as great as it would have if a bombastic and energetic artist like Humberto Ramos or Ryan Stegman had drawn it.

Overall Rating

This is a very uncomplicated story about a hero punching a bunch of B-listers. Nothing too thought-provoking. My only problem with the story is that the Surgeon General is a bit inconsistent. The art isn't anything special either.

 Posted: May 2014
 Staff: Cody Wilson (E-Mail)