Comics : Amazing Scarlet Spider #1

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This story is part of an Arc: "Virtual Mortality"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Worst of the Worst

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Two rival gangs, one lead by Dr. Octopus II (Carolyn Trainer) the other by Ben's new employer Mr. Tso are fighting for highly advanced cyberneural inductors. So far, Octopus is winning.

In Detail...

"Violated By The Virtual"
Amazing Scarlet Spider #1
Nov 1995 : SM Title
Summary: Battle in cyberspace, Seward Trainer turned into a vegetable
Arc: Part 2 of "Virtual Mortality"
Editor:  Bob Budiansky
Plot:  Tom DeFalco
Writer:  Mike Lackey
Pencils:  Mark Bagley
Inker:  Larry Mahlstedt
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Articles: Ben Reilly, Doctor Octopus II (Carolyn Trainer), Joe Wade, The Looter, Smythe, Alistaire

Mr. Tso has ordered Orlando Kannor to steal an advanced virtual reality visor from one of Dr. Octopus' laboratories. They encounter a small force of her henchmen protecting the equipment. Instead of allowing her technology to fall into her competitor's hands, she activates the self-destruct sequence and destroys her lab.

The Scarlet Spider happens to be swinging by when the building explodes. When he begins to sift through the rubble to help any survivors, he's attacked by the last of Octopus' men, protecting the visor. After he knocks him out, he takes the visor and leaves when the police arrive. From a safe distance away, Kannor and some of his accomplices watch the Scarlet Spider leave.

After ordering one of her lackeys – Wade – to discover who was behind the attack on her lab, Octopus once again meets with her mysterious associate. Her associate is already aware of the theft and has a plan to track it once it has been activated. He also informs her that he has contacted people to recruit the Looter who has just completed his prison term at The Vault.

Kannor returns to Tso and reports that he was able to recover some of the inductors from Octopus. Tso reluctantly allows him another chance to prove himself. After Kannor leaves, Tso confers with his secret partner.

After his shift at Club Noir, Ben returns home and meets Carrie Bradley, a beautiful red-headed stock broker who flirts with him in the elevator. As Ben enters Seward Trainer's penthouse, he shows him the visor he found. Seward informs him that this is an advanced version of his VR helmet and after assuring Ben that he'll be okay, enters cyberspace. His presence is quickly detected by Dr. Octopus' mystery partner. He contacts the digital entity VR-37 and orders him to kill Seward Trainer.

Seward's struggle in cyberspace is noticed by Ben who uses another VR helmet to join his friend in cyberspace. VR-37 conjures up virtual versions of Venom, Carnage, Dr. Octopus II, and Stunner to combat the two. During the fight, Seward's digital self is gravely injured by the virtual version of Carnage.

Once they return to reality, Ben realizes that Seward's mind and body have been separated.

In General...

Ok I'm not sure who wired Octopus' building to blow, up but they did a poor job. Pretty much everyone that wasn't already dead survived and the VR visor emerged without a scratch.

Other developments that stuck out at me: an attractive red head is flirting with Ben. Ben working at a thankless job with a jerk for a boss. This shouldn't come as a shock. Oh, we want to have a totally different Spider-Man, but we want to keep every element the same. I'm perpetually amazed at the innovations that these massive overhauls lead to.

Virtual reality and the internet were relatively new at this time, so they may have gone a bit overboard with the fight in cyberspace. However some of these wacky concepts sound less wacky with the technological leaps we keep making.

The less I say about the character VR-37, the better.

Overall Rating...

1.5 webs. It seems DeFalco had to pick up the slack from part 1. This issue flows much better and covers a lot of ground. Considering the quality bar was on the ground, there was only one way to go.

Despite the improvement from chapter 1, the over-the-top dialog and the fact that this isn't Peter Parker just irritates me.

Footnote...

The Looter made his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #36.