Comics : Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #54

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This story is part of an Arc: "The Rules of the Game"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Last issue, Spider-Man overcame an unprovoked attack by Boomerang, but he failed to see the reason behind it. Unbeknownst to the wall-crawler, a group of four captains of industry were responsible for the fight, as they seek to find a way to televise battles between super-heroes and super-villains... and Spidey is their test subject.

In Detail...

"Boys and Their Toys"
Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #54
May 2003 : SM Title
Summary: (#152)
Arc: Part 2 of "The Rules of the Game"
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  Zeb Wells
Pencils:  Michael O'Hare
Inker:  Wayne Faucher
Cover Art:  Francisco Herrera
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (PPSM) #5
Articles: XP-2000

The issue opens with in an office building where the results of their machinations are viewd by those four captains of industry: Donald Hart, a high-powered CEO, Edwin Hills, a software billionaire, Buck Masterson, oil baron, and Gary Wisen, a Hollywood executive. At Midtown High, Peter Parker arrives for work with cuts and bruises on his face yet again. He makes some lame excuses for his injuries to his colleague, Mr. Weathers, and Peter winds up looking like an idiot because of it. Further down the hall, Peter breaks up a fight between a pair of trouble students.

Back with the four millionaires, they are introducing their new candidates to fight Spider-Man on their closed circuit television broadcast. After Hart's mercenary, Boomerang, was defeated last issue, we are left with the contributions of Hills and Masterson. Hills brings a robot from his company, a cybernetic bodyguard called the XP-2000, and Masterson has brought none other than the Scorpion.

Later that night, the Scorpion and XP-2000 have a heart to heart conversation, while waiting to attack Spider-Man. When Spidey finally shows himself, XP and Scorpy attack. Spidey has his hands full, but he does manage to get the rather loose-lipped XP-2000 to enlighten him as to why he's being spontaneously attacked by super-villains with cameras on their head. After XP starts spilling the beans, Masterson instructs Scorpion to shut it up, and Scorpion obeys by smashing the robot with his tail.

Scorpion attacks Spidey, and looks to have the advantage, but Spidey manages to tie Scorpy's leg to his tail with webbing, and when Scorpion tries to deliver a killing blow with his tail on the wall-crawler, he manages to break his own leg. Spidey webs the wounded Scorpion up, and then uses a buzzsaw in the wreckage of XP to cut off Scorpion's tail, rendering him fairly helpless.

Back at the office building, the four industrialists are discussing what went wrong when their camera feed suddenly snaps back on. It's XP-2000's camera, and Spidey is trying to get it functioning again, so the robot can explain why Spidey is being targeted. The industrialists don't want Spidey to find anything out, though, so Wisen's mystery candidate is finally called to take care of Spidey...

In General...

This second part of The Rules of the Game was just as good as the first, if not better. Zeb Wells' story is solid if not mind-blowing, and the art by Michael O'Hare and Wayne Faucher clean and pleasant to look at. The highlight of this story, though, is the great interplay between the Scorpion and XP-2000.

Overall Rating...

A nice solid three and a half webs... this one gets a half web bonus for Zeb Wells' hilarious characterization of the Scorpion.