Comics : Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #5

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This story is part of an Arc: "Torment"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5

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

This review was first published on: 2002.

Background...

Have you been following since Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #1? I hope so. Then you'll know just what a struggle this turgid tale has been. But fear not, we're nearly done!

In Detail...

Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #5
Dec 1990 : SM Title
Arc: Part 5 of "Torment"
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  Todd McFarlane
Pencils:  Todd McFarlane
Inker:  Todd McFarlane
Cover Art:  Todd McFarlane
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Review
 Reprinted In: Complete Spider-Man (UK) #5
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Torment (TPB)
 Reprinted In: ToyBiz: Spider-Man Classics Series 2 #1
Articles: Calypso, Lizard, Mary Jane Watson-Parker

The entire concluding chapter takes place over a period of five minutes, Marvel time. That's right. I am not making this up. New York City cops are getting reports of a huge explosion. They head over to assist the fire department. The captions read, "The stillness of night has been broken. Sirens begin to wail as they speed along Central Park. High above the city, smoke snakes upward. It's point of origin being left behind for others to care for. The confusion, the destruction, have no meaning to the smoke, the sky, the wind. The smoke's sole purpose is to drift aimlessly and to... [turn the page] ...RISE ABOVE IT ALL!"

Now that we're done musing about the purpose of smoke and what it doesn't care about, we have our usual double-page spread. Spidey is a mess, but he's conscious and suspending himself high above much of the debris. The captions inform us that, "It will take four and a half minutes for the fire trucks to arrive. The next four minutes will seem like an eternity to our hero." No kidding. This whole story seems like an eternity of not much happening. We are into our fifth month and all that's really happened is Spider-Man getting attacked by the Lizard.

Spidey is just hanging there, gathering his thoughts, and being worried about the poison coursing through his system.

Meanwhile, Mary Jane is in a taxi while fire trucks race by.

Spidey continues to hang and think. And hang and think some more. The Lizard and Calypso crawl out from under some debris.

Now a police car races by Mary Jane's taxi.

Calypso uses her voodoo powers to locate Spider-Man while he hangs and thinks. She tells the Lizard that Spider-Man is right above them. Spider-Man shouts out, "Enough!" Tell me about it. This took twelve pages of story.

So, Spidey leaps at the Lizard and they battle it out.

Meanwhile, Mary Jane sits in her cab and wonders about Peter's whereabouts.

The Lizard is about to bite Spidey's head off but Calypso stops him. Why? Because, "Something is wrong, my pet. The poison should have killed him by now." That's right, she stops the Lizard from killing Spider-Man because she doesn't know why her poison hasn't killed him yet. If you're thinking that doesn't make any sense, you're right.

Spidey collapses in a heap as the drums continue to pound "doom." Then he leaps to the ceiling where some chains are hanging down. Where did they come from? Beats me. Why didn't Calypso use them to tie up Spider-Man instead of that pathetic rope? Your guess is as good as mine. What are they doing there? They're there so Spidey can kill the Lizard with them, of course! The Lizard leaps and Spidey hurls the chains at him. They break his neck and leave him dangling there, lifeless.

Then Calypso magically makes the ruins of the building collapse in on her while Spidey leaps away to escape. Then, the fire trucks arrive. The chains are dripping blood [Why? All they did was break his neck. Just more gore for the kiddies, I suppose - TE], but the Lizard is nowhere to be found. Spider-Man swings home.

The last page shows us the Lizard's hand exploding from the surface of the East River to "RISE ABOVE IT ALL!"

The End.

In General...

Melodramatic. Full of hopelessly redundant, overbearing and often ludicrous captions. An endless "plot" that goes pretty much nowhere over the course of five months. Pages and pages of story used to describe amazingly little. Lots and lots of unnecessary gore. Absolutely inane and pointless cameos from Mary Jane interspersed throughout.

Torment is a true example of the Worst of the Worst in the history of Spider-Man comic books. It might not have been so awful if it had been trimmed down to a one or two issue story. Stretching it out to five excruciating issues places it high in the Web Swinger's Hall of Shame.

Spider-Man gathered the biggest audience of his comic book career and flushed much of it away with these five issues of utter torment. Todd hung around a little longer on this title before finally joining Rob Liefeld in forming Image Comics. The title has gone through a lot of changes since then and continues to be published to this day.

Overall Rating...

Half a web. At least the Hypno-Hustler was just one issue. This stink-fest took nearly half a year to limp to its stunningly unsatisfying "conclusion."