Comics : Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #70

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Who is Fortunato? I don't know, but he's got a lot of people with a lot of weapons! There's a big mob-war that's about to go down, and our favorite wall-crawler(s) are in the middle of it! Journalist Benjamin Urich and photog Peter Parker are sneaking into a high-level meeting between crime families, and java-slinger Ben Reilly is making new, not-so-friendly, acquaintances.

In Detail...

"Above It All"
Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #70
Jul 1996 : SM Title
Summary: First Fortunato, First Jimmy Six
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Howard Mackie
Pencils:  John Romita, Jr.
Inker:  Al Williamson
Cover Art:  John Romita, Jr.
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Review
Articles: Ben Reilly, Hammerhead, Mary Jane Watson-Parker

This issue starts out with the introduction of Fortunato. He is the leader of New York's mobs, and is afraid of a mysterious person who wants to succeed him. The foreshadowing is followed by Ben Urich coaching Peter on the basics of roof-hopping. Peter realizes how hard it is without his powers. They hide in a theatre balcony, trying to get the straight dirt on a supposed mafia meeting. Meanwhile, Ben Reilly gets mixed up in a mob hit (using energy weapons, no less), and befriends a really big trench-coated individual, Jimmy, whom everyone is shooting at.

In the middle is a brief interlude into the Hong Kong offices of investigator Arthur Stacy. The brother of Captain George Stacy, and uncle to Gwen. Seems like he's got a serious grudge against for Spider-Man, and is finally going to do something about it!

Back in the New York theatre, Peter sees his old nemesis Hammerhead, back in business. The exchange goes bad (due to the exploding briefcase), and Peter saves Hammerhead from being killed by using his camera flash. Ben and Peter get another shot at the roof-jumping, but this time they're also dodging energy charges. On the other side of town, the rain beats down as crook chases crook, and Spidey gets involved just in time to save Jimmy's life. However, Jimmy informs Spider-Man that he doesn't want his help because "this is a problem that ain't going away!"

Despite the big guy's complaints, Spider-Man defeats the highly-armed goons in the cold New York drizzle, and wipes them out with the use of a water-tower. He ditches his duds and comes back to Jimmy's aid as Ben Reilly. Peter and Ben Urich catch a cab just in time to escape the 'family', but when your-friendly-neighborhood photographer goes home to MJ, he collapses onto the floor with a white face and the shakes. Mary Jane calls 911 for an ambulance!!!

In General...

Before anything else, let me say this...there are too many Ben's in Spider-Man's life. Find another name, like Craig or something.

Oh No! What's going to happen to Peter? I bet most people can guess that, but let's suspend belief! This episode was, as usual, very enjoyable. I think it is currently the best Spider-Man book out (maybe with the exception of Untold Tales), and definitely has the most identifiable style. The storyline at this point has gotten huge, reaching deep into Spider-Man's past. Where's it all going?

The thing I didn't like about this issue was that it was vague. I've never heard of Fortunato, but he's got men on every roof-top in the city with massive high-tech arms. Is he in league with Gaunt, or an enemy? Who's Hammerhead working for, and what's going on with him? There was a lot of action, but everything was too chaotic and sudden. The writer collaboration opened a lot of doors in this issue, all of which will lead down some interesting passageways, but they flung them open without telling us what's behind them.

Overall Rating...

Tough call, but I have to say four webs. It's so hard to judge an issue like this. Little things seem huge to you when you write about them, but when you look back on the book as a whole, details just don't get in the way. One thing that the Marvel creators have done is give us our Peter Parker fix. He may not be wearing red and blue under his chinos, but he's still in the books.