Comics : Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #86

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This story is part of an Arc: "Spider-Man vs. Shocker"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Spidey's on top of the Brooklyn Bridge, remembering that fatal night when Gwen Stacy plunged to her death, and Gwen's cousin Paul's about to do the same thing! Can they work out their problem before the Shocker and the Trapster catch up with them???

In Detail...

"The Span Of Years"
Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #86
Dec 1997 : SM Title
Arc: Part 2 of "Spider-Man vs. Shocker"
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Howard Mackie
Pencils:  John Romita, Jr.
Inker:  Scott Hanna
Cover Art:  John Romita, Jr.
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Articles: Watson, Anna, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, The Shocker

Paul Stacy and Peter are on top of the bridge, and Spidey's holding Paul's jacket, stopping him from jumping. Then the Shocker shows up and does a pretty good job of beating Spidey senseless. Seems like ol' quilt-top has improved his arsenal, including such new gadgets as a vibro-shield, and enhanced shocking gauntlets. He's been hired by Donovan Zane and the Friends of Humanity of kill Paul Stacy. Shocker's also out to collect the cool million reward for Spider-Man's head (being offered by the Daily Bugle for Spidey's televised attack on Norman Osborn.)

Switch to the Stacy home, where Jill and Mary Jane are talking about Paul. They're still waiting for Peter and Paul to show up after they left the restaurant. Jill says that ever since Gwen and their Uncle George's (Gwen's father) deaths, Paul became distant and solitary. Jill's worried about her brother, but is resigned to the fact that she can't change anything. A strange package arrives by courier for Jill's father, Arthur. When he opens it, he freaks and locks himself up in his study for reasons that we never find out (not in this iss, anyway). Jill decides to walk MJ home.

Meanwhile, in Queens, mobster-at-large (literally), Jimmy 6 is being tailed by some hitmen. Seems like the the late Ben Reilly's friend, and mob-boss Fortunato's son, has got a price on his own head, and some goons are wanting to cash in. Jimmy, resourceful and deadly as ever, eludes the killers, but not without injury. He unforuntately decides to hide behind a tanker truck on the docks, whic explodes after being riddled with bullets. Jimmy barely escapes by jumping into the ocean.

Back on the bridge, Shocker has Spidey down for the count, but Paul Stacy, in a sudden fit of righteouness, takes a swing at Shocker, who then bats him off the bridge, plunging down towards the water below. Spider-Man, his worst fears realized, manages to web Paul right before he hits. Paul is ungrateful as Spidey hauls him up. From behind, the Shocker blasts Spidey, causing him to dive off the bridge himself. He manages to get the two of them down to ground level. As soon as he does, however, a huge glob of gluey-stuff ensnares Paul and Spider-Man's right hands. Not only are the two stuck together, but they're facing down the combined fury of the Shocker, and his unlikely ally... the Trapster!

MJ and Jill Stacy arrive at the Parker residence, to find a distraught Aunt Anna entertaining a wounded and soaked Jimmy 6, brandishing a verrrrry big gun!

In General...

This is one of the best atory-arcs in this book for a while. We are getting to see the kinds of adventures that define Spider-Man, without the unnecessary guest-appearances or gratuitous ressurections. I've always liked the Shocker, and I think the way that these villans return more powerful (like Electro did in Amazing), brings some realism to the environment. I'm beginning to like Paul Stacy, and maybe understand his motivations a little more. I'm also glad to see Jimmy 6 again, which is about the only Ben Reilly supporting character I ever liked. I hope that we see more stories like this one, both in this and other Spider-titles.

Hallelujiah that J.R. Jr.'s back. Not that the other guys did bad work, I just really like Romita's abstract style, and definitely missed him. Hopefully, he'll be on this title for a while.

Overall Rating...

I can't really allow myself to give it four webs, so I'll have to settle with three. Definitely a good read, and further building upon what's gone before, but there was nothing in it that made me stop and say 'WOW!'. I think the quality of this book gives it a high standard to begin with, so three webs doesn't mean it was mediocre, there just wasn't anything world-shattering in it.