Comics : Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #96

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

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

The era of Spider-Man is supposed to be "ending." So with that in mind, the writers should be wrapping up loose plot threads and closing up stories so that there'll be a "clean slate" for the upcoming reboot/revamp/relaunching/retelling/rewhatever, right? Well, that's what you'd think. Apparently, the Spidey suits have something different in mind.

Instead, they chose to toss this brand-new storyline at us, and hope that the readers will forget all about the old plots and be enthralled with this new supernatural story.

In Detail...

"Web Of Despair"
Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #96
Oct 1998 : SM Title
Arc: Part 3 of "The Gathering of Five"
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Howard Mackie
Pencils:  Norman Felchle
Inker:  Scott Hanna
Cover Art:  Norman Felchle
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Articles: Mongrain, Alison, Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Jameson, J. Jonah, Madame Web, Madame Web, Madame Web, Madame Web, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

Mary Jane bring some take out to Peter, who's working late at the Bugle. Norman comes up after she leaves and hints around to Peter that he's got the ultimate weapon, able to disintegrate humans to primordial goo in a matter of seconds (ooh!). Peter, ever-predictable, gets enraged at Norman's words, but Osborn isn't bothered in the slightest. He's got all the power, and he knows it. Later, Peter tries to talk to J. Jonah Jameson, but he's reading a report about an outbreak at a research facility. Their demise matches Osborn's 'story' all too well. Just then, Norman comes in and tells JJJ to bury the story. After Jameson reveals the link he discovered, tying the facility back to Oscorp, Norman threatens Jameson with the old 'think of your family' line. J. Jonah buys it, and Peter runs to the rooftop, totally distraught, while Norman watches with pleasure from his office window.

We switch suddenly to Madame Web, who has a vision about her own youth returned to her by means of a special ritual. A grinning goblin-head offers her this and much more, and all she must do is acquire a piece of the five. Allured by the promises of youth, Web summons Spider-Man by using her telepathy. She implores Spidey to retrieve the piece for her, not telling him exactly why she needs it. Spider-Man obliges, but when he does, Madame Web warns him that she's had a vision that Jameson is going to kill Norman Osborn. As Spidey slings across town to save them both (stopping the rampaging of a rather Godzilla-like creature en route), Jameson and Norman are having their own showdown. JJJ pulls a gun, but in the end doesn't have the spirit to shoot Norman, which Osborn takes a sign of weakness (of course). Norman turns the gun back around on Jameson, but Spidey busts in, webbing up Osborn's hands in the process. Of course, Jameson doesn't appreciate the gesture.

We end this issue (other than the obligatory scene of Joe Robertson and Alison Mongrain running from Osborn's hired goons), with Madame Web having a disturbing vision, and she realizes she might've just spelled out the webslinger's doom!!!

In General...

This issue lacked the punch of last issue, and it was a poor follow up. I thought that Madame Web's presence in this whole story line was done poorly, and it came across like they just needed another shmuck for the ritual. Her personality was bland and predictable, and rather boring.

As far as the Jameson/Osborn thing, I thought that too was done as a poor follow up to 95. It lacked the real drama that could've been there. It was all-too predictable, and therefore didn't contain any real emotion at all. There were a lot of things that I was left wantingfor in in this issue.

Norman Felchle's pencils were a nice break, and I thought that his style complimented the story well. I'm sorry to see this book going out like this, especially knowing what goes on in Final Chapter!

Overall Rating...

Two webs this time. The story wasn't at all what I was expecting, and I guess it's hard to follow up such a great issue as last month's. Poor, obligatory character use, and predictable confrontations were the final determinates to give it such a mediocre score.

While each issue individually (with the exception of the "non-scene" in PP:SM 96 and Spidey tossing an ordinary human towards a brick wall in Spec 262) might have been passable, the continuity between the 5 issues were terrible. You could've switched around SEN #33 and PP:SM #96 around, and the story would've actually made more sense! And worse of all, the "Gathering of the Five" didn't even happen in the final chapter! This was a cross-over that wasn't, and left me feeling a little bit ripped off.