Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #326

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This story is part of an Arc: "Cosmic Spider-Man/Acts of Vengeance"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8 / Part 9 / Part 10

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

Marvel most prominent villains Dr. Doom (or a Doombot depending on the issue), Kingpin, Magneto, Mandarin, Red Skull, the Wizard, and Loki (in disguise) ban together and coordinate attacks each other's adversaries in order to defeat them. They recruit other super-villains to do the actual fighting.

The theory is that repeated encounters with their traditional heroes enabled them to develop a familiarity with their strategies; "new" villains would pose a more serious threat and increase the chances of success.

In Detail...

"Gravity Storm"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #326
Dec 1989 : SMURF 326.500 : SM Title
Summary: Gravitron
Arc: Part 1 of "Cosmic Spider-Man/Acts of Vengeance"
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  David Michelinie
Pencils:  Colleen Doran
Inker:  Andy Mushynsky
Cover Art:  Colleen Doran
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Cosmic Adventures (TPB)
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Bambi, Candi, and Randi, Flash Thompson, Glory Grant, Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Jameson, J. Jonah, Caesar, Jonathan (BTS), Nick Katzenberg, Elizabeth (Allan) Osborn, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Mercado, Joy, Nathan Lubensky, Puma

Peter and Mary Jane have finally moved into their new loft in SoHo. During a house-warming party, MJ receives a series of expensive gifts. Thinking them to be from her old modeling agency, she receives a shock when she looks at the card and sees Jonathon Caesar's name on it. Even from prison, he wants to remind her that he's watching her. After a few minutes, she regains her composure.

Once the party is over, Peter leaves for a while to run a few errands. He arrives at the Daily Bugle to see if there are any photo assignments. He finds that things have changed since Thomas Fireheart took over. Fireheart bought the Bugle from Jonah as part of his plan to clear his debt of honor with Spider- Man. The pro-Spidey attitude is one of the many changes that have occurred since the transfer. The rest are all internal and do not sit well with the Bugle staffers. Finding no freelance work, Peter makes his way to the roof, changes to Spider-Man, and heads to Queens to check on Aunt May.

At May's house, everything is running as smoothly as possible in light of recent events. Nathan Lubensky has been diagnosed with a terminal heart condition. May has decided to shut down her boarding house to dedicate all of her time to Nathan.

At the same time, Graviton arrives in New York. The Kingpin recently contacted him and convinced him to join the Acts Of Vengeance campaign. He has agreed to eliminate Spider-Man in exchange for another member of the group fighting the Avengers. He makes his way to the Daily Bulge (as suggested by Kingpin) and rips the building from its foundations, causing it to float in mid- air to attract Spider-Man's attention.

At this point Peter has made his way to ESU to check on his work assignment for Monday. He receives an icy reception from Dr. Max Lubisch, who is experimenting with a new energy source. Dr. Swan informs Peter that he is being loaned to Dr. Lubisch on Monday to assist him in his experiments.

During their conversation, Peter looks out a lab window and notices the Bugle building floating. Although it's not clear which building it is, it's something that definitely requires investigation.

As he arrives at the Bugle, he discovers Graviton and is immediately attacked. The flash from Nick Katzenberg's camera gives Spider-Man a temporary advantage, but it is quickly lost when Joy Mercado reminds him that if Graviton is knocked out the building will crash to the ground, possibly killing people. His hesitation allows Graviton to regain his bearings and go back on the offensive.

He turns his attention to Katzenberg, increasing the gravitational pull on Nick to "a few tons" as payback for his part in Spider-Man's assault. When Spider-Man tries to free Nick from the floor, Graviton causes the steel desks in their immediate vicinity to quickly slide toward them. Spider-Man notices this and barely lifts Nick (now weighing a few tons) over his head in time to prevent being crushed. He takes the full brunt of the assault and passes out.

Graviton then collapses several floors on top of Spider-Man, effectively burying him. He then lowers the building safely to the ground and leaves having fulfilled his contract (in his mind at least). Later after the police and fire departments have arrived and shut off the water and electricity, they eventually pull a now-conscious Spider-Man from the rubble.

Peter returns home at midnight. He's been biding his time until his recuperative powers have taken care of the bulk of his injuries to avoid upsetting Mary Jane more than necessary. To add insult to injury (literally) he's depressed because he isn't used to losing in such a definitive manner. He was thoroughly beaten by a much more powerful foe.

When he arrives at their apartment, MJ wakes up from a late-night nap and informs him that she got the role on "Secret Hospital". Peter's mood lightens considerably and views the day as a win.

In General...

The story is fairly standard with a minor twist. Instead of Spider-Man fighting the villain of the month from his rouge's gallery, an Avengers' enemy picks a fight with him - and wins. The AOV crossover is an interesting concept. One thing bothers me at this point: my definition of defeat is stricter than Graviton's. In this case, Spider-Man could not stop Graviton. As is shown here, there's a reason he fights the Avengers. In my mind "defeating" a hero involves two parts. Part 1: delivering unto the hero a solid butt kicking. Check. Part 2: creating a situation that prevents hero from interfering with any criminal activities again - ever. This is the missing part. Does he think that the shame of being beaten up will make him give up his crime-fighting activities? Not likely. What happens when he returns to the Kingpin without proof of his victory? I guess that having complete control of gravity prevents any direct payback.

I realize that Spider-Man can't be captured due to upcoming events (you do know what's coming up, right?) but something is just missing from the story. Something else needed to happen to keep Spider-Man from being carted off to the Kingpin for an unmasking followed by a savage beating. Writers have used crowd intervention on more than one occasion to save the hero. It should have used it here.

The artwork for the first several pages wasn't great. This is due to one element: Collen Doran's choice for Peter clothing. I'm the last person on Earth that should ever play fashion critic, but in this case I'll make an exception. The "Michael-Jackson-inspired tank top over a standard black tank top" that Doran drew makes me cringe. There I said it. Even for the 1980s fashion, this is very odd.

If anything Peter is usually behind in regards to fashion; he's never on the cutting edge. In this case it would appear he's gone over the edge. From page nine on, Doran's work improves quickly. That may be due to the fact she drew him in regular clothes. With a few minor problems here and there, she ends up doing a good job.

Overall Rating...

2 webs. As mentioned above the story was lacking. Good setup, lousy resolution. This more than the art was the reason for the low rating.

Footnote...

Peter and MJ agreed to move into the SoHo loft - which Harry owns - in Amazing Spider-Man #321 after May decides to shut down her boarding house. Nathan Lubensky was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition in the same issue.

Thomas Fireheart bought the Daily Bugle from Jonah in a intense corporate takeover. Fireheart did this in order to clear his debt of honor with Spider- Man in Spectacular Spider-Man #157

MJ has been officially out of work since Amazing Spider-Man #319 when she discovered Jonathon Caesar has been manipulating people to not use her for modeling jobs.