Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #329

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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...

The major villains in the Marvel Universe have agreed to work together and exchange enemies in order to defeat them once and for all.

The Core initially met with success in their endeavor sending Graviton against Spider-Man. Despite his clear victory, he left Spider-Man buried under one collapsed floor of the Daily Bugle and left for dead. As it has been proven time and time again, that trick never works.

His next encounter with the Trapster had a similar outcome: encased in his special adhesive from head to toe and left for dead at the bottom of the East River. Again Spider-Man escaped certain death.

After his losses, he is exposed to an unknown energy source in a laboratory accident that greatly augments his existing powers and grants him new ones. The Trapster is the first to discover that Spider-Man is no longer a known quantity.

Every super-villain that has been assigned to fight Spider-Man has met with defeat:

  • Doom sent a mind-controlled Titania to attack Spider-Man. She ultimately met with defeat when he used his new energy powers.
  • Magneto became directly involved but soon abandoned the fight when he realized that they were stalemated.
  • The Brothers Grimm was easily defeated once Spider-Man used his new power of transmutation to prevent to destruction of Madison Square Garden.
  • Goliath suffered a near fatal heart attack when Doom increases his powers to fight the enhanced Spider-Man.
  • The Hulk - hired by Sebastian Shaw - becomes the world's biggest astronaut when he attacked Spider-Man on Roosevelt Island.
  • A Super Solider contingency android code-named T.E.S.S.-One was destroyed.
  • Dragon Man was quickly defeated when he tracked Spider-Man (as Peter) to a subway station

Two questions remains unanswered: where did these new powers come from, and is there a reason behind them?

In Detail...

"Power Prey!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #329
Feb 1990 : SMURF 329.500 : SM Title
Summary: Cosmic, vs. Tri-Sentinel (Acts of Vengeance Aftermath)
Arc: Part 10 of "Cosmic Spider-Man/Acts of Vengeance"
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  David Michelinie
Pencils:  Erik Larsen
Inker:  Andy Mushynsky
Cover Art:  Erik Larsen
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Cosmic Adventures (TPB)
Articles: Black Cat, Flash Thompson, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Tri-Sentinel

Three days ago: Sebastian Shaw inspects his new prototype Sentinels. He ruminates how Spider-Man's new powers may enable him to destroy these - or any other - Sentinels since he has been known to aid mutants in the past. This would cause a setback in his work with the U.S. government on Project Nimrod, a program designed to kill mutants. The irony is that Shaw is a mutant as well.

Shaw's underlings have discovered a possible link between Dr. Max Lubisch's at Emprie State University and the first manifestation of Spider-Man's powers. Shaw arrives at Lubisch's lab and blackmails him into using his modifying his machine to negate the powers it gave Spider-Man. Lubisch protests but is quickly silenced at the thought of having his secret exposed to the Board of Directors.

Today: At Mary Jane's suggestion, Peter puts on his costume to web-swing around town to lighten his mood. He was obsessing on the origin and purposes of his new powers.

Graviton returns to New York after the Acts of Vengeance campaign has failed and the main villains have disbanded. He has discovered that Spider-Man survived his attack and is looking for a rematch.

Loki, the mastermind behind the AOV strategy, looks at Earth and decides that since he couldn't defeat the Avengers (the primary reason for this campaign) he can still have a consolation prize. Using his magic he fuses Shaw's prototype sentinels into one massive Tri-Sentinel. He then sends it toward Long Island programmed to destroy the Amity Point Nuclear Plant.

Peter's spider-sense goes off the charts and quickly learns of the Tri- Sentintel's attack on the nuclear plant. Before he can react to that situation, Graviton spots him and increases his personal gravity a few thousand times, causing him to fall toward the street. Pressed for time, he blasts Graviton with a powerful bolt of energy, sending him crashing into a parked car. The impact leaves him reeling. Spider-Man quickly makes his way to Amity Point.

Having completed the modifications to his energy projector, Lubisch and Shaw fly around town in Shaw's aircraft in order to find Spider-Man. His brief interaction with Graviton causes a brilliant flash of light that enables them to quickly find him. Lubisch activates his projector and hits Spider-Man full force.

Instead of negating his powers, it completes them. He quickly finds himself in the guise of Captain Universe with full knowledge of what's transpired. A cosmic entity called the Enigma Force foresaw the Tri-Sentinel's attack on the power plant and selected Spider-Man to combat it. Unfortunately Lubisch's machine blocked part of the transfer. In Spider-Man's own words, "I got the power without the awareness". Clear of mind and purpose, he heads for Amity Point intent on stopping the nuclear meltdown.

During their battle, the sentinel cracks one of the containment towers. Despite the obvious risk, he turns his back to the sentinel, and focuses his energies on resealing the tower. The Tri-Sentinel grabs him with telescoping coils and exposes him to a potent gas. With the additional powers of Captain Universe, he is able to withstand the fumes.

He renews his attack, but these efforts prove futile. The robot is preparing to destroy the power plant until Sebastian Shaw triggers a failsafe in the Tri-Sentinel. The failsafe was added in each one of them in case they went rogue. This momentarily halts the giant in its tracks.

Unaware and frankly unconcerned with what just happened, Spider-Man knows what needs to happen next. Just as the robot manages to override the failsafe and resume its attack, he summons all the power from the Enigma Force - at a great risk to himself - and disintegrates the Tri-Sentinel.

Impressed at Spider-Man's heroics, Shaw leaves satisfied that he lives another day. For his part Spider-Man passes out due to extreme fatigue after the Enigma Force leaves. He is awakened by approaching sirens and he gradually makes his way back to Manhattan for some additional rest. With time his spider- powers enable him to make a full recovery.

Later on as Peter and Mary Jane try to spend some time together, Flash stops by to introduce them to his new girlfriend - Felicia Hardy.

In General...

In the Biblical context, Nimrod was a Mesopotamian ruler and mighty hunter. Therefore Project Nimrod should strike fear into the mutant population because "mighty hunters will track them down and capture them". However in a modern context, the name takes on a completely different meaning. I wonder which names were rejected before deciding on this one. I guess "Project Doofus" or "Project Knucklehead" was considered too silly by the government.

Oddly enough the negative meaning of the word may originate from Bugs BunnyTM. In one cartoon - I should know which one but alas - he refers to Elmer FuddTM as a "poor little nimrod", pointing out how totally inept Elmer is at hunting. Ok, that's enough etymology for one day.

This issue was great. Everything wrapped up neatly without the feeling that the story was rushed. "The story" in this case is this issue. The "cosmic Spider-Man" storyline is 10 parts long.

The one nagging question I have is why would the Enigma Force - a strong cosmic entity as it is billed here - be affected by Lubisch's machine? It seems to me that if the Enigma Force were to choose you, you get the power, machine or no machine. Marvel science works in mysterious ways.

On a different note, Felicia Hardy is back and she still wants her "spider". Trouble is brewing.

Overall Rating...

4 webs. You've got a story involving Spider-Man being tapped by a cosmic power to save New York. That alone isn't enough to rate a high score, because it could go either way.

As a resolution to this saga about greater power and responsibility, it combines a very serious threat (rogue sentinels and a nuclear plant), a great fight sequence, and a very inspirational scene that hits at the very core of the character.

As the cosmic energy builds inside Spider-Man for the final energy blast that disintegrates the Tri-Sentinel, Micheline describes in a very eloquent way the absolute pain that our hero is experiencing. Quite literally every atom is his body is on fire. When the sentinel overrides the failsafe, Shaw's statement "Gentlemen, we are about to die" is quickly followed by captions that read "No. You're not. Thanks to the iron will of the Amazing Spider-Man."

Ultimate power channeled through someone that will not give up no matter what.

That is the definition of "awesome" in my book.

Footnote...

The Acts of Vengeance campaign failed as of West Coast Avengers #55. It's never mentioned in the story specifically, but Loki was revealed to be the mysterious benefactor that brought all the heavy-hitters together.

Lubisch is the second professor at ESU with a major skeleton in his closet. The other was Professor Swann in Amazing Spider-Man #310 when it was revealed he faked his high school diploma to get into college.

We last saw Felicia duke it out with Venom in Amazing Spider-Man #316 when he broke her nose and dropped the "Peter's married" bomb on her.