Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #23

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This story is part of an Arc: "Distinguished Gentleman From New York"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

The mystery of Senator Ward has been around since the reboot and this storyline is set to resolve this subplot. Previously Senator Ward has been scheming to gain power and has some strange powers. He has used the likes of Doctor Octopus and others previously in his plans. Arthur Stacy has an as yet unrevealed past with Senator Ward and believes the danger he poses is so great that he has been trying to assasinate the Senator.

The Senator Ward plot has been around for the nearly 2 years and is now being resolved. Previously, it was learned that Ward, Arthur Stacy and the Ranger worked for the government together. That went on a mission to infiltrate Hydra and Ward betrayed them after which he seemingly died. Turns out he hooked up with some aliens and as result of that mission was infected with a deadly alien virus that gives him power, but what is his ultimate goal...?

In Detail...

"How Many Times?"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #23
Nov 2000 : SMURF 464.500 : SM Title
Summary: Stewart Ward - Z'Nox Alien Pathogens
Arc: Part 2 of "Distinguished Gentleman From New York"
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Howard Mackie
Pencils:  John Romita, Jr.
Inker:  Scott Hanna
Cover Art:  John Romita, Jr.
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Articles: Glory Grant, Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn) (FB, Cameo), Venom

As we enter Amazing #23, the mystery of Senator Ward is being revealed, including his connections to Arthur Stacy and the Ranger. In part one it is revealed that Arthur, the Ranger and Ward share a common past. And that the Senator has a symbiotic virus that grants him power.

There are 2 stories told simultaneously this issue. There is the main story and then there are flashback sequences that go into the details behind Senator Ward, the Ranger and Arthur Stacy.

In the main story, Spidey is talking to Arthur about his obsession with killing Senator Ward. An explosion knocks Spidey out, leaving Arthur to hook up with the Ranger and go after Arthur's kids and then Ward. Spidey goes home for a short rest, meanwhile Ward has learnt what he wanted to from the Venom symbiote and releases it. Ward displays an odd power and seemingly consumes one of his guards with it. Back at Spidey's apartment he has woken and gets hot on the trail of Arthur by looking for Jill (Arthur's daughter), Spidey finds her in time to save her from seemingly mutated slaves of Ward. Spidey has a bit of trouble trying to keep the cratures from her, but Arthur and the Ranger turn up to put a couple of bullets into the creatures.

In the flashback sequences we learn about the shared past of the Ranger, Ward and Arthur. Basically, they were an elite strike force for what I gather was an American government agency (I'm not sure what exactly, I've looked over the issue a couple of times and still can't find it mentioned). They were involved in a mission agianst Hydra, that went wrong. Hydra were experimenting on alien DNA to create some sort of super virus as a weapon. Ward goes bad and tries to make off with some of the virus for profit. The Ranger and Arthur chase him down and discover he is in league with the Z'Nox (an alien race who first appeared in the pages of the X-Men). In the insueing battle the virus is released upon Ward himself. Ranger and Arthur escape, leaving Ward for dead.

In General...

This issue isn't too bad. Things are explained about Ward, etc, and it is great to finally have this storyline finishing. But, as the story progresses the holes are starting to show. There are inconsistencies with previous stories appearing. Most of these have to do with the revelations about Ward. Previously it seems to have been indicated that Ward was sort of unaware of his power and his past. But, this issue seems to indicate he was bad from the get go and with full knowledge. Also, the nature of his power seems to of changed, though it was never really explained in detail previously. He connecetions to the Wizard and other villains is also being left alone, when they were previously plot points. It's just begginning to look like that this storyline wasn't really thought through and they just kinda made up as they went along.

If that wasn't annoying enough, Mackie continues to mischaracterise. Even characters he has worked on before and done well with. My main beef this issue is with the way Jill Stacy his portrayed. The way she acts and in particular her response to Spidey, is just way off. I remember an issue of Peter Parker: Spider-Man just previous to the reboot, done by exactly the same creative team, that had Jill almost falling in love with Spidey and the man beneath the mask! This sort of stuff really gets me riled up, there is no excuse for these sort of stuff ups. I don't even buy the "Oh, we rebooted" crap, especially when they continued stupid storylines from prior to the reboot (i.e. gathering of the five, etc). But, I suppose if you're a new reader this won't matter, anyway....

On the positive side, the art is pretty good and the action was pretty good. The interaction between the characters in the flashback was also well done. I've enjoyed Arthur Stacy as a character and he's used fairly well in this story. I don't know if I like the alien tie-in thing though. As I said above, it smacks of something thought of at the last minute and not planned out.

Overall Rating...

Average marks... 3 webs for this part.