Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #26

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

In the previous issue and Peter was captured by the Green Goblin who tried to make him into his adopted son. As Peter recovers from this encounter, his thoughts drift to thinking about his real Dad, who he never really knew.

In Detail...

"The Mask"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #26
Feb 2001 : SMURF 467.500 : SM Title
Summary: Big Mike, The Squid
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Howard Mackie
Pencils:  John Romita, Jr.
Inker:  Scott Hanna
Cover Art:  John Romita, Jr.
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Articles: Aunt May Parker, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

The issue starts with Spidey reflecting on his last week. His thoughts lead him to question what he really knows about his father and he heads off to find out more. Meanwhile, something stalks a shop owner and then attacks him. It seems that a mob boss has hired said stalker to clear out a street of shop owners. Back to Spidey, and he's catching up with Aunt May, asking about his father. He then heads home and finds Randy hanging out with his Dad, Robbie. Robbie suggests Pete check in with one of his father's friends if he wants to find out more.

Pete heads down to a bar owned by one of his Father's friends, Big Mike Callahan. He interrupts Mike arguing with his son and as Mike's son, Donny, takes off, Peter's Spider-sense is triggered. The story then cuts from Pete and Mike reminiscing, to a store a few doors down. The shop owner is reflecting on being harassed to shut up shop, when he too is attacked by the stalker who appeared earlier in the story.

Back with Mike and Pete, and Mike relays a story of Pete's dad facing up to a bully using excessive force with his son. Pete's dad takes the enraged father's anger on the chin, literally! And then he questions the bully about his tactics. The big guy breaks down and talks to Pete's Dad until dawn. This reminiscing is interrupted by a scream from down the street. Big Mike makes off with a baseball bat to investigate and Pete hangs back to change his togs. A fight ensues, the stalker is revealed as the Squid, who is also Big Mike's son. Punches are thrown, crappy dialogue is exchanged and Spidey ends up playing the role of his Dad in the story just told by Big Mike. Taking a punch that was directed at Big Mike. The Sqiud turns all mushy and opens up with all his problems to Spidey. Everything ends happily and later the next day, Pete's sitting with his Aunt May, who compliments him by saying he is just like his dad.

In General...

With last issue being one of the best in a while from this creative team, this was a big let down, from start to finish. But, first of all, credit where credit is due. The basic story idea was okay, and believable avenue to explore after recent events. I don't think the subject of Peter's parent's has really been touched on much since the Flashback event almost 4 years ago. So, I thought it was logical (in light of Norman trying to take a Fathers role) and a good idea to explore what Pete's dad was like. Also, the art was fairly good, especially the renditions of the squid. He comes across as quite creepy and formidable, if a bit of a poor Doc Ock clone. Unfortunately though that's just about all that is good.

Other aspects of this story are just plain bad. First of all, and I know I pick on Mackie a lot for this, but his dialogue sucks once again! It is about as subtle as a sledgehammer and just as devoid of emotion. I especially hate it when Mackie refers to Spidey's life as a bad comic and continues to paint Spidey's life a comic book by continually referring to super-villains, etc. This sort of almost breaking the 'fourth wall' style of writing can work (Just check out Deadpool for instance, though he often smashes the fourth wall). But, Mackie's use here just makes you realise that Spidey with him at the helm IS a bad comic!

If that wasn't bad enough, the germ of a good idea that this story had going for it (exploring Pete's dad), is totally squandered! The story retold by Big Mike, was sort of ok, but pretty cliche. Especially with all the forced references about using power responsibly. But, when Pete basically replays his father's actions, moments later, using exactly the same words, in front of the man that told the story, it just ruins it totally! Surely Big Mike would have to pick up that Spidey and Pete are one and the same? And then the scene isn't finished properly, surely Spidey can't let Squid go, we just witnessed the Squid kill someone and then wreck a shop while beating it's owner senseless. But, this isn't addressed, instead it's traded for what is supposed to be a warm and fuzzy ending. Can Mackie get any more infuriating?

I can hardly wait for Mackie to disappear off the horizon of the Spidey-verse. Praise God that it's only two months to go!

Overall Rating...

This really doesn't deserve any more. If you're not a completist and haven't bought this yet, don't bother.