Comics : Spider-Man: Chapter One #5
This review was first published on: 2004.
Someone at Marvel came up with the idea of revamping the first eighteen issues of the Amazing Spider-Man and gave the project to "Retcon" John Byrne to play with. Don't ask me why.
Spider-Man: Chapter One #5
Mar 1999 : SM Title
Summary: Dr. Doom, The Lizard (ASM #5,6)
Wait a minute, at the end of last issue Spidey was getting flash-fried by Doctor Doom, but now he's in the Everglades trying not to get thumped by the Lizard? Did I miss something? Oh, wait, it's one of Byrne's flashback dealies again. In brief, Spidey hit Doom with his webbing and forced him to turn off the current, blocked a "column of ice descending from the ceiling," evaded a cluster of magnetically orbiting metal globes, tangled with one of Doom's robots, avoided a few plasma beams, finally got to Doctor Doom who turned out to be a robot, too, and then had the Fantastic Four show up and bail him out. The next day, Jonah looks over some video of the Lizard and challenges Spidey to go fight him down in Florida. Spider-Man accepts the challenge on the condition that Jonah send Peter Parker down to photograph it for him. Jonah, naturally, tags along for the ride, but Peter manages to ditch him at the airport and run into the Lizard. After a brief flight, he runs into Mrs. Curt Connors, whose husband he'd been looking for, only in time to watch Lizzie steal her son and retreat to an old Spanish fort. They manage to recover Billy, but the Lizard gets away as Mrs. Connors makes the shocking admission that the Lizard is none other than her husband Curt.
Apart from being an insult to Spidey's original creators, Byrne is clearly not even a very good story teller any more. The editorial pacing is just crazy, with daft decisions - such as cramming part of the first Doc Ock story in with the Vulture and Tinkerer, then cramming the conclusion of that story arc in with the first part of the Doctor Doom storyline in #4, and doing the same with the Lizard in issue #5. And according to the next issue box, Electro's getting the same treatment in issue #6. Look, I appreciate a good cliffhanger as much as the next guy, but not if you have to compress some of the good stuff just to make it into a cliffhanger, like Spidey's "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" fight with Doc Ock in #4. Not to mention the fact that the outcomes of all these battles are pretty much common knowledge (hey, even new readers know that Spider-Man won't die or even suffer any serious consequences, these stories all happened years ago!) How exciting are these endings going to be? And Byrne's flashback to start off issue #5 bugged me since he hadn't resolved the Doctor Doom battle yet. Never mind that we knew how it ended, finish one story before starting another one, wouldja?
By the way, something I've noticed looking over these issues: aren't we missing something? Where is the Sandman? And since we're going straight from Lizard to Electro, what about the Vulture's second appearance and the Living Brain? (Okay, skipping the Living Brain wouldn't bother me that much, but still!) And for that matter, what about Betty Brant? Unless some of the pages in my issues are stuck together she's shown up in one panel so far and hasn't said a word. Why do I get the feeling that if they all do show up they're going to be crammed into an issue together, thus shortening a few dramatic fight sequences and reducing the plot/character development even further.
So why am I still buying this title? Beats me. If I'm really lucky these will be worth something someday. But probably not. Sigh.
Maybe some new reader somewhere will get a kick out of this, but I doubt it. Take my advice: twelve issues (plus the special zero issue) of Chapter One will run you about $35 including tax. Take that money and buy The Essential Spider-Man, Vol 1, which contains the first twenty issues of Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man Annual #1. As to my rating, I'll give it one-and-a-half webs, since Byrne's artwork is improving. Hey, "Psycho" shouldn't have been remade, either.