Comics : Spider-Man: The Mysterio Manifesto #1

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Filling Gaps

This review was first published on: 2009.

Background...

Spider-Man and Daredevil have several things in common. They are both loner super-heroes. They fight crime in honor of deceased family members. Their personal lives are frequently a wreck. Case in point: both have recently experienced the loss of their significant other. Peter (Spider-Man) recently lost his wife Mary Jane when her plane exploded in mid-air. Matt (Daredevil) lost his long-time girlfriend Karen Page when she was killed by the assassin Bullseye. They also share a common enemy: Mysterio.

Recently Quentin Beck (Mysterio) discovered he had developed cancer from the chemicals he used to create his illusions. He decided to forgo his long-standing hatred of Spider-Man, since the current one was a clone of his enemy. He then remembered a chance encounter with Daredevil. Feeling an odd kinship with him he decided to use what time remained to kill him. He failed in this effort and committed suicide in front of DD - or so we were led to believe. Some time passed and he reappeared, capturing Peter and his inner circle in an effort to discover Spider-Man's identity - or so we were led to believe.

Beck was never clearly identified at any point. Was the mastermind the original Mysterio resurfacing after executing a perfect con? Or was it someone else impersonating him?

In Detail...

"Jack's Back"
Spider-Man: The Mysterio Manifesto #1
Jan 2001 : SM Title
Summary: Daredevil
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Tom DeFalco
Pencils:  Lee Weeks
Inker:  Bob McLeod
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Articles: Daredevil, Jack O'Lantern IV (Maguire Beck), Jameson, J. Jonah, Joe Smith, Mysterio II (Berkhart), Mysterio II (Berkhart)

Peter's roommate Randy Robertson wakes him up after a fitful sleep. Despite his reluctance, he knows he has to get up and find something newsworthy to photograph in order to pay his bills. He makes his way to the rooftop, checks around, and changes to Spider-Man. He then begins to search the city.

After court, Matt Murdock changes into Daredevil and makes his way across the city. He barely covers a few blocks when he is attacked by Spider-Man. DD tries to avoid the fight but is left with no choice. He sets Spider-Man up for a long range attack with his billy club. It strikes him in the head, rendering him unconscious, causing him to plummet toward the street. When DD rushes to check on him, there is no body.

J. Jonah Jameson is kidnapped from the Daily Bugle by someone identifying themselves as "Mad Jack". Jack is using what a variation on Mysterio's illusion technology. He explains that a great injustice has been committed upon Quentin Beck. Despite Jonah's insistence that Beck is dead, Jack reminds him that Mysterio is more than capable of faking his own death.

Daredevil locates the real Spider-Man and explains his encounter with the fake Spider-Man earlier. Spidey quickly suggests that Mysterio is behind the attack. Daredevil reminds him that he witnessed Mysterio's suicide. Spider-Man isn't convinced he's really dead and insists that more proof is needed to convince him. He's seen more than a few people come back from the dead before.

Spidey remembers that Beck had a girlfriend named Betty Schneider. She has created an empire based on her relationship with Mysterio. He suggests that he and Daredevil check into it to see if they can find any leads.

In Mad Jack's funhouse, Jack sits on a bench petting his black cat. He's having a one-sided conversation with a Mysterio costume. He's reviewing the revenge scheme with "Mysterio" when he realizes that he's left Betty Schneider out. He then sets out to correct the oversight.

At her office, Betty reviews her latest toy designs with her partner Joe Smith (from Amazing Spider-Man #38). He questions the legality of merging Mysterio's likeness with that of other heroes. As she rationalizes her decisions to profit from her association with Beck, the toys come to life and attack her. The Human Torch figure goes nova and their world becomes pure white light.

While on the way to look up Schneider, Spidey and DD are attacked by mechanical bats. As they defend themselves, the bats release a chemical that disorients them and contains a hallucinogenic. The last thing Spider-Man remembers is being swallowed by a giant bat.

When he regains consciousness, he is back at the penthouse that he and MJ shared. MJ is alive and informs him that "the baby" and Aunt May are still asleep.

In General...

I'm not sure why they decided to bring back "A Guy Named Joe". He's one of those characters that never really advanced past punching-bag-of-the-month. The vending machines at work are more interesting than this character.

There is no reason to bring back an obscure character like this. The only possible justification would be to have the element of surprise when he performs his "heroic action" at a critical moment. Like issue #3.

Overall Rating...

3 webs. All and all, a good opening to this arc that looks to provide a few answers to the Mysterio mystery. I emphasize that it "looks" that way. We shall see if any answers are in fact provided.

The plot is acceptable as we have the basic setup for the heroes and Mad Jack begins abducting the people he plans to torment. It is evenly paced and believable. Even with Joe Smith involved.

The only complaint that I have is the joking between Daredevil and Spider-Man comes across as forced. They have a running gag that DD can identify Spidey's webbing by scent. Spidey didn't know his webbing had a scent and tries to get Daredevil to describe it to him.

Footnote...