Comics : Spider-Man: Quality of Life #1

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Well, Spidey's on high streak! The Movie caused a Spider-Fever! So, Marvel shoots of an Amazing amount of Limited Series and One-Shots with Spider-Man on the title. The result? A mixed bag. But never fear, because apparently Quality of Life is a good pick! The art is completely CGI, by a team lead by Scott Sava, and it's a refreshing change. The Lizard really looks like... well... a lizard! Read on...

In Detail...

Spider-Man: Quality of Life #1 (Story 1)
Jul 2002 : SM Title
Summary: Spidey vs. Doc Ock, Lizard (CG Art)
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  Greg Rucka
Artist:  Scott Sava (CGI)
Add. Art:  Adrian Hartrey, Antero Pedras, Marcello Bortolino, Scott Hyman, Tracy Mark Lee
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Articles: Lizard, Yith

Our story starts with a speechful Doc Ock chasing Spider-Man over the rooftops. His use of fancy words is quickly replaced by the much simpler feral grawl "ARRGGHH!" when Spidey starts pumping fat jokes. Spidey eventually drives him through a thin passage between a couple of buildings, and he's caught in a spiderweb. While still making fun at him, Spidey draws a camera and starts taking pictures. Huh?

a) Spidey isn't a photographer, Peter Parker is. Doc Ock isn't dumb, the Rhino is. Fair assumption, this is a major ID clue that Pete choose to give to Doc Ock;
b) Peter Parker is NO LONGER a photographer, he's a high-school teacher. This automatically dismisses this story from the current continuity, and sends it back in time to somewhere where it could make sense.

Doc Ock gloats about the web being unable to hold him, but as soon as he's rid of it he's KO'ed with a nice punch. Spidey takes one more picture and leaves him for the cops. Meanwhile, Martha Connors is taking an MRI, while Curtis (the husband, aka Curt, aka Dr. Connors, aka the Lizard) and Billy (their son) watch nervously.

At the Bugle, J.J.J. rejects Peter's photos, calling them fake. This is good, since if the photos went to print, Doc Ock's first glimpse at the newspaper would give him a breakthrough. Oh, and Peter looks really young here. Outside, he meets Joe Robertson (*), and tells him what happened. Joe senses some interest in getting a paying assignment, and sends him to cover the protest at Wall Street, in front of the Monnano building.

(*) Peter doesn't call him "Mr. Robertson" ages ago. Those two have been on a first name basis since I can remember. This feels very weird.

At the Monnano building, Mr. Arliss, the chairman of Monnano, is talking to a sharp-teethed Miss Yith about the protesters. He calls them ungrateful ignorants (not quite in these words), as they would all be starving without him, due to his more resilient genetic altered soya strain (among other things, I'm sure), that can grow in the harshest conditions. The sharp-teethed lady mentions she's more keen on stakes, to which Mr. Arliss replies he's working on cattle too. As to why they're unhappy? Oh, that's because once you use a Monnano product, you have to keep using them or the soil goes fallow. Corporate business at his best here. Then he contracts Yith to kill Dr. Connors.

At the clinic, Curt hears the bad news. His wife's tumor is growing faster than expected. It's moving towards the spine, and the treatments are being completely unnefective. Surgery is the only available option now. Martha talks to Curt and seems very confident. Curt goes to the hotel with Billy. At the hotel, they have a fight, and Billy goes back to the hospital. Curt calls his laywer and friend Alan, who has nothing good to tell him. Despite Curt's tests, they could never prove that the Monnano lab that was near the Connors residence was responsible for Martha's cancer. Their "stuff" (technical term here guys!) flowed past their home everyday, so there's a high chance that Billy can get sick too, if he isn't already. Alan apologises, and says they can't beat Monnano in court. They're too big, and they'd crush them. A downcast Curt Connors starts his uncontrolled transformation in the even less controlled Lizard...

At the Monnano building, Peter is taking pictures of the protesters when his Spider-Sense alerts him to Yith passing by. Quote of the moment: "WOOF." Then he looks up and sees the Lizard climbing the building, realising that he was the one that triggered the Spider-Sense. Or was he, I ask? Lizzy breaks in Arliss' office and attacks him. While Peter changes clothes, Yith comes up in the elevator. She removes hes glasses. Green eyes. No, not like you're thinking. I mean green eyes like snakes. The last we see has Yith with a couple of Uzis standing above the Lizard.

In General...

Well, there are some glaring continuity inconsistencies here. The Peter-photographer thing, and the Peter-looks-too-young thing, the "Mr. Robertson" line, indicate that the story is set in a distant past. On the other hand, the lines about Doc Ock, Doc Connors and MJ hint that the story isn't set in a so distant past. By issue 4, I'll be able to tell more about it. By then we'll see if, among other things, Martha Connors survives her cancer, which will definitely fit it in a recent past or not.

Other thing I didn't like much was the opening fight. You see, Spidey's gallery of villains is greatly weakened. The Vulture is a joke, Electro is a loser, Venom is boring... the only heavy-weights (no pun intended) we have are Doc Ock and Norman Osborn. And although I know that there was a time when Ock pissed his pants when he saw Spidey (Literally. Yes, literally. It really happened.), I don't like to see him portrayed as a joke too. But since that's a minor part of the book, I'm willing to overlook it.

As for Yith: a woman in the villains gallery. Good. There are too few. Let's hope she can do more than fire a couple of Uzis, cause that would be pretty unimaginative.

The distinctive trait in this comic: the art. Very good stuff. Keep it coming.

Overall Rating...

A good book. The art is different, and makes for a good change. I don't like Peter's kiddy-look, but that's not because of the art, that's a writer's choice (at least I think it is). I'm intrigued by this Yith lady, and I'd like to see where this Lizard plot will lead us. Let us wait for issue #2, where we will certainly will see a three-way fight.