Comics : Spider-Man Tangled Web #16

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This story is part of an Arc: "Heartbreaker"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

prison. Between a serious heart condition, sadistic guards, and the Aussie assassin Kangaroo, even Tombstone might not be strong enough--or nasty enough--to survive this one.

In Detail...

Spider-Man Tangled Web #16
Sep 2002 : SM Title
Summary: Tombstone
Arc: Part 1 of "Heartbreaker"
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  Daniel Way
Pencils:  Leandro Fernandez
Inker:  Leandro Fernandez
Cover Art:  Leandro Fernandez
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Tangled Web) #3
Articles: The Spot, Tombstone

"Heart attack? In the middle of a bank robbery? Wait a minute... who?!"

The ambulances roll up to Harlem General Hospital. Strapped down to a gurney, covered in blood, lies Tombstone, who is suffering the effects of a bad heart attack. The doctors are at a loss for how to treat him; needles won't penetrate his skin, x-ray's won't work, etc. So everybody is relieved when the FBI shows up to assert jurisdiction. Tombstone's going to "The Cage."

Unfortunately for Tombstone, The Cage has a "field surrounding the prison" that nullifies any special powers. Which means he's no longer invulnerable. Since the surgical wing of the prison is not up yet, the best the doctors can do is put him on blood thinners and sedatives. It's not likely he'll survive long enough to have surgery, but nobody really cares. Tombstone goes into the general population.

His cell mate is a little scrawny guy named "Ohnn," which rings a bell for the albino. "How come you don't jus' walk out," he asks. "That's what you do, right?" Ohnn mentions the nullification field, but Tombstone accuses him of being afraid of Spider-Man. Seeing Ohnn as somebody to be manipulated, Tombstone makes him part of his crew, along with Rocket Racer, Hypno Hustler, and Big Ben, none of whom strikes fear into the hearts of anybody.

At lunch, Tombstone is assaulted by a BIG Australian, the Kangaroo. Not in the mood to take any flak, Tombstone kicks him in the groin, but is splattered all over the cafeteria when the Kangaroo recovers. He vows revenge, and uses his crew to set up the Kangaroo. Unfortunately for Tombstone, Kangaroo is making similar plans.

After setting things in motion--as well as speaking privately with a midget guard that has become the brunt of jokes in The Cage--Tombstone makes his move. Kangaroo is in the library learning how to read, when Rocket Racer calls him out. He stands, but falls on his head, tripped up by the Vaseline on the floor. Tombstone's crew tackle the Aussie, holding him until the boss can stick a pair of scissors into him. Unfortunately for Tombstone, the guards show up and subdue him before he can finish the job. "Yer goin' to the hole for this one, boy! An' in your condition, I personally guarantee you ain't comin' out!"

In General...

Green Mile, I don't know, there's just something interesting to me about watching the interaction between convicts and guards. How people survive in "the joint" and what it does to them. "Heartbreaker" is not on par with the two movies I mentioned, but it's not bad.

First, I need to start with the glaringly obvious flaw: a special field that nullifies powers? Can you say "contrived," boys and girls? First of all, since these villains have gotten their powers in so many different ways, I don't see how one apparatus could do the job. Secondly, if your power is strength and size, it doesn't seem to affect you much (Kangaroo is way too huge for a normal man--and when did he get that big, anyway?) Finally, if this were possible, don't you think the heroes or outfits like S.H.I.E.L.D. would be all over this by now? Why waste time dueling with a 30-foot tall Goliath when you could shrink him down to size and stomp him in seconds? Bad plotting.

Aside from that, the story is a good one. Tombstone is NOT a nice person, and writer Daniel Way makes that clear from the outset. It's nice to have the bad guy be the main character for a change, but it lessens the emotional impact a bit. Tombstone's going through hell in this prison, but we don't like him (with good reason) so we don't care as much. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing how Tomby-pal gets the best of everybody. You KNOW it's going to happen.

The art by Leandro Fernandez is good, if not spectacular. Kangaroo looks appropriately big and menacing--which is a must since he's always come off as a big joke before. Tombstone's no slouch, either.

One final note: does anybody speak Aussie? I understand that Kangaroo has a thick Australian accent, but does it really need to be spelled out? Would it not be better to have the accent implied rather than writing dialogue that--after several readings--is still difficult to interpret? Just my humble opinion.

Overall Rating...

Not bad, but the nullifier field made it a bit hard to suspend disbelief. Three webs.