Comics : Spider-Man Unlimited #9

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This story is part of an Arc: "Mark of Kaine"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Aunt May Parker is dead. In the beautifully-written Amazing Spider-Man #400, she revealed to Peter she knew he was Spider-Man and died in her bed. Shortly after, Peter was arrested by Detective Raven from Utah for first-degree murder. Raven was recently attacked by Kaine, however and now knows it is Kaine - not Peter - responsible for the crimes. He has no idea who Kaine is, though. Jonah is paying Peter's legal fees anonymously. Meanwhile, MJ is pregnant, Ben Reilly has been trying to get her to trust him and a third 'Peter' is on the loose. The first Peter thinks Ben could be responsible for the murders he has been imprisoned for. All the while, the mysterious figures of Kaine, Scrier and Judas Traveller watch on.

In Detail...

"Unholy Alliances"
Spider-Man Unlimited #9
May 1995 : SMURF 401.700 : SM Title
Summary: Sinister Six
Arc: Part 5 of "Mark of Kaine"
Editor:  Danny Fingeroth
Writer:  Tom Lyle
Pencils:  Ron Garney, Ron Lim, Tod Smith
Inker:  Al Milgrom, Don Hudson, Jimmy Palmiotti, Klaus Janson, Randy Emberlin, Sam DeLaRosa, Tim Tuohy, Tom Palmer
Cover Art:  Ron Lim
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Articles: The Beetle, Ben Reilly, Black Cat, Electro, Hobgoblin IV (Macendale), Jameson, J. Jonah, Kaine, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Mysterio I (Beck), Robertson, Joe "Robbie", The Shocker, The Sinister Six, Stunner, Vulture I (Adrian Toomes)

In a warehouse somewhere, The Shocker, Hobgoblin, Electro, Mysterio, Vulture (the young version), The Beetle and Lady Scorpia (who?) are meeting. They are worried that Kaine is killing off Spider-Man's villains. They all decide to band together and take him out first.

Peter - in the Scarlet's costume - is swinging back to MJ when he comes across the Beetle. He follows him, saving some people on the way, but dropping the black costume by accident. Peter arrives back at his and MJ's apartment and tells her that Ben has taken his place in jail.

At the prison, Felicia Hardy is visiting Ben (who doesn't know who she is). She walks away after a while very confused about what's happening.

Kaine accosts Hobgoblin on top of a roof, while Peter goes out swinging as the Scarlet Spider in search of Kaine. The other six villains arrive on the scene to help out Hobgoblin.

Detective Raven has enlisted the help of Stunner (Doc Ock's ex-sidekick) to help him find Kaine. He is determined to exonerate Peter.

While Peter swings in on the melee involving the seven villains and Kaine (he doesn't want Kaine killed), MJ gets a call from Seward Trainer saying he needs to talk to her urgently. He tells her some bad news (which we don't see) and she runs off from his office crying.

Mysterio works his tricks and Kaine believes one of the villains has killed Peter. He ends up attacking Peter but Peter escapes and Kaine disappears.

At the scene where Kaine defeated the third Peter, Scrier arrives and scoops up some of the remains.

MJ turns up at Felicia's door looking for help.

In General...

First off, this is a five-parter that doesn't end in five parts. What's the point of calling a story part 5 of 5 if, at the end, you then say 'continued in-'?

Aside from that, the worst thing here isn't so much the story-telling, which on the whole is fairly decent. It's simply that things are so complicated it's not always easy to know what the hell's going on. For a start, we've got not one, not two but THREE Peters running around. Secondly, we still know nothing of Traveller, Scrier, Kaine and so on. There's too many people with mysterious origins and motives and too many clones.

The story itself is fairly engrossing - because you genuinely do want to know who the real Peter is. But the story is so drawn out, so full of build-up without the pay-off that it's just incredibly frustrating to continue reading. Having said that I loved the characterization of Jonah through the story - especially the way he's paying for Peter's legal fees anonymously. Perhaps for the first time properly, he seems much more three-dimensional over an extended period. There's been times in the past of course but usually fleeting moments soon forgotten by writers.

I also enjoyed the meeting between Ben and Felicia and the way Ben selflessly swapped places with Peter. As a character, Ben is really coming into his own.

The art is consistently excellent though. That's the one thing I have no complaints with.

Overall Rating...

Again, not terrible but too much confusion around the storyline instead of pay-offs and answers. How long can things drag on for?