Comics : Web of Spider-Man #36

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: World Wide Web of Spidey

This review was first published on: 2005.

In Detail...

"Phreak Out"
Web of Spider-Man #36
Mar 1988 : SM Title
Summary: Phreak-Out In Times Square
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  Gerry Conway
Pencils:  Alex Saviuk
Inker:  Keith Williams
Cover Art:  Alex Saviuk
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Review
Articles: Mary Jane Watson-Parker, The Persuader, Robertson, Joe "Robbie", Tarantula II, Tombstone

This follows straight on from Issue 35. Pete is swinging home and comes across MJ, who he scoops up and takes with him. He explains about his tough day and she tells him how she's been apartment hunting.

Elsewhere, Jake and his girlfriend Ronda are driving home when they see lights in the school basement. They go to see what is going on. Steve has fixed himself up to some sort of exoskeleton thing. Jake thinks he's being attacked and flicks a power switch. The power surges through Steve (still in the exoskeleton) though giving him some sort of electrical powers.

In an interlude, we see a strange guy called Roland Rayburn – a businessman who seems to have some sort of hypnotic powers. He is being shadowed by a weird-looking metallic type guy called Tombstone. Robbie Robertson is coming out of a shop and sees Tombstone … he is shocked.

In another interlude, back in South America, Alvarez is undergoing some injections to make him ready for the Tarantula role again.

Back in Pete and MJ's flat, Steve (aka 'Phreak') strikes, knocking out their power and kidnapping Mary-Jane. Pete hurts his leg after battling with Phreak and finds it hard to touch him because of the heat. As Phreak has left with MJ, Pete changes into Spider-Man.

Phreak drags MJ to Times Square, knocking out the power in the process. MJ is knocked unconscious by the electricity around Steve. Spidey shows up but Phreak gets a power line around him and electrocutes him. Meanwhile, Jake is on his way to Times Square. Steve gets distracted when Jake tells him he's sorry and Spidey punches him into a light display. Steve/Phreak's powers disappear and he is left with Jake, who vows to look after him.

In General...

I liked the way this continued on from the last issue without being a direct two-parter. The connection between Steve and Pete is a nice idea and the whole Pete/Flash Steve/Jake similarity also works nicely.

There are a few cheesy lines 'Go get him, Tiger' from MJ has always been a particular dislike but, overall, it works out quite nicely. The Tarantula story continues into Spectacular 137, which is a slight disappointment for Web Of followers (how come Web hardly ever gets cross-promotion stories from the other books but often sets up Amazing and Spectacular for their own runs?)

Having said that, the first interlude with Robbie Robertson and the mysterious Tombstone guy does bode well … assuming that story isn't bumped off into Amazing or Spectacular too.

This all gives you the feeling that there's some direction to the stories again. They're not just a bunch of individual one-time tales, instead they're individual stories but with a focus to them.

On the downside, MJ is easily the weakest character here. She's quite two-dimensional as the damsel in distress and you get the feeling that the writers don't quite know how to approach it no that Pete is married. I guess that'll come though. After all, this is Pete and Spidey's book.

Overall Rating...

A nice two-parter that has two distinct stories in. Some nice overall story development – which is perhaps the biggest improvement of all.