Comics : Spider-Woman (Vol. 2) #4

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Worst of the Worst

This review was first published on: 2002.

Background...

Julia Carpenter, the second woman to bear the name "Spider-Woman" has at last received her very own mini-series. It features in our "Worst of the Worst" lookback sights... and here is the conclusion and the big wrap-up!

In Detail...

"Venom and Vengeance"
Spider-Woman (Vol. 2) #4
Feb 1994 : SM Spin-Off
Editor:  Nel Yomtov
Writer:  Roy Thomas
Pencils:  Steven Ellis
Inker:  Fred Fredericks
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Julia is a captive of DeathWeb, in some big machine contrivance. The Manipulator has her daughter captive somehwere else, and gloats via holographic projection. "If you've hurt her..." quotes Julia, from the handbook of trite super-hero phrases.

So, what evil plans does The Manipulator have for Spider-Woman? Well, Dr. Napier left some notes that had some formula that he said would be particularly interesting if injected into Spider-Woman. So, Manipulator has made up the formula, and one of the guys from DeathWeb injects her. Then the FBI turn up, and DeathWeb scram.

Spider-Woman exerts her "proportionate strength of a spider" (I thought that was Peter's line?) just as the FBI turn up. Except it's not the FBI, it's our mysterious Mr. Clemson from the end of the previous issue - member of The Conclave, motives as yet unknown. Still, he gives Julia a lift out of The Mojave Desert, which is revealed to be her current location.

Mr. Clemson is a character from earlier in Spider-Woman's history. But in case that's not enough co-incidence, it seems he has always been in love with Julia's mother. But she married Julia's dad, and so out of spite, he has tried to ruin Julia's career. Yeah, stupid isn't it.

Julia manages to conveniently figure out where Manipulator is holding her daughter via a trail of clues so obtuse, contrived, and fatally flawed that I'm just too embarassed to even try and explain them to you. She and Clemson and his team travel to Manipulator's Top Secret Base and walk in through the front door with nobody noticing.

The Manipulator uses yet another serum to once again boost ForceWeb's powers. There's a big fight. Just when Manipulator is winning, Therak turns on him and kills him without explanation.

Then the police turn up. Clemson and his men have gone, with no explanation of what he was doing, how he even found Julia in the first place, or why he decided to help Julia since he hated her, and only last issue promised to see her downfall.

But that's OK, because "The Spider-Woman Heat continues in Force Works #1".

In General...

This series qualifies for the worst of the worst not for any one single element, but more for the consistent mediocrity of almost every aspect of the story.

Limited Series stories have the perfect opportunity to rise above the common herd. The writer can create their own, stand-alone masterpiece, free from many of the constraints of the demanding monthly schedule and complex on-going continuity. But very few limited series stories manage to avail themselves of this chance they are given.

Instead, most seem to follow a mindless four-part formula - introduction, plot exposition, chase and action, conclusion. Spider-Woman (Vol. 2) Limited Series is a perfect example of how soulless such a story can be.

The art is rushed, as was so much of Marvel's early 90's artwork, as they desparately pushed the artistic teams to rush as many comics out the door each month as they possibly could. Even if the action sequences could hang together on their own artistic merits, the ongoing inane commentry destroy's any momentem that it could have otherwise attained.

The plot and script contain nothing original whatsoever. With a big stack of Marvel comics, some scissors and sellotape, you could assemble the entire series by cutting panels out of previously published work. The script limps from cliche'd line to threadbare plot device, and sets them against a backdrop of hackneyed scenes and patch-work constructed villains.

The story makes no attempt whatsoever to stand on its own two feet. It begins by walking out of the pages of West Coast Avengers. Next, every character who appears in the story has an existing history which must first be explained. And finally, last panel comes pretty close to saying "Continued in Force Works #1..." Pity the poor innocent reader who just picks the book up off the shelf and expects to just read a story.

And finally, the plot is far too complex with no attention to detail. None of the characters motiviations are even vaguely justifiable. You could fly a quinjet through most of the plot-holes, in spite of the desparate attempt to fill some of the gaps with a series of pointless million-to-one co-incidences. From every angle, this disaster of a story truly belongs in the hall of shame, with "The Worst of The Worst".

Overall Rating...

One web, and that's just 'cos Julia is such a babe.