Comics : Spider-Woman (Vol. 3) #9

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Continuing from Amazing Spider-Man Vol.2 #14, Mattie has discovered Spider-Man's identity while brawling inside Peter's apartment with Charlotte Witter. Taking the fight outside, Mattie ends up needing mouth to mouth from Spidey which turns into a big smootch (while Charlotte gets away).

In Detail...

"Break of Hearts"
Spider-Woman (Vol. 3) #9
Mar 2000 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  John Byrne
Pencils:  Graham Nolan
Inker:  Randy Elliott
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Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Universe #2
Articles: Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn) (FB, Cameo), Madame Web, Madame Web, Madame Web, Madame Web, Maxwell, Morris, Spider-Woman I (Drew), Spider-Woman III (Franklin)

Once again we're treated to a recap of the story thus far, and once again an accidental question triggers Morris' powers. "Nothing" is the answer he spits out, when asked by Spider-Man how to stop Charlotte Witter.

Spider-Man and Spider-Woman go out to find Charlotte (think they got the name from "Charlotte's Web"?). Along the way, Mattie apologizes for kissing Spidey. Spidey blows it off as the result of her being shaken up by the fight.

Soon, they find Charlotte, and a new fight breaks out. Charlotte claims she's growing stronger as the fight continues. Mattie impulsively throws a water tower at Charlotte. She dodges it, and Spider-Man has to catch the tower with webbing before it crashes onto the wet and partially ungrateful crowd below.

Both Spidey and Madam Web become suspicious that there is something more to Morris' "nothing" clue. Spider-Man retreats with Spider-Woman back to Madam Web, leaving Charlotte tangled in webbing. They strategize on how to stop Charlotte. Mattie, fountain of empathy, is skeptical of the plan and accuses Peter of giving up, assuming that he's just despondant over the death of his wife). Spidey puts her in her place.

Nine hours later in the streets of lower Manhattan, Charlotte is confronted by Spider-Man and Spider-Woman who do literally "nothing" while Spider-Woman "attacks" (doing very little to take advantage of the situation!). She begins to suddenly weaken, and Madam Web appears in spirit form. Madam Web explains that her telepathy was partially absorbed by Charlotte - which allowed for a link to form between her and those involved with the Gathering of the Five. Thus: Madam Web's aging and Jessica Drew's power gain. By teaching Spider-Man and Spider-Woman to blank their minds, Charlotte could not replenish the energy she was leeching off of them during her fight. Charlotte crashes to the floor and they all live happily ever after.

Back at Madam Web's place, Charlotte lies unconscious in a dormant state. Madam Web, now youthful again, says she will perform a psychic surgery to sever her link to them, plus remove the memory of discovering Spider-Man's identity. Madam Web admits that she could recognize Peter out of costume, but would be unable to link him to Spider-Man since she deliberatly sealed off that area of Spider-Man's mind. Spider-Man asks Madam Web to remove the memory of his secret identity from Mattie's mind as well, saying it's too much of a burden for her and she might slip up one day. Mattie pleads Spider-Man to change his mind, as she almost blurts out Mary Jane's name - proving his point. Madam Web agrees to do it, leaving Mattie in tears.

So, does Jessica get her powers back? What ever happened to Julia Carpenter who was also drained by Charlotte? How did this all affect the other members of the Gathering of the Five who were supposedly linked to Charlotte? Last issue, Mattie still had Charlotte's psychic spider legs - does she still have them?

In General...

Same complaints as in previous issues - no direction of this series, poor characterization, and a main character I don't really care about. Do I want to root for her? She's bratty like Jubilee, but without Jubes' touch of sweetness or her peers to bounce her personality off. The supporting cast is rendered two-dimensional. Why is Jessica Drew sticking around? What's her relationship to Mattie? What is she thinking/feeling? Has de-aging Madam Web made her any different? I swear, I can't tell the difference in her except for the hair color and wrinkles.

This story still did not develop any direction for the series. Yes, it did tie up the "Charlotte" loose end, but the Spider-Woman series is still languishing. By this time in Slingers, I had a good insight into 2 of the characters (Stinger and Ricochet), wanted to learn more, and was intrigued about the others. I miss Bart Sears' art, the one thing I've enjoyed up to now - Nolan's work reminds me of the rushed thick lined Al Milgrom style that littered Marvel of the 80's. Still, Spidey gave the book a lift, and the story meshed well with the Spider-Man continuity. He was not just a guest star for the sake of being a guest star.

For a title focused on a teen hero, we see little teen emotions. Makes me miss the Phil Urich Green Goblin series, and appreciate Spider-Girl more.

Overall Rating...

Another one web story with a half added for Spider-Man's presence.

Footnote...

Jonathan Couper Adds...

I'd like to point out again the major thing that irriates me about Spider-Woman. Byrne seems to spend all his time thinking about costumes and powers - such and such has gained this new power. This power seems to be transferring to this character, this power seems to be changing.

Think about it - we've seen Mattie fly, gain powers from Charlotte, her face change appearance, then change back. We've seen gross spider legs, nice legs, start to lose her borrowed powers, develop psychic blast powers, etc... and that's just Mattie. Charlotte gained and lost hers, then regained them. The other Spider-Women also have powers which flit in and out. Madame Web lost her rejuvination (pretty pathetic gift - for a 40% chance of going mad or dying, you get 6 months of youth?).

Compare to Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15 through Amazing #50. He gets his original abilities. He then invents his tracer, and learns to track it with his Spider-Sense. That's it. For those 50 issues, the main focus is where it ought to be - on the characters and the plots.

Ya know what it reminds me of? It reminds me of guys playing "Dungeons and Dragons", who spend all their time rolling up powerful characters, and never play the game. Come on Byrne, let's see some action, not merely a continual stream of self-indulgent character manipulation. If you want to dress and name toy dolls, do it in your own time. In comics, you have to show me something which interests ME, that is, if you want my $2.99.