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Here's a top-ten list of stories that could have been great, but which really failed to live up to the potential they showed.
- THE FIRST "MAD DOG WARD" STORYLINE - This was a big disappointment. After having convinced myself (from it's dark and grotesquely, hideously wonderful covers) that it would be a grim masterpiece, I found the story to be distinctly lacking in atmosphere. The concept of the story is scary, but it just seemed to lack depth.
- THE RETURN OF THE SPIDER-SLAYERS STORY - When I discover a six-part spidey story illustrated by Mark (the master) Bagley I get justifiably excited. But, when I discover such a story, I expect six FULL LENGTH parts - not six pseudo-parts with some crappy little side stories. It wouldn't have been so bad if these stories were actually illustrated by mister Bagley himself, but sadly they were not. Yet another reason why Amazing Spider-Man should never be brought out twice a month just to accomodate a multi-part story.
- THE SECOND DOCTOR OCTOPUS - No. No no no no no. You do not try and replace one of the best spider-villains in comic history with anyone let alone this disgrace of a character. She existed merely as an incidental character appearing whenever the editor said "hmm... who have we not killed recently" merely to fill comic space. Spider-fans deserve better.
- DELILAH - Let's get one thing straight. I am not just trying to badmouth all female supervillians, but it seems the 'character' of Delilah was allowed to exist simply because she was female (a bit like Stunner). It's like introducing a supervillain called "Man-Man". The problem is that gender is not enough to sell a character. Those responsible for the creation of Delilah fell into the all-too-common trap of saying "right we need a female villain" rather than coming up with a great idea for the villain AND THEN deciding their gender.
'HOPEY'- It was minorities day at marvel comics offices and the writers of sensational spider-man were really getting into the mood. From the back of the office someone shouted "ok we need another female" and all of a sudden people were saying "we should really have another black character", "how about another kid?" and "what about the disabled?". Suddenly one wise man steps forward, adopts a heroic stance and says, in a bold voice - "how about all four?".
And so the character of Hopey Hibbert was born - as an attempt to boost the political correctness of the title. Why was she such a let down? Because she had such a promising start. She first appeared as a mysterious kid next door who just sat/stood there staring. We were all a little creeped out and I, for one, was hoping for a creepy little story involving a posessed child or something. Next time I'll rent the Exorcist.
- BEN REILLY'S COSTUME - Come on. Can't the geniuses at marvel do better than a tiny variation of the original spidey costume? Have we lost the creative talent responsible for such greats as the black costume? Ben was built up for ages as being the best thing since spliced thread and what does his inferior-little-puny-clone-brain come up with "duh - blue and wed wiv pwetty webs". I could have come up with that!
- THE JACKAL'S 'DEATH' (MARK 2) - The death of the new-'improved' Jackal was disappointingly incidental in the last chapter of the second clone saga. I wanted a big finish! He fell, he died, now - onto the bomb (what the hell is that?). Although he'll probably be back.
- ALEK SAVIUK - Despite clearly being a competent drawer Alek constantly failed to give any great life or action to his work on Web of Spider-Man. It was distinctly 2-D and boring. Sorry Alek.
- JACK O'LANTERN (aka Mad Jack) - When there is a big Spidey mystery (e.g Jack's real identity) there should be a build-up, a climax and an end. In this case there was neither of the second two and only a feeble stab at the first.
FIREFIST- For me Firefist represents, through extreme example, a villain who has failed miserably. There have been many villains who have been ridiculed for there corny-ness (which I have decided is a word) and they have been highlighted by stories like "the Legion of Losers" (starring the Spot, the Kangaroo, the Grizzly and the Gibbon).
Through their camp and ridiculous disposition these types of characters become almost beloved. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for FireFist. He lacks even the campish charm to win over soft hearted readers. Why? Because he comes from that era, in the late 90's, when spidey writers considered readers too intelligent for lycra clad super-men; when every new villain had to have a twisted purpose rather than just to want a bit of cash; when characters had to start wearing realistic clothes with earthy tones; and, when villains like mysterio and hobgoblin were reborn with new costumes which creatively incorporated bondage straps. Firefist is a failure. A washout.
And to those of you who don't remember him (don't be ashamed - few people do) he appeared in Spectacular #229 (or was it #225?) "The Return of the Green Goblin" (aka Phil Urich - another let down, but there's no space left).