Letters : Spider-Oracle : 2008 : Spider-Oracle Petitions 11/02/2008

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From Hero

I was wondering if anyone could tell me of a good issue where Spider-Man and the Black Cat end up together at the end of the issue? What series and number would that be?

Peter and the Black Cat were an item pretty much from Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #74 through to their breakup in Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #100, at which time Mary Jane returned to centre stage. In many of those issues, Spidey and the Black Cat "swing off into the sunset" together. Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #96 is a typical example.

From Goldneto

Who is the woman in the picture at the second row of MJ's database?, and, could you recomend me any site where I can check ou some of the Parker's house pics (I mean the Forrest Hills house or the SoHo department or any other one)?

The Spider-Oracle knows all. In fact, the Spider-Oracle knows way too much for his own good. That's Julia Hayes, a woman who starred in... movies that don't leave too much to the imagination.

Peter has lived in several Apartments. We're currently assembling the details and we'll create a character profile for Peter's Apartment before too long. Several of the apartments have been sketched, and floor plans provided. For example, in Amazing Spider-Man #386 the Parkers moved into the upmarket Brownstone on the Upper East Side. See Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #28 (Story 5) for sketches.

From Steve Mills

You probably thought I was some sort of nutter, claiming that I'd be speaking at a convention for actuaries about what they could learn from Spider-Man. Well, it's happened, at the Younger Members' Convention on 5 December 2007. As you'll see, I decided not to go with your ideas in the end.

I started with Amazing Fantasy #15. The lesson here was a bit of a no brainer: With Great Power There Must Also Come Great Responsibility. Very relevant to actuaries but, to be fair, I could have come up with the same lesson at conventions for parents, chefs, pilots, superheroes,...

We then went on to Amazing Spider-Man. I picked out one issue with a lesson from each band of 100 issues and, to pander to my artistic side, my favourite cover from each of those bands.

From issues 1-100, I picked out #90, the death of Captain Stacy. A classic case of someone coming up with a good idea (the special webbing) but not thinking through the possible unintended consequences (in this case the resulting danger to the public). People expect actuaries not to get caught in the same trap, but to think things through all the way to the end. Best cover from this period was #50, by the way (as if you didn't know).

Best cover from 101-200 was #121 - I liked having a big supporting cast and it was great to have them all on the cover. Coincidentally, this was also the issue with a lesson. The lesson was all about time bombs. Not the sort of time bombs like that hostess trolley in Goldfinger with the convenient display on top, counting down to the big bang, but time bombs that you know will explode but you don't know when. I'm sure every business has time bombs lying around and it's important to be aware off them and to be prepared for the inevitable explosion. Think of what happened at Barings Bank (nothing to do with actuaries, by the way) where the lack of controls was a time bomb. In #121, it was Norman's memory. When would it return? Was Spider-Man prepared for the resulting explosion? I think not.

Then it was on to less well trodden territory with #215. The Wizard transfers Spidey's spider-sense to the Sub Mariner. Spidey's nowhere near as effective without it, and appreciates it a lot more when he gets it back. Oh, except that he ignores it when it's buzzing like mad and almost cops it as a result. Actuaries have a spider-sense too. You notice it when it warns you that something's wrong but doesn't tell you what the problem is. This issue told me (i) that you'd really miss that spider-sense if you lost it, and (ii) not to ignore it when it's screaming at you. The covers from this period aren't great (IMHO) but I went for #245, which was a (false alarm) Hobgoblin unmasking.

This was a long talk. Next up was the teeth & tongues era of 301-400. Best cover was #337, with its rogue galley of villains. The lesson came from #347, which is the one with Venom on the desert island. Spider-Man has the idea of putting a halt to Venom's repeated pestering was to give him what he wanted, which he did by fabricating his own death, rather than doing what he really wanted, which was to defeat him once again. I've been known to respond to questions by giving people the answers to the questions that I should have been asked rather and finding that I my time is wasted with the inevitable follow ups. The thing to do is to think like and ask myself what the customer really wants and give it to them. If I do this and the customer, like Venom, will go away happy and not bother me again, leaving me to prepare my presentation for the next convention.

Speaking of which, I've finally reached issues 401-500. Best cover was #491 (or Volume 2 #50 if you insist). For the "lesson" I picked out just a couple of pages from #472 (Volume 2 #31). There's a boardroom scene where Ezekiel asks his accountant for a coffee table figure: "If I took all the money we have and dumped it on the coffee table over there, what would it be?" Rather than being a lesson for young actuaries, I put this in as a discussion point. With all the different accounting conventions going on in the actuarial world, ten actuaries could easily give you ten different answers, all correct in their own way. But which answer would be most correct?

While people were thinking about that, we had a vote over which of my five chosen covers was the best. #491 won quite convincingly. I'd have gone for #50 myself. Both #50 and #491 have lots of warm reds, oranges and yellows but I prefer covers that give some indication of what's inside.

I had great fun with it - I'm now keeping my fingers crossed for some decent feedback.

You gave a speech about Spider-Man to a bunch of actuaries? What next? An essay to engineers? A lecture to landlords?

From Brian

I have been told that spiderman sees a therapist. I am a therapist so my interest is obvious. Do you by any chance know this and the name and no of the comic that it appears in.

Right, obviously. Training for therapists.

There's only a couple of specific examples of this relating to Spider-Man that come to mind, both of which are very early examples. Spidey did go to visit a shrink way back in Amazing Spider-Man #13. And then there's Mysterio in his guise of Rinehart in Amazing Spider-Man #24.

Harry Osborn visits a therapist Dr. Barton Hamilton while recovering from the stress of having been the Green Goblin. However, it isn't entirely successful, since the therapist himself assumes the guise of the Green Goblin!

The later examples aren't quite so clear. In Amazing Spider-Man #317, Spider-Man consults a Dr. Jefferson to learn more about the symbiote from a pscyhological standpoint. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this issue is that Pete is wearing red underwear with his costume off, telling the symbiote to 'take him'. Yeah baby, yeah! As the footnote in the above link says, Dr. Jefferson appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #296.

I don't know if this would count, but after being drugged and crashing into Dr. Kafka's office, he has a conversation with her about the loss of her parents. That was in Pt. 5 of The Child Within, Spectacular Spider-Man #182.

Judas Traveller does a little bit of amateur head-reading (and mind-twisting) when he appears during the clone saga. It's mostly him doing funky experiments while Mr. Nacht took notes. More experimentation trying to break Spider-Man was done in Spectacular Spider-Man #254 with Dr. Angst.

Then there is the counseling Pete and Mary Jane received after the loss of baby May - mostly Mary Jane since Pete was off being Spider-Man. I don't ever recall seeing Pete in a session, but we do see Mary Jane in some with a Dr. Reandeau, for example Spider-Man #83, during the resolution of Spidey's vertigo storyline.

Of course, The Sentry regularly visits a psychiatrist. But that's another story entirely.

From Liam

Hope you can help. I'm writing a piece on Spiderman in Edinburgh to coincide with the new comic book, and trying to track down details of Spidey's previous visit to Edinburgh which I believe was a few years ago.

Can you help? Just need a year and brief story synopsis.

Edinburgh is a lovely place, but there's no absolute sign that Spider-Man ever visited there in the mainstream continuity. He has been to London, and also to Belfast. He has been to Scotland once, in the Spider-Man: Spirits of The Earth graphic novel. The story takes place in a remote part of Scotland. He flies via an unidentified airport in the UK, which may have been Edinburgh.

Note: A follow-up email from Liam confirmed that this happened out of continuity, in the UK-only comic book, Spectacular Spider-Man (UK) Magazine.

From FreeBrettH

I have a question related to the Clone Saga. I've been collecting and re-reading a lot of the issues from that time period, but I'm still missing some of the important ones, so I'm just curious if this question was ever satisfactorily resolved.

In "Time Bomb," the Jackal programmed the clone (Peter) to attack MJ. Well, since we all now know Peter wasn't the clone, how was the Jackal able to do this?

Umm... Err... well, you see.

OK, here's one explanation. He manipulated the clone to be programmed to attack, then transplanted an RNA sample to project the same message into Peter.

Or invent your own version. Nobody at Marvel will ever contradict you.