Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #34

Background

After Mary Jane packed her bags and left Peter, he moved into a new apartment by himself, where he met his new friendly neighborhood hottie, Caryn. Caryn has enlisted Pete's help in caring for her goofy dog, Barker, and she also seems more than a little interested in the recently separated Mr. Parker. How will Peter deter the advances of such a lovely young lady?

Meanwhile, some nut with glowing eyes is causing trouble in New York...

Story 'If Thine Eyes Offend Thee...'

The issue opens with a panicked monk running down the halls of a monastery. He alerts another monk and they run to a room whose door has been knocked from its hinges, wherein two more monks lay unconscious with their eyes glowing, and a bed sits in the middle or a room, the restraints on it burst apart. Clearly, someone has escaped captivity.

Meanwhile, Aunt May has stopped in at Peter's apartment to deliver him a set of angel and devil salt and pepper shakers. Aunt May think they're adorable, and Peter thinks revolting, although he'd never say such a thing to his Aunt. Just then, Caryn pops in and offers to take Peter to the fair in Central Park. Peter declines, saying that he has papers to grade for school, but Aunt May pipes up, saying Peter would be foolish to turn down "this lovely young lady". And just as Peter's new salt shaker topples over behind him, he begrudgingly accepts the date.

Back at the monastery, the two monks have piled into their "Monkmobile" in search of their escaped charge. The object of their search, though, is a man called William who appears to be blind. He's wandering through New York, when he's approached by the same thugs who got their clocks cleaned by Typeface several issues ago. The thugs knock William down, breaking his glasses, and unleashing rays of blue light from his eyes, incapacitating the troublemakers.

Over at the fair, Peter is clearly uncomfortable with an overly cuddly Caryn, and his discomfort only grows when he spots Randy, Glory, and Jill off in the distance. Trying to avoid them, Peter takes Caryn into the archery tent where he attempts to win her a prize. Unfortunately, Peter's shot is errant and instead of hitting the bullseye, Pete manages to shoot an arrow into a giant teddy bear's forehead. As the angry man running the archery tent demands that Peter pays for the damages, screams start breaking out all over the carnival, as arcs of blue light appear in the distance. Panicked citizens start running away, and Caryn is drawn away from Peter in the crowd. It's probably the first time Peter has been happy to have a date interrupted by a super-villain attack.

William is zapping just about everything in sight with the blue rays from his eyes when Spider-Man appears and webs his face. William blasts the webbing off and attacks Spidey, knocking him through a tent where he encounters the two monks, who tell Spidey they wish to talk about William. Meanwhile, Caryn happens to choose the same tent as Jill to hide. They start talking, and when Caryn reveals who accompanied her to the carnival, Jill is less than pleased. Spidey, meantime, is getting the scoop on William. It seems he was left at the monastery as an infant, and before long the monks learned he had the power to generate blasts of energy and shoot them through his eyes, but these blasts of energy were detrimental to his mental and physical health. It seems that if William lies on his back, though, he can open his eyes without energy spewing forth from them, but if he sits up, his eyes must remain closed. So in order to keep from hurting anyone, William chose to stay in! the catacombs of the monastery ly ing on his back with a television teaching him of the outside world. The monks tell Spidey that they don't know why William chose to come here, but they beg Spidey to find a way to close his eyes, or else William will die.

So Spider-Man swings back into action, chasing William into a ride called the Wall of Death. William says that this is where he'd trying to get to, and he starts the ride and hops on, with Spidey in pursuit. The Wall of Death is a ride that spins at an incredible rate, and the force of gravity created by the spinning presses the occupants against the wall, so that they're both standing and laying down at the same time. William is happy on the ride as he stares at the stars, but Spidey begs him to close his eyes. William refuses, still looking at the stars, saying he can see "Him". But with that, William dies, and Spidey looks up at the stars, wishing he could see what William had seen.

General Comments

There had been a lot of talk a few months ago about how Typeface (from PP:SM #23-24) was destined to turn up in the pages of Wizard's Mort of the Month section for really lame villains. But I think William here is an even more likely candidate. He's basically Cyclops, except for when he's laying down. Which begs the question: why didn't Spidey just knock him over and then hold him down? That should pretty well neutralize his powers.

So in case you can't tell, I wasn't particularly enamored of this issue. Goofy villain goes on rampage through New York to ride on Wall of Death. I mean, I'm pretty fond of the Wall of Death myself (although I know it as the "Gravitron"), but I don't think I'd go around shooting people with blue eye-beams just to get on it. But seriously, I just don't think it was a very good idea for a story.

Which isn't to say that it was awful. The art was as good as ever, and there were some nice parts to the story, like having the thugs who got beat up by Typeface come back only to get beat up again by William. I also liked the salt and pepper shaker scene, and all of the development done with Caryn and Peter's relationship... especially the scene with Jill and Caryn.

Overall Rating

Two webs for a weak story. I sure hope Mr. Jenkins can pull his socks up next month.