Online Question of the Month from Wizard #92:
"Which X-Men Member Do You want Dead in 1999? Result? Marrow with 46%. Next closest was Shadowcat with 15%.
Now, the lovely Shadowcat is one of my favourite X-Men, so I'm not sure about that second place - but certainly 46% is a clear margin. So it's a little surprising that the cover for Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol.2) #4 boasts "What new menace has brought Spidey togther with the hottest new X-Man... Marrow?!" in a story called "Beneath It All".
Open with the usual 'Two lovers out at night in spite of strange disappearances in downtown NY' story. Obligatory dragging of victim into sewer by unseen villain and police arrive with survivor in shock' sequence.
Cut to traditional 'JJJ storms about demanding reporters reveal all and attempt to tie-in Spider-Man while Robbie is rational counterpart' scenario.
Progress to occasionally used 'Powerful figure (in this case the Senator Ward who has popped up occasionally in Spidey titles) in limousine drives by and talks to JJJ' shot.
Move to the infrequent 'Peter Parker (photographer) knocked on head while Betty Brant (reporter) is dragged beneath the streets followed by Peter waking in hospital' bit with a touch of 'JJJ asks Peter to pull the story' thrown in for good measure.
Then it's on to the recently overdone 'Peter pretends to MJ he's not getting involved but then slips into costume knowing that MJ will assume it's the fake Spidey when she sees it' routine.
Let's skip right past the 'Marrow as resentful mutant wants to go to the aid of Moorlocks who are also victims but is forbidden by senior X-Men but goes anyway' trick.
Fortunately the 'angry semi-hero X-Man type trades death threats with Spidey' thing is quite short and leads quickly into the hacknyed 'crowd of angry citizens (including Flash) threataning to take law into own hands' sequence and then follows right into the 'Spidey and X-Man discover bodies tied up and alive in sewer with unknown villain momentarily absent but arriving on cue' routine.
Well, we'll need a climax, so how about the trusty old 'fight the villain who looks like a (some evil thing, in this case, a vampire) while fight goes back and forth twice (with intervention from non-powered supporting character) then hero has chance to inflict mortal wound which appears only possible hope for victory, but doesn't because of inherent humanity and intelligence, causing aforementioned villain to depart to consider their own destiny' script.
And of course, what better to wrap it up with than the classic 'Powerful figure (e.g. Senator Ward) behind the whole thing' finish?
"Beneath It All?" Certainly beneath me!
I've seen this done before - and better.
Bart Sears is (in my mind) a more appropriate artist than JR.JR. essentially because I find JR's style too invasive to the comic, too distracting. Maybe it's because Bart is a new guy to the title that he decided not to draw too much detail what 40 people tied up for several days will have done to their trousers - Eeeeeccch!
Actually, I'm also surprised that Peter thinks that his wife can't tell the difference between Grown Man Husband with Webbing Spidey and the Teenage Girl with Padding and No Webbing Spidey. Yeah, right!
Oh, yeah, and JJJ tells Peter to back off a case where his secretary of 35 years has disappeared but may well be alive... and Peter doesn't go ballistic? Nah, Peter just takes it. And MJ tells him to leave it and thinks he's gonna do that... (remember that Betty was Peter's first girlfriend)... I do NOT think so.
1.5 Webs. Pretty dumb.