Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #21

 Lookback: Filling Gaps
 Posted: 2008
 Staff: John Novosel (E-Mail)


The Sinister Six are back to complete the world domination scheme they began in ASM #334-339. Doctor Octupus is stronger than ever with his newly aquired admantium arms with which he has already beat Spider-Man (twice) and the Hulk. Electro, Vulture, Mysterio, and the Hobgoblin have agreed to aid Doc Ock in obtaining enhanced weaponry from another dimension. The exception is Sandman, who had been turned to glass by the same weapon Doc Ock used on him before.

Spider-Man has been unable to even slow down the Sinister Six on two separate occassions despite help from the Hulk and Solo. As it stands, he lays beaten and unconscious with Solo preparing a final bullet for him because of an illusion cast by Mysterio. The Sinister Six have easily escaped Spidey again to attempt their raid of alternative dimensions for weaponry.

Guest-stars that have aided Spidey so far include: Ghost Rider, Hulk, Deathlok, Solo, and Nova. It may take a small super-hero army to stop the Sinister Six this time.

This is part four of the 'Revenge of the Sinister Six' storyline.

Story 'Dealing Arms'

Solo is about to put a few bullets into an unconscious Spider-Man under the assumption that it's actually Doctor Octopus he's killing. Before he can pull the trigger, however, Solo is tagged by multiple gunshots from behind. He recovers quickly and attempts to return the gunfire, but is tagged by more shots that take out his weaponry and the bulk of his kevlar armor. Weaponless and bleeding badly, Solo has no choice but to cut his losses and teleport out of there. Spidey's savior? The cyborg that he and Ghost Rider fought in part one.

Having escaped their encounter with Spider-Man and Solo unharmed, the Sinister Six make their way into another dimension for weapons. Their is still a lot of mistrust amongst them, but Electro's suggestions (he was paid by Doc Ock earlier) and the Doc's promises are too much to ignore.

At the Parker home, Mary Jane is realizing how much her new role bothers Peter. She is worried about his safety and has been so preoccupied that she overlooked his up-coming birthday.

Spider-Man wakes up with what looks like a cybernetic arm, a new eye piece, and multiple stitches in a strange lab. Cyborg X, the 'psychotic transformer' from part one, had taken Spidey in after rescuing him from Solo. A scientist named Oscar McDonnell explains that Cyborg X had some malfunctions with his computer programming and was reliving the few hours prior to his 'death' in the Gulf War. One of the last thing he remembers was Spider-Man helping him, so he helped the hero in return. Supposedly, Dr. McDonnell performed all of Spidey's 'repairs' without removing his costume and erased his bio-rythm from Cyborg X's programming. All in an effort to project a degree of 'simple trustworthiness' in the U.S. government which has had a bad rap ever since 'Watergate'.

Naturally, Spidey asks a ton of relevant questions to which all are answered with typical 'we're the good guys' government responses. He's uneasy about this Care Labs existing and creating people like Cyborg X no matter what their good intentions. His concerns are put to rest, for the moment, with the presence of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Dum Dum Dugan. Convinced that there is no secret super-villian behind these experiments, Spidey leaves to go after the Sinister Six once again.

On his way out of Care Labs, Spider-Man runs into Deathlok. Spidey recognizes him from a future encounter, but is puzzled because the cyborg should be in some alternate universe (Marvel Team-Up #46). Deathlok doesn't understand the reference because he doesn't recognize the web-crawler, which is funny since Spidey's bandages and cybernatic cast makes him look like another version of him. The cyborg explains that he became what he is against his will, and that many of the people involved with Cybertek (the company responsible) now work for Care Labs. Knowing that things are never that easy, Spidey agrees to help Deathlok provided he help him with the Sinister Six first.

Spidey brings Deathlok back to the lab the Sinister Six were invading in New Jersey. There's no sign of them now, according to Deathlok's computer interface so the heroes charge in. There are some robot drones that the Six have left for anyone following and our heroes rip through them easily. It shows that Deathlok, an alleged pacifist, has a serious violent side. Out of options, the heroes decide to enter the same alternate dimension that the Sinister Six went through to find them. It's crazy, but Spidey is going to go through with it anyway. Why? 'Because I'd rather do this than my laundry.' Priceless.

The alternate dimension is a nightmare with over a hundred thousand corpses left behind by the Sinister Six. They also left behind a bomb, which Spidey is able to recognize with his spider-sense finally returning. Spidey and Deathlok outrun the trap and escape the exploding building virtually unharmed. With no other leads, they decide to return to Care Labs.

Returning to Care Labs makes the alternate dimension nightmare really take life. The place is destroyed with the Sinister Six visibly killing any survivors with their new hi-tech weapons. Deathlok goes after Electro, but is quickly taken out by the villian's new electric upgrades, while Spidey is preoccupied by one of a hundred robots the Six have brought back with them. Spidey is knocked back onto the corpse of Cyborg X and can't believe what is happening. Deathlok presses the attack despite the fact that his computer interface has been neutralized by Electro. None of it matters since another explosion knocks Spidey back again and buries Deathlok into a tunnel of debris.

Spidey looks up and doesn't believe what he sees. The Sinister Six are being tractor beamed onto a huge ship while he lies in the rubble. He is able to tag the ship with a spider-tracer before realizing that Deathlok may be buried alive under all of the rubble. The issue ends with Mary Jane doing the laundry that Peter sought to avoid when she hears a crash through their skylight. Peter is lying on their bathroom floor, beaten (again) and looking as though he's half cyborg.

General Comments

A lot of back-story and dialogue to push the Deathlok character into the Spider-Man universe during a Sinister Six storyline. Obviously, this was planned from the beginning with the cyborg battle in part one and Doc Ock's sudden obsession with weapons from an 'alternate universe'. That's fine. The Deathlok character is rather interesting, but I don't know how well he fits into a Spider-Man comic. Especially, when thrown into the ring amidst half of Spidey's rouge gallery.

You will either like Deathlok or hate him completely, which will determine your outlook on this issue and possibly the storyline as a whole. He first appeared in part two, was the reason behind the first 8 pages of part one, dominated part four, and will no likely be back before the finale. Larsen has tried to inclued half the Marvel universe in this storyline (by the time it's all over you'll see what I mean), but an entire issue dedicated to Deathlok? Damn you Marvel, or us fans, for having an interesting character pushed on us in a book he shouldn't have appeared in.

Overall Rating

The great art continues and, although it may not belong in a Spider-Man book, the Deathlok storyline was entertaining. Also, I like the idea of a murdering, vicious Sinister Six growing more and more powerful. All the while, Spidey has to take any help he can get because the big boys haven't shown up yet.


This issue references Marvel Team-Up #46 as the first time Spider-Man and Deathlok meet. I'm still researching if Deathlok had appeared in a Spidey book before this storyline. His comic book past, as short as it is, is more convuluted than Wolverine's.

 Lookback: Filling Gaps
 Posted: 2008
 Staff: John Novosel (E-Mail)