Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #356

 Posted: 2007
 Staff: John Novosel (E-Mail)


The Secret Empire is succeeding in its plan to recruit young superheroes and build an army of enhanced cyborgs. Their prototype, Midnight, has already secured the services of Dr. Eliot Franklin (aka Thunderball), kidnapped the New Warriors' Nova and held a small team of heroes (Spider-Man, Moon Knight, Night Thrasher and the Punisher) at bay. The heroes have trailed Midnight and the Empire throughout New York since the abduction of Nova.

With the tracer planted on Midnight trashed and Punisher knocked out of the fight by an energy leech, the group starts again in a desparate search for Nova. The Secret Empire, on the other hand, is dealing with dissention amongst their ruling elite and an unsatisfied (to say the least) soldier in Midnight.

This is part four of the six-part saga 'Round Robin'.

Story 'After Midnight!'

Part four opens with our band of heroes discussing their next move in Moon Knight's copter. Punisher warns that if they don't follow Midnight and the Secret Empire now their army of enhanced cyborgs could cause "nasty global repercussions". Moon Knight and Night Thrasher exchange in a frustrated argument with Spider-Man playing mediator. Eventually, Thrasher explains that he can track Nova through his helmet communicator.

Meanwhile, in another Secret Empire safe house, Eliot Franklin is finishing his latest improvements on Midnight. As he leaves the op room Midnight's nurse (Lynn Church) enters and, by showing the same thing on her face that she did last issue, convinces the techs to stay and perform another operation. To hide her plan she has provided a distraction by shutting off the transmission security device which blocked any signals to or from Nova. Franklin and the ruling elite are distracted as the heroes pick up on Nova's signal.

Franklin puts an end to the transmission as the ruling elite are arguing about who should take the reign of leadership. Franklin is providing the voice of reason and suggests that the Empire move headquarters again because of Nova's possible distress signal. That suggestion is overridden since the elite doesn't want to abandon their primary Manhattan headquarters. Not to mention, they are well-fortified for any attack there.

The heroes find the Empire's location and plan to infiltrate the safe house. Punisher wants to join them, even in his weakened condition, but is convinced to stay behind as back up by Night Thrasher. Spider-Man, Moon Knight and Night Thrasher storm the false laundry mat front of the Empire's headquarters and are immediately greeted by a large platoon of heavily armed soldiers.

The team cuts through the Empire's endless supply of grunts quickly and efficiently. The ruling elite can only watch and command nurse Lynn to get Midnight into the fight despite a warning that he's not yet ready after his recent operation. Lynn gets Midnight and tells him that she was able to sabotage the pain-inducing device that kept him under control.

Meanwhile, Spidey and his team are making their way further through the Empire's forces. The elite continue watching from a hidden control room when Midnight enters. In order to save the organization from this mess Midnight demands complete control over the Empire. Number Seven dismisses the idea and attempts to command Midnight through his pain-inducer only to realize that it's been disabled. Midnight breaks Seven's hand and then kills him. He turns toward the remaining elite and tells them he will save the Empire while, in return, being granted leadership of the organization.

Spider-Man, Moon Knight and Night Thrasher have made their way through the Secret Empire's grunts when Midnight finally intervenes. The heroes do their best, but are obviously overmatched in this fight. They are saved when Spidey breaks Midnight's extended arm (a new weapon of his) and causes the villain to retreat. The heroes are unable to follow, once again, as the Secret Empire and Midnight takes off to another location.

The issue ends with Midnight declaring his control of the Empire to the ruling elite and his plan to have Lynn Church at his side. Spider-Man, Moon Knight and Night Thrasher return to the moon copter to discover that there is no signal to follow this time. However, the Punisher is missing and must have managed to sneak aboard the Empire's escape craft.

General Comments

Another solid issue with everything boiling to a head. The Secret Empire has continued to frustrate Spider-Man's team time and again. Now with Midnight at the helm, a full war can be expected.

Overall Rating

Very nicely done fight sequences by Bagley that would have been even more effective without so much of Milgrom's campy dialogue. The idea for each issue is good and the series is progressing nicely. I've said it for each of the previous three issues and will mention it here again. The only downfall? Too Many Bad One-Liners, Puns And Cheesy Dialogue From Milgrom.

 Posted: 2007
 Staff: John Novosel (E-Mail)