Sensational Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #21

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)


Of all the Spider-titles around today, this is the only one where I have still been able to say that I haven't liked a single story since Ben Reilly was in the webs. Todd Dezago, who started out so strong, has nearly lost me with the Savage Land and Living Pharaoh adventures. Mike Wieringo's cartoony art style has annoyed me. And I've never cared for "Spidey vs. Demons" or even "Spidey dealing with magic" storylines. So this tale is doomed, right? I'm bound to hate it, right? Well... let's look and see.

Story 'Opening Doors'

At the gothic skyscraper home of the Technomancer Corporation, a large bald man with a comic-opera German accent arrives in a helicopter bearing a strange cargo. He is Master Om and his cargo is a magical talisman known as the Sphere of Sara-Kath (which sounds like Todd named it after his two daughters or something). The Technomancers are, in fact, a secret society "bent on a mad quest for unfathomable power, both natural and supernatural" (yes, again). Om conveys the sphere to one Gunther Senreich who waxes meglomaniacal over the power of his new toy. Unfortunately, he doesn't notice that the sphere is opening a dimensional doorway.

In Queens, Peter has to sneak into his home through the attic because the "creepy" girl next door, who spends all her time staring out windows, (and who, we learn later in the issue, is lonely and alienated because she is deaf) would see him arrive as Spidey. It is his first time upstairs since the last day with Ben and he not only remembers our favorite clone but shows some genuine emotion at Ben's passing. (He also finds his old monster comics, last seen in the Flashback issue.) The following day, Pete and MJ are led by Jill Stacy to her "brand new favorite place to go"! It turns out to be the Daily Grind, former place of employment for Ben Reilly, and we are re-introduced to Shirley, the proprietor and Buzz, the habitual customer. (Shirley and Buzz apparently know that Ben is dead but this just opens up more questions. Was there a funeral for him? Aren't people wondering why Spider-Man took off with the body? But, I digress...)

Back at the Technomancer Corporation, the dimensional rift brings a parade of gremlyns (with a "y" yet) led by a fellow named Buel who looks like a Phil Foglio drawing from the Myth Adventure tales and who announces his presence by forming a gremlyn face right on some Technomancer flunky's head. The building is under siege as, back in Queens, Peter gets a mesmerizing urge to go web-slinging.

General Comments

While I haven't been fond of Todd's writing lately, there is no doubt that he excels at Spidey's quiet moments. The scene in the attic and the Daily Grind were Todd at his best... touching and fun without being maudlin and trite. (And it's about time some people remembered Ben Reilly.)

Overall Rating

Four webs. I know, I can hardly believe it myself.

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)