Spider-Man Tangled Web #18

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Wildman (E-Mail)


The ultimate man of letters--Typeface--has returned. And if you think this guy's nuts, just wait until you meet Spellcheck. WARNING: this story is not recommended for anybody who failed English in high school.

Story 'Alphabet City'

The Penny Ante Brigade is ravaging... make that annoying the denizens of New York City, protesting the use of Lincoln on the copper penny by rearranging signs and theater marquees. But the linguistically-gifted gentleman at a run-down diner cares nothing for any of that. His only concern is the mangling of grammar he hears almost minute by minute.

That changes when he runs into Typeface, who is taking on the Penny Ante Brigade with what would have to be termed excessive force. After watching Typeface dispatch the "criminals," the man senses a kindred spirit, approaching him about becoming his partner. Typeface blows him off, but he man persists, crafting a costume and a nickname for himself. He is now "Spellcheck."

Typeface continues his assault on the Penny Ante gang, but is interrupted by Spellcheck, who spends so much time detailing Typeface's grammatical errors that one remaining bad guy gets away. Typeface orders Spellcheck to leave him alone, then tracks down the Penny Ante criminal by the train yard. Where he is hampered YET AGAIN by Spellcheck, who AGAIN allows the bad guy to escape. Typeface has had enough by this point, and clonks Spellcheck with his entire array of letters.

Some time later, Spider-Man arrives on the scene. He spots the unconscious Penny Ante boys along with a few spent letters, and follows the trail to find Spellcheck tied up and hanging from a sign. There is a note on his chest that reads: "Please lock this lunatic up pronto! Compliments of your friendly neighborhood Typeface." Before Spider-Man can figure out what's going on, Spellcheck puts in his two cents:

"Can you believe Typeface's haphazardly and unacceptably arranged words? Speaking of which, Spider-Man, YOU are not a compound adjective. So, why ask the hyphen to do more than its already burdened ability. We ask too much of the hyphen...."

General Comments

Oh... kay....

Who is Ted McKeever and what was he on when writing this story? Okay, that's a little harsh. The story's harmless, after all, a romp between a one-time Spider-Man villain (who has apparently turned vigilante) and a guy who REALLY needs to get out more. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, even if the art is pretty clunky. And there's nothing wrong with writing an offbeat story. But why this story and why these characters? I'm starting to see why Tangled Web's readership is slipping; I can't see a story like this bringing in new readers. One of the goals of Tangled Web was to bring in people who had never written or drawn Spidey before, but for the sake of creating a book that's consistently good, maybe it's time to bring in a regular creative team. The loss of a lack of a fresh approach to Spidey would be more than offset by having somebody who knows the character and can do a good job creating stories for him and the people "caught up in his web."

That brings me to another point. The Typeface originally presented by Paul Jenkins was a PTSD-suffering Vietnam vet who used archaic phrases when he spoke and was on a mission to blow up the signmaking factory that had fired him. Is this the same guy? This issue's Typeface bears no resemblance to the original character except for the gimmick of the weapon letters. If you're going to use a character, stay true to that character. Newcomers like McKeever and Paul Zimmerman are rewriting characters like Typeface and Alyosha Kravinov as they see fit, and that's not right. By the way, McKeever, stop mangling classic Spider-Man lines. "With great power there must also come great vocabulary?" Grrrrrr.

I didn't really DISLIKE this issue, per se. I just can't see myself picking it up and reading it again, though. Tangled Web is picking the wrong time to go into a slump.

Overall Rating

Is this really the same book that produced great stories like "Severance Package," "Flowers for Rhino," and "Gentlemen's Agreement?" Two webs.

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Wildman (E-Mail)