Untold Tales of Spider-Man #23

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Barry Harter (E-Mail)


With only a few episodes left of Untold Tales, let's see what kind of offerings the Marvel Men can produce for their nostalgic fans. Here's Untold Tales #23.

Story 'In The Shadow of The Crime Master'

Untold Tales of Spider-Man #23 is Kurt Busiek and Tom DeFalco's homage to the early days of the Silver Age. Only then could such a tale be told where a run of the mill gangster like the Crime-Master can kidnap a scientist's daughter so he can use the good doctor's new invention for evil.

While our hero, Peter Parker, pines for Betty Brant, the Crime Master is scheming to take control of the New York mobs by means of a new break through in the world of neurophysics. By kidnapping Dr. Bartholomew Carson's daughter, the Crime Master has Carson implant his Cerebra Chip into the baddie's thugs making them not unlike zombies.

Feeling no pain and following only the orders of their master, the criminals first rob a bank. Spidey webs in to save the day only to find these theives are anything but normal. Somehow the chip has also enhanced their strength and Spider-Man is beaten black and blue before they make their escape.

But, not before the Web Head can attach a spider tracer to the cuff of one of the robbers.

Trailing his attackers to their lair, Spidey discovers Carson's missing daughter, but waits to rescue her after he's found the doctor himself. A rolicking chase ensues and Spidey is only able to defeat the bad guys by rewiring his spider tracer (this is before he has atuned his tracers to his spider sense) and jams the signal causing them to just keel over.

Carson is cleared of any wrong doing when it is revealed that Peter was hidden during the fighting to capture the Kodak moment.

A grateful Carson offers Peter any boon desired. Peter cashes the chit in for for a promise to help Betty's mother who has been in a coma for years due to a head injury.

Betty, of course, is beyond words.

Though he has scored big with the chance to help her mother, Betty feels even more unworthy of Peter. Oh what a tangled web.

The other subplot revolves around a skinny guy in a Spidey suit commiting random acts of vandalism. Spider-Man's biggest fan, Flash Thompson, doesn't believe it's the real Web Slinger at work and even goes so far as to blame Peter. Parker is absolved of all blame when Flash and Liz are doused in garbage by the fake.

More to come on that.

General Comments

A very nice, innocent story. Whether it was Busiek or DeFalco's idea to use some of the older gadgets and characters, it's a nice touch. Even ol' Artful Artie (first Spidey letterer) Simek was remembered when a resident of Forest Hills is named after him.

This, in retcon, could also be considered the first appearance of Bugle reporter Ben Urich. Urich later became a regular player in Daredevil where he even deduced Horn Head's secrety identity. A nice touch.

Still, artists Pat Olliffe and Scott Hanna dropped the ball. While capturing the feel of Steve Ditko at points, a pony-tailed bank robber in 1964 might be a bit much to ask us to swallow. And Peter Parker did seem to be the only one dressed in fashions of the day. Even the policemens' uniforms look a bit out of place.

Of course these are just needling things and once you're lost in the story, they really don't matter, but a little more research and common sense would be nice.

Not the best of the lot, but certainly a breath of fresh air considering what else there is to read.

Overall Rating

Editor: Ooops! I forgot to mention to Barry that he had to give the story a rating. Judging from his comments though, I'll just say that he probably would have given it 3 and a half webs.

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Barry Harter (E-Mail)