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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

X-amining "Acts of Vengeance" Part 3

Amazing Spider-Man #328, Avengers #313, Avengers Spotlight #28 (Second Story), Avengers West Coast #54, Captain America #366, Thor #413
January 1990

In a Nutshell 
Loki is revealed as Mandarin attacks the Avengers. 

Amazing Spider-Man #328 by David Michelinie & Todd McFarlane
Avengers #313 by John Byrne & Paul Ryan
Avengers Spotlight #28 (Second Story) by Dwayne McDuffie & Dwayne Turner
Avengers West Coast #54 by John Byrne & Paul Ryan
Captain America #366 by Mark Gruenwald & Ron Lim
Thor #413 byTom DeFalco & Ron Frenz

Plot
Amazing Spider-Man #328: Having been approached by the Prime Movers and offered the detruction of the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle in exchange for the death of Spider-Man, Sebastian Shaw hires the Hulk to do the job. He then observes the fight as Spider-Man nearly kills Hulk thanks to his increased cosmic powers, and Shaw realizes that Spider-Man's powers may be even more a threat to him than Magneto and the Inner Circle, and resolves to find a way to remove them. Avengers Spotlight #28: The Mad Thinker is approached by the Prime Movers' lackey, but he rejects his offer to join the group. Forseeing trouble for his plans should the Superhuman Registration Act pass, however, he breaks out of prison and sends the super-villain Gargantua to attack a debate on the act involving Wonder Man and Wasp. The two defeat the villain, turning the crowds' opinion in their favor, as the Mad Thinker had planned. Captain America #366: As Captain America hunts the Controller, hoping to free Namor of his control, the Red Skull plots to take control of the Prime Movers' lackey. Cap faces off with the Controller, but he escapes, after which the Controller successfully places a control disc on the lackey, but it has no effect.


Avengers West Coast #54: Wonder Man & Iron Man search for the U-Foes but are attacked by monsters sent by Mole Man as Hank Pym, Wasp and Scarlet Witch return from the east coast. After the monsters are defeated, the team reconvenes at their headquarters and confers with Captain America and Quasar, the group concluding from the recent attacks that someone is out to destroy the Avengers. Thor #413:Seeking to discover the cause of his recent bouts of weakness, Thor seeks out Dr. Strange, who helps him discover that not only is Loki behind his condition, but the mastermind of the recent coordinated attacks on superheroes as well, prompting him to fly off to warn the Avengers. Avengers #313: Captain America, Vision and Wonder Man are salvaging what they can from the sunk mansion as the Mandarin arrives in Avengers Park, looking to destroy the team. Jarvis sends out a call to any available Avengers. Wonder Man, returning to the park, attacks the Wizard, who had followed Mandarin, as Black Widow and Hellcat respond to the alert as well. Joined by Thor, the Avengers defeat the two villains. Mandarin escapes, but the Wizard is captured. Mandarin returns to the other Prime Movers, who berate him for attacking the Avengers on his own. As they argue, Dr. Doom explodes, revealing that they had been merely allied with a Doombot all along.

Firsts and Other Notables
Despite lacking an "Acts of Vengeance" label on the cover, Thor #413 reveals that the Prime Movers' mysterious lackey is in fact Loki, which, as has been noted, wasn't all that tricky a reveal to guess prior to this.


The Dr. Doom who has been seen as part of the Prime Movers is revealed to be a Doombot in Avengers #313, as the real Doom didn't find the affair worth involving himself in directly. That issue also finds the cracks showing in the Prime Mover alliance. It's also the only time the Prime Movers do anything directly, as Mandarin and Wizard attack the Avengers directly (while the rest of them complain about it).


Sebastian Shaw, last seen in Uncanny X-Men #247, pops up in Amazing Spider-Man #328. He'll stick around for the following issue as well. 


Amazing Spider-Man #328 is Todd McFarlane's last issue as the regular artist of Amazing Spider-Man, as he leaves that series to launch the adjectiveless Spider-Man series, which he will write and draw. Fittingly, it involves a battle between Spider-Man and the Hulk, as McFarlane's big break at Marvel came on Incredible Hulk and, as a result, in the speculator-driven early 90s, this was always a spendy back issue.

In Captain America #366, Magneto learns Red Skull is, in fact, the original Red Skull from WWII (at this point, Red Skull's body is a clone of Captain America's, into which Red Skull's consciousness was transferred, after which he got the red skull look back during a battle with Cap), a setup for the following issue.


In Avengers Spotlight #28, the Mad Thinker tells the Prime Movers' lackey he knows who he is, in another bit that could be thinly veiled commentary regarding how obvious the identity is.


The Chronology Corner
The Thor/Juggernaut battle from Thor #411 crosses into Captain America #366.

Wonder Man's chronology in this batch of issues is a bit wonky, as he battles the Mole Man's monsters in LA, fights the Mandarin in New York, and appears with Wasp speaking out against the Superhuman Registration Act. It's probably safe to assume the public appearance came first, possibly even before Avengers West Coast #53, followed by AWC #54, after which he heads East (as Wasp, Pym and Scarlet Witch head west), for Avengers #313. 

A Work in Progress
Sebastian Shaw's motivation in Amazing Spider-Man involves getting back at the Inner Circle from which he was ousted in New Mutants #75, specifically Magneto, though Michelinie perhaps sells too hard the idea that Magneto and Shaw are old enemies (they're enemies at this point, sure, but New Mutants #75 wasn't that long ago).

Hulk is able to survive being punched into orbit by Spider-Man.


Between Avengers #312 and Avengers West Coast #54, Scarlet Witch reverted to the catatonic state she was in prior to the U-Foes attack. She (as well as Hank Pym and Wasp) are unknowingly rescued by Magneto.

Following that, in Avengers #313, he kidnaps Scarlet Witch from Agatha Harkness (her one-time mystical mentor)' home, saying a reunion is long overdue, setting up his role in the post-"Acts" Avengers West Coast story.


By Avengers West Coast #54, the Avengers have realized whomever is behind the recent attacks are targeting the Avengers.


Captain America says that, since their headquarters was on an island, they did make an effort to waterproof some of their stuff, which he's hoping to salvage from the Hydro-Base wreckage.


In a sign of respect to his battle prowess, Mandarin says he will slay Captain America with a single blow.


I Love the 80s
Spider-Man subs in for Batman in a scene out of the '89 Burton film.


Mandarin is repeatedly referred to as a "Chinaman" throughout Avengers #313, though it's made very clear such a term is racist. 


Teebore's Take
In addition to the lack of a strong central narrative, this months' batch of "Acts of Vengeance" issues underscores another problem with the crossover as a major line-wide story (as opposed to just a loose assortment of tie-ins): the Prime Movers never actually do anything. There's a lot of talk, both amongst them and amongst the Avengers, about how all the "side battles", the stuff like Venom fighting Quasar and Hulk fighting Grey Gargoyle, are just a smoke screen to cover up the real attack against the Avengers. Yet that attack never really comes.

The Prime Movers sit around their interdimensional conference room, realistically squabbling with each other, but aside from sinking Hydro-Base, that's all they really do. And when two of them actually do attack the Avengers, as in Avengers #313, they're roundly chastised for attacking the Avengers openly. Which would be fine, but for the fact that we never actually see the Prime Movers spring whatever attack they're waiting on, openly or otherwise. The end result is a story where what little central narrative there is turns out to be a lot of setup with woefully little payoff, of a lot of big name villains talking about how "soon" they'll finish those Avengers for good, but then "soon" never comes. Which just further adds to the sensation that "Acts" is more concerned with the tie-ins than it is in telling a specific overall story.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Excalibur meets Jamie Braddock in Excalibur #18, followed by Wolverine #20. Next week, Uncanny X-Men #258.

Collected Editions

27 comments:

  1. Yay, Avengers #313. Another one from my assortment of original US issues once ordered from the mail order company. I naturally didn't have the least idea what was in them, there being only a list of issues to choose from, so this one got picked because it's the license plate number of Donald Duck's car.

    John's meta-messages have gone critical by now, as he apparently don't think even himself can write Doom appropriately.

    I found it unnecessarily harsh how in the next panel the Mandarin obliterates the "Hey, you!" cop showing up there. It's like he got pissed over the happenstances on UNCANNY and has to go blow the steam to NY. And then just hands the Wizard to the Avengers, like beard dude in armor was his thing only.

    Of all the villains in the event, the Mad Thinker has hands down the best motivations: make the heroes look heroic. Shame about the about-to-decade really, it's like he's playing the medieval fool's role in underlining the proper set of matters.

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  2. "Sebastian Shaw, last seen in New Mutants #75, pops up in Amazing Spider-Man #328."
    He last appeared in Uncanny X-Men 247.
    I think the Cabal's inability to agree on anything against the Avengers was supposed to be the point- they're too stubborn to work together.

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  3. An Artistic Achievement, that AWC cover, btw. Which of course is why you chose it to represent the issues here, but it's worth a mention still.

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  4. Sounds like this is getting more scatter shot with each month. While some of the chapters are fine individually, it just doesn't seem to come together in a cohesive way. Like, heroes fight villains, Cabal plots sinisterly while being manipulated by Loki, lather rinse repeat. At least in Avengers has Mandarin actually breaking with the formula, even if it doesn't really do much to advance the plot.

    Also, from the dialogue, none of the villains have seemed to twig to the fact that they ALL think they're the "mastermind" of it all?

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  5. wwk5d: Also, from the dialogue, none of the villains have seemed to twig to the fact that they ALL think they're the "mastermind" of it all?

    Maybe they all are silently nearing the realization that they've been had and possibly like the Mad Thinker recognizing their "lackey", a Viking god. I'm not sure I'd push it if I was in that position, but I'd probably drag my feet to any further trouble, which curiously is exactly what the folks here do.

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  6. The cover to Avengers West Coast #54 is an homage to that of Fantastic Four #1, which may be so obvious that explicit mention is unnecessary, but it's interesting (to me, anyway, if also fairly unsurprising) that Byrne put a "#5" next to his signature. His four previous homages were on Amazing Heroes #1 in 1981, What If? #36 in 1982, FF #264 in 1983, and Marvel Age #14 in 1984. Still to come were the covers to the magazine Organic Gardening Vol. 40 #4 in 1993, Danger Unlimited in 1994 (an homage to Journey into Mystery #68 as well), and X-Men: The Hidden Years #20 in 2001. Yeah, I keep track of this stuff.

    Another Byrne trademark is the way Iron Man uses physics, logistics, and data from his armor's onboard computer — not to mention more humanity than USAgent shows — to figure out how, and how not, to dispose of the creature temporarily at the start of that issue.

    While I pretty much loathe McFarlane's artwork overall, The Amazing Spider-Man #32 does have one really nice panel of Spider-Man seen from behind flying amidst the New York cityscape. The figures in the rest of the issue are so horrendous that it all averages out to completely reinforce my hatred, of course, which makes that panel curious and frustrating.

    Micheline named the kids caught up in the Spidey/Hulk battle Stan and Steve, by the way.

    Teemu perfectly snarked my reaction to the revelation that it was a Doombot in the Prime Movers' chamber. I also wonder if Byrne wasn't loosing a bit of tit-for-tat commentary in the way Cap observes (in one of the panels you posted) how the attacks on other superheroes "seem more random, less organized." Even if the aim was always to have Loki's anti-Avengers vendetta uncovered as the secret heart of the whole deal, Byrne could've been miffed that other creative teams basically didn't try harder to make it cool and organic rather than, um, what Cap said, certain writers, as we've noted, even pointing out how nonsensical some of the goings-on were.

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  7. Typo! I meant The Amazing Spider-Man #328, not #32 (whose art is way better but which admittedly does not contain the panel in question).

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  8. The cover to ASM 328 just became the piece of original comic book art to sell for the highest price ever: $657,250.

    Crazy.

    I came of age in the late-'80s/early '90s so McFarlane's art was part of the landscape. Looking at it now I see flaws a'plenty. Back then, though, the sheer amount of lines and muscles must have overwhelmed my sense of aesthetics because he was "the best." It was a known, agreed upon fact that McFarlane was the number 1 comic book artist (with Jim Lee in 2nd place and Liefeld in 3rd).

    When you're young enough and its around 1990, the manic energy in the inking and kewl poses are what defines "good." Nowadays, I wonder what younger fans respond to (assuming there are any :). Is it themore complicated coloring? The slicker-looking art that wasn't a factor in the early '90s? Anyone know any younger fans who read Marvel and/or DC comics?

    - Mike Loughlin

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  9. Magnetic's curiosity about the Skull may also be because of the existance and then-recent death of the *other* Red Skull. When Captain America was revived in the 1950s so too was the Red Skull, now working for the Communists. Later on the 1960s revival ignored this and the 1970s retconned him into a different character who has also served as a useful way to sort out continuity mistakes, such as running a spy ring and murdering Spider-Man's parents in Algeria whilst being in suspended animation in Berlin. He was killed just before the original Red Skull was revived.

    Doom gets up to some crazy stuff in other tie ins when he decides to show off to the Kingpin that he can deal with the Punisher and manipulates Frank into attacking the other Doctor Doom (Kristoff with Doom's personality and some memories programmed in). Maybe the Doombot is Doom's and Byrne's way of discretely withdrawing from the mess.

    Of course Fantastic Four #350 came out about a year later and suggested that almost ALL appearances of Doom since FF #40 had been Doombots (exactly which was left up to individual readers).

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  10. Well. Up to this point I was a firm believer that any cover with "The Mutant Menace of Sebastuan Shaw" was well worth he cover price, but now...

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  11. Teemu, as someone who was reading Barks and Rosa long before I got regularly into Marvel, your comment about Donald Duck's license plate made my day.

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  12. @Teemu: John's meta-messages have gone critical by now, as he apparently don't think even himself can write Doom appropriately.


    Ha!

    @Anonymous: He last appeared in Uncanny X-Men 247.

    D'oh! I'll fix that.

    I think the Cabal's inability to agree on anything against the Avengers was supposed to be the point- they're too stubborn to work together.

    Oh, totally. That was absolutely intentional, and completely realistic. But that doesn't mean it automatically makes for a great story. It makes sense that all they'd do is squabble, but that's also not terribly exciting and it seems like an odd thing to build a big crossover story around.

    @wwk5d: Also, from the dialogue, none of the villains have seemed to twig to the fact that they ALL think they're the "mastermind" of it all?

    Correct. Which is another odd thing. The idea of Loki playing to their vanity and convincing each one that he is the true mastermind is fine, but it seems like something that would fall apart as soon as they're in a room together.

    @Blam: The cover to Avengers West Coast #54 is an homage to that of Fantastic Four #1, which may be so obvious that explicit mention is unnecessary

    Yeah, I didn't point it out because it was so explicit, but I probably should have just because, as you detail, homaging FF #1 is kind of a thing for Byrne.

    Micheline named the kids caught up in the Spidey/Hulk battle Stan and Steve, by the way.

    Nice touch. I missed that (I was skimming a bit at that point).

    I also wonder if Byrne wasn't loosing a bit of tit-for-tat commentary in the way Cap observes (in one of the panels you posted) how the attacks on other superheroes "seem more random, less organized."

    I'm now coming to love "Acts" more than ever, just for it serving as a thinly veiled back-and-forth snark attack between Byrne and a handful of his contemporaries. :)

    "This whole thing is aimless and pointless!" / "Yeah, well, that's cuz *you're* not doing it right!"

    @Mike: The cover to ASM 328 just became the piece of original comic book art to sell for the highest price ever

    Yowza! I did not know that.

    Nowadays, I wonder what younger fans respond to

    Me too. Like, would they be as enamored with the Image guys' work, seeing it today for the first time? Like, is there something about their work that appeals to adolescents, or just adolescents at the specific time they broke into the industry?

    @Tim: He was killed just before the original Red Skull was revived.

    Was the other Red Skull also responsible for the whole "Spider-Man's parents return, but they're robots" plot, or was that the original Skull picking up the baton from his now-dead successor?

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    1. @Teebore No, although (I think) the original showed up when Spidey was trying to verify their story. Spoilers ahead:

      It was the Chameleon, trying to find out the connection between Peter and Spider-Man, at the behest of Harry Osborn/Green Goblin who knew anyway and died in the interim.

      (If none of that makes sense, it's because the storyline was a mess from start to two years later finish as the editor couldn't decide if the parents were real or not so the writer was floundering.)

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  13. Tim -- "
    (If none of that makes sense, it's because the storyline was a mess from start to two years later finish as the editor couldn't decide if the parents were real or not so the writer was floundering.)
    "

    Danny Fingeroth seems like a nice guy from much of what I've seen, but his editorship led two of my favorite Spider-Man writers to quit the title. He came on AMAZING in the eighties and Roger Stern left about six issues later. He has since stated that he and Fingeroth just weren't on the same "wavelength" with regards to the character.

    Fingeroth left AMAZING too about a year or so later and returned as editor in the nineties, bringing with him the idea about Peter Parker's returned parents and forcing it on David Micheline. Michelinie stuck it out longer than Stern, but ultimately he quit too due to Fingeroth's uncertainty about the storyline.

    As you note, the real Red Skull did show up during the "parents" storyline. Spider-Man, not realizing that there had been two different Skulls, goes after the only one he can find, who is in full Gruenwald mode at this point, living in his mansion in (I believe) the Rocky Mountains with Viper/Madame Hydra by his side. But I don't believe Spider-Man and the Skull actually cross paths physically. Spidey fights Taskmaster, working for the Skull, and the Skull reveals the existence of the Communist imposter and absolves himself of anything to do with Richard and Mary Parker in a video broadcast to the web-slinger.

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    1. @Matt Thanks. I think I read the issue but forgot the details. I forget if any issues before had explicitly confirmed this (although the Handbooks state it) but it sounds like an attempt to just bat away all the letters asking about the continuity mess.

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  14. @Tim- that issue was the first to EXPLICITLY confirm it outside the Handbooks but Solo Avengers 6 established that the Communist Red Skull worked out of Algeria and used a chest-mounted energy blaster, and the Annual that explained how Peter's parents died had the Skull working out of Algeria and using a chest-mounted energy blaster, so a reader would have to be pretty dumb not to make the connection after Solo Avengers 6.
    @Matt- I can't believe you forgot Fingergoth's biggest sin- he was the editor when the Clone Saga started.

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  15. To play devil's advocate, isn't the official truth that the beginning of the Clone Saga wasn't awful, but it was specifically the good fan response and heightened sales figures that prompted the marketing department to essentially hijack the project. If I am to assume he wasn't the editor in the end of the saga, it would suggest in this case he very much was not the culprit.

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  16. Tim & Matt: thanks for the lowdown on the Red Skull/Spidey's parents stuff. That's one of those stories I've read about, but never actually read, so I'm fuzzy on the details.

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  17. Teemu -- Yes, it's true that sales went up, apparently considerably, when the Clone Saga started. And given that the speculator bubble was bursting right around that time, but the Spider-books were maintaining their sales momentum, it's understandable that Marvel's corporate overlords would want the story extended, and editorial reluctantly complied. But according to all the writers of the era, the original intention was that the clone would stick around for about three months (twelve issues total across all four titles), then the story would definitively conclude with Peter still in place as Spider-Man.

    Fingeroth may have greenlit the Saga, but he left not long into it, when Marvel restructured into that weird set-up with a different editor-in-chief for each line of books. Bob Budiansky got the Spider-Man family and ran much of the early to mid Clone Saga, all the stuff with Spider-Man and the Scarlet Spider running around at the same time, "The Trial of Peter Parker", "Maximum Clonage", that sort of thing. Then, when Marvel re-restructured back to a traditional single EiC format, Ralph Macchio took over as Spider-group editor and oversaw the era of Ben Reilly as Spider-Man and, ultimately, the end of the Saga two years after it had started under Fingeroth.

    (And yet somehow I still occasionally see people blame Bob Harras for the whole darn thing...!)

    Personally I loved the Clone Saga at the time; I've made no secret of that. But I know plenty of people hated it. In either case, though, I think you're correct that the majority of the blame and/or credit goes to others besides Fingeroth.

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  18. In Budiansky's defense, though, the clone saga had already become pretty complicated by the time that he took over the Spider-books, which was the issue where Doc Ock was killed. There were hints that Peter was the clone, MJ was pregnant, Kaine was introduced, there was no explanation for the "clones were fake" story in the late '80s,etc. And the storyline had already dragged on for 5 months across 4 Spider titles. Budiansky didn't inherit a good story and turn it into a mess- he inherited a mess and turned it into a much bigger mess. Which is not to say that Budiansky's decisions were defensible- Peter hitting MJ is something that should have never made it to the page.

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  19. Oh yes, you're right -- I'm not trying to lay the story at Budiansky's feet. Like I said, I liked the Clone Saga. A lot. It was a nonstop page-turner for me, week after week, month after month. I even bought Marvel's COMPLETE CLONE SAGA TPBs a few years ago so I could have the whole thing on my bookcase (haven't read them yet though).

    Like I said, the blame and/or credit mostly goes to others besides Fingeroth. Some people will consider it blame; I consider it mostly to be credit.

    I agree about Peter striking Mary Jane, though. To this day I don't understand how that was greenlit, unless it was a deliberate attempt to get fans to turn on Peter and embrace Ben.

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  20. @Matt: // according to all the writers of the era, the original intention was that the clone would stick around for about three months //

    I strongly recall a non-Marvel writer telling me off the record when the whole thing started that he'd heard from within the Spider-office the intention was for Ben Reilly to be the real Peter. The original replacement of the Spider-Man titles with Scarlet Spider versions was only for a couple of months, but after that Peter and MJ were to ride off into the sunset in short order; it was both a gimmicky event like DC had just enjoyed with Superman and Batman and a way to jettison what many perceived as a very non-Spidey status quo where he's a successful photographer married to a supermodel. Prolonging the saga was partly due to milking its success and partly due to waffling over whether the trigger should really be pulled on the switcheroo given fan backlash once the plan started to play out, from what I remember.

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  21. Blam: I strongly recall a non-Marvel writer telling me off the record when the whole thing started that he'd heard from within the Spider-office the intention was for Ben Reilly to be the real Peter.

    I remember reading the same thing now much later on from some much less confidential source, could be Wikipedia even, or possibly a "Comic Book Legends Revealed" thingy. Though I don't get the rationale, I don't remember there being an "unless you're a clone" sub-section in the ol' "with great power..." adage that would enable Petey retiring. Surely they could play a tag-team or something, with a decoy-Spider-Man and a 'punches your lights out from behind' -Spider-Man. I can't see it being a "No Homers" club.

    a way to jettison what many perceived as a very non-Spidey status quo where he's a successful photographer married to a supermodel.

    I had never problem with that really. It's an allegory; one day you're an insecure teen boy with all the associated trimmings but eventually you grow to be a contributing member for the society, get a girlfriend, a wife who's supermodeley enough for you.

    If we want to talk about non-Spidey status quo, Peter Parker not heeding the great responsibility that comes with a great power in favor for a happy ending would be one. For the May Parker Spider-Girl universe they at least had the courtesy of making him like really injured and powerless.

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  22. I always heard that the idea to replace Ben with Peter came later in the process, though I would not be surprised if the "official line" was that a change wouldn't happen, while unofficially they were testing the waters for a swap. But everything I've read from DeFalco, Mackie, DeMatteis, etcetera has said that they wanted to do a three-month clone story and then restore Peter as Spider-Man.

    Personally I've never understood why Marvel didn't just launch a SCARLET SPIDER ongoing series, or even just keep the four Spider-Man books split between Peter and Ben forever. Let Peter be the married Spider-Man with a suburban life and a kid, and let Ben be the single Spider-Man with girl troubles and unsteady employment. It could have worked. Marvel had already had or still had Captain America and USAgent, Thor and Thunderstrike, and Iron Man and War Machine all in action at the same time. Why not Spider-Man and the Scarlet Spider, too?

    Teemu -- I always appreciated that DeFalco gave Peter that bum leg in SPIDER-GIRL. It kept readers from demanding he put the costume back on. And then, on the very few occasions he did return to action as Spider-Man, it felt momentous but at the same time his injury limited his abilities so he never overshadowed his daughter in her own stories.

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  23. This was discussed in Glenn Greenberg's "the Life of Reilly" series. Basically Glenn and Mark Bernado made it sound like the original plan was to make Ben the original permanently, while DeFalco made it sound like Ben being revealed to be the original was supposed to be a temporary fakeout.

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  24. Weird. I feel like if anyone would know, it should be DeFalco since he was still EiC when the whole thing started, and would therefore be privy to the original plan. But he doesn't always have the best memory, so who knows?

    Speaking of "Life of Reilly", I remember reading that many years ago, as it came out, and I loved it. There's been an expanded book promised forever, and I'd pick it up right away if it ever came to pass, but it seems to have long since fallen by the wayside. Too bad...!

    As a side note, why do so many comics pros have such awful memories? I've read so many interviews where the writer in question is asked about something they intended to do, and it seems that nine times out of ten, they can't remember anything about it. Maybe it's because I have an unusually good memory, but I just don't get how this is possible. I understand forgetting something someone else worked on that you may have read, but how do you forget your own plans?

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  25. @Matt: // I would not be surprised if the "official line" was that a change wouldn't happen, while unofficially they were testing the waters for a swap. But everything I've read from DeFalco, Mackie, DeMatteis, etcetera has said that they wanted to do a three-month clone story and then restore Peter as Spider-Man. //

    To an extent that was probably the case. By the time the first Scarlet Spider issue had come out, not only had Ben Reilly been lurking in the background for a spell but the storyline itself had been in the works for even longer — conception to creation to promotion to publication takes quite a bit of time, and in fact on a multiple-month arc you sort-of have them all going on at once, releasing the first part(s) while prepping the next for press and still working on the last. Maybe too whomever was leaking had an agenda in terms of floating a trial balloon or just putting out word to either advance or sabotage a certain potential plot twist.

    I'm with you on the memory thing.

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