"Masks Part 2 of 2"
Writer: Peter David
Artists: Roger Cruz (p), Victor Olazaba (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: El Muerto lies in the hospital after Spider-Man inadvertently poisoned the wrestler with his stingers. El Dorado, the mystical wrestling god, comes to exact his promise to claim El Muerto's life since he did not defeat Spider-Man. Spider-Man arrives and the fight with El Dorado spills into the hospital. Meanwhile, Aunt May has her first date with Jarvis, which ends in a most unexpected manner.
Commentary: It is pretty clear to me by the writing in this book that Peter David not only has a great deal of affection for Spider-Man (which makes sense given the history between the two, I have the photos, they're not pretty) but is also having an absolute ball writing this title. There are few writers who are working in comics today that can balance action and exposition better than Peter David. This issue of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is no exception and highlights the writer's strength rather nicely.
Despite my admiration for David's work, I was still surprised that I enjoyed this two-parter as much as I did. I have to admit that when I read the little Previews blurbs, I hesitated at the thought of a Spider-Man story centering around a Mexican wrestler because, well..., I'm not all that hot on wrestling. It should have occurred to me that Spider-Man getting involved in a wrestling match has historical precedent, but at the time I didn't. I was taken with the amount of heart the story had and that carried over into this issue.
El Dorado was an interesting adversary though a lot of that had to do with his dialogue. It could have gone badly, but his arrogance and grandstanding made him somewhat compelling. Peter built the character up to be very powerful, which gave more dramatic weight to his downfall. The manner in which Spider-Man was able finally to defeat him was clever and played to Peter Parker's abilities as a scientist.
By far, the best part of the issue was the conversation between Spider-Man and Iron Man and how that played into the villain's downfall. It was thought provoking and elaborated on what J. Michael Straczynski has done with how Peter's new abilities work. It's interesting that with all of the weird things that Peter has seen and done as Spider-Man, that he would be so hesitant to accept the fact that his abilities may have a magical base. The conversation with Tony Stark was great, and I was amused that Spider-Man was able to talk him into a corner.
Finally, I will have to say that Peter David has written the all-time worst ending to a first date ever. I know I'd hate it if the lady I'm taking to dinner sees the husband she thought was dead standing outside. Talk about a mood killer. In all seriousness, I am not going to feign any kind of shock regarding this matter because with all of the resurrections that we've seen in the past few years, this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Besides, it's part of a storyline so I'm not going to get all in a tizzy over it.
In The End: A solid end to a solid story. The fact that it was a two-parter kind of threw me off. I've gotten so used to four to six issue story-arcs that a story which takes only two issues to tell is a rarity. This after a one-shot, no less. If anything Peter David seems to be attempting to make this Spider-Man book as new reader friendly as possible, which is great and interesting considering the first four issues of the title were taken up with a massive crossover story. This issue had a good mix of furious action and quiet moments that had a good deal of character development to them.
What did you think of this book?
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