”What We Said Then” is an ongoing feature at Comics Bulletin, displaying reviews of projects written from the past of projects for stories that are prevalent in today’s comics.
With “Spider-Verse” having started this past week in The Amazing Spider-Man #9 (tell us your thoughts below!) , we at Comics Bulletin are proud to present a review of The Amazing Spider-Man #34 featuring a fight with Morlun way back when…
After learning that Ezekiel can no longer help him, as Peter can no longer hide from Morlun, we see a weary Spider-Man heads back out to face his seemingly unstoppable pursuer. With Morlun endangering innocent bystanders to draw Spider-Man to him, we see this only serves to enrage Peter, but when his strongest attacks are shrugged off, we see Spider-Man is forced to flee. Believing that he’s going to die, Peter calls up Aunt May to let her know that he loves her, which of course leaves May in a somewhat agitated state. Peter is then forced to make what he believes to be his final stand, but when Ezekiel arrives to give Peter a hand, we see the two are able to stagger Morlun. However, Ezekiel is struck down during the conflict & drained of his life by Morlun, which gives Peter a brief respite. We then see Peter uses a blood sample to attempt to learn more about Morlun, and with this new insight he attempts to draw Morlun to a nuclear power plant, which Peter hopes is the key to ending the threat of Morlun forever.
This battle is certainly shaping up to be one of the more exciting ones Spider-Man has been involved in in quite some time. In fact, while I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s as good as Spider-Man’s classic tussle with the Juggernaut, the unrelenting presence of Morlun certainly evokes memories of it. J. Michael Straczynski is making the most of his new villain, as this is his second issue in a row that’s been almost twenty-two pages of pure action, and next issue looks like we’ll be seeing more of the same. However, what keeps the nonstop battle from becoming tiresome, is that J. Michael Straczynski injects some moments of insightful characterization, such as Peter’s phone-calls to his various supporting cast members, and my personal favorite scene where Spider-Man debates whether he should just give up. Sure, you know he’s not going to, but this moment does nicely play up Spider-Man’s determination.
I understand why it occurs, but given the overwhelming majority of Marvel’s super-heroes make the island of Manhattan their home-base, I always have to wonder how the other heroes manage to all be busy when Spider-Man is involved in a battle that is tearing its way through this heavily populated center. I mean, I realize that J. Michael Straczynski is writing a Spider-Man story, and he’s hardly the first writer to conveniently forget that New York is infested with super-heroes, but given Morlun is shown to put on displays of mindless destruction to draw Spider-Man out of hiding, J. Michael Straczynski is stretching the envelop a bit too much. Now I know that one could explain it away by saying the other heroes are busy battling other evils, but given this very public battle had been going nonstop for what Spider-Man believed to be twelve hours, one has to openly wonder why the only ally Spider-Man managed to gain was Ezekiel.
Of course this issue’s success also relies a great deal on the art being able to deliver the idea that Spider-Man is involved in the fight of his life, and I don’t think there’s another artist working today who could present this idea as well as John Romita Jr. does in this issue. This issue is a parade of art that has one thanking their lucky stars that John Romita Jr. is not only a fan of the Spider-Man, but also has set out to surpass his father’s impressive run on this book. His action is jaw-dropping in its sheer intensity, as how can one not be impressed by Peter’s futile attack with the street light, or the one-page spread of Spider-Man & Ezekiel’s combo assault. He also plays up the idea that Spider-Man’s been beaten within an inch of his life, as by the end of the battle his costume is literally in pieces. The final page also does a great job setting up a sense of dread, as we see Spider-Man choose the site where he’ll make his last stand.
While I still prefer Paul Jenkins’ work over on Peter Parker: Spider-Man, J. Michael Straczynski is certainly winning me over with his sheer energy. In fact one almost gets the impression that J. Michael Straczynski is trying to win the reader over by delivering a battle that draws upon Spider-Man’s greatest strength, which is his willingness to keep on fighting until he wins, or is dead. It’s almost enough to make me forget the totem nonsense that is serving as the foundation for this arc, and it’s certainly enough to leave me quite entertained. Sure I have some questions & minor quibbles with this story, but the past two issues have certainly shown me that if nothing else J. Michael Straczynski does know how to deliver some solid action.