SPIDEY’S WEEKLY WEB-UP by MasterfilmmakerMarkMackner

Really? Captain Universe?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #628
Written By: Roger Stern

Drawn By: Lee Weeks
Reviewed by Master Filmmaker Mark Mackner

Hola, Arachno-philes!  It’s time once again for Spidey’s Weekly Web-Up, with the biggest Spider-Geek You Know, Master Filmmaker Mark Mackner!  Yes, when I’m not busy making cinema classics like THE HALF-LIFE HORROR FROM HELL and EVIL BREW, I’m geeking out over video games, cartoons, monster movies, and, of course, SPIDER-MAN!!!!

Last week’s AMAZING was the second chapter in Roger Stern and Lee Weeks’ JUGGERNAUT story.  The Spidey epic THE GAUNTLET has been put on temporary hold for this tale, meaning Juggie has nothing to do with the Kravens plot against Spidey.  In the first chapter, Spidey finds him unconscious and without a helmet in Central Park.  Spidey follows as Juggie is taken into custody.  Some questions are raised, the most prominent being, “Who in the hell ripped off Juggie’s helmet and knocked him the fuck out?”  The answer to that question was revealed at the end of Part 1, and that answer’s name is CAPTAIN UNIVERSE.

Which brings us to Chapter 2.  Spidey gets to talking with this new Captain Universe, who has a major hard-on for destroying the Juggernaut, in an act of vengeance for having “ruined” his life.  Spidey is quick to point out that revenge is against the philosophy of THE ENIGMA FORCE, the cosmic source of the UNI-POWER, who chooses a champion and turns him or her into Captain Universe whenever grave danger faces humanity.

I’m old enough to vividly recall when Spider-Man himself was chosen to be Captain Universe, way back in ASM #327-329.  I got those in the mail back when I had a subscription.  Ah, memories!  But, back to the story, it seems that the new Captain U believes that he was selected to wield the Uni-Power to destroy the Juggernaut, so he tries his damndest to do just that.  And Spider-Man, selfless hero that he his, does everything he can to stop him.

Meanwhile, Juggie regains consciousness, fashions a new helmet out of one of his restraints, and sets out after Captain Universe.  Back in Manhattan, Spidey prepares to face Captain U, but is distracted by what feels like an earthquake.  Cap wraps Spidey up with a steel girder, then plunges beneath the Earth’s surface to prevent the earthquake from happening.  AH!  So THAT’S his purpose!  THAT’s why the Enigma Force chose him!  THAT’s why we needed a new Captain Universe! But this dude decided to use the might of the Uni-Power to assist in his own personal vendetta against Juggernaut.  I can imagine that’s not going to go over very well with the Enigma Force in the next issue.

Juggernaut finds Spider-Man and frees him from the girder, as a way of saying “Thank you”.  This enrages Cap so much so that he abandons his real mission, of preventing the earthquake, and goes after our hero and Juggernaut. Spidey distracts Cap with some webbing, and allows Juggie to land a powerful blow on Cap.  But when Juggie attempts to squish Cap’s head, Spidey jumps in to stop him.  While Spidey and Juggernaut bicker, Cap supernovas into a massive fury of wrath, which brings us to another cliffhanger.

Roger Stern has given us yet another wonderful Spider-Man story.  This is a man who understands and appreciates not only the character, but the fans, as well.  He effortlessly weaves drama, humor, and action into all of his stories, and that’s what you NEED in Spider-Man.  And Lee Weeks is a terrific artist.  I’d have no problem with him taking over regular art duties for the title, if Marvel saw fit.  But, for now, I’m very happy to have him come in once in a while and give us some great action panels of our favorite costumed super-hero.

This issue has a bonus mini-story, humorously titled, “BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE a CRIME?”, which sounds like a title to a dinner theater show.  The story chronicles Peter Parker’s troubles of having to balance a telephonic job interview (Still unemployed, remember!), and a fight with super-villain the ABSORBING MAN.

What I liked about this story was the fact that, while played mainly for laughs, it still is very much steeped in continuity.  Some of these short stories that get tacked onto the back of Spider-Man comics are kind of disposable, but this one is very much an AMAZING SPIDER-MAN story.  In an effort to get to his job interview quicker, Peter dons the Spidey suit to swing his way there.

While en route, he receives a phone call from the employer he’s going to see, who is stuck in traffic.  Peter says, “Let’s do this over the phone, then”, and the interview begins.  But then Spidey comes across a rampaging Absorbing Man, and is forced to answer the call of the super-hero and protect the innocent.

So while Spidey is trading blows with Absorbing Man, he answers the job interview questions with all the clichés (“I think quickly on my feet”, “I care too much”) while performing super-heroic feats of derring-do that correspond with his replies.  It’s cute, and funny, and it’s got action, and a villain we haven’t seen Spidey face in a while.  If memory serves me correctly, Spidey last battled the Absorbing Man in the now-defunct MARVEL KNIGHTS Spider-Man title, in Reggie Hudlin’s tale, “The Wild Blue Yonder”.  And that’s just from memory!  I didn’t even have to look that up!

My only issue with this story is, well, I’m not a huge fan of artist Todd Nauck.  Which blows, because they keep letting him work on Spider-Man.  He did the also-defunct Spidey title FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN, and then the recent “Director’s Cut” of the CLONE SAGA.  Now this.  It’s not that I HATE him, it’s just that his art looks like it belongs in stuff created specifically for children.  Not that kids can’t dig on ASM (And they should!), but this stuff looks like it should be kept in the MARVEL ADVENTURES line for little ones.

That’s all for now!  Check back next time when I review the third and final installment of the JUGGERNAUT story!  Which includes a backup story, the prelude to #630’s return to the GAUNTLET, and the return of THE LIZARD!!!!!  THE FUCKING LIZARD!!!!!  FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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