Roger Makes His Mark with Stern Storytelling
Holly molly. #52 of PPSSM. Nice. Roger Stern's writing is spectacularly amazing. The (near-)death of the White Tiger scene is played so well I almost forgot I'm reading an old comic book! This is good stuff along the lines of Ultimate Spider-Man. Jonah's dialogue and views regarding his hatred towards superheroes are very powerful here when he realized one of them was just a kid. You could just sense a whole scene coming down in grimness, almost as if one of those stereotype raining scenes should appear here somewhere. This is proof that you don't need good graphics/fancy drawings when you have a powerful story. Story and writing matter.
The rest of this issue is definitely better than I expected. I love the whole 'killing all superhero' business. This almost could've been something like "Days of Future Past," were more superheroes met in peril (not necessary involving murder). Then again, this is the '80s, and something like Civil War probably couldn't happen at the time.
What I don't particularly like about the writing, though, is Mace's motive. I kinda wish he's doing this more than just for insane militarism. I kinda wish it's a master criminal who came up with this plan, ready to take over the whole city for himself - and still do it successfully rather than being a mere blow-horn. Well, at least until Spidey stops him after 50 issues or so. And of course, I kinda wished, from when I first saw the cover, that the White Tiger would really be dead, triggering another controversial chain of events almost as great as that of Gwen Stacy (especially with that whole revealed identity bit; the murder of White Tiger could very well set a reminder why identities are best kept secret). Hey, one can dream, can't I?
Regardless, this is still very good writing here. I love how they make Spidey a lot smarter than his ASM counterpart in the '80s. Also, Hector's revelation of his identity leading down to his tragedy wrapped up nicely in this issue, it makes this story arc the Civil War/Back in Black of the '80s. Probably not as impactful because it's not Spidey, but the idea itself is all the same splendid.
And what's this? Hector is addicted to the power of his amulets? A superhero whose addiction to his superpowers are physical, resemble the activity of drug dosage itself? This is some nice touch. Maybe this have been done before, but this is still one hell of an unique side to the superhero gig I've never seen.
And I just have to quote this little line of dialogue:
Blackbyrd: "After all, he's (Hector) already proven that he's smarter than you are."
Spidey: "Oh? How's that?"
Blackbyrd: "He's learned enough to quit while he's ahead."
Nearly two and a half decade later, Spider-Man will learn the true meaning of this foreboding warning.
4.5 stars. I wanted to give it a 4 because of certain boundaries not crossed, but the comparison of superpowers to drug usage, the potentially powerful story that's the murder of superheroes, and especially the excellently written Jameson dialogues at the beginning that made this issue unrecognizable as campy or vintage earned it an extra half a star. Nothing expected less from the legend.