Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: Al Milgrom | Inker: Joe Sinnott
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Christie Scheele | Editor: Mark Gruenwald
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The Lava Men return to their home underground, after securing a promise from Project: Pegasus security chief O'Brien that the magma tap which disturbed them will be moved. However, four supervillains -- Moonstone, Blackout, Electro, and the Rhino -- are loose within Pegasus. The villains attempt to seize control of the facility, but the Avengers and Spider-Man stop them. Moonstone and Blackout escape, but not before Moonstone disrupts the Project's reactor, sending it into a critical meltdown. Captain Marvel, immune to the radiation by virtue of her light-based powers, enters the reactor core and, with Spider-Man walking her through the process, averts the catastrophe.

Later, back at Avengers Mansion, Earth's mightiest heroes agree to take Spider-Man on as a junior trainee. But when the ask their government liaison, Sikorsky, for clearance, he vetoes the idea, stating that the government has "a file on him that's a yard long." Spider-Man decides that an Avengers membership may not have been up his alley anyway, and departs.

The Sub-Plots: Spider-Man is still pining over the Avengers' $1,000 a week salary. Later, during the fight, the Scarlet Witch disables Electro by using her hex powers to cut off his oxygen, an unexpectedly brutal move which stuns Captain America. Also, at Avengers Mansion, the Witch reminds readers that her husband is injured, though she doesn't refer to him by name.

When Captain America informs the wall-crawler that the Avengers are allowed to keep their identities secret from one another, but they must declare all of their powers to their fellow members, Starfox realizes that he's never told the other Avengers about his "special ability".
Continuity Notes: Though not footnoted (there are no footnotes whatsoever in this issue), the story's second page finds Spider-Man recapping the events of AVENGERS #236. Later, he identifies Moonstone to the Avengers, having fought her in the Stern-plotted SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #61.

Uncle Rog Speaks: "[My second favorite Spider-Man villain after the Vulture is] maybe Electro. Electro or Dr. Octopus." -- The Spider-Man Crawlspace Podcast, episodes 35 & 37, 2008

My Thoughts: Having spent a great deal of his time with Spider-Man pitting the wall-crawler against non-traditional villains such as the Cobra, Mr. Hyde, and Juggernaut, or creating new foes like Belladonna and the Hobgoblin, Stern uses an AVENGERS story, of all things, to give Spider-Man some quality time with two of his classic enemies -- Electro and the Rhino. And while it's the Scarlet Witch who defeats Electro and She-Hulk who clobbers Rhino, Spider-Man gets to dance a bit with each of them, reminding readers that they belong to him and he's just loaning them to the Avengers.

In fact, this may be an Avengers story guest-starring Spider-Man, but it reads the other way around. As the story's POV character, we see more of Spider-Man's thoughts than anyone else's. Plus he gets the majority of the issue's best lines and even has a fantastic moment at the end, where he reveals his scientific acumen to the Avengers by explaining to Captain Marvel how to stop a nuclear meltdown. Stern has utilized Peter Parker's natural scientific aptitude many times throughout the issues he's penned to this point, but while most of those moments are presented in a more casual manner, this one comes across as, to use a phrase I've never particularly liked but which fits perfectly, a "Crowning Moment of Awesome".
And then we have the conclusion. After proving himself to the Avengers, Spider-Man is accepted onto the team, pending security clearance. But even as the Avengers make their case to Sikorsky, the web-slinger seems to have second thoughts. He wants the money, but in his own words, "I feel odd enough just thinking of joining a regular team. The Avengers are good folks, but being in a group is really gonna cramp my style!" Ultimately he decides to go for it, but at this point the cash seems to be his only motivation. Thus, after Sikorsky rejects him, when Captain America offers to go over the liaison's head to the President, Spider-Man tells Cap to forget about it, because "...joining the Avengers was a dumb idea anyway!"

Makes perfect sense to me.
Next Issue: Back to the SPIDER-MAN BY ROGER STERN OMNIBUS, and the final half-dozen issues of Stern's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN run, as our hero sets out in search of the Hobgoblin.

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