Spider-Man : Unlimited #11

Reviewer : Tim Byrne

Story #1
Title : Place Your Bets
Writer : Brian Reed
Artist : Michael Lark
Colors : Pete Pantazis
Letterer : Dave Sharpe
Editor : Tom Brevoort
Publisher : Marvel Comics

One of the advantages of the Unlimited formula is that you usually get your money’s worth in terms of story. When each writer only has around a dozen pages to tell a self-contained story, there’s a pressure to get a story that is worth reading in that limited page space.

This is particularly the case when you consider that Marvel is using this series (despite the comparatively low sales figures) as a try-out for new and aspiring workers, both writers and artists.

Having said this, the story here is really three pages stretched out to a dozen. Initially, we see that a group in a blue-collar bar are watching Spidey having a fight with a Hulk. A stranger starts betting the crowd that he will be able to predict each of Spider-Man’s moves, and then surprises them when he does so correctly.

Now that’s not a bad hook for a story. Is the stranger psychic? A friend or enemy of Spidey’s? A student of super-heroes? And so-on. However, this initial ‘hook’ is dragged out to take almost the whole story, with only a page and a bit for the ‘pay-off’ of who the mysterious stranger really is.

The dialogue is well-written for what it is, but there is a real lack of economy which again hampers the story. Dialogue is put in the mouths of the toughs at the bar, but not nearly enough detail to peg them as individual characters.

The pay-off, while cute, still felt like it was only the lead-in to something more important.

The art, by Michael Lark (also seen in Gotham Central) is suitable, particularly in the scenes in the bar, where shades of muted browns and greys are called for. When depicting the fight (on TV) Lark, and Pantazis on colours go for a muted look, to represent the ‘on a screen component’, which works to suggest TV, but doesn’t capture much of the kinetic energy of the fight.

Not so great, overall.

Story #2
Title : This Looks Like A Job For…
Writer : Jason Miller
Artist : Alberto Dose
Colors : Rob Schwager
Letters : Dave Sharpe
Editor : Tom Brevoort
Publisher : Marvel Comics

Things don’t pick up too much with this second story.

Peter Parker is on a field trip with his class, when the normal stresses of a high-school group of kids are disrupted by a super-powered battle between the Thing and the Absorbing Man.

To be honest, the whole thing is written (either consciously or otherwise) in the style of a 60s Stan Lee special, with its cheesy depiction of the ‘nasty’ co-teacher, the coincidence of a super-battle taking place right near Peter Parker, and its affirmation of what it means to be a ‘true hero’.

Given Peter’s commitment to duty without reward, it also seemed extraordinarily risky for him to plow into battle the way he does, without any real concern for public notice. Its not on the scale of Samm Barnes’ arc in Spectacular Spider-Man, but Peter’s normally not that careless.

The Thing is a mere caricature, dropping his standard phrases in a supporting role that does little to add to the main story.

The closing quip doesn’t hold much water, and the whole thing seemed more suited to one of those ‘Marvel Age’ books that were floating around last year.

The art is well-suited to the story, if that’s the right phrase, looking bright, sparky and youthful. The depiction of Peter is particularly inconsistent, with him looking like one of the teen-agers more often than not.

Again, nothing to really see here.

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