The Amazing Spider-Man #794

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SpiderMan794As ‘anniversary’ stories go, Dan Slott and Christos Gage’s script to “Last Chance” may well have provided its 51,412 readers with a modicum of entertainment courtesy of its insight as to where the most “dangerous, extranormal artefacts” on Earth are housed following the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D.. This “Lock Box”, a top security facility hidden far beneath the waves on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean and dictatorially managed by Commander Hicks, provides a fascinatingly look at the naïve mix of super-weapon protection within a tight financial budget, and arguably could well have done with more exploratory ‘screen time’ as Miss Coleman and Mister Krane impressively ‘gun’ their way through several heavily-armed guards in order to locate the whereabouts of Carnage’s capsule.

Disappointingly though, the same fire-fighting fervour is perhaps not that evident within the rest of this periodical’s twenty-pages, despite “Marvel Worldwide” proclaiming this opening instalment to its creative team’s “Threat Level Red” event as featuring a “rematch” for which “the dangerous madman called Zodiac” has “had a whole year to prepare”. Indeed, considering all the trials and tribulations Vernon Jacob Fury has previously caused Spider-Man as the leader of “a terrorist organization with sights set on world domination”, his straightforward defeat at the hands of Mockingbird towards the conclusion of this particular publication is utterly underwhelming; “Damn you! You’ve stopped the upload. But all you’ve won is death! With my rage — my mind controlling the key — I’ll incinerate you! I’ll –KLOKK”

Naturally, that’s not to say Issue Seven Hundred And Ninety Four of “Amazing Spider-Man” doesn’t contain plenty of pulse pounding action, as Peter Parker’s plans to contain Scorpio’s presence within the Zodiac Vault in Greenwich, England go, unsurprisingly, horribly awry as the criminal businessman manages to breach the containment field supposedly imprisoning him with “an hour to go!” But the wall-crawler’s confrontation at the very top of Big Ben seems to have been stage-managed purely to provide artist Stuart Immonen with plenty of theatrical panels to pencil rather than ensure any believable plot progression. Unless any bibliophiles believe Fury’s contrived claim that his company purposely “installed a hidden transmitter made specifically for the key” into the clock tower some time in the past, in order to “send a master code to every satellite system” and further his nefarious ends..?

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For the past forty or so years I have been collecting American comics… To begin with they were predominantly black and white British reprints of “Marvel Comics Group” titles such as “Spider-Man Comics Weekly”, “The Mighty World of Marvel” and “Star Wars Weekly”; all six to ten pence editions I could store away under my bed in a large cardboard box. As a result though I was introduced to the teenage angst of Peter Parker, the discovery of a frozen Captain America by Earth's Mightiest Heroes, witnessed the dreadful rage of Doctor Bruce Banner, and even travelled to a galaxy far far away... Later I would be able to afford actual America colour comic books and supplemented my collection of “Marvel” titles such as “Conan the Barbarian”, “Howard the Duck” and “Captain America” with some “DC Comics” issues of “Batman”, “Green Lantern” and “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew”. There would even be time for Independent publications such as “Wildcats”, “Spawn” and “The Authority”. These days however I must admit to yearning back to the simpler times of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, back to when both artwork and storylines were straightforward, easy to follow and super-heroes were just starting out on their adventures. A time when no-one had yet to be resurrected from the dead for the fourth time. I've written over seven hundred comic book reviews on my blog over the past few years, with them usually following my latest purchases, all wrapped up in a large brown paper bag, as well as occasional ‘flashbacks’ to some of the classic "Golden Age" issues I already own…

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