Reviews of Old Comics: Spider-Woman #5


August 1979

spiderwoman005Looking back at the few reviews I’ve done so far, I really haven’t had one that was a bad comic. I set out to have one this time and I looked for something that would be that fodder. Enter, a 1970s Spider-Woman comic.
Spider-Woman wakes up bound and gagged in a dusty, decrepit, abonded house. Freeing herself, she recalls that she was captured by a masked vigilante calling himself the Hangman, who has a warped sense of chauvanism that leeds him the hold women captive in order to “protect” them. Almost immediately she’s assailed by hallucinations and flying furniture, briefly knocking her into unconsciousness. She wakes up trapped in a giant spider web to be attacked by more hallucinations.
Meanwhile, Spider-Woman’s ally the magician Magnus is getting familiar with his landlady, who seems like a lonely old widow.
Back at the old, abandoned house, Spider-Woman is confronted by hallucinations of her father and Magnus before blacking out again. When she wakes, she’s attacked by empty suits of armor and then nearly drowns when the chamber she’s fighting in is flooded. Upon escaping, she discovers Magnus unconscious and held captive before being confronted by the materializing form of the villain behind her ordeal, Morgan Le Fay.
Okay, what the hell was that? How did Magnus get from his afternoon tea with the old widow to being held captive in the same house as Spider-Woman? How does Morgan Le Fay, who has never appeared before now, and we can only assume is supposed to be the same character from Arthurian legend, despite the mispelling of her name, know about Spider-Woman and her origin? What about that Hangman guy that put her into the house? This story is just one big confusing mess. Marv Wolfman would go on to write some really good comic stories, but on this is one he really dropped the ball. Would it surprise you to learn he was his own editor on this? Lesson number five for good writing, folks, have a good editor!
Artwise, Carmine Infantino has a style that’s just plain goofy. Check out his run on Star Wars that was published around this time, as well as his run on Flash in the early 1980s if you don’t believe me. Infantino’s work was always best when when he had an inker and a colorist that worked for him. On Star Wars, he had Bob Wiacek and Gene Day, as well as George Roussos on colors, and that worked. Here, he has Wolfman’s wife coloring for him, not a good match, and the worst match I’ve ever seen as an inker for Infantino, Tony Dezuniga. Infantino artwork can be very intriguing to follow. There are a few panels, especially towards the beginning of the comic, that have that potential, but the poor match of the inker completely loses that.
With Spider-Woman’s reintroduction in the Avengers, and her pivotal role in Secret Invasion, there’s a level of real interest in her older stories. This comic has been collected in Essential Spider-Woman Vol. 1 (ISBN: 0785117938). I’d recommend picking up the Essential volumes, since they’re cheap. It’s also been collected in the early 1980s as part of a pocket digest collection, which could possibly be found at a flea market, antique mall, or a comic shop that has some really cool stuff instead of overstock from the glut of the 1990s.
FINAL RATING: 3.5 (out of a possible 10)
With better art collaborators, this would be higher. The story is hard to follow, and really just leaves me with a headache.