And this is how to wrap up a story – Dan Slott, Marcus Martin and crew, you just hit the jackpot – or rather, we readers did, courtesy of said creators. Spidey’s battle with Paper Doll comes to a satisfying conclusion, with our hero just avoiding a permanently squished arm while saving the villain’s life by tossing them both into a pool. That’s what happens when a writer remembers Peter has science smarts; he’s allowed to noticed her breathing patterns and guess that water might not just reflate his arm, it could fill out her flattened lungs.
Actually, the situation is a tad ambiguous and it could be that Peter was attempting to get his arm back to normal while using the water to make her pass out – after all, he had just shoved his fingers up her nose to mess up her breathing.
Given this, the latter scenario seems more likely, but I like to think Peter always has the safety of others uppermost in his mind.
Mind, that’s hard to believe a couple of times this issue; Peter takes a jolly long time to shift his spider-arse when he knows that actor Bobby Carr’s mystery lady may be about to get flattened by Paper Doll – first he makes sure he has his camera is webbed to a tree so he can get fine action shots, then he bothers to web up Carr’s bodyguards. Spidey tells the heavies ‘You’ll thank me later’ which implies he thinks he’s protecting them from Paper Doll, but really, should PD reappear (she’s already killed some of their colleagues) they’re surely better off being able to run from her).
Still, Peter gets there in the end, but he’s given the mystery girlfriend – one Mary Jane Watson – time to pop into Bobby’s panic room, meaning she’s well-positioned to help him via CCTV and loudspeaker, but he has no idea it’s her (dopey old paparazzo Peter didn’t notice it was MJ when he caught part of her on camera earlier that night – amusingly, he thought it looked like Jackpot). I liked this, it was clever, putting Peter and MJ so close and yet so far . ..
By the end of the issue MJ is heading back for California, having just signed an autograph for a fan – Sara Ehret, the woman who claims not to be Jackpot. But I bet she’s as nutty a fan of MJ as Paper Doll is of MJ’s beau, Bobby, which would be rather neat.
Talking of Bobby, like Paper Doll he shows extra dimension, proving to be more than the one-note bully of previous issues, which is fine by me – I don’t want MJ hanging out with a total ratbag. Bobby, it seems, is a bit of a privacy freak, and while he’s happy to toss MJ into his mansion’s panic room, he also wants to defend his territory – he’s no coward. OK, he thumps Paper Doll in the face, but she’s a paper-scissors-stone killer.
We actually learn a bit more about Paper Doll at the start of this issue – for one thing, her real name is Piper Dali. Really. Oh, how I love super-villlains whose name forces their fate (see also E Nigma, Otto Octavius, Fred Mandarin – OK, I made one of those up). I’m surprised we’re given the family name, mind, as Marcus Martin draws her parents, arguing over their daughter having come a cropper in their science project, in silhouette. And they’re well-enough known in the superhero science community that they can call on Reed Richards or the aforementioned Octavius for help. So I was thinking they’d turn out to be people we knew, maybe Peter’s parents, back from the comics-dead and in hiding. Well, actually, I didn’t really believe that’s who they’d be, but I thought they’d be someone – Dr Curt Connors’ cousins, or something.
But no, we even get the Dad’s first name – Ken. That’s Ken Dali. Ken Doll. No prizes for guessing that Mom’s is Barbie.
Over in Subplotland, Peter moves in with new flatmate Vin the Dull Cop, and makes up with old flatmate Harry. And both Robbie and Peter quit the DB during attacks of morals, and Dexter Bennett reveals his true colours. Which is great, I’d had it up to here with all the pseudo-comedic twaddle he was spouting.
So kudos to Dan Slott for a tremendously enjoyable script and Marcos Marton for truly wondrous pencils and inks – after an odd rendering last issue, his MJ is spot on here; Paper Doll has weight where she needs it, and lightness elsewhere; and Spidey continues to be Martin’s own mix of Ditko and Romita Sr, while looking better with each panel. And Martin’s clipped-out-by-a-stalker cover is the cherry on the cake.
This is the Spider-Man I want to be reading every month. Amazing.