Sunday, February 14, 2021

Doom Service

 

I've been reading comic books since the early 1990s. Aside from the few Archie digest comics, I didn't really have comic books until I began collecting TaleSpin comics. I then got a stack of random comics as a gift and this comic was one of them. The Amazing Spider-Man #350 was one of my first comic books and, for a long time, one of my favorites. It's a good issue that a first-time reader could get into. You don't necessarily need to read the previous issue and you definitely don't need to read the next. Written by David Michelinie with art by Erik Larsen and Randy Emberlin. It has a cover date of August 1991. Bob Sharen did the coloring and Rick Parker did the lettering. The issue was edited by Eric Fein, Danny Fingeroth, and Tom DeFalco. Being a 350th anniversary issue, it's a double-sized extravaganza. Let's get into it.

Continued from the previous issue, Spider-Man is at a Long Island Resort to stop The Black Fox, a common jewel thief, when he runs into Doctor Doom. Spider-Man wonders what Doom wants with the Black Fox but Doom just says that it's personal. Despite his best efforts, Spider-Man tries to stop Doom from hurting the old man but it doesn't go well.


With Spider-Man out of the way, Doom corners the Black Fox and demands the Dragon's Egg--a large diamond evidently stolen by the Fox in Monaco. Unfortunately the Fox has already sold the Dragon's Egg which Doom hopes he's lying about. Spider-Man is able to get Doom away from the Fox and toss him across the room. Doom begins shooting lasers at the ceiling causing it to collapse. The Black Fox is able to escape so Doom decides to turn his anger toward Spider-Man--who is already beaten pretty bad.

The Dragon's Egg belonged to Doctor Doom's mom (aw). He loaned it out for a charity function where it was accidentally left out and then stolen. Doom, of course, is trying to get it back as it's one of the only things he has left of his mother (aww). Since Spider-Man allowed the thief to get away, he must be punished. Spider-Man throws a table at Doom who retaliates by shooting electricity at a gas stove causing the whole floor of the building to explode.

Spider-Man decides that he's had enough of being beaten to a pulp and tries to escape. He's able to keep Doom at bay for a bit but his spider-powers are a bit wonky and Doctor Doom is just too good of an adversary. Surprisingly, Doom pauses at killing Spider-Man because the police are on their way. Spider-Man convinces Doom to let him have 24 hours to find the Black Fox and find out where the Dragon's Egg went. Doom agrees. Meanwhile, The Black Fox returns home and is also determined to find the Egg.
Peter Parker wakes up the next day aching and not really in the mood to be Spider-Man. The Black Fox gives up his money in order to find out who bought the Dragon's Egg while Peter wonders why he always lets the Black Fox go. "Why am I so soft-hearted about one old man?" Maybe it's because he reminds Peter of...Uncle Ben!

Peter's right to be concerned but Uncle Ben is here to help Peter out. Uncle Ben, for some reason, retells Spidey's origin, but it is an anniversary issue so it's expected at this point, just to get to the theory that Peter lets the Black Fox go because he's afraid of the Black Fox's disapproval. What? Ok. Anyway, Peter gets to where he's going where his head injury really kicks in and he passes out. Sadly, Peter spends several hours in the hospital and only has a short amount of time to find the Black Fox and finally bring him to justice and do Uncle Ben right. Mary Jane, rightfully, thinks it's a bad idea to go Spider-Man-ing in his condition but with great power and all that claptrap.

Spider-Man follows the Black Fox to New Jersey where Fox is going after Andrew Carpathian, the leader of the Arcane Order of the Night who needed the Dragon's Egg so he can awaken a giant swarm of insects and rule the world. Spider-Man recruits Black Fox to help battle the cultists which gives us some great Erik Larson Spider-Man action.



Being told Black Fox is here, Doctor Doom arrives as the 24 hours is up. With Carpathian's lackeys focused on Doom, Spidey is able to get the Dragon's Egg and stop the swarm from forming. The Order retreats and Spider-Man happily gives the Egg back to Doctor Doom who then turns his anger to the Black Fox who must be punished. Spider-Man convinces Doom not to kill the Black Fox but instead destroys the Trask Diamond which Fox was going to use for his retirement.
Fox thanks Spider-Man for saving his life and prepares to leave. Spider-Man stops him and instead takes the Black Fox to the police, positive that Uncle Ben would be proud.


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