Web of Spider-Man 117 was cover dated October 1994 and was on sale August 1994, sharing the spinner racks with Adventures of Superman #0, Aliens: Earth Angel #1, ClanDestine #1 and Prophet #0.
Writer: Terry Kavanagh, pencils: Steven Butler, inks: Randy Emberlin with Eric Fein as Editor.
Cast Main: Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker, The Clone of Spider-Man, May Parker, John Jamieson, Dr Kafka.
Cast: Villainous: Dr Judas Traveller, his entourage (Mr Nacht, Medea, Chakra and Boone) and the inmates of Ravenscroft (Chameleon, Carnage and Shriek)
Plot: Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker has arrived on the roof of the hospital where his Aunt May lies comatose and finds Peter Parker facing him. (Here I’m going to refer to the clone as Pete and the original as Spider-Man, since that’s how they mostly appear in this issue) Spider-Man is exhausted and the twist and turns his life has taken have left him close to the edge and so he over-reacts. Pete wants no part of this and does his best to escape a more experienced and enraged Spider-Man. Spider-Man tackles Pete into a nearby warehouse and begins a savage beating when Pete refers to Spider-Man by his given name.
Meanwhile we move to the Ravenscroft Hospital run Dr Kafka, this is sort of a low rent copy of Arkham Asylum, using psychological treatments to rehabilitate supervillains. Dr Kafka has requested the aid of Judas Traveller to assist in the running of the hospital as she recuperates from recent injuries. The, even for the 90’s, outlandishly dressed Dr Traveller brings in his associates MrNacht, Medea, Chakra and Boone and takes a tour through the cells, examining each inmate/patient as he walks through the walls, unknown to Dr Kafka.
Back to Pete and Spider-Man and we find Spider-Man has realised this ‘spider-sense’ doesn’t work on Pete, who reveals he is the Jackal’s clone of Spider-Man (Last seen in Amazing Spider-Man #149 ) and he is even more enraged by this. Pete holds him off whilst at Ravenscroft, Traveller is ready to begin.
He sends Chakra tocontact Spider-Man whilst Medea knocks Jamieson out and Traveller sends Dr Kafka outside as he forms some kind of barrier around the hospital.
Chakra, in her spirit form explains the situation. If Spider-Man doesn’t come to Ravenscroft, Judas Traveller will kill the inmates, of course if he saves them, he risks their escape. While Peter considers what to do, follow Spider-Man after overhearing Chakra, or go and visit May, possibly leaving Spider-Man to die. Before we learn which he decides, Spider-Man walks into Ravenscroft and the door slams behind him.
Notes: There’s a lot of the recent years before this that I had missed, so I pretty much had zero idea of what the current status quo was. Who was this clone, who was Judas Traveller and why was Spider-Man so against his secret identify. This issue answers NONE of those questions.
I am not going to comment on the dialogue too much, since 90’s dialogue was normally a bit clunky. But the story does do some interesting things, including how Peter sees himself compared to Spider-Man. Despite having the same memories, powers and feelings Peter is very aware of not being the real thing. The shock of seeing himself causes such a violent reaction, but seeing where he seems to be emotionally, it makes sense. This is put aside when he learns that his villains are in jeopardy because of Judas Traveller.
You know what, whilst we are on the subject, he’s supposed to be a world renowned psychiatric specialist and this is how he acts? His interests and agenda relating to the nature of evil? No alarm bells Doctor Kafka? His walkthrough of the hospital and his examination of the villains is an interesting attempt to add a Batman villainesque depth to Spider-Man bad guys that seems to be needed. The hero’s dilemma at the end was so a nice touch, opening the story up to more depth and possibilities as a result, by the end I was actually keen to read the next one.
The art is also a positive, Butler is consistent in his depiction of both of the Petes and the action scenes are exciting. His faces are very expressive on certain pages with Spider-Man without his mask selling the emotional nature of the scene really well. My only art complaint is the character designs for Traveller and his entourage. Since it was a crossover it’s hard to know who’s idea each character was. But judging by what we get, you do have to ask, who would ask ANY of these people to work in a hospital without at least some kind of background check.
This was the beginning of the Clone Saga and from where I sit, it’s a strong one.
Next Time: 20 years before 20 years ago, the Age of Apocalypse is coming.