Spectacular Spider-Man 217 was cover date October 1994 and was on sale August 1994, sharing the spinner racks with Timewalker 1, Ultraforce 1, X-Men Classic 100 and Zero Hour 0.
Credits: Writer – Tom DeFalco, artist – Sal Buscmea and edited by Mark Powers.
Cast: Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker, Ben Reilly, Dr Judas Traveller, Boone, Medea, Mr Nacht, Wild Whip, Carnage & Scrier.
Plot: Judas Traveller faces both Ben and Peter inside the Ravencroft Institute. Using his incredibly ill-defined mental powers to know the two out, he has Boone and Medea put the heroes in the cellar whilst Chakra is sent on a mysterious errand. He is chided by the pale and shrouded Scrier for taking too long.
In the basement, Spider-Man wakes and immediately attacks Ben, convinced that he is working with Traveller, he attacks viciously with no compunction. Ben points out how humourless and aggressive Spider-Man is. Before either than act further the inmates are friend, but the barrier outside from Web of Spider-Man 117 prevents them from leaving, so they head inwards towards Spider-Man and Ben. Ben shows restraint, but Spider-Man is brutal in dealing with the patients and on a plane to Pittsburgh, Mary Jane is feeling unwell.
Ben and Spider-Man battle Wild Whip, one of Ben’s few villains, who’s quickly dispatched before the two are face to face with Carnage. Ben jumps into the fray to keep Carnage from the unconscious patients, this reminds Spider-Man of who he really is and he battles alongside Ben to bring Carnage down.
As the barrier comes down and Judas Traveller and his entourage make their escape, the two heroes jump through the main windows after them. Ben goes after Boone, Medea and Mr Nacht, while Spider-Man goes after Traveller himself. Ben is seemingly caught in an explosion as Traveller escapes because of the distraction it has caused. Spider-Man is knocked out and when he awakes Dr Kafka is there and finds a letter from Dr Traveller post dated a week earlier, telling her he won’t be able to accept her invitation. Thus explaining Chakra’s errand. In a limo heading away, Traveller confirms that he will return and unknown to Spider-Man, Ben has survived.
Notes: DeFalco and Buscemi give us a bit of big budget action 3rd act, heavy on action. A few big set pieces and some character moments here and there. DeFalco is far from a subtle writer, but he very clearly shows how the two men are quite different, with Ben having to restrain Peter so many times. The choice to have Ben seemingly perish makes little sense though and the scene with Mary Jane seems a bit out of place, but Traveller creating his own alibi and other misdirects make this a decent break-neck paced story that I was glad to read.
The art too lacked subtly or nuance, but Sal’s story-telling is excellent and consistent and does well with the action scenes. My only gripe was the panels in the Carnage fight which don’t jibe with the captions, the art looking with one move, with the writing describing hours of combat/
The epilogue seems to reset Peter’s character to how he was at the beginning of the story and leaves things open with Ben. The Clone Saga is here and the best is yet to come.
Overall for Power and Responsibility:
Art – 4 out of 5
Writing – 3 out of 5
Total 7 out of 10.
Next Time: One door closes as the prelude to the Age of Apocalypse comes to an end.