Friday, November 22, 2013

Review # 80: "Spider-Man - The Death of Jean DeWolff"

I love Peter David's run on X-Factor. Yet I've been reluctant to pick up what many herald as his greatest work. "The Death of Jean DeWolff" is regarded not only as one of the best Spider-Man stories, but as one of the best in the history of comics. There's just one problem: overcoming my general apathy for Spider-Man.

Then I found out Daredevil was in this and it couldn't get into my hands fast enough.

"The Death of Jean DeWolff" represents David's debut with Marvel, and having a landmark story to his name right off the bat is quite the achievement. Contained to the pages of Spidey's "B" title, "Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man," it presents the death of what had been a low-level character and the surprisingly heavy moral conflict that results as new masked villain "Sin-Eater" goes on a killing spree. Who's behind that mask is a shock.

The heaviest instance of moral conflict involves Daredevil, who - in his normal attire as Matt Murdock - stands by as his friend is murdered. Attempting to intervene would compromise his identity and likely cost more lives in the future. Meanwhile, Parker's emotional investment skyrockets when he learns DeWolff had a crush on him. Spidey struggles with hatred affecting his actions. He sets up a low-level criminal for an ass-kicking and - when Betty Brant's live is endangered - Parker tries to pummel Sin-Eater to death. Daredevil, who historically takes offense to such action, gets involved leading to an excellent showdown between the two.

For what's only a four-part saga (plus three bonus issues that detail the ultimate fate of the villain,) it's very affecting. David's method of detailing DeWolff's life up to that point is very smart. This also contains the first instance of a David issue ending with a gun being fired at someone, which has become his trademark plot device.

While I find the character to often show a lack of growth, the moments where Parker is ripped from his emotional comfort zone of "With great power, blah blah blah" often lead to great things. This is no exception. It's a Spider-Man I'm not used to seeing very often and one hell of a debut for one of the most underrated writers Marvel has ever employed.

Rating: 9.5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment