Acquired: Amazing Spider-Man #344

Price: $10.00 (Store Credit)
Where: Arch Enemy Comics, Boise, ID

Bought this one with some store credit I'd accumulated from Ken at Arch Enemy Comics. If you're in the area, stop on by... great store!

Now how much would you pay?!

Writer: David Michelinie
Penciler: Erik Larsen

Pretty good cover by Larsen, although Cardiac looks a bit unconcerned at the prospect of a beat-down by Spidey and the Rhino. Perhaps it's the power of the Kirby Kackle! And although Rhino's the big Spidey-Family villain this issue, he gets billing only after Cardiac and - check out the top - clues to a possible Venom cameo. I'd be pissed. Actually, on a second glance, he kind of is! In fact, killing Spider-Man would get you some press above the fold, as it were. Ah, motivations!

I also like the "Now how much would you pay?!" blurb at the bottom. Anything that encourages a 10-year old haggling in a direct market comics store, I'm all in favor of.

I have a huge Amazing Spider-Man collection - far more than any other title I own. It just sort of exploded by itself then subject itself to collector's disease. The reason this on was on the list is that, now that I've got it, I have every Amazing Spider-Man from #100 until it re-booted. I just never got around to plugging that gap. I mention this because I don't want you to think I wanted this one for the fantastic story and breathtaking art... 'cause, brother, they ain't here!

This issue starts, like every ASM in the '90s, with Spider-man checking out some shady goings on at the waterfront. The shadiness gets broken up by a new Super Hero/Villain (will we ever know?!?), Cardiac, who uses some kind of big staff to zap the bad guys and destroy the waterfront and the evil chemical corporation that's using it. We then get a brief Peter / Mary Jane plot furtherance, then a look at a previously unknown multi-million dollar corporation run by a big guy who walks with a cane and has a problem with evil chemical corporations.

I mean, C'Mon! Was I ever dumb enough not to put these together? I say thee, Nay!

At this point, I was curious if I could, based on the story so far and the cover, predict the rest of the issue. I could. It wasn't even hard. Play along at home!

If you guessed that Rhino would be hired to stop the new character from completing his evil-chemical corporation vendetta and Spidey would get caught in the middle and then Rhino would be defeated and finally the two would leave everything at an unsteady truce... well, Congrats! Here's your cookie.

When we're not getting Spidey kicking Rhino, we get a bit about Eddie Brock in prison and a glimpse of something that may or may not be the costume making it's way back to him. He's sharing a room with the guy who will eventually become Carnage and it's pointed out how evil he is. Oh, and we get this sinister-looking panel of him:

My Face! What have you done to my FACE?!?

That's wrong, Mr. Larsen. So, very, very wrong. Still, you did make me giggle, so if you were going for that, good job!

Thank goodness for store credit, because this issue certainly wasn't worth the $10 I used on it. This could be one of the formulaic comics I've read in a long time - and I have all of the other 90s ASM's, so that's saying something. But it did plug a ASM gap, so glad to finally have it. And it did have this ad on the inside:

The humble beginnings!

"You've seen the ads! You've heard the name uttered in whispers! But now it's time to meet the newest, most exotically exciting superstar in the mighty Marvel firmament - the only super hero based on a real-life, flesh-and-blood human being - dazzling, dangerous, deadly - a smoldering, sizzling stick of human dynamite - the one and only NIGHT CAT!"

That some mighty fine huckstering there, Stan! You the man!

"Yours truly wrote the script, too, which could possibly change the complexion of the comic book industry for all time to come!"

I'll let that one lie there.

I still think we should get Night Cat and Feedback together to really create something that would change complexions. At least mine.

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