Monday, 30 December 2013

Guest appearances omissions: The Human Fly #1

Let's have a quick look at one of Spider-Man's guest appearances that seems unlikely to be collected in the Essentials, or it seems any other collected edition any time soon, from the debut issue of The Human Fly. This was one of Marvel's oddest series, which stated it was based upon a real life person but there's uncertainty over how true this was and I don't think they did any promotional real life appearances.

The Human Fly #1, written by Bill Mantlo and drawn by Lee Elias

Quite a chunk of this issue is told in flashbacks, establishing the origin of the Human Fly (the victim of a car crash who had much of his skeleton rebuilt and who made an amazing recovery then took up daredevil stunts to give hope to the disabled) and some of his supporting crew. The main tale involves the hijacking of a plane full of press reporters arriving for the Human Fly's next show, including Peter Parker investigating whether the Human Fly has anything to do with a villain by the same name that Spider-Man once fought (there isn't and the villain has since generally been called just "the Fly"). The Human Fly is lowered onto the exterior of the flying jet and blasts his way in to overpower the hijackers; the resulting chaos allows Peter to slip into his Spider-Man costume and join the fight. The leader hijacker tries to flee with a rocket pack but the Human Fly grabs onto his leg and goes with him. The hijacker is knocked out but the Human Fly faces death until Spider-Man provides a webline and web-parachute to save his life. Spidey rushes back to the now landed plane to preserve his secret identity leaving the Human Fly to take the credit and give the reward to charity.

This is a fast paced issue that sets out the basics of the series quite well, but the guest appearance feels awkward and unnecessary. Whilst the similarity in names would have had to be addressed eventually, there was no need to tackle it straight away. Spider-Man's appearance isn't even mentioned on the cover so unless there was a big advertising campaign he was hardly being used as a sales booster. It also feels uneven that the title character has to be saved at the end and the lead villain gets away; neither of which is a good sign for a series. Spider-Man is written in character (Mantlo had recently finished a run on Marvel Team-Up and was just starting his first run on Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man) but just doesn't need to be here.

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