Review by Ian Keogh
Vol. 3 takes us into and past the halfway point of the five volume Gauntlet series, with the Vulture and Morbius cover featured. Morbius is actually dealt with relatively rapidly in a short story by Fred Van Lente, as this volume has a surprise to reach concerning a villain not cover featured. It leaves Morbius rather hanging, seemingly shoehorned in just so his name could be used. The page count certainly doesn’t allow for getting to grips with the tragedy of what occurs, and Joe Quinones’ cartooning doesn’t sell that either.
It’s followed by a look at Flash Thompson’s rehabilitation, very nicely drawn by Luke Ross, with Greg Weisman’s plot constructed around the clinical five stages before accepting a loss. The problem with it, though, is that Spider-Man’s contacts are far wider than the people Weisman uses in the story, so while the spotlight on Flash and his feelings is sympathetic, the plot fails the logic test.
The Vulture was the second villain Spider-Man ever faced, and was old then, but Adrian Toomes has proved a particularly durable old bird, and Van Lente underlines that in a short tying his origin in with a jailbreak. It’s brutal, clever and nicely drawn by Francis Portela.
However, it’s not Toomes who features in the longer story provided by the writing team of Mark Waid and Tom Peyer with artist Paul Azaceta, but a newer version who pukes up acid. It’s unappealing stylistically and visually, and whoever came up with the idea of this creation having the traits of a real vulture really should have thought it through. As was the case with the Electro segment in Vol. 1, Waid stirs up greater thrills with the civilian subplot delivering a real bombshell. It’s a neat piece of logic concerning an aspect of Spider-Man dating back to the earliest days, but the rest of the story is ordinary. Azaceta’s a good artist, but seems uncomfortable on Spider-Man, and his work looks so much better on more intimate features.
The closer is Joe Kelly and Max Fiumara following up on their look at the Rhino from Vol. 2. It was the shortest chapter there, and round two occurs here. The provocation of the new Rhino produces an inevitable result, and an inevitable consequence from that, but Kelly and Fiumara ensure it’s a heartbreaker even though we’re sure of what’s coming. It ends the mixed bag of Vol. 3 on a strong note, and Vol. 4 features Juggernaut. Half this content features in Amazing Spider-Man: The Gauntlet – The Complete Collection Vol. 1, while the Vulture story is reprinted in the second volume.