"Madness Means... The Mindworm!"
Words by Gerry Conway.
Pencis by Ross Andru.
Inks by Giacoia and Hunt.
Lettering by Annette Kawecki.
Colours by Petra Goldberg.
Landscapes. They're not just rectangular things that come in wooden frames. They're also a state of mind. And, in this tale, we find a whole new landscape for our hero, as Spider-Man moves to a new part of New York - and, while he's at it, enters a whole new realm of story-telling.
It's impossible to think of any Spider-Man tale in this run that's so far removed from the norm. In terms of mood, plot and the nature of its villain, maybe it's just me but, apart from the lack of over-verbosity, this could be a Don McGregor tale. You could stick the Mindworm in a Killraven story and his basic nature wouldn't look out of place. It leads to one of the strangest Spider-Man stories ever told, an oddly low-key missive with the Mindworm trying to drain the emotions/souls from a now zombie-esque community. In fact, so odd is it that, if the issue had climaxed with Spidey waking to discover it was all a dream, you wouldn't have been surprised. Because of this oddness and eerieness, I do have to see it as one of the most compelling stories of its era.
On other matters, nice to see Flash Thompson and Peter Parker not only getting on with each other these days but actually sharing an apartment. It just goes to show how the characters have developed over the years that this seems a perfectly natural development rather than forced.
It does raise one question, however.
Is Flash's new mellowness part of that natural progression? Or have months of having his emotions drained by the Mindworm led to it? Needless to say we're given no answers, possibly because it was a matter that hadn't occurred to Gerry Conway. It would've been nice if it had. The idea that Flash and the other residents had somehow been left as better people through the Mindworm's feeding would have had an appealing irony to it.