Join us as we look at this forgotten back-up strip featuring the return classic Spidey foe…D.K.!
At the Ravencroft institute Doctor Ashley Kafka informs Spidey that the one-time public menace David Kalen (a.k.a. D.K.) is in a bad state.
Kalen was and gained the power to transform into a monster and decay anything he touched when he and his brother investigated the illegal dumping of chemicals. His brother didn’t make it and now Kalen has survivor’s guilt turning his decaying abilities inward, effectively killing himself.
Since Spider-Man talked him into coming to Ravencroft in the first place Kafka hopes Spider-Man can get through to him again. The problem however is that it was the Ben Reilly Spider-Man who met D.K., not Peter Parker; a fact that shakes Peter’s confidence and causes his mind to drift to Ben.
When Spider-Man and Kafka talk to D.K. he transforms into his monstrous form and escapes, not wanting to remain locked up any longer. Spider-Man follows D.K.’s path and finds the decayed bodies of several guards right before D.K. ambushes him.
Spider-Man dodges D.K. who rants about how he is beyond saving. Peter ponders this as he gazes upon the mounds of dust that is all that remains of D.K.’s victims. Seeing this sight Peter flashes back to Ben Reilly’s death back in Revelations.
D.K. continues to rant about how he’s tired of being tested on and of being alone. This makes Peter realise that D.K.’s rampage is all about his dead brother. When he brings this up to D.K., Kalen rants about just wanting to leave and how he should have died with his brother.
He asks Spider-Man if he knows what it’s like to lose a brother to which Spider-Man says he does, telling D.K. about how he misses his own brother…Ben…
D.K. calms down and after realising he’s committed murder, allows himself to be locked up again. Doctor Kafka says that with everything that’s happened she is afraid for D.K., who has continued to turn his power inward.
The backup story was a mixed bag really.
The art by Rich Chase is good. In fact it’s so similar to Mike Wieringo (who did the main stories of these issues) I thought Wieringo himself was drawing this until I checked the credits.
And it’s good to see Doctor Kafka actually being used as opposed to disappearing or being a body for cheap shock value. Buuuuut…. the character of D.K. is as lame as ever in this story just like in his debut.
What saves this story however is the thing that Dezago excelled at during the Clone Saga: the brotherly dynamic between Peter and Ben.
Even though Ben is dead here Dezago gives us a tiny bit of insight into Peter’s feelings of loss for him and echoes this through the character of D.K. who, like Peter, is grieving his own brother and feeling guilty over outliving him.
Ironically Ben felt inadequate as Spider-Man compared to Peter but in this scenario it is Peter who feels inadequate compared to Ben. A nice parallel.
This continued into the scene where the guards’ decomposed bodies reminded Peter of Ben. In a creepy sort of way it was even touching.
But that scene is immediately upstaged when Peter calms D.K. down by telling him that he too knows what it means to lose a brother.
This story didn’t do anything outstanding and had a lame villain in it. As such it doesn’t deserve an A+. However I did really like it, so I am awarding it a respectable A-.
As for why we’re covering this story now?
Well…you’ll see in a little while…
Author: Alex Evangeli
I’ve loved Spider-Man, Spider-Girl and the Clone Saga since I were but a wee lad living in the United Kingdom. Glad to be here!