Amazing Spider-Man #269-270
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #269, Amazing Spider-Man #270
It pits Spider-Man against Firelord, former herald of Galactus, and to say that Firelord is outside Spidey's weight class is putting it mildly. So what DeFalco gives us on a characterization level is the stages that Spidey goes through - the initial confidence...
...the realization of what he's gotten himself into...
...running for help and then learning that no help will be forthcoming (not even Power Pack)...
...the temptation to just switch back into his civvies and hide...
...and the final determination that kicks in when he realizes that it's his responsibility to stick with the fight.
The Avengers show up after the fight is over.
This, and an earlier scene showing the Avengers returning home from a mission (Terminus) to find that the government had invaded their mansion, was repeated from Avengers #258, which was actually published several months prior to these issues (it had an August cover date vs. these issues' Oct-Nov publications), and so the end of the battle was shown as a teaser to get us wondering how Spidey could have possibly defeated Firelord. And i definitely think these issues delivered the payoff.
When Tom DeFalco had the Thing face off against a similarly overpowering Champion, we went straight to that final "never gives up" state, and that's a known characteristic of the Thing, whereas here it's an evolution for Spider-Man and a bit of a defining moment for him.
One lucky break in this story is that there seem to be more empty buildings (under construction, waiting to be demolished, etc.) than occupied ones in New York at this time.
It's said that Firelord was initially wandering aimlessly and doesn't even realize where he is until he sees the Earth. He also remembers it as a world "filled with sensual delights and pleasures unlike any others found in the known cosmos!". Considering he once fought the Phoenix here, i'm glad he still came away from our fine planet with a good impression.
Clearly he remembered the service being better, though. The fight starts when Firelord lands on Earth looking for a slice of pizza, but it's still morning and the ovens aren't ready. I'm not sure if Firelord is really this naive and impatient or if he's just a dick that likes toying with mortals. I think we're supposed to assume the former, but he's been on Earth before and i kinda have my doubts.
Some local construction workers, riled up by an anti-mutant editorial, assume that Firelord is a mutant and try to stop him.
That probably wouldn't have been a good idea even if it were actually, say, Pyro and not Firelord.
Later, another group of construction workers (or, i guess, demolition crew) play a role in an instrumental part of Firelord's defeat. Spidey lures Firelord into a building and has them set off the explosives while they're inside. Neither that nor the subsequent explosion of a gas station are enough to actually stop Firelord, but all of the various attacks have cumulative effect.
But see here; this is my problem with DeFalco's writing.
The same guy first says "Spider-Man's counting on us -- and I ain't gonna let him down!" and then immediately follows it up with "nobody's gonna shed any tears over those two freaks!". Pick one, DeFalco! Why give us the schizophrenic demolition guy? Or if you had to use both lines, how about one guy says the first thing and then the second guy says "No! Don't...!" and then a third guy says the third thing? But better to just not clutter up the panel with extra dialogue. Either the guy wants to help Spidey or he's fine with killing off some super-freaks. Not both.
Anyway, it's just a quibble. But it's a very sort of casual, oral diarrhea approach to scripting that prevents these issues from moving from the Good category to Great.
Here's another example. Nathan Lubenski tries to take Peter to task for not paying enough attention to Aunt May, which is fair enough, but in my opinion he loses any credibility when he leads with "You know how much she wants you to go back to school... and you won't do it!".
If it was "You don't call enough" or something he'd have a point (although May only started talking to Peter again in issue #265 and here he is visiting already) but asking Peter to take on a career that he doesn't want to is a bit much, and just doesn't feel like a realistic thing that Nathan would say.
Moving on from my scripting complaint, someone is stalking the two of them, and a caption promises that "Peter Parker's life will never be the same again!".
I think this is actually just some thug looking for Nate, but there are some pretty serious ramifications coming out of that plotline, so i suppose it's not really too much hyperbole.
In another subplot scene, Kate Cushing is re-introduced for readers who aren't following Web Of (which includes JJ).
On the whole, it's definitely a good fun fight. I love the fact that Spider-Man tries to get the Fantastic Four's help, and that the Avengers show up at the end. It's this sort of Unified Marvel Universe experience that makes this era so great (even if all the specific references result in some really tight and really difficult placement, but we'll get to that separately in the Avengers issue).
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place partially concurrently with Avengers #258. See that issue's entry for a lot more.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
A lot of readers had problems with this issue- they felt that there was no way Peter should have been able to hurt Firelord. As you'll see when we get to Avengers 260, it took getting blasted into a moon at relativistic velocities by Sanctuary II to knock out Firelord- no way does Peter have that much power.
Posted by: Michael | June 19, 2012 11:26 PM
I was going to do a comparison with Spidey's fight with the Juggernaut under Stern and say that Juggernaut actually comes out looking tougher, which shouldn't be the case, but my mind ran off in enough tangents during this entry so i dropped it.
To be fair, from Firelord's perspective, this was just a long series of confusing humiliations and i think he eventually dropped from mental exhaustion. He just wanted lunch, and he wound up getting attacked by the locals and then had to chase around some weirdo that he just couldn't catch. He does say at one point that he could just level the whole city in one blast and be done with it but that wouldn't be sporting, so he's definitely holding back. And the poor man didn't even get to finish his pizza; he was fighting on an empty stomach!
Maybe counter-intuitively, this story actually did a lot to elevate Firelord's status. DeFalco definitely takes the time to establish that Firelord is a badass and that this is a fight that Spider-Man should not win. I think readers should walk away from this thinking that Spidey gave it everything he had and still needed a lot of luck to win this; not that Spider-Man is now fighting in the Class 1000* range.
*Marvel RPG terminology used for humorous effect only.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 20, 2012 9:23 AM
"You have succeeded where countless others have failed! You've managed to lay hands on my precious firestaff!" I hope that was intended to get a laugh from readers over a certain age, but I don't know enough about DeFalco's style. Maybe he wrote it with a completely straight face. Either way, it's a line that begs to be stolen and repurposed.
Posted by: Todd | June 20, 2012 3:03 PM
The only problem I had with the fight, is that I kept thinking, "Why doesn't Firelord just surround himself with flames or heat?" I could imagine Spidey defeating the Human Torch, but not by punching him constantly since he'd be burning himself with every punch. Likewise with Firelord. Spider-Man shouldn't have been able to win the way he did.
Otherwise, very enjoyable issues.
Posted by: Chris | June 20, 2012 10:15 PM
If the Mutant Menace editorial was anything like CNN news specials, it probably got repeated until every person in the world had to sit through it.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 23, 2012 7:09 PM
these issues were a lot of fun
Posted by: kveto from prague | July 1, 2012 11:44 AM
I remember how I was so in tune with Spider-Man back then that when I first read this, I immediately knew the thug was after Nathan, as Peter's spider-sense would have tingled if the thug was after him.
Posted by: Haywerth Clarke | October 16, 2013 5:52 PM
Kate Cushing may be somewhat based on Tina Brown, who had made a name for herself in NY publishing circles at this point with Vanity Fair.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 16, 2013 10:58 PM
This is a story that works perfectly well when you read it, but starts to feel off when you start thinking about how powerful Firelord is supposed to be. Especially since the "Spider-Man never gives up!" message could still work if the story ended with him being beaten into a pulp, but bailed out by the Avengers at the last moment. (Though obviously that would have put Peter out of commission for a while, and perhaps jeopardized his secret identity)
Posted by: Berend | March 5, 2014 9:30 AM
IMO, this seemed to be Spider-Man's version of Wolverine's "berzerker" rage or Hulk's strength increase in relation to his anger.
Posted by: clyde | March 5, 2014 11:52 AM
Kate Cushing snaps the cigar in half; paging Dr. Freud, Dr. Freud to the red courtesy phone
Posted by: Alex F | July 20, 2014 5:24 AM
Firelord has the POWER COSMIC and should never have been defeated by Spider-Man.
Think about it. He's a former herald of GALACTUS.
That being said, going thorough the 80's comic timeline has been much more fun than the 70's timeline.
I agree with your assessment that Shooter brought some stability to the Marvel line.
Posted by: A.Lloyd | October 9, 2014 2:45 AM
"...but asking Peter to take on a career that he doesn't want to is a bit much, and just doesn't feel like a realistic thing that Nathan would say."
DeFalco turning Nathan into an unreasonable curmudgeon was one of the major things I didn't like about his run. I prefer his happy-go-lucky personality under Roger Stern.
Posted by: TCP | November 9, 2014 7:49 PM
As Jonathan has mentioned over in the comments section of Avengers #258 entry, in Back Issue #35, DeFalco mentions that these issues were finished before Avengers #258 was published, but that Owsley decided not to publish them at the time, running fill-in stories instead.
My guess is that the fill-in stories would have likely been Peter David's work in Amazing Spider-Man #266-267.
Had these issues been printed as intended, then this would have been Kate Cushing's first appearance, as per Jonathan's comments.
In re-reading DeFalco and Frenz's comments in Back Issue #35, and keeping in mind that Cushing's appearance and the story coordination/scene duplication between DeFalco and Stern in using Firelord, there seems to be a lot of in-issue evidence that Owsley was not supporting DeFalco and Frenz's efforts, much to their detriment, by allowing the end of their story to be spoiled in another book. The only way Gruenwald could have avoided spoiling the story in Avengers #258 was if he also published a fill in Avengers story, which would have caused problems in coordinating the use of the Beyonder in Avengers #260-261 with Secret Wars II.
I'm more impressed with the work DeFalco and Frenz did on Amazing Spider-Man, given that lack of support.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 26, 2015 7:39 PM
It's also worth noting that this should still be around the time Marvel was doing "continuity bonuses", ie. paycheck bonuses for writing/drawing 6 uninterrupted issues at a time.
Which means that not only was Owlsey/Priest fucking with DeFalco's scheduling but he was almost certainly deliberately screwing with DeFalco and Frenz's livelihood. It all gets to a bit much and is certainly a dickish move, but not much of a surprise cum 80's Marvel regime.
Posted by: JC | October 14, 2015 9:23 PM
I think it's a bit much to say Priest was deliberately doing anything to DeFalco and Frenz's livelihood. Priest has said he ran fill-ins when it seemed like a book might be late. Now maybe Frenz would have been able to deliver the pencils at the last minute, and maybe he wouldn't have. And maybe it would have required 5 inkers to get the book ready for production in time (which happens a lot after Shooter and Priest leave and DeFalco is EiC). Or maybe Priest really was pursuing some anti-DeFalco agenda, but we don't know.
We only have DeFalco and Frenz's word vs. Priest on what the story was, and each side has a reason to be biased.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 14, 2015 9:58 PM
Was there a reason to think Frenz was falling behind? For all their faults as storytellers, DeFalco/Frenz brought the A-game when it came to their workmanlike reliability to hit their deadlines and consistently produce content.
And as you note yourself the timing of this issue was off respective to it's cover date. Had it simply been a case of needing to catch up, Defalco would likely not have written a story that needed to specifically coincide in timing with another.
Posted by: JC | October 14, 2015 11:13 PM
Priest has said that DeFalco was regularly late because he was also Executive Editor, and Shooter kept him busy with responsibilities associated with that position. DeFalco being late would have a cascading affect on the rest of the production line (penciler, inker, etc.).
If you've never read it, Priest describes his time as editor of the title here, and it seems like a fairly honest appraisal that includes plenty of blame for himself. It's the idea that Priest was deliberately screwing with DeFalco for some reason that i think is unfair.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 14, 2015 11:36 PM
Fnord, this is not simply a matter of weighing DeFalco and Frenz's words vs. Priest's words on this matter, as there is also more eyewitness support and circumstantial evidence for DeFalco and Frenz's account than for Priest's.
In Back Issue #35, both Peter David and Jim Shooter contradict points made by Priest in his account of events. (And to be fair, Peter David contradicts DeFalco on one detail, but not in regards to DeFalco's overall account).
Beyond those additional accounts, there is no substantial evidence of DeFalco and Frenz's inability to make deadlines. Their career both before and after working with Priest shows them more mostly making their deadlines.
If during Shooter's tenure, DeFalco was so unreliable at meeting deadlines, then there should be signs of that problem elsewhere too, such as when Fingeroth was Amazing Spider-Man editor. But instead, Fingeroth uses DeFalco as a fill-in writer for Marvel Team-Up to keep that book on schedule, and DeFalco scripts the Amazing Spider-Man Annual as well as writing the regular series, uninterrupted and apparently on time, until two months before Fingeroth leaves the book.
And the scheduling problems with these two issues (#269-270) of Amazing Spider-Man impacted a cross-over with Avengers #258, yet Gruenwald uses DeFalco to fill-in on X-Men vs.Avengers #4, to help get that book out on time -- a decision I don't think Gruenwald would have made if he thought that DeFalco was responsible for the delay in getting #269-279 out before the scheduled Avengers #258 crossover.
And as JC points out, why would DeFalco ever plot out a crossover with Stern, and why would Greunwald or Priest approve of it, if DeFalco was not meeting deadlines at that time? It makes everyone involved look bad. Given all the accounts, however, I could see Priest -- if he deliberately held it back as DeFalco and Frenz claim -- using the delay as an excuse to try to remove DeFalco as series writer.
And while working for Priest on this series, DeFalco is also writing two mini-series and Kickers, Inc., apparently meeting the monthly deadlines on those series with no obvious problem.
When Priest takes over the Spider-Man titles, there are fill-ins and sudden creative team changes on all the titles at approximately the same time, which points to editorial problems, not creative team problems. and Priest even notes that he has enough time to review Frenz's art to ask for changes, which should not be possible if the art and story are being turned in so late.
I am certainly highly critical of both DeFalco and Frenz in other decisions they make (such as DeFalco's editorial decisions once he became Editor-in-Chief, which certainly hurt the quality of Marvel Comics, and I really dislike the otherwise talented Frenz's occasional swiping of Kirby), but I think the majority of direct and circumstantial evidence indicates that they were the victims here.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | October 16, 2015 1:59 PM
It seems like a lot of tea leaf reading to me, Aaron, especially when we know that the intensifying of the Office Wars at the end of Shooter's tenure at this time make it different than other periods where DeFalco would have been more reliable. But my main point is the old canard that you don't attribute to malice what can be explained with incompetence. Priest basically acknowledges the latter in his article, including the fact that he was inclined to run a fill-in at the first sign of trouble. I don't see why Priest would deliberately try to screw with DeFalco and Priest's pay and i think it's kind of a slanderous thing to say that.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 16, 2015 6:07 PM
Fnord, I'm honestly not sure how the theory that Priest was at fault for the scheduling problems or was unsupportive towards DeFalco/Frenz is tea leaf reading. At the very least, David and Shooter's comments are certainly a matter of record and are relevant.
It feels like my argument is being labeled, but not refuted. I don't mind conceding or modifying my argument, if evidence can be presented that counters my inferences.
I try to let evidence guide me in my conclusions, knowing that circumstantial evidence can be indirect, yet can still be reliable. And that circumstantial evidence that is relevant should be considered, not ignored. The circumstantial evidence certainly seems to support DeFalco and Frenz's claims more than Priest's.
But although I politely disagree with you in doing so, I understand you dismissing the circumstantial evidence of DeFalco's meeting deadlines in regards to the time period before and after Priest's editorial run on Amazing Spider-Man. However, I don't understand disregarding evidence of Defalco making publication deadlines for three other series while also working for Priest on Amazing Spider-Man.
I cannot really comment on the issue regarding DeFalco and Frenz's potential paycheck bonuses, although I think that JC brings up an interesting concern I had not thought about. My last post was intended to point out that more evidence exists beyond DeFalco, Frenz, and Priest's individual accounts, and to restate that the majority of the evidence seems to support DeFalco and Frenz instead of Priest.
As for statements on this thread being potentially slanderous, either DeFalco's reputation, or DeFalco and Frenz's reputation, or Priest's reputation is most likely being defamed by the different accounts the three of them have given. And in that case, that potential defamation apparently either started on Priest's site or in Back Issue #35, and then is likely to continue wherever those two sources are referred to. But to not search for and intellectually grapple with that truth behind the situation is a dangerous thing. And that search for the truth should happen in both private thoughts and in public discussions, otherwise that truth will never be uncovered.
I think simply believing in only one of the three people's claims without supporting evidence certainly hurts the reputations of the others. Also, simply repeating any of the claims without holding them to scrutiny can be equally hurtful. What I try to do -- and what I hope any of us would do -- is to evaluate accounts and evidence in order to try to best understand the truth. Often, I fortunately arrive at it, and at other times, I attempt learn from where I made a wrong conclusion.
So while I appreciate you wanting to caution against slanderous claims, I think accusations of slander are best made when a person clearly makes a statement which they know disregards established facts and logical interpretations of events.
Otherwise, discussions are unduly restricted by referring to such efforts as slander (or in the case with written statements, as libel) without evidence that slander has occurred.
If you think the claims against Priest are unwarranted (which is probably a better term to use than claiming they are slanderous), then I am willing to agree to disagree with you regarding our opinions on the matter. I won't belabor the point. If you or anyone else has other evidence I haven't seen, I would be willing to reconsider my stance based on the strength of that evidence.
Fnord, I suspect that you have a high regard for Priest, and if so, then I would imagine the last several posts might have been frustrating to read. My intent was only to add to the conversation here on the board, not to detract from it.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | October 17, 2015 1:59 AM
Aaron, unlike you i find these long back and forths to be very unproductive, and i don't like doing point by point refutations because it just clutters up the comments section and i don't think convinces anyone. I didn't mean to be dismissive of you with my "tea leaf" comment, i just didn't want to get into a deep discussion of why each piece of circumstantial evidence doesn't work for me as "proof" of anything.
And to a degree i think we're talking past each other, because i am specifically focused on the idea that Priest did something to DeFalco and Frenz out of malice, whereas you say that's not something you'd even given consideration to. So we may even be in agreement. I have no problem saying that Priest made mistakes as an editor (as i note, Priest says the same). From his perspective, he thought DeFalco and Frenz were going to be late, so he ran fill-ins. His perspective may have been wrong. But the idea of it being done out of spite or something that i took objection to. JC's phrase "almost certainly deliberately screwing with DeFalco and Frenz's livelihood" is what i was reacting to.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 17, 2015 11:22 AM
Fnord, thank you for your clarification, especially given how unproductive you felt this interaction was. I agree that we are talking past each other and would probably continue to do so on this issue (and likely others, as well), and I certainly regret that, and I wish that we could have talked with each other, instead.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | October 17, 2015 12:23 PM
DeFalco has made no secret of the animosity between him and Priest, something the blog you linked to acknowledges.
Furthermoar, as Aaron brings up in Back Issue 35 DeFalco clearly mentions certain maneuvers done by Priest purely to screw with him.
Nao could DeFalco be mistaken or just plain dead-wrong? Absolutely. But this is a direct first hand source openly stating, animosity and a bad relationship led to Priest repeatedly screwing with him.
Sure, I could be absolutely wrong here. But there's alot moar to what I said than randomly "reading tea leaves." To then turn around and call me slanderous as if I was making this up out of nowhere is unfair.
Posted by: JC | October 22, 2015 9:56 AM
When Priest pitched the idea to David, he asked him if he could figure out who the Hobgoblin was. David's answer: "Ned Leeds." Priest told him he couldn't be Leeds because he was killing him off in the "Spider-Man vs. Wolverine" one-shot.
"Why would you do that?" David asked. "'To piss off Tom DeFalco,'" David recalled Priest telling him.
And this is coming from PAD, a guy who's still friends with Priest to this day. And a guy who has every reason to owe his entire career to Priest and absolutely knows it.
But yea "slanderous"...
Posted by: JC | October 22, 2015 10:06 AM
JC, i'm sorry that i've insulted you. To clarify a few things, my "reading tea leaves" comment was about all of the circumstantial evidence that Aaron brings up about how DeFalco was able to pinch-write other comics even though Priest says that he had trouble meeting deadlines during his ASM run. I think there are a lot of reasons for that. I also think taking the words of Peter David and Jim Shooter, who along with Priest and DeFalco all have a vested interest in blaming someone else for the debacle around the Hobgoblin reveal, doesn't amount to much evidence, and more importantly, do not prove, or even have anything to do with, the idea that Priest was running fill-ins to screw with DeFalco and Frenz's finances.
I know you'll think it's hair splitting, but i wasn't calling you slanderous. I just think the statement "deliberately screwing with DeFalco and Frenz's livelihood" unfairly assumes motives that we can't know. As Aaron suggests, let me withdraw the phrase "kind of slanderous" and replace it with unwarranted, and leave it as my opinion. I never meant the use of the word slanderous in a legalistic way, but i can see how it can be insulting and i apologize.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 22, 2015 10:29 AM
Beyond those additional accounts, there is no substantial evidence of DeFalco and Frenz's inability to make deadlines. Their career both before and after working with Priest shows them more mostly making their deadlines.
"One problem I faced were late plots. I tried for nearly five years to get that book ahead of schedule, turning down other assignments, to no avail. Tom was just too busy with other projects, not to mention his duties as Editor-in-Chief."
Posted by: Tom DeFacto | September 18, 2016 6:50 PM
Tom, I love your username ☺
Beyond that, the link shows more interesting tidbits, like Byrne wanting to return to FF as writer but he and Macchio both being too bullheaded to make it happen, and a nearJurgens run. Plus DeFalco often changing the plots midstream, sounds like a case could be made he was doing similar things with Hobgoblin.
I think that Priest was simply jumpy, he was nervous to have ASM late because of DeFalcl delivering late scripts but instead of putting in faith that he and Frenz would pull it off , he would reach too quickly for the inventory drawer, without any malice intended on either party.
Posted by: PeterA | September 19, 2016 12:23 PM
@Tom DeFacto - That is a good interview, thanks for linking it. Like PeterA, I was unaware of some of that.
That said, while Ryan was apparently having to complete issues in a rush, I don't believe there was a single fill-in during the whole long DeFalco/Ryan FF run even while he was also acting as Editor-in-Chief, so it seems unlikely that DeFalco & Frenz would need 2 months worth of fill-ins for a storyline that they claimed to have completed on time.
If I remember right (which I might not), DeFalco said in the above quoted Back Issue magazine that Priest told them that he'd decided these issues deserved to be printed as a separate annual or special instead of as issues of Amazing, but obviously this didn't happen. Why that didn't happen, we'll probably never know.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | September 19, 2016 1:14 PM
What a terrific Amazing Spider-Man Annual this would've made!
Posted by: Cecil | September 19, 2016 4:00 PM
Comments are now closed.
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