Amazing Spider-Man #283
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #283
This attracts the attention of Spider-Man...
...and ironically, neither really wants to fight the other. Spider-Man remembers that she "almost pounded She-Hulk to death with her bare hands" in Secret Wars (with help, but no one seems to remember that) and he thinks that he only managed to beat her later thanks to "dumb luck". And Titania thinks of Spider-Man as "the only one who ever managed to flatten me" and has developed a phobia about him.
What i liked about their fight in Secret Wars was that it emphasized Spider-Man's speed and spider-sense. He was able to keep dodging her and get her frustrated and eventually do enough damage to knock her out (actually he threw her out of a tall building). But what Spider-Man emphasized in that fight was that if he had the room to maneuver, his speed and spider-sense could keep him from getting hit by anyone. His response to her complaint that it wasn't fair, that "if we were fighting in a broom closet, that'd be fair, right?", was very memorable to me. So i'm a little disappointed to see him chalk his victory up to dumb luck here. But the basic idea behind that fight, that Skeeter MacPherran was a wimp until she became Titania, and then she became a classic bully that reverts to her former wimpy self when someone stronger than her comes along, is what's informing this story.
But while Titania does run from Spider-Man here, she doesn't go away quietly.
Luckily, Peter Parker gets some pictures of that van wedged into the building, because that's pretty awesome.
Peter is still in a phase where he's only remaining Spider-Man so that he can look for Flash Thompson, who is falsely accused of being the Hobgoblin and is on the run. So after tracing Titania back to the hotel where she's camped up with Absorbing Man, he calls the Avengers hotline and decides that his work is done.
Now, i thought i might have a problem with the hotline idea. Because we saw in Avengers #274 that the Masters have taken over the Avengers communication channels; they used a Wasp voice simulator to try to trick Captain America, for instance. But Cap probably had a more direct line to the Mansion, and in any event, by now the Wasp knew about that problem and may have taken counter-measures; the fact that she reacts quickly to Peter's tip is a sign that the hotline workers are probably prioritizing references to any of the Masters.
The Wasp looks really composed here while investigating the hotel room (after 'Sorby and Titania have cleared out). Most likely she's appearing here during Avengers #274, probably after Cap is captured but before Hercules' body is expelled.
Meanwhile, having moved to a seedier hotel, Crusher Creel demonstrates a little seen human side. But Titania is scheming.
Later, Spider-Man realizes he left out the fact that he heard the Absorbing Man and Titania mention going to LaGuardia Airport when he called the Avengers hotline. So he goes there himself. And Titania sees him and, even though she and Creel were disguised as chauffeurs, she attracts Spider-Man's attention so that Spider-Man will attack her.
What follows is almost like an O'Henry story. Titania deliberately gets Spider-Man to fight her and she acts like she's a damsel in distress so that Absorbing Man will get into the fight.
But Creel deliberately lets Spider-Man beat him so that Titania will overcome her fear and fight Spider-Man. So sweet!
After Titania has regained her confidence,
Here's the panels directly before the splash.
And here's the splash.
The panel is laid out like a pulp cover, with Spider-Man as the villain of the piece, pulling the helpless woman's hair. Really weird position for Spider-Man to be in. Of course, the hero in these types of images rarely is about to throw an airplane.
Threatening to throw the plane (which is full of passengers), Absorbing Man tells Spider-Man that their mission has already been ruined, and so he negotiates a ceasefire and Spider-Man lets them get away. This gets him branded a coward, but it was probably the right move; Spider-Man wasn't realistically going to defeat both Absorbing Man and Titania, at least not without major loss of life and property damage at the airport.
As for who it was that the villainous couple was supposed to be escorting, we only see him in shadows, but he's definitely got a set of chompers.
The narration caption promises that he'll one day threaten the life of Spider-Man, and Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz will deliver on that promise, even if it takes them until Thor #391 in 1988.
So with that, the Masters of Evil fail to recruit the Mongoose. If Spider-Man hadn't stopped them from hooking up here, i wonder if the Avengers would have been able to prevail in the end. Seems worthy of a What If.
The regular subplots in Amazing Spider-Man of course continue as well this issue. We've got Lt. Keating acting suspicious.
Ned Leeds setting off Peter's spider-sense (or maybe just his jerk-sense, although he does have a right to be upset).
Hobgoblin beating up (a) Kingsley.
And Peter and MJ maybe getting closer.
This is Tom DeFalco's last full issue. He'll soon be fired by Christopher Priest as part of the office politics that were going on at Marvel at this time that will soon result in DeFalco becoming Editor in Chief (and Priest relegated to freelance writer status). It's also Ron Frenz's last issue. Coming off of the Roger Stern Spider-Man run, DeFalco's was a little disappointing by comparison, due to DeFalco's sometimes clumsy scripting and extending the Hobgoblin mystery a little too long. But it's actually a good run, certainly a high point of DeFalco's writing career and a memorable run for Spidey.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Wasp appears here during Avengers #274 and Absorbing Man and Titania appear in Avengers #275 soon after the events here. As for Spider-Man, the events of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #118 are referred to as having happened "yesterday", but he also refers to "traveling around the globe" for Now, which means going to England and Ireland in Web of Spider-Man #20-22 (unless we think "traveling around the globe" only refers to going to Appalachia). And the return from the trip to Europe is shown in Web of Spider-Man #23, with a number of appearances taking place during #23, including Amazing #280-281 and Spectacular #119-122. And then Spider-Man goes to Atlantic city at the end of Web of Spider-Man #23. The MCP places this issue after Spider-Man returns from Atlantic City after Web #24 (there's an added detail regarding an extended flashback of the Wrecking Crew in Peter Parker #125 that takes place prior to the Masters storyline). This requires me to push some 1987 Spider-Man issues into 1986 to sync things up with the Masters of Evil storyline.
Crossover: Avengers: Under Siege
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showAbsorbing Man, Betty Brant, Daniel Kingsley, Flash Thompson, Foreigner, Hobgoblin (Roderick Kingsley), Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Kate Cushing, Lance Bannon, Mary Jane Watson, Mongoose, Ned Leeds, Spider-Man, Titania, Wasp
Peter really does have some self-esteem issues from time to time, so I'm not surprised he was underselling his Secret Wars moment with Titania.
Posted by: Max_Spider | February 16, 2014 5:01 PM
Given the ret-con of the Hobgoblin's true identity, Kingsley being hit by Ned Leeds in the Hobgoblin identity needs some explanation. I would guess when Roderick was thinking that he needed to take special precautions, he must have been intending to induce a post-hypnotic suggestion to Ned Leeds to never go after Kingsley.
Posted by: clyde | February 16, 2014 7:32 PM
Clyde, you're missing the point of the retcon- in the scene above, Roderick's in the Hobgoblin suit hitting Daniel. Whenever we saw the Hobgoblin and Roderick together, it was Rod in the Hobgoblin suit and "Roderick" was really Daniel.
Posted by: Michael | February 16, 2014 7:40 PM
I'll disagree with you here. Titania clearly kicked Jen's butt before the other villains showed up. It's a clean win for her (she's obviously much stronger than She-hulk). But to be fair, it was right after she-hulk beat up the wrecking crew so she was probably tired.
I wish Titania had never appeared outside Secret wars, as she has suffered one of the most remarkable depowering/diminishing threat syndromes on record. We often forget what an unstoppable strong badass she was before Spidey put her in her place.
The visitor was originally going to be the Dreadknight, who was European and would have been a good match for the Black Knight.
Posted by: kveto from prague | February 17, 2014 3:28 PM
A Marvel UK reprint of this circa '87, in magazine dimensions, used the splash with Spidey pulling Titania's hair as a cover. The reprint was something like a quarterly or biannual special, rather than a weekly series (as was the UK norm).
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 25, 2014 8:51 PM
First Doc Ock & now Titania develop a fear of battling Spider-Man. This seems funny to me since he's usually the one super hero who constantly makes snappy remarks while fighting.
Posted by: clyde | May 30, 2014 1:24 PM
If that's supposed to be Dreadknight, what's with the animalistic teeth and the talk of tasting blood? Also, it states that the villain will one day threaten the life of Spider-Man, implying that DeFalco intended to bring him back in this title later. Mongoose would become a Thor villain when DeFalco takes over there but he seems more suited to being a Spidey villain, similar to Puma or all of the other animal-themed villains Spidey has.
Posted by: Robert | May 30, 2014 2:02 PM
It was Originally going to be the Dreadknight as he is listed as the only unaccounted for member in the MU deluxe edition 4, but Defalco decided to change the character to make him Mongoose, his own creation, whom he intended to be a spidey foe.
Id add a link but it might set off the spam filter. Can be easily googled. Its clear Defalco already had the switch in mind before the issue, hence the teeth.
Posted by: kveto from prague | May 30, 2014 2:52 PM
Here's a link to the Marvel Appendix, which at the bottom makes the same points as Kveto.
I thought taking into account the shadow and a little artistic license the figure as drawn might even have originally intended to be Dreadknight, depending on when DeFalco changed his mind.
By the way, the spam filter will moderate comments with three or more links (counting the one you put in the URL field if you use it) and even in that case i'm notified and i can approve a legit comment. So don't hesitate to use links if desired.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 30, 2014 3:05 PM
Thanks kveto and fnord. It makes more sense that the character was intended before this issue to be Dreadknight but changed when DeFalco did this issue.
Posted by: Robert | May 30, 2014 3:45 PM
Comics Should Be Good concluded that Mongoose was never intended to be Dreadknight:
Posted by: Michael | May 30, 2014 7:26 PM
That transition to the splash page bugged me SO much! Unsurprisingly, so many of the things you don't like also bothered me critically as a kid. Years later, it's the loose ends you've pointed out, even more than the stylistically awkward choices, that disappointed me most. (Try the Hobgoblin mystery on as the text-book example!) It's funny to recall how being young did not entail any of us being stupider or less cognizant of quality, though certain early discoveries were indeed so significant we can't help the twinge of nostalgia! Sometimes the first time you encounter a type of twist just seems so fresh (MTU #133 for me) as do darker themes. I really like Sorby & Titania's relationship in this issue; villains need dimension, too!
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | July 5, 2014 3:35 AM
The reason for the odd splash page transition is simply that it was added later by the editor and an unknown penciller.
Posted by: Ron Frenz | August 11, 2014 5:54 PM
Thanks, Mr. Frenz. I've updated the post to correct that.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 11, 2014 6:31 PM
No disrespect to Mr. Frenz or fnord, but I thought the big splash page worked well. I don't recall the specific transition, and freely admit that Spidey beating up the Absorbing Man is more than a little strange, but with a couple decades of hindsight, it actually works. Titania [the villain] is the damsel in distress, and Crusher [the other villain] is rescuing her from her oppressor. If there's a reason for "Secret Wars I" to exist, it's for Spidey beating up Titania, making the point about bullies versus wimps [I genuinely believe Shooter was brimming over with ideas for a sequel at that point] and this was a very well done story with the villain-as-hero rescuing a damsel-in-distress concept. I don't recall the particular panel transition, and would certainly prefer that Ron Frenz had drawn the complete story, but I think that, even with editorial meddling, it worked for that particular Spider-Man story. Your mileage may vary, obviously.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 11, 2014 10:44 PM
Disregard what I said above, I'd clearly missed the part about Crusher faking his defeat, and wasn't paying close enough attention to the actual transition - i.e. Titania hadn't actually lost before the splash panel. Totally my bad.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 10, 2014 3:01 PM
When I wore a younger mans clothes (aka, when I was a kid) and read this issue, I assumed the unnamed villain in the airport was Sabretooth. I don't know why; maybe due to the sharp teeth? Anyway, I had that in my head for years afterwards and never knew who it was until the miracle of this site. Thanks!!
Posted by: Bill | May 31, 2015 6:34 PM
Strong Mike Zeck vibe on those last five shots, especially the Hobgoblin page...
Posted by: BU | June 1, 2015 11:19 AM
As Walter mentions, the non-Frenz splash page was used (re-coloured) as the cover of a Spider-Man Summer Special in the UK, and it was an attention getting cover, I remember seeing it in the racks at WHSmiths and picking it up: http://www.spiderfan.org/comics/title/spiderman_special_uk.html
I wouldn't have minded if Owsley had got rid of Frenz's cover and used the splash page instead. It makes sense as a cover, and you can just say it's artistic license that there's no page inside where Spidey's actually pulling Titania's hair.
But like Fnord and other commenters here, the transition from Frenz's art to the inserted splash page always bothered me, and I'm glad Ron commented here and explained it all these years later. I'd just thought it was a poor artistic choice by Frenz, but it turns out he was not to blame. It must be very annoying to have your work tampered with in this manner, and does add to the list of Owsley/Priest's tampering with DeFalco & Frenz's work (along with delaying the Firelord issues and removing scenes involving Richard Fisk). I liked Owsley at the time for his run on Power Man & Iron Fist, but he definitely seems to have been a poor fit as an editor.
Posted by: Jonathan | January 27, 2016 2:10 PM
This issue actually works as far as the amount of thought going on behind-the-scenes. Maybe the intent was to build up to Titania as a damsel-in-distress while the Absorbing Man is lifting up an airplane because he's just that awesome. It would explain the need for re-drawing that Mr. Frenz mentions.
Titania, as first established, is an action chick who wants to beat up anybody who was ever mean to her. She and her fat friend Volcana [who wasn't actually fat, but was as close as Marvel/Shooter was willing to allow] interacted with the villains. Volcana attached herself immediately to the Molecule Man, who desperately needed a mother figure. I still like the scene at the end of "Secret Wars" where he knows what to do, he'll get all the villains home, he just needs a place to work, and she grabs him. "We could go to *MY PLACE* Owie." [emphasis in original.]
Meanwhile, Titania is a mean bitch villain and Spidey easily defeated her like the bully that she is. I would swear scenes like this are how "Secret Wars II" was invented, because Shooter must have been brimming over with ideas as this point, and I think this issue was one of the results.
Titania is acting like a typical Spider-Man villain. But instead of fighting him, she runs, because of how he beat her up. She runs back to her boyfriend, and casually asks if he could beat Spider-Man. He says "probably" and she instantly starts thinking of how to make that happen.
She sets herself up as a badass/damsel in distress just so Crusher Creel (of all people) will save her in a dramatic moment. It's like the worst possible concept. You could rewrite the story with Skeeter and Crusher as the heroes and Spider-Man as the villain, and although maybe there'd be a dramatic moment [like the full-page spread Mr. Frenz says he didn't draw] but the reader would still be wondering "WTF?"
And then Spider-Man beats the Absorbing Man. Sure. Right. Whatever.
I have to wonder if this was a result of all the thought and work that went into "Secret Wars" and "Secret Wars II" and trying to make that into a dramatic "Spider-Man" story, especially Titania's dramatic defeat. For what it was, it wasn't bad. Wasn't good, but wasn't bad.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 28, 2016 12:29 AM
Over on Facebook today Ron Frenz stated that the guy in the trenchcoat from ASM #383 was always supposed to be Mongoose.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 24, 2017 11:35 AM
So why was Keating so obsessed over the Hobgoblin/Flash stuff? And it feels off to me that Daniel is pretending to be Roderick, but has thoughts that are clearly in the vein of stronger-willed Roderick than scaredy-pants Daniel? I loved the art in Hobgoblin Lives but man, Stern really should have just left things alone or made better plans with DeFalco in the hand-over (wasn't Tom the editor on Stern's run though?)
Posted by: PeterA | April 25, 2017 4:51 AM
I don't think the Stern to DeFalco transition with regards to the Hobgoblin's identity was anywhere near as troubling. DeFalco had an idea that, while not the same as Stern's, still worked (Richard Fisk was Hobgoblin and Roderick Kingsley was Rose). Stern did allow DeFalco to know who he had in mind for Hobgoblin, but DeFalco didn't like the idea as he deemed Roderick Kingsley "too old" and didn't like the idea of using Daniel Kingsley to explain when Kingsley and Hobgoblin were in the same room.
It was only once Priest and David got involved and pettily decided to not do DeFalco's despite even greater set-up that it became a hot mess.
Posted by: AF | April 25, 2017 8:37 AM
Going out on a limb and crediting Tom Morgan as penciler of said splash.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | June 23, 2017 5:10 PM
Comments are now closed.
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