Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #25-31
Issue(s): Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #25, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #26, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #27, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #28, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #29, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #30, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #31
...or his silly Tri-Man and its bird-form...
...but because issue #27 is the first issue with Frank Miller drawing Daredevil.
Miller is already quite good. I've always liked his technique of using washed out images of DD to demonstrate the path and speed of his acrobatics, and he's using it right here at the beginning.
Daredevil is brought in because Spider-man is blinded by the Tri-Man and has to rely on DD's help (this picture is by Mooney).
Peter almost reveals his identity to Daredevil, but then decides against it. Unfortunately there's no reference to the recent Marvel Team-Up #73 where DD is able to recognize Spidey in his civilian identity..
There are two stories covered in these six issues, with the second starting as a subplot in the first and then becoming the main story as the first one is resolved. The first story, frankly, is at the quality of pre-Claremont Marvel Team-Up. It's of interest because of Frank Miller but would otherwise be forgettable. The second story, though, which introduces a character called Carrion, is much more interesting. If still flawed in its own way.
In issue #25, the Maggia rejects Carrion's offer to kill Spider-Man for them.
And since he's infiltrated their organization, they actually try to kill him. But he's got his satchel full of
In issue #26 he lurks outside Peter's apartment while Mary Jane and Betty Brant have a catty little fight over Peter.
In issue #27, after MJ and Betty make up and leave, Carrion defiles Peter's apartment, terrifying poor Mrs. Muggins.
Carrion figures into the Clone Saga. He'll be revealed in this arc as a degenerating clone of Professor Warren, aka the Jackal. Later stories will complicate matters, and it also seems that the plans changed for Carrion over the course of this story. Thanks to PeterA in the comments, here is a quote from Tony Isabella:
In Mantlo's original plans for this story, Carrion would have been revealed as that Peter Parker clone, transformed by his brief time in the furnace and his basically unstable molecular structure. Warren's cloning process wasn't as good as said mad professor had thought. That the real Spidey had also dumped the then-deceased Green Goblin's gear in the same furnace explained the Goblin-esque look of Carrion.
In his very first appearance, he's very clearly supposed to be undead - bullets go right through him and he disappears "leaving behind the stench of brimstone -- and a chill as cold as the grave". And there's no references to Warren in these first three appearances. So that's where my undead Green Goblin theory came from. I mean look at him! Who are you going to believe: some rumors on the internet or your own lying eyes?
Supporting the Spider-Clone intention, on the other hand, you have his initial claim, "I know more about the wall-crawler than he knows about himself!".
Also supporting my outlier Green Goblin theory is some initial speculation from Peter about Harry that felt like foreshadowing to me.
The Peter Parker series also continues to serve as the unofficial book for the White Tiger. You'd think he'd at least get a cover blurb or something, but it's mostly under the radar.
I don't have any information regarding my reprints of issues #26-27. Other than the ads (which have 1993 copyright notices), they are exact reprints of the original books, including the original credits and copyright information. Oddly, the reprints are for issues #26-27. I don't know why these two issues were reprinted. If it's because of Frank Miller/Daredevil issues #27-28 would have made more sense. And if because of Carrion, issue #25 would have been included. Either way, the full Masked Marauder story runs #25-28, so the reprints are only covering the middle of the story. Anyway, we have all the issues now, so let's keep going.
Spider-Man disables the Masked Marauder's "Bombdroid". I should note that he's still blind at this point, and the bombdroid is actually equipped with an H-Bomb, so whatever Spidey's doing here to disable it seems mighty dangerous.
Meanwhile, DD takes care of the Marauder.
Production quality in issue #28 is pretty bad, and the art is blurry. It's true of both my physical copy and the digital one i use for scans. At first i thought Springer was mixing poorly with Miller but the previous issues didn't have this problem.
While he's blind, Spider-Man finds that his spider-sense has become heightened, and he's able to use it, per a narration capsule, like Daredevil's radar sense. But eventually his sight returns to him. It's said he spends the night on a couch at Murdock's storefront office before returning to his apartment. When he gets there, he finds a scene.
Others speculate that whoever is after Peter is angry about something he did as a photographer, but Peter knows there's also the Spider-Man angle to consider. Hector Ayala offers to let Peter crash at his place the next evening after clash, and Peter agrees since Hector is publicly known to be the White Tiger and more likely to be able to defend himself than Peter's other friends. However, when Peter goes to where they were supposed to meet up after classes, Hector has already been knocked out by Carrion...
...and Peter is attacked as well.
Put that "ashes to ashes" message in the column for supporting the idea that Carrion was meant to be the Spider-Clone (at least as of issue #28), since Peter threw him in an incinerator. By issue #29 (which sees Jim Mooney return to art), the question of who Carrion is becomes central to the story, with Peter wondering how he "know[s] everything about me".
Carrion also claims that Peter murdered his friends...
...and killed his love.
Peter is stuck dealing with Carrion while Hector's not-quite-girlfriend Holly Gillis looks on.
Carrion ends up tossing Peter out a window, where a revived White Tiger brings him to the campus infirmary. When Peter wakes up, he says that he thinks that the Carrion has "something that links him to the university", although i'm not sure where he got that from.
He also bumps into student Randy Vale.
The White Tiger takes it upon himself to watch over Peter, but when he's attacked by the lame super-villain "Darter"...
...Peter is attacked by Carrion again. Note that he says his spider-sense doesn't detect Carrion.
At the end of #29, Carrion accuses Spider-Man of having "murdered them both - by fall and by fire!"...
...by which he means Gwen Stacy and Miles Warren.
There are clues that it is Warren. There's the tie to the university. The fact that Warren also died in a fire. Referring to Peter as "Parker". The fact that Peter probably wouldn't have referred to Professor Warren as a friend.
In any event, Peter fights Carrion and starts to realize that he may be Professor Warren....
...while the White Tiger continues to fight Darter.
Eventually Peter is captured, and Carrion reveals that he is Professor Warren's clone.
He was cloned shortly before the Jackal's final confrontation with Spider-Man, but something went wrong. The clone reached old age and died, but the fluid it was kept in kept it alive.
He's got all the knowledge of the original Warren, plus the power of telepathy, which allows him to know all of Spider-Man's secrets. He also gained the power of levitation...
...teleportation, intangibility, and the power to dissolve all organic materials. It's all a bit much.
On top of that, he's created a protoplasmic "pre-clone" created from a blood sample of Spider-Man.
He also turned Randy Vale, who first discovered him, into the very lame villain "Darter". Darter turns on Carrion this issue and is killed for it.
So i guess that amoeba thing is sort of a clone of Spider-Man. I'm surprised it didn't get its own book in the 90s.
Anyway, the amoeba eventually turns on Carrion and kills him.
The White Tiger is also lurking around during these battles but he's not very effective helping "El Hombre Arana" as he calls Spider-Man.
An editors blurb in the lettercol brags that no one writing in guessed that Carrion was Professor Warren/Jackal. That's cause they all, like me, knew that he was really supposed to be the Green Goblin (i'm kidding, people, i'm kidding!). Neither the lettercol nor the story puts any effort into showing us scenes from past issues and explaining the clues that would have shown us that Carrion was meant to be a Jackal clone, and based on what i've highlighted and the information from the comments, including the information from Tony Isabella, it seems that's because there was a mid-story switcheroo of some kind.
That's unfortunate, because without that, this was definitely one of Mantlo's better efforts on this title. On the one hand it's kind of tainted by the later Clone Saga stuff, but on the other hand that's what makes it more than a random forgettable story. I'm not sure how Mantlo would have handled things if he were allowed to go in the direction he originally wanted, but this works well enough as is. And if he had been allowed to use the Spider-Clone here it certainly would have saved us some trouble down the road.
Cameos: Dog-bear in issue #29:
Awilda Ayala in #30:
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this during Daredevil #157 and between Amazing Spider-Man #186-187. In issue #28 (Mar 79) there's a reference to the Daily Bugle calling Spider-Man a murderer, and while that may have been in anticipation of Amazing Spider-Man #191 (which hadn't been published yet; it was Apr 79) where JJ publishes a front-page editorial accusing Spider-Man of killing his son, it's generic and typical enough of the Bugle to ignore it.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: 1993 reprints for 26-27 only. Issues #25 and #27-31 are originals.
Inbound References (2): showAwilda Ayala, Betty Brant, Carrion, Daredevil, Darter, Flash Thompson, Harry Osborn, Holly Gillis, J. Jonah Jameson, Mamie Muggins, Mary Jane Watson, Masked Marauder, Sha Shan, Spider-Man, White Tiger
i think carrion was originally planned to be the "dead" clone of spiderman from ASM #150 (that eventually became Ben Riely)
it was probably Mantlos best story but it lost focus in the end (probably due to having to change carrions identity by the editor)
Posted by: Kveto from Prague | October 6, 2011 12:30 AM
I really suspect that he was originally intended to be the Green Goblin - based on his costume especially - but when lots of people wrote in guessing that, they swapped him for the Jackal.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 6, 2011 1:13 AM
Yeah, I've heard the Spider-Clone theory too, and I seem to remember someone from Marvel confirming it on one of the rec.arts.comics boards.
Posted by: Michael | October 6, 2011 8:03 AM
Ah, I found it- it was Tony Isabella, who confirmed it on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe on October 4 1997 in a post titled Tony's Online Tips.
Posted by: Michael | October 6, 2011 8:19 AM
yeah, i think i saw it mentioned by him somewhere too. for whatever reason it got nixed by higher-ups. its really clear at the end of issue 29 that carrion was not intended to be miles warren.
Posted by: kveto from prague | October 6, 2011 5:28 PM
Here's a link to that newsgroup post. Not much there, unfortunately, and Tony Isabella's archives don't go back to 1997.
It seems odd that Carrion was intended to be the Spider-clone. Leaving aside the clear visual similarities to the Green Goblin, why would the clone refer to Spider-Man/Peter Parker as "Parker"? You'd think he'd be calling him "imposter" or something similar. And that "The Dead Walk" graffiti works a lot better dramatically if it's a character of some significance - either Osborn or Warren would do - that Spidey might fear the resurrection of. And if the clone wanted to taunt Peter with graffiti, you'd think he'd go for an angle like "You stole my life!".
Oh well. Like someone says on the newsgroup, too bad it didn't turn out to be the Spider-clone because that might have spared us from the Clone Saga in the 90s.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 7, 2011 12:03 AM
true, but osborn wouldnt have made much sense either. Carrion accuses parker of murdering the "sweetest girl he knew, gwen, and the kindest old man he knew, Miles Warren". Im pretty sure osborn and warren never met (unless thats been retconned.) I dont think osborn would have cared about miles' death since it happened after his, and he clearly didnt care about gwen's.
The parker clone knew both miles and gwen and could have even felt guilt about killing them (the old infamous "snap" from #121)
Posted by: kveto from prague | October 7, 2011 4:41 PM
The title to #25 refers to the song by Kansas.
Gene Colan occasionally did washed-out multiple images of Daredevil before Frank Miller; for example, the cover of Foom #13.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 20, 2011 11:57 PM
Here is a link with more info from Tony Isabella on Carrion being Peter's smokestack clone. http://www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/back20010105.shtml
There is even a good reason for the clone to be looking GreenGoblin'y 🐘
Posted by: PeterA | April 25, 2015 3:24 AM
PeterA, That's the link, thanks. Spider-clone makes more sense with his connection to Miles Warren (who died after Norman). It even explains why he'd visually look like the green goblin, finding the spare goblin gear.
Would have made the Carrion storyline really memorable had it played out as Bill envisioned.
Posted by: kveto | April 25, 2015 7:10 AM
Thanks for the link! I like find out about the way a story was originally supposed to go. I never knew Mantlo had the Spider-Clone in mind to be Carrion. And as much as I wouldn't have minded seeing that happen, I'm glad it turned out the way it did. I like the idea of Carrion being the degraded clone of Miles Warren, and all the clues still fit. It doesn't even read to me like there was a change. Things only went bad when Conway retconned his own story later on. And then the Clone Saga, of course, messed things up further.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | September 27, 2016 9:44 AM
Poor dog-bear was maimed by Carrion, as shown in the flashback in page 2, panel 4 of #31.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | November 6, 2016 7:22 AM
It seems like Stern appropriated the idea of a mystery villain appropriating the Goblin's gear from this story, since the origin of Carrion was changed so that he wasn't actually using repurposed Goblin gear, obvious (and originally intentional) visual similarities aside. I very much doubt the Hobgoblin story would have happened if they'd wound up using the original plan for Carrion's arsenal here.
It makes me wonder: since at the time Carrion revealed his "walking on air" ability, he was still supposed to be the Parker clone using Goblin tech, I wonder if it would have been revealed that the clone had simply incorporated equipment scavenged from a Goblin glider into the boots of his Carrion suit, allowing him to forego the need of relying on a glider himself or having to web-swing.
Posted by: Dan H. | March 11, 2017 12:29 PM
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