The Transparent Fox:
Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #88-89
Issue(s): Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #88, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #89
Milgrom draws an especially bug eyed and scary looking Hyde. I like it.
The battle moves from Ryker's to Manhattan, and Spider-Man and the Black Cat get involved.
Spidey continues to be overly protective of the Black Cat, which i suppose is fair due to the fact that her last few encounters with super-powered villains don't go well. But Spidey is no match for Mr. Hyde, so it's a good thing that the Cat is able to step in and protect him. Felicia is written as being annoyed by Spidey's mothering, and bravely stands up to Hyde even though she admits her fear. It's good writing.
Meanwhile, the Cobra had slithered away (so weird looking!)...
...and returns in full costume.
He loads Hyde with poisoned darts. The battle ends when a building collapses on both of them.
Spidey reaches out to thank the Black Cat, but she thinks he's admonishing her for entering the battle and she runs off.
While Peter sits at home and recovers from his injuries (and receives a visit from Joe Robertson, wondering where he's been), the Black Cat goes on a quest to receive super-powers so she won't be a burden to Spidey any more.
She starts by visiting what used to be Stark International, but is now Stane. Tony Stark is said to have disappeared. Next, she gives a call to Henry Pym, who's in his lab and doesn't pick up his phone. Then the FF, who are said to be out of town at the moment. Then she drops in on the Avengers, is captured by their security equipment, and is given a stern lecture on super-powers by Captain America.
Finally she tries the Fantastic Four again, this time in person, but finds that fruitless as well.
With the heroes having failed her, she resorts to her underworld contacts. No luck there at first either, but she's eventually contacted by a mystery man who sends her to the former lab of Harlan Stillwell, the mad scientist who created the Fly. There she's tested, trained, and receives treatment for a period of "days" (probably concurrent to events in ASM), and at the end of it she find that she's been given bad luck powers.
Oddly, these powers are exactly like the powers she appeared to have in her first appearances, although at that time she was rigging a scene in advance to simulate bad luck. Strange coincidence that she should wind up with powers that do the same thing for real. I suppose one could argue that she always had such powers but they were latent and she had to kind of help them along and this treatment just brought them out.
Anyway, it turns out that the Cat's mysterious benefactor is the Kingpin...
...and in return for her gift, he demands the right to call in an unspecified favor at some point in the future. It's also stated that Stillwell's lab only had one last use in it, so it's not going to be possible to create any more super-powered beings.
The Kingpin had been looking for a super-powered bodyguard to replace Elektra and Bullseye even before he got word that the Black Cat was looking for powers.
This was a surprisingly decent character driven arc by Mantlo, with nice pencils from Milgrom. This is Mantlo's last arc. Beginning with the next issue it's Milgrom on story and art.
Issue #89 was one of the first comics i ever received (in a batch along with Fantastic Four #265 and Alpha Flight #9). My father brought them home while i was in bed with a concussion. There's a lot going on in this issue: references to Cloak & Dagger...
...Cobra & Hyde, Dr. Octopus, the Fly...
...an appearance by Captain America and the Wasp (who i thought was a guy based on the short hair), an appearance by the Fantastic Four, and in the end, Spider-Man getting pulled into a strange structure with a note saying that the story would be continued in Secret Wars (followed immediately by an ad showing all the heroes that would be in that series). Talk about getting totally immersed in the Marvel Universe. I didn't quite understand all of it, of course, but i was really intrigued. It didn't even occur to me to wonder why Spider-Man himself barely appeared in this issue. Follow all this up with the fact that Fantastic Four #265 showed everyone returning from Secret Wars, and it's really no wonder that from the very beginning i was organizing my comics in chronological order instead of alphabetically by title (or maybe it was just the concussion). It all started here, folks!
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: See the Chronological Placement Considerations for Amazing Spider-Man #249-251. This arc takes place during Amazing #251. Spider-Man's entry into Secret Wars is shown at the end of this arc (repeating a scene from Amazing #251). Issue #89 doesn't actually continue directly from #88, but since both issues take place in such a tight space within Amazing #251 and #89 focuses almost entirely on the aftermath of #88, i've left the two in one entry.
As Michael notes in the comments, Sue does not appear to be pregnant here. But since this takes place right before Secret Wars, she must be pregnant. This is acknowledged in a later lettercol as an art error, but we can write it off as Sue having some sort of technological and/or invisibility-powered way to hide her pregnancy, maybe to not advertise her pregnancy to the FF's enemies.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
There's a MAJOR art error in this issue-it takes place late in Sue's pregnancy but Sue doesn't look pregnant.
Posted by: Michael | July 11, 2011 3:43 AM
Thanks, i meant to mention that. I guess unstable molecules just hide it really well? ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | July 11, 2011 3:47 AM
In issue #94, the editors accept a No-Prize claim from a writer who says "The only logical explanation I could give is that Reed outfitted Sue with a device that projects an image of a non-pregnant Invisible Girl when she's in the Baxter Building. This was done so the enemies of the Fantastic Four don't attack her when they think she's most vulnerable."
Posted by: fnord12 | August 9, 2011 10:44 PM
The Cobra showed outright fear of Mr. Hyde way back in Captain America #182, so I'm guessing the feud between them started really early on.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 2, 2011 4:53 PM
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