The Small Lebowski:
Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #49-52
Issue(s): Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #49, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #50, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #51, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #52
Spider-Man runs into Erik Josten, who is now going by the name of the Smuggler.
Josten has lost power since his Power Man days, but he is still very powerful, and Spider-Man only beats him after a long battle...
...and he runs out of web fluid at the end so he can't web Josten up properly.
Josten gets free, but the continued fight takes them to the subway and Josten is electrocuted on the third rail, finally knocking him out.
Aunt May tells Peter that she's getting engaged to Nate Lubenski, a man from her retirement home.
Peter asks Debra Whitman to come along to the date with his Aunt and Nate.
The meal is interrupted when a group of aliens attack the restaurant.
They are the aliens that Spider-Man saw working with the Tinkerer way back in Amazing Spider-Man #2. Now they are working with Mysterio...
...and they are looking for treasure rumored to have been hidden in the Parker household (this is from the ill-advised Amazing Spider-Man #200, which retconned the story of the original thief that killed Uncle Ben so that he was looking for this same treasure).
It turns out that the aliens aren't aliens at all and they weren't back in their first appearance, either. They were just out-of-work movie extras and stuntmen. And one of them went on to become Mysterio. They're back working with him again for this caper.
Peter and Debra are taken by Mysterio, but Peter is able to change into Spider-Man and reprogram Mysterio's main computer program so that it attacks him with images of Spidey.
A back-up story runs through issues #49-51, dealing with the White Tiger.
His family is killed by criminals, and the Tiger starts hunting them down. It turns out that Gideon Mace was behind the murders, as part of his newly declared war on all super-heroes.
The Tiger is badly beaten and his body is dumped in front of the Daily Bugle.
This is dealt with as the main (and only) story in issue #52.
Spider-Man is able to stop Mace and his army...
...and the White Tiger survives. But he removes his amulet despite the withdrawal effects, and asks that it be returned to the Sons of the Tiger. The Sons have been appearing in Power Man & Iron Fist, and they've been wearing their amulets, but it was suggested in a lettercol that they were replicas. We can assume that at some point behind the scenes they get the real ones back.
The problem with this series is the art. This book has a different penciler and inker each issue, and most of the time it feels pretty rushed, so despite Roger Stern's good plots and scripting, this book never really gets great, even when John Romita Jr. is drawing it.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Issue #49 starts with Peter worrying about the closing of the Daily Globe and the fact that Madam Web knows his secret identity. The back-up White Tiger story all takes place in a continuous arc, culminating in a Spider-Man/White Tiger story in #52, so all of these issues get one entry even though not all main Spider-Man stories were continued. In issue #52, Peter indicates that it's been about a week since the events of issue #49. By issue #52 Peter is working at the Daily Bugle again. I therefore have this concurrent with Amazing Spider-Man #211-212.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
Another "disposable character" retired here. All of Marvel's Kung Fu heroes would be "retired" one way or another before the 1980s ended, probably because Jim Shooter thought they reeked of embarrassing 1970s-ishness.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 11, 2011 1:20 PM
I LOVE MYSTERIO/QUENTIN BECK.
Posted by: Anonymous | January 7, 2013 6:09 AM
The first Mysterio picture is duplicated. The first and extraneous stance is among the Power Man images.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 16, 2014 10:51 PM
Thanks, Luis. Fixed it.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 16, 2014 11:45 PM
Denys Cowan confirmed in Amazing Heroes #163 that the White Tiger stories were his first Marvel work.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 17, 2015 11:44 AM
probably the best retcon ever, making those aliens actors and showing where Mysterio's Spider-man obsession started.
Day of the hero killers is one of my personal favourite issues. Spider-man vs the US Army. Doesn't get better than that. The fight is very intense and claustrophobic. And Mace is scarily realistic for a guy with a "morning star"for a hand.
Posted by: kveto | July 30, 2015 3:56 AM
Roger Stern Mysterio is best Mysterio!
Actually considering he's one of the original classic Spidey villains, it's amazing how few appearances he's had. Even fewer still taking into account some of those are Sinister Six team-ups where he's usually superfluous.
Mysterio always seemed like he should be higher up the rogue echelon. He has an awesome and distinctly visual costume and his power set means the creative teams can go wild dreaming up practically any challenge for Spidey. And yet it's never rly panned out the way.
Posted by: JC | March 15, 2016 6:42 PM
It's mentioned that the Maggia and the Halwani Freedom Front are sponsoring Mace's planned attack on Luke Cage, which is a nice nod to Cage's run-ins with the Hammerhead and Scimitar. Stern is great at those incidental details that flesh out the Marvel Universe.
Interestingly, Stern doesn't directly state that the Smuggler is Josten until issue #54, but enough hints are certainly provided here, and he's still wearing the updated Power Man costume he used in Avengers #164.
There's a great little sequence with Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson when the Tiger is dumped in front of the Daily Bugle, where Jonah's hatred of superheroes is briefly shaken by the sight of a young adult like Hector Ayala being brutalized.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 9, 2017 3:46 PM
Luke didn't have his first run-in with Hammerhead until Power Man and Iron Fist 92, which was published 2 years after this- I guess the Maggia wanted Luke dead on general principles.
Posted by: Michael | July 14, 2017 12:22 AM
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