Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #118
Issue(s): Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #118
...and revel in the fact that Kingpin is having problems due to the situation with Nuke. Despite the fact that we were shown in Daredevil that the Kingpin is in real trouble, he downplays it here.
Foreigner then proceeds to make a call from the Kingpin's phone, and it's the same conversation we saw in Amazing Spider-Man #279 when the exploding orchids were delivered to Silver Sable, so we're learning here that she and Foreigner were once married.
The Kingpin's willingness to tolerate all of the above is a bit hard to take, and rubs me the same way as his ability to show up Sabretooth. It's building up this new villain, but it's too much and too fast (it could also be because Foreigner ultimately didn't have the staying power of either Sabretooth or Kingpin).
Kingpin tells Foreigner to leave Spider-Man alone. Foreigner agrees to not kill him but says he'll soon have Spider-Man working for him.
The rest of the issue is about Alex Woolcot, the boy who accidentally disintegrated his abusive father after gaining powers in his father's lab. The school teacher that Peter briefly met in issue #115 shows up at the Bugle asking Peter for help now that the boy has gone missing. Peter is currently considering giving up being Spider-Man and thinks to himself that the only reason he's still wearing the costume is "because my friend - Flash Thompson - needs help and he'll only trust Spider-Man".
But the decision to put on his costume and look for Alex is taken out of his hands when Alex shows up right outside, and blows up a cop car.
I made a joke about Alex being lucky no one called X-Factor last issue, but in this issue the cops suggest that option.
Instead, SHIELD agents monitoring the police channel hear about the incident and investigate. Nick Fury is currently "out of town" and so the agent, identified as Frederick Miluv in a 2006 handbook (per the Marvel Appendix) arrives instead.
I said the choice to get involved was taken out of Peter's hands but i guess he could have gone to just take pictures like Lance instead of becoming Spider-Man. Lance is acting strange, by the way, but no one seems to notice.
Spider-Man, meanwhile, gets some info from the police...
...and then heads after the boy, and soon realizes that he knows the kid.
The Mike Zeck/Bob McCleod art on this issue...
...really gives the book a different dynamic than the alternating Buckler and Beachum issues that we've been getting. And it's a better medium for Peter David's jokes, like the Dillinger and "Shut up, Sal" lines from above, as well as this really funny one making fun of the "abandoned building scheduled for demolition" trope.
As you can see, the meeting with Alex doesn't go well, and soon SHIELD arrives (see? I told Spider-Man not to tell Nick Fury about his spider-sense! Now every SHIELD agent has been briefed on it!).
SHIELD of course doesn't have a soft touch even when dealing with kids, so they deploy the Mandroids.
Alex assumes they are robots, and fries one.
It's said that the agent inside will be "scarred for life".
Alex does demonstrate more control over his powers once he's found out that the Mandroids are battle suits, not robots.
And Spider-Man gets involved again, this time helping Alex escape from SHIELD. However, he's ultimately unsuccessful.
We'll learn much later in Peter David's Hulk run that Alex actually survived. But without that, this story ends tragically and, considering how long it's been running as a subplot, a little pointlessly. Although a tragic pointless death of an abused kid can be a dramatic point in its own right.
It seems Peter David originally intended to show that Alex Woolcot was still alive at the end of this story, but Christopher Priest cut that. I don't know if Priest just intended to make the story more dramatic or just end the Alex subplot, but i also wonder if part of the motivation was to make room for the Prologue.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The first three pages of this issue take place "some days before" the rest of this story and are concurrent with the scene in Amazing Spider-Man #279 where Foreigner calls Silver Sable on the phone.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): show
This issue contradicts Amazing Spider-Man 280, where the Kingpin refused to hire Jack O'Lantern because he's already got Nuke working for him. However,in Amazing 284, Peter says that the Matt's battle with Nuke happened while he was returning home after his battle with Magma, which agrees with this issue.
Posted by: Michael | January 2, 2014 11:01 PM
I like the Foreigner, but I agree that introducing a new characters as equals (or better) to an established badass (like Kingpin) rubs me the wrong way. New characters haven't "earned" it, and it is too easy to give a brand new character credibility (with the reader) he hasn't deserved. If the character fizzles, it ends up downgrading the established character.
The Foreigner, as a new character, hasn't been established yet as a badass on his own to treat the Kingpin as an equal. There is no problem with the Kingpin knowing who the Foreigner is (or even having a long relationship with him), but until reader acceptance/popularity cements the Foreigner as a near equal to get away with such flippance, he shouldn't be stated as such. Ideally, any new characters needs about 1-3 years before this kind of familiarity is OK.
Peter David, who is otherwise an enjoyable writer, was prone to this weakness of craft. He eventually made the Pantheon organization in Hulk even more annoying.
Posted by: Chris | January 2, 2014 11:09 PM
I agree with the bulk of your post Chris to a degree. I don't think you neccesarly need 1-3 years though if you're trying to cement a new bad ass on the block but it sure helps.
Maybe this isn't the same case but I recently started on Walt Simonson's Thor run and I went in knowing that an alien called Beta Ray Bill would turn out to be worth of Thor's hammer. A part of me feared it would be a forced issue but thought 'y'know the story could be fun so I'm sure I'll be okay with it.' But no in only a few issues Walt demonstrated that Beta Ray is not only a bad ass but also worthy of lifting Mjolnir.
Maybe it doesn't quite apply to heroes and villains the same way and I was going more for 'make every panel count.'
Maybe I should read these issues with the foreigner and it is annoying when a new villain on the block beats up the old one then fizzles. Kind of happened to the first Vulture so it was delicious when the old guy whupped that upstart.
Posted by: David Banes | January 2, 2014 11:47 PM
If you didn't like the foreigner now, wait until you see what he does with the Black Cat. You'll really hate him after that.
Posted by: clyde | January 3, 2014 1:14 PM
David, you are right. In special circumstances, new characters can earn large reader respect as major, powerful characters right away. I think Simonson took a risk in making the unknown and brand new Beta Ray Bill hold the hammer, but it's really the only way it could be done. Importantly, Simonson "sold" it to the readers. It's almost ludicrous to think an alien horse could be popular, but it happened. The chance of failure was very big.
However, most writers don't have the craft or magic that Simonson had at the time. A similar situation was Roger Stern quickly establishing the Hobgoblin as a serious menace. Lots of lesser writers have tried to do the same as Stern and Simonson did, and their failures have sometimes been painful.
One big difference though between both the Beta Ray Bills and Hobgoblins, is that they were brand new characters when introduced. They challenged the heroes immediately. We didn't see other pre-existing characters talk about how badass they were, or allowed the new characters to treat them with less than full respect and get away with it in order to build them up. Whatever rep they had with readers was earned.
Posted by: Chris | January 11, 2014 3:23 AM
In Amazing Heroes Preview Special #2, Peter David stated that he and Rich Buckler were going to recreate Deathlok in this title by having Stryker review data from the robot Deathlok's MTIO appearance, and build a new guy to supplant the one in Astonishing Tales. There was also a reproduction of the cover of Peter Parker Annual #6 showing Spider-Man punching out Ace(but I'm not even sure there was a sixth Annual).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 12, 2014 4:58 PM
There was definitely a sixth Annual and it featured Ace. (I'm sure fnord will be reviewing it soon.)
Posted by: Michael | January 12, 2014 5:03 PM
What WAS up with Lance Bannon here? Was it ever resolved? Or was it just part of the whole Hobgoblin mess?
Posted by: Dan H. | September 20, 2015 5:26 PM
The Marvel Appendix site reports that, according to PAD, Jim Owlsey cut his final page showing that Alex was still alive.
Also, Alex Woolcot might be named for the theatre critic and famous wit Alexander Woolcott, one of the founding members of the famous Algonquin Round Table.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 15, 2015 6:45 PM
Same question as Dan H - Does anyone remember if they ever made an explanation for Lance Bannon acting weird? I recall it at the time as one of the many red herrings "of someone's acting weird, maybe they're the Hobgoblin", and it's not a major thing but after you know he's not the Hobgoblin, what's that scene about?
Posted by: Jonathan | January 27, 2016 1:52 PM
IIRC, that particular mystery was never resolved.
Posted by: clyde | January 27, 2016 2:03 PM
Two possible reasons Lance was acting weird: He may have either been stunned to see that Randy's wife was white, OR he knew Amanda from his past.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | September 29, 2016 9:11 AM
Comments are now closed.
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