Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #128-129
Issue(s): Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #128, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #129
We start with an absolutely awful new costume for the Black Cat.
Love the purse. Ladies need a purse to go crime fighting, obviously. If she had a purse during her actual cat burglar days, i could understand it, but she didn't, so why does she need one now?
Here it is with the mask.
It's also amusing how Felicia was infinitely more sexy in her original outfit despite it not showing any cleavage.
Now, you may not remember this since it hasn't really been a factor in the books lately, but Spider-Man has actually been wanted for murder since issue #123, when a strangely super-powered Keating framed Spider-Man for the murder of the new Blaze. So to start with, we have J. Jonah Jameson hiring Silver Sable to get Spider-Man arrested before he is inevitably cleared of the charges again.
Spider-Man, meanwhile, declines help from Daredevil (or is it the Flash?)...
...and opts to not go to the Avengers or FF for help either.
Before i jump to the fight between Spider-Man and Sable's Wild Pack, i want to show these panels of Betty telling Flash that she's expecting Ned to be home soon.
I want to show that because it's an important sub-plot, but also because the art is just awful. As is Kupperberg's depiction of the Black Cat's costume (no idea if he's also responsible for the design). The art in these issues are generally pretty bad. And i wanted to get all that out of the way because i think that Kupperberg's splash panel here of Spidey fighting Sable's troops is really cool, with Spidey leaping from platform to platform.
The Wild Pack fail in their mission. And their involvement in this story is mainly to remind us that Silver Sable exists (due to the ending) and to give Spider-Man something to do so that he can come home and overhear the Black Cat on the phone with the Foreigner.
While all of this is going on, Sgt. Tork is visited by Stan Carter, aka the Sin-Eater that killed Jean DeWolff.
Carter is out on a "field trip" from the mental hospital where he's being held. I'm not too keen on Peter David's depiction of the mentally ill. Betty is way over the top (although the art probably has a lot to do with that), and Carter's "I'm feeling much better now" is a cliched joke. But the idea here is that even though Carter is insane, he's still got the instincts of a good cop, and he's somehow been able to review the evidence on the Blaze killing, and he tells Tork to suspect Keating instead of Spider-Man.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man is delayed from following the Black Cat because Flash shows up to ask for help with Betty. Peter David does a little better with Betty here, getting her past the ridiculously over the top "denial" stage of grief.
Peter then goes to try to get information from Chris Keating in his guise as a Daily Bugle photographer. Keating isn't at the police station, but Keating's phone rings while Peter is waiting, and Peter picks up and hears the Black Cat telling Keating to meet her somewhere. Spider-Man shows up there and finds out that he's in a fight with the Foreigner.
Thanks to the clock placement, you can see that the Foreigner seems to be jumping in time, and it turns out that he really just has the mundane ability to hypnotize someone and cause them to black out for a few seconds. Spider-Man figures it out and concludes the fight with his eyes closed, trusting his Spider-Sense.
That sends the Foreigner running just as the cops show up to arrest Spider-Man.
It's worth noting that even without the hypnotism, the Foreigner has displayed super-strength and an uncanny agility that, for example, allowed him to easily evade dart traps in the Black Cat's apartment. Plus he's the leader of a group of assassins that were able to kill the Hobgoblin. So Spider-Man getting a few punches in really shouldn't be enough to get rid of him permanently. But it will be a long while before we see him again.
He takes refuge with his ex-wife, Silver Sable.
As for Spider-Man, the Black Cat gives Tork some photos of Keating tearing Blaze's cell window open.
And we learn that Keating was actually killed "several years ago", and since then he's been impersonated by "some two dozen men". Impersonating Keating was actually a training exercise for Foreigner's assassins.
As a housekeeping note, i've followed the MCP and have tagged Amazing Spider-Man #265 as the real Keating's last appearance. There's nothing in this issue that specifically confirms that, but it is the first appearance of Silver Sable so maybe the idea is that the Foreigner moved in when his ex-wife got involved in the area. And i'm also tagging every Keating appearance after ASM #265 as a Foreigner appearance even though Foreigner says that Keating was actually impersonated by multiple people.
Like with Ned Leeds, it's hard to see the point of Chris Keating's death. Keating was a longstanding minor character whose bit was that he earnestly didn't like super-heroes but was a good cop. I guess the idea was to make a longstanding character seem suspicious as part of all the Hobgoblin and Foreigner misdirection. If a new character was used it would have been a more obvious red flag. But killing off Keating in this retroactive way just robs Marvel of a decent recurring cop character.
When Peter returns home, he finds that someone has crushed Mary Jane's waist and forced her to wear a ridiculous outfit.
But he also gets a note from the Black Cat confirming that it was her plan all along to lead Spider-Man to the Foreigner and clear Spidey's name.
So in addition to this being a wrap-up in terms of the Foreigner, it's also some deck clearing in preparation for Peter's upcoming proposal to Mary Jane.
In that regard, it works pretty well. Peter's relationship with MJ has been iffy, but between this and Spider-Man vs. Wolverine we have some basis for their relationship deepening while also giving us a convenient reason to shuffle off Felicia.
More generally, though, this story is not very satisfying. After a lot of build-up, the Foreigner is chased away pretty easily. I suppose if Peter David had stayed on the book longer, the character might have returned sooner and this wouldn't have felt as much like an anticlimactic final fight. But frankly, i'm glad that he didn't, since with the exception of other characters telling me how great he was, i never saw any reason to care about the Foreigner. The problems with the story here are compounded by Alan Kupperberg's art, which makes the fight with the Foreigner uninteresting and, with its exaggerated look, makes dealing with serious topics difficult and also raises the volume too much on Peter David's jokes and puns.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: These issues take place before Peter proposes to Mary Jane in Amazing Spider-Man #290.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
Strangely, in this story the SHIELD agent claims that he was fired because he killed Alex but in a Hulk issue just a few months later, also written by PAD, we find out SHIELD faked Alex's death. So why did the guy get fired?
Posted by: Michael | April 2, 2014 9:16 PM
So, what was the purpose of even giving the Black Cat a new costume here? It features only in these two issues, and then the character leaves to lie low in Europe for a few years (i.e. she enters comic limbo), only to (thankfully) not ever wear it again once she returns.
Posted by: Harry | April 3, 2014 5:16 AM
I remember years ago when One More Day came out there were arguments left and right on everything about Peter and Mary Jane. I recall a dogmatic mod on the Marvel boards insisted that Peter and Mary Jane's marriage was a very last minute story twist that had little build up or character development beforehand. While lots of posters retraced the history and placed them showing Peter's relationship with Felecia and Mary Jane, whether there was cheating and what not said it worked pretty well.
Either way it is nice seeing these steps bit by bit, I should get back to Spider-Man reading soon.
Posted by: davidbanes | April 3, 2014 3:27 PM
Amazing Heroes #115 joke listing for #129: "Peter discovers that his camera is actually a symbiotic life form from another world."--David/Mooney
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 13, 2014 5:25 PM
I can't help but be amused by Betty's inability to remember Ned's face, as it almost seems like a reference to how forgettable a character he was pre-Hobgoblin.
Posted by: TCP | August 22, 2014 11:04 PM
So, does the forgigner know spidey's identity? I mean he must know, even if Felicia didn't tell him. he could easily trace the call to pete's flat.
Posted by: kveto | June 8, 2015 3:32 PM
Gaa, what awful art. No wonder the McFarlane issues sold a gajillion copies - everyone was so amazed to actually have some interesting art after stuff like this.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 19, 2015 10:56 AM
Kupperberg's art is what it is, but I wish he'd give proper credit to Jim Fern and Art Nichols, whom did finishes and/or inks on these books.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 4, 2017 2:14 PM
This story doesn't really work well with Sable, either; DeFalco showed her as tough-minded and mercenary, but ultimately as the kind of person who'd let a bounty go to catch a child murderer.
The idea that she'd blithely hang out with a guy as he boasts about killing a police detective, killing one of his operatives, and boasting about manipulating and planning to kill yet a third person doesn't work with pretty much any other portrayal of Sable.
But then, a big part of the PAD/Jim Owsely take on Spider-Man is that in the "bigger picture" he's unworldly and out of his depth. So I suppose the idea is to show that people like Sable and the Foreigner are playing on a different level, with different concerns.
Unfortunately, the net effect is to undermine the protagonist and his morality -- a particularly famous ethical code, in fact -- in favor of rather dislikable and ultimately minor villains and supporting cast. So it doesn't work at all.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 8, 2017 3:57 PM
Well, the way her relationship with Foreigner is depicted often makes him look abusive- he often tries to kill her as part of their "game" and arranged for nude pictures of a Sable imposter to be published in a magazine in Wright's Silver Sable series. Sable puts up with stuff from the Foreigner that she wouldn't from anyone else.
Posted by: Michael | October 8, 2017 5:04 PM
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