Spectacular Spider-Man #138
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man #138
...and it seems to be a hallucination that Tarantula is having while he's standing there in the room with Colonel Gullivar South and Captain America.
Dude needs help.
By the way, their meeting place is underneath a garbage boat.
Tarantula lies to the new Captain America, telling him that Spider-Man killed the original Tarantula and that Elvira, the undocumented political refugee from last issue, was a violent militant. Captain America is a little wary of all of this because he knows that the original Cap knew Spider-Man, but he's stuck with his orders. But he gets even more suspicious when Tarantula violently takes down a guard whose only crime is getting too enraptured with a Claremont novel.
Cap also doesn't like the way the "illegals" look at him. A little surprising that the right-wing John Walker would care.
Meanwhile, Peter is having bad dreams and he thinks it's due to his conscience over the immigration issue, so he puts on his red and blue costume and goes to look for Elvira.
He finds Captain America, and doesn't know that it's not the Captain America that he knows.
The Tarantula then tags Spider-Man with his poison.
Cap continues to doubt what he's doing...
...and when he hears that Spider-Man didn't really kill the original Tarantula, he walks away, leaving the Tarantula to Spider-Man's mercy. We next see him back at the garbage boat, having found out that Colonel South is a rogue agent.
Elvira and her family still get deported, but it's said that due to all the publicity, they'll be safe. I don't think we'll ever find out.
Meanwhile, Tombstone shows up to lean on Roland Rayburn, the guy with persuasion powers that we saw in Web of Spider-Man #35-36.
Rayburn doesn't even know that he has powers, but the Arranger does, and he's sent Tombstone to collect him.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 213,758. Single issue closest to filing date = 226,455.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: See the Considerations for last entry. Peter and MJ are definitely in their new apartment in this issue and Spider-Man is back to his red and blue costume. The Die Spinne text on the back of Spidey's costume is visible if you squint, placing this before Web of Spider-Man #39. A note in the lettercol says that this takes place "right after" Thor #391 (they actually say Thor #392 but that must be a mistake since Spider-Man doesn't appear there). They also say that Thor #392 takes place "right after" Amazing Spider-Man #300 and hint that Web of Spider-Man #39 features the return of Spider-Man's original, non Die Spinne, red & blue costume. They also say that "We just want you to know that we're trying to coordinate the continuity between Spidey titles a bit better". It's appreciated, but they did miss the fact that this story is a direct continuation of #137 which has Spider-Man in his black costume, so i've had to make a few adjustments, like placing #137 "right after" Thor #391 and also taking the "right after" Amazing Spider-Man #300 not so literally.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showGullivar South, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Kate Cushing, Mary Jane Watson, Persuader, Spider-Man, Tarantula II, Tombstone, USAgent
One complicating factor in the placement of this- the Tarantula assumes that John is the original Captain America and John doesn't correct him. Of course, it's possible that the Tarantula never saw the press conference in Captain America 341 and John wasn't in the mood to correct him.
Posted by: Michael | May 26, 2014 11:51 PM
It's funny that as a kid I always fell for the old Hero v hero shock stories, which would begin with a misunderstanding then lead to them teaming up.
Reading the many scans you've put up has given me insight into the comics I had as a kid that I wasn't aware of 1st time. For instance, I had no idea while reading this in real time that this wasn't the original Captain America. I'll have to re-read it again to see if it was blatantly obvious or there were clues that I'd missed out.
Posted by: JSfan | May 27, 2014 6:27 AM
JSfan, Sal certainly draws him just like Steve Rogers so I'm sure there were a lot of kids back then who assumed the same.
I really liked both Tarantula and Tombstone as a kid. Tarantula (new and old) just seemed like a perfect fit for a villain for Spidey, plus I loved the costume. Tombstone I really enjoyed seeing Robbie get a storyline of his own. I haven't read these issues in forever so it's interesting to look back and compare my thoughts on the stories today versus reading them as a child and teen. Which is one of the many cool things about this site. fnord12 is awesome!
Posted by: Robert | May 27, 2014 6:43 AM
really odd that Tarrantula would dream of spidey in his red and blues after just fighting him in his black duds.
Also, strange that John Walker would punch out an Oliver North annalougue. You'd think their politics would agree.
Tombstone was a really silly addition. A seven foot tall black albino hitman. yeah I'm sure he's great for undercover gangland hits. Nobody'd notice him.
Posted by: kveto from prague | May 27, 2014 2:03 PM
I don't recall it ever mentioned that Tombstone was supposed to be used for undercover work. His wiki entry states: "As a hitman and enforcer, Lonnie used his albinism to his advantage. He filed his teeth and nails to points, giving him the appearance of a vampire. This frequently caught his opponents off-guard, making it easier to kill them." Also, he was the Kingpin's Hitman, not undercover anything. IIRC, the kingpin isn't known for subtlety. If he's coming after you (and your name isn't Daredevil), he generally wants you to know that it's him. As for sticking around for a long time, that's a mark of his popularity both in-universe and with fans.
Also, John Walker probably only punched out the rogue agent exactly because he agreed with him. IMO, there's only room for one of him in any situation.
Posted by: clyde | May 27, 2014 2:36 PM
No accounting for taste. Just cause he's popular, don't make him any good. Tombstone was silly in true comic book fashion.
I wonder if Conway caught any flak for having an albino bad guy, that way Dan Brown did?
Posted by: kveto from prague | May 27, 2014 2:44 PM
Conway's old bad habit of poor research comes back: "La Tarantula" would refer to a woman.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 31, 2014 5:05 PM
I appreciate Tombstone for being intimidating without being super-powered (yet). He was depicted very effectively in these early stories as a psychologically threatening villain, and so was dangerous even without being able to hang with Spidey on a level playing field.
Posted by: TCP | November 12, 2014 1:53 PM
Actually, Sal did a great job differentiating the John Walker Cap from the Steve Rogers Cap.
The face tells the whole story, as well as the bigger bulk.
Also, Pete's Spider-Sense doesn't detect the imminent attack from the erzatz Cap? Conway had a weird thing going on with how the Spider-Sense worked.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 9, 2015 9:05 AM
I'm guessing Conway wrote this story with the intention that it was the original Captain America, but when someone told him otherwise, he just added a few cosmetic details ("Is this how the original Cap would act?") and just went from there.
Posted by: mikrolik | October 29, 2017 8:25 PM
No. John Walker became Captain America almost a year before this issue (Sep 87 v May 88). There's no conceivable way a whole story could be written and drawn and no one have pointed out that major status quo change. There's two editors - one of whom (Herdling) was a close friend of Gruenwald - and regardless, the plot is fundamentally broken if it's Steve. Steve knows Spidey and isn't as morally loose, obedient and oblivious as Walker. Just because some writers hate the shared universe, doesn't mean they all do.
Posted by: AF | October 30, 2017 7:06 AM
By far my favorite use of John Walker. He is almost tolerable and even interesting in this story. And in no other.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | October 30, 2017 7:41 AM
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