Spectacular Spider-Man #162-163
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man #162, Spectacular Spider-Man #163
I'm curious if the Guardsmen here are powered the way we heard about in Avengers Spotlight #29, with maybe a power source in the truck, or if the Guardsmen have to use inferior Stane suits for transfer operations. One Guardsman does wind up doing pretty well against Hobgoblin, at least until Carrion comes out.
Visually speaking, Carrion and the Hobgoblin make a nice pair. I've always felt like Carrion's look - the purse, the cowl - was based on the Green Goblin's in the first place. So seeing the two side by side feels right to me. But the characters are completely at odds from the beginning of this Team-Up.
Carrion is actually pretty demotivated in his unlife, and you can see the ennui showing itself in his face in a lot of panels, but the Hobgoblin does manage to convince him that revenge against Spider-Man is worth pursuing.
On the other hand, the story makes a point to show that Carrion's powers aren't as otherworldly as originally depicted.
This will be relevant when we get to the end of this story, with Carrion's human side asserting itself.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man has gone back to Mr. Fantastic to see if he's come up with anything using the info on Carrion that he delivered last issue, and instead finds that the place has been ransacked by Hobgoblin.
Later, on a picnic with Mary Jane, Peter starts thinking about the fact that he kept the transformation of Malcom McBride into Carrion a secret (he hoped to find a cure so that Malcom could go back to his life without the public knowing about the incident), but now he's convinced that he ought to at least tell Malcom's mom. In too neat of a coincidence, Hobgoblin also agrees to take Carrion to see his mother at the same time.
Spider-Man shows up as Carrion is seemingly menacing his mother, and he starts a fight.
While fighting, Spider-Man is also trying to convince Carrion to chill out and see if they can find a cure. But Spidey is then ambushed by Hobgoblin, who was hiding in a manhole.
I've said a few times that i like Conway's return to Spider-Man because it's got a nice classic feel, especially compared to what's going on in Amazing Spider-Man. But the "classic" elements have a downside, too, like the ridiculous idea that two demonic revenge obsessed villains would keep Spider-Man alive for fun and profit. Just kill him!
Meanwhile, Mary Jane watches reports of Spider-Man's abduction on television but decides that she's not going to be the weepy stay-at-home wife, so she goes out to do something about it. On the way out, though, she runs into Nick Katzenberg, who wants to show her a picture.
Aww, c'mon, Nick. Not more pictures of Cynthia Bernhammer!
It's not actually Cynthia. Nick has pictures of Peter in his Spider-Man costume.
If Nick were a respectable reporter, he'd bring those photos to an editor. But instead he seems to be trying to blackmail Mary Jane. So MJ has the appropriate response.
This situation does make me wonder about the Cynthia Bernhammer situation. That started off with Nick oogling pictures of Cynthia, and later they were seen to be dating. I wasn't sure where that was going, and i'm still not sure what the point of it was. Nick is a caricature of a sleazy paparazzi photographer. Cynthia was a respectable lawyer with a good-hearted concern for her client. The only thing that the two had in common was that they were both fat. So was this going to lead to a story where Cynthia dates Nick and then finds out that he's a creep? Turns out no; Cynthia won't be appearing any more. Would it instead result in us seeing a softer side of Nick? Apparently not, based on this story.
Anyway, after punching out Nick, Mary Jane goes to Thomas Fireheart, since as Puma he knows Spider-Man's secret identity. She expects Puma to go out and rescue Spider-Man. After all, the reason he bought the Daily Bugle was to pay back a debt of honor to Spider-Man. But it turns out that Puma is interpreting that debt very narrowly. He owes Spider-Man the debt because he attacked Spider-Man after believing a false story about him that ran in the Bugle (with photos taken by Nick Katzenberg, for what it's worth), and so now he feels obligated to restore Spider-Man's reputation. But "whether he lives or dies is entirely besides the point".
Mary Jane doesn't give up, though. She next goes to find Carrion's mom.
I really like the use of Mary Jane in this story. This is a good example of how Peter and MJ's marriage can work. She doesn't have to get actively involved in every story, but it's great to see her doing more than sitting at home, clutching her chest and worrying about her husband (Conway explicitly has MJ choose not to do that).
Meanwhile, as to the "profit" part of the reason that Spider-Man is still alive, the Hobgoblin goes to Hammerhead to try to get him to pay him for killing Spider-Man.
As Hammerhead - who is looking insanely block with Sal Buscema's current art style, but i like it - points out, Hobgoblin didn't even manage to complete the contract that Hammerhead actually hired him for. But he ultimately agrees that if the Hobgoblin brings him Spider-Man's corpse, they'll talk money then. Which maybe ought to have been Hobgoblin's starting position since he doesn't seem to have a better idea or anyone else to go to (it's noted that Hammerhead is one of the three current crime lords in New York, but Hobgoblin doesn't go to the other two). After Hobgoblin leaves, Tombstone again softly protests the fact that Hammerhead wants Hobgoblin to kill Joe Robertson. Hammerhead thinks he's doing a favor for Tombstone, as a matter of honor. But Tombstone still thinks to himself that only he should be allowed to kill Robbie. But he doesn't press the issue with Hammerhead.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man taunts Carrion into throwing his red dust just the right way so that it melts the ectoplasmic goo that Hobgoblin trapped Spider-Man in.
Hobgoblin returns as they are fighting...
...and the fight takes them back onto the street in front of Carrion's mom's house. Hobgoblin tosses a pumpkin bomb that would have hit Spider-Man, Mary Jane, and Carrion's mom, but Carrion finds enough of his humanity to jump in front of it.
The explosion seems to incinerate both villains.
Also in this issue, Joe Robertson decides to pass up Puma's offer of a promotion at the Daily Bugle, and instead agrees to join J. Jonah Jameson's rival business venture.
Some corny villain tropes, but a solid action story with some nice subplot work as well.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP splits this story in half, with a number of other Spider-Man appearances (including his appearance in Avengers #314-318, Amazing Spider-Man #330-333, Marvel Comics Presents #48-50, and the Totally Tiny annual event) taking place after Spider-Man speaks with Mr. Fantastic but before Spider-Man has the picnic with Mary Jane and then goes looking for Carrion's mom. Of most immediate concern is that Web of Spider-Man #63 takes place during that gap. I'll place this story where it ends, after all of the above issues.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showCarrion II, Demogoblin, Evan Swann, Hammerhead, J. Jonah Jameson, Jason Macendale, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Martha MacBride, Mary Jane Watson, Mr. Fantastic, Nick Katzenberg, Puma, Spider-Man, Tombstone
A quick one:
(it's noted that Hobgoblin is one of the three current crime lords in New York, but Hobgoblin doesn't go to the other two).
I'm guessing you meant Hammerhead in the first instance.
Gerry does a good job explaining Carrion's powers, but yeah - the old Batman villain death trap schemes just don't work.
I also think he should have stuck with using another clone of Miles Warren. Malcolm McBride is just a frightful bore.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | April 24, 2015 12:31 PM
Yep, i meant Hammerhead. Thanks, Vin.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 24, 2015 12:34 PM
"Gerry does a good job explaining Carrion's powers, but yeah - the old Batman villain death trap schemes just don't work."
If they did kill Spider-Man, it would be a pretty short comic.;)
Posted by: clyde | April 24, 2015 12:45 PM
they just tried so hard, in so many different way to try to make a Macendale hobgoblin work, but it just never does.
Posted by: kveto | April 24, 2015 2:53 PM
It doesn't help that Macendale's Hobgoblin career started with him getting thrown out a window by the non-powered Tombstone, and then getting beaten by a drunk Spider-Man. He's practically treated like a joke almost right out of the gate.
Posted by: TCP | April 24, 2015 4:26 PM
At this point, it might be prudent to change the character tag "Jack O'Lantern" into "Jason Macendale", since he's going to be appearing a lot more as Hobgoblin, even more than he did as Jack.
Posted by: mikrolik | April 25, 2015 9:58 AM
Agree, mikrolik. I was thinking along the same lines, debating changing it to Hobgoblin (Jack O'Lantern) or something, but i guess it's time to give him the Henry Pym/Erik Josten treatment.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 25, 2015 4:40 PM
It is a tricky situation I'll admit, since super-code names are thrown around constantly, but real names are mentioned much less. Still, I got into Marvel Comics in the early 90's, when Macendale was Hobby, and had no idea who Jack O'Lantern was for a few years! I guess trying to make a chronological record of Marvel comics and cross-referencing characters appearing therein is more complex than it looks.
Posted by: mikrolik | April 25, 2015 10:19 PM
Just call him "Macgoblin"
Posted by: kveto | April 26, 2015 5:58 AM
The cheap over-bleached paper Marvel switched to around this time, combined with bad inks and gawdy colors could make even art by a great like Sal Buscema look bad.
Newsprint actually looked better with its off-white tone as background.
Posted by: Bob | April 29, 2015 3:00 AM
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