Characters Appearing: Aunt May, Black Cat, Flash Thompson, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Man-Wolf (John Jameson), Marla Madison Jameson, Mary Jane Watson, Mary Parker Duplicate, Richard Parker Duplicate, Shroud, Spider-Man
Spectacular Spider-Man #207-208
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man #207, Spectacular Spider-Man #208
This story begins with Spider-Man swinging around the city and getting a sudden intense triggering of his Spidey-sense. This forces him to land near what turns out to be the ruins of Dr. Strange's house.
Spidey doesn't find anything in the rubble that should have triggered his Spider-sense. He also figures that whatever Strange has gotten into, it's probably beyond his ability to help with. So he hopes that Strange is ok and moves on. After he leaves, we find that the Shroud has been hiding in the shadows.
Spidey then goes to visit Flash in the hospital, but Flash tells him that they should no longer be friends. The conversation reminds me a bit of the one in in Web of Spider-Man #11.
Later, the Shroud tries to break up a gang meeting, but it's at the location of Dr. Strange's old house. Spider-Man runs into Shroud and they get into a Misunderstanding Fight, which isn't hard since he thinks the Shroud is a criminal. And if you were holding out for the Screaming Masks of Cytorrak, here they come.
They get attached to the heads of the gang.
You can admit that this is the greatest thing you've ever seen.
They drain energy from their hosts, skeletonizing them.
And Spidey gets stuck with one.
Spidey is able to overcome the fear that the masks thrive on...
...although not before socking Shroud in the jaw.
Eventually he and the Shroud manage to bury the masks in concrete, which stops them (which seems a bit lame). And Shroud's help has Spidey wondering about the Shroud's criminal status.
There's also a scene in this issue with J. Jonah Jameson's wife Marla and son John worrying about him being so erratic (triggered by the change in attitude due to the back-up story that's been running in this title). There's nothing about Marla having recently been involved in a potentially illegal weapons manufacturing at ESU in Web of Spider-Man #107-108, where it was said that the cops might still want to question her.
JJ is actually making the right move with regard to Spider-Man coverage.
A scene at the end of the main story in this issue has some thugs breaking into a meatpacking locker where they discover dead bodies being hung from the hooks.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after Siege of Darkness.
It's been "days" since the last arc when Flash was put in the hospital.
The Shroud refers to his "mission" and there's a footnote for his miniseries, which hadn't been published yet. The MCP has the Shroud miniseries after his appearance here, so his reference to it being important doesn't necessarily mean that it's started yet.
A back-up story in #207 is covered in a separate entry. A back-up story in #208 shows Peter and Mary Jane moving into their new home, so any appearances with them in their old home should take place prior to this.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
These two issues were originally supposed to tie in much more closely with the "Siege of Darkness" crossover. There is even an unpublished cover for SSM #207 drawn by Sal Buscema that has Ghost Rider on it. Long story short, according to Steven Grant, due to some screwy office politics and editorial sabotage his original story for these two issues was cancelled at literally the last minute, and he was forced to come up with a replacement two-parter that still tied in with "Siege of Darkness." This was one of the reasons why he ended up having such a short run on SSM, because behind-the-scenes he found it an unpleasant book to write.
Grant related all of this to me on Facebook. I offered up the opinion that, in hindsight, he actually picked a really good time to jump ship from the Spider-Man books, because if he'd stuck around for even a few more months he would have gotten stuck co-writing the whole Clone Saga debacle. Grant's response to that observation was "Believe me, am aware of the boobytrap I dodged."
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 28, 2017 7:44 PM
We're seeing a lot more of Scourge's face here than we normally do. Isn't it supposed to be scarred/branded by the red-hot Kiss of Kali?
Posted by: Erik Robbins | March 29, 2017 2:08 AM
Errr, I meant the Shroud, not the Scourge.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | March 29, 2017 2:09 AM
Ben Herman, did Steven Grant say anything more detailed about the rejected storyline that suppose to tie in closely to the crossover. as much a mess Siege of Darkness was, I was very curious how something like the Lilin invasion and that mist that is killing or hazardous to people didn't attract the attention of the other superheroes. the only avengers that reacted to that event was Scarlet Witch in MCP. heck, the first part in Nightstalkers mention the mist appearing in Queens, isn't that were Aunt May lives?
Posted by: rzerox21xx | March 29, 2017 4:19 PM
rzerox21xx - There are numerous "events" happening in the Marvel Universe at any one time, some of them mega-crossovers. It's a busy place. The heroes can't be everywhere at once ;)
Posted by: clyde | March 29, 2017 4:25 PM
And we already know that because of continuity considerations, a number of heroes are busy with Starblast during Siege of Darkness no matter what.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | March 29, 2017 6:48 PM
Steven Grant didn't offer any specific details about his aborted storyline. A scan of the unpublished cover to SSM #207 with Ghost Rider can be seen at Comic Art Fans...
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 29, 2017 9:30 PM
Never known quite what to make of the Peter/Flash dialogue. It's one of the only scenes that sticks in my memory from this somewhat mediocre period of Spider-Man comics, which is a plus. And like Fnord, it does remind me of the Web Of Spider-Man #11 dialogue between the two.
But the former dialogue at least shows how Flash sees the early Lee/Ditko issues, and it's up to the reader to decide whether they think Flash has a point or that he's just making excuses for his bullying behaviour.
While this latter dialogue is realistic enough to how Flash has been portrayed in the comics (a friend, but rarely a very close friend who Peter is seen spending time with on his own), but due to the limits of 22 page superhero comics I'd always assumed there were times when Peter actually did hang around with Flash and Harry but it just wasn't shown much in the comics. But this seems to argue that they didn't see each other any more than what was shown in the comics.
Which is a possible interpretation, but I don't really know what good it does weakening Peter's supporting cast. Peter only really has 2 "best" male friends, one of them just died & now the other one is (convincingly) saying they'd never really been friends. (I forget if there is a resolution to this or it just gets swept under the carpet.) Unfortunately, no-one has really managed to give Peter other male friends that last after that writer leaves, which years from now eventually results in Harry being brought back to life.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | April 1, 2017 8:02 AM
Not having the full history of Peter, Harry, and Flash in my mind, I don't have a problem with this. Peter and Flash are simply two very different people. Their relationship is now friendly, but they do lack the close emotional ties that make friends. The idea that they were both friends of Harry, and as mutual friends spent time together seems fine to me. Flash is being a jerk about it though. No reason to subject Peter to this although perhaps we can excuse it because of the exhaustion and pain of him being injured. Just better to hang out with other people Flash and drift away from Peter.
Because my first exposure to Flash Thompson was in reprints of the Ditko issues, that's how I always saw him and not how Flash became after he returned from Vietnam. For longevity's sake, he probably deserves some kind of inclusion in Spidey's supporting cast, but I do agree he shouldn't be Peter's best friend. Pete's good friends should probably be people from his university days who share his actual interests - unfortunately none of those have ever stayed long. But it would be easy to reintroduce someone like Roger Hochberg or one of his fellow science TAs from ESU.
The real problem is that at this stage of his life (married, post graduate, a mature adult) Peter as a living person should be moving beyond what defined him as a youth, but Peter as a fictional character and money making property can't move beyond those elements that defined the title for the readers.
Posted by: Chris | April 1, 2017 4:33 PM
Good comment. I don't think I have a problem with the scene with Flash, either, exactly. It just feels to me somewhat like a meta-commentary, where Grant is pointing out that Peter & Flash are rarely seen socialising together. But obviously they aren't, because there's only 22 pages, and the main story in superhero comics of the 60s-90s is about the hero vs the villain, and while we do check in on the supporting cast members, Aunt May, MJ and the cast of the Bugle take precedence over Flash. I think explicitly pointing out to the readers that Flash is not a close friend is an odd choice because it leaves Peter with no living close male friends, which is odd for a guy who they also try to portray as early 20s.
Also, plenty of superheroes don't have a cast of friends outside of work colleagues. Peter not being shown socialising with Flash is not unusual. I can't think of many Marvel heroes who have gone to a ballgame with a non-powered member of their supporting cast. Maybe Ben Grimm or Hawkeye? The X-Men play baseball together, but that's different (and happened less often in the Claremont run than it did in later issues trying to imitate Claremont). Much later, Paul Jenkins will do a story in Peter Parker Spider-Man 33 about Uncle Ben taking Peter out to a ballgame, but that is a different, decompressed era of Marvel. (Admittedly, while Uncle Ben may have been a baseball fan, Peter never struck me as someone who would have gone to a game outside of his love for his uncle.)
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | April 1, 2017 7:42 PM
Also, I do agree that in real life Peter would likely have a lot more in common, and more to talk about, with the TAs than he does with Flash. Though I wonder if comics friendships are usually based on opposites more than similarities. Harry's defining characteristics were that he was from a rich background & was portrayed as mentally "weak", where Peter struggled for money and was mentally strong. There have been occasional stories where Harry was portrayed as a scientist, but they happened so rarely that they seemed out of character when they did. And Flash's defining characteristic was that he was a popular jock, while Peter was either an unpopular nerd (Ditko era) or an everyman (Romita era).
I suspect that for the broadstrokes required in compressed comics, a superhero with a science background having a best friend with similar interests would have seemed redundant. A good writer would have made it work, but the average ones wouldn't. Much better to give him opposites to bounce off for contrast/drama purposes, even if you aren't quite sure what makes them friends.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | April 1, 2017 7:56 PM
The main thing is that at this point, Peter and Flash don't have any reason to be in each other's lives. Flash may occasionally get kidnapped by (or accused of being) a Spider-Man villain, but that's about it. High school was really the last time they were forced to be together on a regular basis. It's unlikely they'd be taking classes together at college - Peter would be in the advanced science courses, for instance, NYU surely teaches more than one Intro to French class or other electives - so at best they'd be passing each other by in hallways.
Ok, Flash and Harry are friends, although that's never made much sense to me either. Why didn't Harry ask Flash to get an apartment together? I don't recall if Flash ever actually dated Gwen or MJ, but even then there's not a whole lot of reason for them to hang out. Pete and Flash still don't have anything in common besides acquaintances.
You could make it work for a while, by now that Peter's married, out of college, he and Flash simply have no reason to keep in touch, and it's been a long time since they did for anything that didn't directly involve Spidey.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 1, 2017 8:55 PM
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