Characters Appearing: Abe Brown, Ashley Kafka, Black Crow, D'Spayre, Killer Shrike, Lin Sun, Nocturne (Angela Cairn), Prowler, Spider-Man, Vermin
Spectacular Spider-Man annual #13
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man annual #13
We've already met the character Angela Cairn, a police detective, but she was basically just depicted as a hardass. Her main moment was rejecting the idea that Vermin should be treated as anything other than a monster. We learn in this story that part of that reason is personal. Cairn's (not-quite-explicit) girlfriend Jackie Kessler was one of the police officers killed by Vermin when he broke out of Dr. Ashley Kafka's medical lab.
The other thing we learn about Cairn is that she's into tarot cards.
Cairn is currently working on a case involving a string of mutilation murders. She gets a tip directing her to what turns out to be a trap. She's knocked out and wakes up in the lair that Baron Zemo used to turn people into genetic freaks. And she's greeted by one of the monsters, one that has declined to go with the others to Dr. Kafka for a cure.
The creature subjects Cairn to Zemo's process. It's said to bring out a person's secret shames and transform them into the thing that they hide from the world. The process instead seemingly kills Cairn, and the creature dumps her into the river. But Cairn later emerges as Nocturne, our new character for this 1993 annual.
Later, Spider-Man is hanging out with his fan club.
On his way home, he's side-swiped by Nocturne. He follows her back to Cairn's apartment.
Spider-Man feels like he's being barraged by emotion in addition to the wings and claws.
The story is heavy on narration. That's in part by necessity, since it's partially from Nocturne's perspective and she is mute. But Spider-Man is uncharacteristically quiet and instead we get a second stream of internal narration from him.
Nocturne gets away from Spider-Man and returns to the creature that made her, who turns out to be a shape-shifter.
Spider-Man shows up, and initially assumes that the shape-shifter is Cairn. But he figures out the truth pretty quickly thanks to an emotional transmission from Nocturne.
Nocturne moves to kill the creature, but Spider-Man shouts for her to not do it, and Nocturne senses a sadness in the creature that gives her pause. It's then said that the device used to create Nocturne will help Dr. Kafka and Vermin find a cure for the others. Spider-Man tries to convince Nocturne to stay with Kafka and wait for a cure, but Nocturne (silently) declines and leaves.
DeMatteis' interest in New Age quackery (tarot cards! emotional transfer!) was not going to endear me to this story, but i do like how it's an organic continuation of work that he's done in the regular series instead of a standalone story introducing a random new character. It doesn't seem like a lot could have been done with the character, though, and Nocturne will only have two more appearances.
The first back-up just shows Nocturne doing some basic crime fighting and being unable to work up the nerve to face her mother, who assumes that she is dead.
The second back-up has D'Spayre seemingly suggesting that he's responsible for the Black Crow's powers.
It really turns out to be some kind of test that the Black Crow persona was using to test his host, Jesse.
Whatever the Black Crow has determined that Jesse is "ready" for, i don't think we'll get to see it.
The last back-up has Hobie Brown, the Prowler, jealous of a little kid who is doing better than he is in the training that they're getting from Hobie's brother Abe.
He gets an opportunity to prove himself as the Prowler when the Killer Shrike randomly attacks.
The Prowler doesn't do so well against Killer Shrike. So Abe and another former Son of the Tiger, Lin Sun, lend him their amulets (Bob Diamond is not around).
However, this turns out to be a Dumbo feather effect. The amulets aren't real.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Crossover: 1993 Annuals
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I don't have this one, but if I had known that DeMatteis was the writer and that it tied in with his ongoing storylines from SSM then I probably would have gotten it. That was the major problem with polybagging these annuals with trading cards, it made it impossible to peak inside to see if the stories and art might actually be decent.
It's really unexpected to see John Romita Sr's work in this annual. He was mostly retired at this point, and the occasional penciling jobs he did in the 1990s were usually for high-profile specials or anniversary issues. So it's odd that he worked on a throw-away back-up story featuring the Prowler.
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 15, 2017 2:39 PM
And I bet Killer Shrike thought getting beaten by Frenchie would be the low point of his career.
Posted by: kveto from prague | March 12, 2017 7:25 AM
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