The Transparent Fox:
Spider-Man vs. Wolverine #1
Issue(s): Spider-Man vs. Wolverine #1
This story has some nice scripting and some nice story sequences and moments, but it also does two things that are at least questionable to me. The first is adding to Wolverine's backstory, showing a love interest in a freelance special agent named Charlemagne (Charlie for short) that was betrayed in Berlin by the KGB "a long time ago" and Wolverine bailed her out.
Wolverine is shown wearing his original Weapon X costume so it seems reasonable for him to be involved here as part of his work for the Canadian secret service, but i'm very sensitive to the size of Wolverine's pre-Hulk #180 history.
The second is the death of Ned Leeds. The basic story here is that Charlemagne has come out of hiding and is now hunting down all of the KGB agents that betrayed her back in the day. This has attracted the interest of Ned Leeds, who we've seen in the main Spider-books has been following a story on Soviet spy activity during the Cold War. He's convinced J. Jonah Jameson to send him to Berlin for Now Magazine, and Peter is sent along as the photographer. Leeds' investigation will get him killed (although more on that in Amazing Spider-Man #289).
Peter agrees to go along because he had just made a faux-paux with Mary Jane, ruining the "lie" that they are just friends.
Peter was looking for comfort after failing to save a pair of shop keepers he knew from getting killed (it turns out they were former KGB agents) and then feeling like a "ghoul" for taking pictures of them after reaching the scene too late. He gets major accolades for the photos.
Wolverine also finds out about the KGB agents being killed and decides he needs to go to Berlin too. Priest does a serendipitous job capturing the paranoia in the X-Men at this time.
Wolverine first notices Spider-Man while he's in civilian garb, but he recognizes his scent as Spider-Man.
And arrives at Peter's hotel room...
...to find out whether he's "clean" or part of the KGB operation. He is "too strong... to dangerous to walk around loose".
Continuing the paranoia, Wolverine hears Peter talking to his Aunt May on the phone and things "Nice kid. Clean cut. Honest looking. That's what bothers me. Nobody eats that much apple pie. If he's KGB, he's good. Real good. Probably the best. Although he was overdoing it with the 'Yes, Aunt May' bit."
Peter didn't bring his Spider-Man costume out of disgust about his failures but he did bring his web-shooters (i guess he resolved the problem getting through security that he worried about in Web of Spider-Man #20, although only temporarily since Spidey will return to that topic later). So he goes out with Wolverine in his civvies.
Wolverine decides that Spider-Man isn't KGB and doesn't know anything, so he tells him he's out of his league ("You've never been anywhere. You lead with your face.") and tells him to go home.
Peter actually agrees and decides he'll go home, mainly to sort things out with MJ. But when he returns to the hotel to tell Ned Leeds, he finds him dead.
Peter is too stunned to fight off the KGB agents that are still in the room, but Wolverine returns and cuts them up...
...before leaving again. Peter then wonders about the convenience of Wolverine leading Peter away just when Ned was being killed, and now he becomes paranoid and decides he needs to follow Wolverine. Out of habit, he had placed a spider-tracer on Wolverine when they were out earlier.
But he doesn't have a costume. So he goes to a costume shop. And the only thing available is a replica of his old red and blue costume.
And not an exact replica.
Interesting juxtaposition of death and humor. Ned Leeds' death is an important part of this story, but it still feels incidental since it happens off panel and is so out of the blue. Which, from Priest, is the point, similar to the pointless death of Iron Fist. But it still seems a little wrong to kill off a guy that's been a supporting character for years with so little focus. Compare to Jean DeWolff's death (and i hope this wasn't an attempt to replicate the success of that), which was introduced with a retrospective of the character and then a several part story about bringing her killer to justice and Spider-Man dealing with the rage and grief. The specific guys that kill Leeds are quickly killed by Wolverine, as shown above, but Leed's death is less a plot point for the story than a motivator for Peter, or even more specifically a demonstration that he's in over his head with the spy stuff.
Anyway, continuing the humor, if you can fake your way through a little German, here is Spider-Man sneaking over the Berlin wall and assuming that a guard is bragging about the number of people they've killed when he's really comparing his mother and wife's strudels. Google's translator didn't have a lot of success with the translation, and i don't know if that's a problem with Google or Priest's German.
The spider-tracer only gets Peter so far...
...but he finally makes his way to Wolverine and Charlie, and he bungles that too.
Wolverine works out that what Charlie really wants at this point is for Wolverine to kill her, so that she can die quickly at the hands of a friend and not get tortured to death by the KGB. He's having a little difficulty bringing himself to do it and then Spider-Man shows up again to interfere.
This results in a fight with Spider-Man.
I don't have a source for this, but i recall Priest talking, i think back on the racmu message boards, that everyone in the Marvel office was convinced that Spider-Man would be able to beat Wolverine. That his spider-sense and speed would keep him from being hit and his strength and ability to shoot webs from a distance would ultimately win the day. And i think i might agree with that, generally. At best i'd say the two should be considered at an equal rank, both street-level super-heroes. But this isn't meant to be an official Street Fighter style fight. The story here is that it's the first time Spider-Man has fought Wolverine while he's in a real berserker rage and willing to kill, and so he's just shocked with horror at the idea of it and he's unable to react to his spider-sense.
It's nonetheless a fairly even fight...
...until they get to the point where one of them has to kill in order to win.
At this point, though, it seems Wolverine has calmed down enough to restrain himself. However, a helicopter shows up, distracting Spider-Man, and when someone comes up behind Spidey again, he thinks it's Wolverine, renewing the attack, and he lashes out with a punch. But it's actually Charlie.
The story is sure to tell us that what's happening here is Charlie is committing suicide; she knows that Spider-Man is amped up to the point where he'll take a swing at anything that comes at him. So Spider-Man isn't technically at fault. But of course that doesn't make much of a difference to him.
The people in the helicopter are of unknown origin - could be KGB, CIA, or anyone else that wants whatever secrets Charlie has. But they back away when they hear she is dead. The remainder of the issue has Peter continually flashing back to that moment where he killed Charlie.
When he gets home, he doesn't even tell JJ that Ned Leeds is dead, but Mary Jane comes to him and offers to still be "friends".
There's a lot to like here. I like seeing Spider-Man as the naive junior guy when it comes to international spy stuff. Spider-Man has been around for while at this point but it's still his role to play more of a "kid" to other Marvel characters, and especially Wolverine, who even at this point is supposed to have been a seasoned operative. And there are a lot of nice things in the script. A good amount of humor, some good development for Peter's relationship with Mary Jane, and just some nice writing in general, like this scene in the beginning where Peter reminiscences about the first time his Aunt and Uncle brought him to Times Square and says that now there are things that he has "learned to screen... out".
And then when a homeless person comes up to him while he's changing into his costume, he says "He's one of the things I learned not to see". Good writing.
And if you just want a "Spider-Man verses Wolverine" comic, this issue definitely delivers, with four pages of a nice brawl. Every fight has context, and between Ned's death and Spidey seeking the "scary" side of a guy he's generally thought of as a hero for the first time, you have to handicap him a bit. But it's a nicely choreographed battle sequence.
However, Leeds' off panel death still bothers me, and that's before we get into the fact that he was at this point the prime Hobgoblin candidate; which i'll talk more about on the entry for Amazing Spider-Man #289, where that's revealed (it's not at all a part of this story, and in fact that story changes a lot of the details around Ned's death). For now i'll note that this was a February cover date, which means its release more or less coincides with the change in personality we saw for the Hobgoblin in Gang War. ASM #289 doesn't come out until June, and Christopher Priest's follow-up on this story in Web of Spider-Man #29 doesn't come out until August. Which means Leeds would have been known to be dead while the mystery of the Hobgoblin was still running in the main books.
At least Priest will follow-up on this in the Spider-Man title. For Wolverine, the introduction of "Charlie" here won't have any impact on him (as far as i know). Just more clutter for his back story.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Havok is a member of the X-Men when Wolverine leaves the team, placing this after Uncanny X-Men #219.
For Spider-Man, this occurs after Gang War when Ned Leeds/Fake Hobgoblin gets the information for Kingpin on the KGB agents, but before Amazing Spider-Man #289. Wolverine will track Spider-Man down and follow up on the events here in Web of Spider-Man #29. This issue takes place over a period of "days" with Wolverine checking back in with the X-men at least once and hearing that they are fine.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (20): show
In BackIssue 35, Peter David claimed that Priest killed off the Hobgoblin just to piss off DeFalco. He also claimed that Priest never gave that much thought to who killed Leeds- he said some terrorists.
Posted by: Michael | March 24, 2014 8:49 PM
OK, I found Priest's comments on the racmu boards that you were referring to- they're dated June 13th,2001 and they confirm that the fight was redrawn because DeFalco complained. Priest claims that he wanted to have Peter lose because he didn't trust his instincts. I'm still trying to find DeFalco's version of events.
Posted by: Michael | March 24, 2014 11:09 PM
I've always grinded my teeth on this comic deciding whether I liked it or not. All my usual praise and complaints about Owlsley/Priest apply.
I don't like that Ned Leeds died in Berlin and not in Spidey's main book. He was never a truly important supporting character, but he deserved better. As someone who was supposed to be the Hobgoblin it is just stupid. This is not how you end a multi-year storyline.
Spidey should never have killed Charlie, even by mistake.
Even with an adamantium skull and a healing factor, being hit repeatedly by Spidey should have knocked Wolverine out with a concussion. Spidey should win hands down.
Wolverine's involvement of Spidey in the mess in Berlin is just moronic. Wolverine has his faults, but he should know enough tradecraft to determine Spidey's presence in Berlin is a fluke. If he truly thought he could be somehow involved, no reason to go up to him.
Other than that, it was enjoyable.
Posted by: Chris | March 25, 2014 1:23 AM
I must be getting too aware of the meta reality. This book never warmed up to me, and it always looked like a completely unnecessary money trap that added nothing to either character.
Of course, any book featuring Wolverine has that going against it from the start, far as I am concerned. Shorty bores and irritates me to no end.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 25, 2014 4:40 AM
I can't get over the fact that Spider-Man killed Charlie. I wasn't aware of this book but I had Web of Spider-Man 29 and nothing was mentioned (well from what I can remember). It seems strange that there wasn't more references to him killing her. Was this explored further in the main titles? It's changed my whole perception of S-M.
Posted by: jsfan | March 25, 2014 9:12 AM
The death of Charlie was mentioned recently, in Amazing Spider-Man 655, as Peter remember all the people who died 'till he's Spider-Man, and she's the only one that he killed.
Posted by: Midnighter | March 25, 2014 1:02 PM
Horrible issue. Spider-man swatted wolverine away in the past calling him a "joke" but Wolvie becomes popular and gets his Galatacus level power boost.
And making Spidey a murderer (no matter how you spin it). For Shame, Priest.
In addition to the Leeds stuff. Nothing here to like.
Posted by: kveto from prague | March 30, 2014 4:59 PM
ASM#289 accidentally caused a problem with this book. Since it was the Foreigner's guys that killed Ned and not the KGB, that logically means that Ned's body was already there when the KGB sneaked in. Wouldn't they immediately assume they'd been compromised, and abort the mission to avoid being set up for a murder charge by local authorities? I doubt they'd be thinking "Hey! A dead body in the same room we're secretly barging into! What a coincidence!"
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 5, 2014 1:46 PM
I read this for the first time fairly recently. While I agree it's a poor Spider-Man story, I think it's a pretty decent Wolverine story.
Spidey's presence has to be understood as Priest trying to do a bit of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold / The Quiet American type espionage fiction. Those types of stories work in large part by highlighting that the Cold War / spy-work runs completely contrary to the noble ideals we aspire to in everyday life (i.e., the ideals of the super-hero), and that clinging to your sense of morality leads to horrific tragedy. This story didn't have to involve Spider-Man--I guess they could have used one of the New Mutants or something--but Spider-Man is probably Marvel's most moral character, and featuring him in this story is a powerful statement.
(The problem is that using him in this story kind of breaks Spider-Man as a concept. In 30-odd years of loving this character, I'd never seen his manslaughter of Charlie even mentioned before--certainly not in ASM #289--and that's the kind of massive, terrifying accident that would traumatize the hell out of Peter Parker for years afterward. You could do a lot of interesting stuff in the aftermath of this story if you wanted to, but it seems like later writers retreated from the implications and more or less pretended that this story never happened.)
Posted by: James Nostack | June 23, 2014 12:49 PM
Certainly that event was never referenced in any Spider-Man comic I read in the late 80s/early 90s.
I have just come across that there was an issue of the 2007 What If? series that spins out of this story. (What if Spider-Man never went home after that killing?)
Posted by: Erik Robbins | June 23, 2014 10:31 PM
I got a German friend to translate the text from the guys who show up at the hotel room when Ned is dead and they're actually asking Peter if he's responsible for the murder, so they weren't really intended to be the guys who killed Ned.
Though it could be a change in dialogue from the Brazillian publishers (if there was one thing the at-the-time publisher did, it was slightly changing dialogue to better accomodate upcoming storylines they didn't get to).
Posted by: Enchlore♠ | November 22, 2014 12:08 PM
I've read maybe every piece posted in regards to the faux Hobgoblin reveal, and I believe that the payoff was magnified by this turn of events.
A lot of people are disappointed in Priest for his shenanigans regarding Leeds and DeFalco; apparently, comics has its own rooms full of monsters (a reference to ROGUE). What disappointed me was that, barring Peter David poo-pooing the bad idea of the Foreigner being our mystery guest, we could have had a truly sucktastic ending to the mystery of Who Is The Hobgoblin.
I can't even imagine what Roger Stern could have done to fix THAT.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | May 6, 2015 7:05 PM
As a fan of Wolverine and not Spiderman comics, I found this issue to be one of the best comic books that I have ever read.
As was pointed out, the writing is fantastic and well paced. It is quite comic-noir at times, giving insights in to the often sardonic thoughts of both characters. Instead of getting hung up on something that looked odd or out of place as so often happens when reading comics, the artwork aids the movement of the story and melds with it so seamlessly that my eyes continued to move from panel to panel as I read. Examples of this flow are shown in scans above. The first part that impressed me was when Wolverine jumped in to save Peter from the KGB. It was a ballsy choice to not show the action, instead to show Peter’s reaction to it along with a stylized interpretation of a typical “Wolverine versus an army” encounter. The second item that is unusual to comics is the continued reuse of a single panel in a flashback. The moment that Spiderman’s fist struck Charlie, the world stopped spinning for him. He became caught in that instant, physically moving forward but mentally fixed on that one strike and all of the implications associated with it. Charlie’s “suicide” rightfully screwed him up.
The execution of those examples served to maintain the tone of the comic. I daresay that this comic book’s tone is akin to that of the movie Blade Runner: bleak, yet engaging. The characters know that they are walking in to a rather unpleasant mess, yet continue on. The ending does little to leave the reader with a “feel good” sensation, but wraps up the story with no immediate loose ends.
Having said that, I agree that adding “Charlie” to Wolvie’s backstory was not necessary, and even after all of the revelations pertaining to his past that have risen through the years, the timing of when he would have met her is hard if not impossible to pin down. Factor in how Charlie appeared to have not aged much (if at all) since the opening flash-back, and it gets even more confusing. Was she a mutant, Weapon X related, or did she simply do her part to keep a local plastic surgeon in business?
I had no idea who Ned Leeds was when I read this, believing him only to be a random employee at Peter’s newspaper. It was unfortunate that he died, but his death was necessary to the story in this book. After reading here exactly who he was, I am shocked that Marvel would have allowed this to be published. The guy killed so unceremoniously by the KGB (or some other super-villain’s hired henchmen, as stated on the ASM #289 page) should have been some unfortunate investigative journalist, not a character who turned out to be one of Spiderman’s most recognizable foes. Yet, in life people often die suddenly and without meaning. Perhaps this is what the writer was going for, and if so then it only helps to further depress the tone of this stand-alone story.
Had this comic not been released during the whole Hobgoblin debacle, how would it end up being viewed today? A throw-away cash-in by Marvel, or a classic collision of Wolverine’s gritty and horrifyingly raw and Spiderman’s good-natured, “right will always prevail” worlds? As a reader coming fresh to this comic with only a background of X-Men and Wolverine comics, I view it as the latter.
Posted by: Jesse | June 1, 2015 12:53 PM
Comics Should Be Good just had an article that confirms this is the first time that "With great power comes great responsibility" was attributed to Uncle Ben:
Posted by: Michael | July 18, 2015 12:31 PM
This was when Marvel first realized that anything with Wolverine on the cover would sell. And so this sold. Oh, did this sell. Every comic reader I knew bought it.
I think parts of this are absolutely great. The narration, from both Logan and Peter, is perfect. The fight is magnificent (my best friend and I became big fans of the phrase "wonder jello") and there is even some really good humor (the moment where Peter comes in and interrupts dinner). Out of context, it was just a great story with a nice John le Carre vibe to it. It was also a nice reminder of how powerful Peter is - if he's not careful he could absolutely kill a normal person with one punch.
But in context, well . . . It seemed ridiculously timed in terms of what was going on with the X-Men (it's incredible how much stuff gets shoved in between #219 and 220 because of the presence of Havok - part of the problem there is that even before the Mutant Massacre, in the Marvel Age Annual they showed that Havok was one of the four characters who would soon be joining the team and then it took almost a year for him to actually join the team) and a really unnecessary addition to his back story (and pretty much forgotten after this) and I didn't even know about the Hobgoblin stuff at the time - all I knew was that a key supporting character in Spider-Man just got killed off after all this time in a one-shot.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 18, 2015 1:00 PM
This comic is also a good example of why Spider-Man can't be a *dark* character, and shouldn't have more than a storyline or two here and there where he's doing *dark* things.
I thought the story was basically forgettable when it came out - and its effect on Wolverine proves that - but it's a Spider-Man story, written by a guy who's handling the Spider-titles and is certainly a die-hard Marvel fan, who also had access to almost every piece of information Marvel had about the X-titles. Charlie's impact on Wolverine's life was certainly no Carol Danvers, but it's a good way to expand "Marvel Team-Up" into the new graphic novel format by someone who knew what he was doing, except when he didn't as with killing Ned. It's a thriller, it's an international spy story, it's a superhero book, it's a Spider-Man comic, it ties in very well to the X-Men, produced under difficult circumstances and trying to prove that Marvel could do *dark* stories. Frank Miller was the cutting-edge at the time, Claremont's X-titles a distant second, and Christopher Priest makes his mark in this attempt, even though I think it ultimately failed.
The art is gorgeous. M.D. Bright was really good. I know him best from his run on "G.I. Joe" around #100, but it's clear that he knew how to draw comics. I wish we had more like him.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 18, 2015 8:17 PM
Maybe "gorgeous" is too strong a word, but this site has reached the era of Liefeld/Lee/McFarlane, and moving back a bit to see clean, straightforward, well-done storytelling, it just makes me appreciate what was lost.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 19, 2015 6:16 PM
I think Charlie is mentioned as a plot point for Jim Lee's first plot in X-Men issues (vol. 2) 4-7. I think there might even be a few flashback to Wolverine's past featuring her. I have to reread those issues again, so I'm not quite sure.
I wonder if the horrible Hobgoblin storyline (which has since been retconned) prevents too many future writers from referencing Spider-man's actions with Charlie here. It's not like the storyline succeeding this is considered a "classic" among Spider-fans.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | July 20, 2015 9:59 PM
Jon- no, that arc features ANOTHER never-before-mentioned female spy from Wolverine's past.
Posted by: Michael | July 21, 2015 8:14 AM
To some of the commentors above.
Spider-Man was categorically not a murderer because there was no intent to kill and it occurred by accident. At worst this was manslaughter and morally he is ostensibly guiltless since she used him to commit suicide.
Whilst it is true Spider-Man swatted away Logan like a fly in the past, he also was mentally more unstable here and didn’t do anything which compromised the idea that he wasn’t strong enough to take Logan down.
This is not a terrible Spider-Man story nor is it a story which needs to add anything to either character. It is the ultimate Marvel team up story. It highlights the differences between both characters and their methodologies and ideals. It’s why the Berlin setting is important. Berlin is a city divided just as Spider-Man and Wolverine are on different sides of the fence on how to do the right thing. It doesn’t NEED to add anything to either of them anymore than your standard MTU issue does but it just happens to be better written than any of them. For the record though it actually does add a VERY important development in Peter and MJ’s relationship, one which puts him into Felicia’s arms for awhile.
Whilst you could say, well Peter should have serious PTSD from this, realistically Peter should’ve had a mental breakdown at age 15 given what he’s been through. He clear was messed up from Charlie’s death as the issue alludes to but he either got through it or managed to cope with it off panel. Remember Ned’s death still affected Peter even after he realised it wasn’t his fault in ASM #289, we just didn’t HEAR about it all the time. it cropped up in Kraven’s last Hunt and in some stories with the Foreigner but we didn’t hear much about it thereafter.
My guess is Spider-Man (with MJ’s help as the story sort of implies her comforting him is a major help to him) was able to appreciate that Charlie was not only going to die one way or another but that she herself was determined to make it happen no matter what and just used Spider-Man to do it. Shitty of her to do, but honestly and truly not his fault. It’s even LESS his fault than what happened to Gwen because yes Gwen’s neck broke because he made a mistake but it was a mistake waiting to happen and Charlie took advantage of that.
Lets also not forget that Spider-Man killed the Finisher (another international spy) in ASM Annual #5 and didn’t seem to care and that was even MORE seemingly OOC and written by Stan himself. I’m not saying Peter wouldn’t blame himself but given the truly accidental nature/Charlie’s attempt at suicide of the incident it isn’t something that will forever break him as a person, nor does it break his character innately. It doesn’t even truly compromise his no kill rule because he didn’t take life deliberately.
I agree that this was a bad way to wrap up the Hobgoblin saga as well as kill off a Lee/Ditko character. But to put some things into context this was Owsley literally sending a gigantic fuck you to DeFalco. DeFalco intended Ned as a Hobogoblin red herring but his clues were such that Owsley not only believed Ned to be the real deal but when pushed by Owsley DeFalco lied and said yes he was the real Hobgoblin (not Richard Fisk as DeFalco truly intended). Consequently Owsley decided to kill Leeds (in a very undignified way) to screw over DeFalco whom he had bad blood with. But when talking with Peter David on a way to resolve the Hobgoblin mystery since now they had to come up with someone else to be Hobgoblin PAD suggested Ned was the real deal but now we’d have a new guy and that would be Macendale.
So this wasn’t a story we can sit down and say sucks because the writers were misguided as to how best to resolve it. It was the victim of personal politics.
Really the thing I question most is how on Earth was Spider-Man intending to break the neck of a guy with unbreakable bones and kill a man who could heal from that?
Posted by: Al | August 24, 2015 5:49 PM
To be fair, Wolvie wasn't utterly indestructible at that point. Around the same time, the Thing put him down with one bonk on the head ["Sweet dreams, bub"] and it is entirely believable that Spidey could have killed him if he had the guts for it in a fight for his life. It's just that Spidey's a mostly-rational person and suddenly realized what he had gotten into. Wolverine, well, isn't.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 25, 2015 9:35 PM
Rereading this I saw FNORD12's comment on the Spidey overhearing the East Germans. He got the gist of the conversation correct. My German is rusty, but this is how I would translate it. The dialogue in the comic has several spelling errors.
Guy1 – I told her, you are crazy! My mother's strudle won an award! It's fantastic! My wife can't bake.
Guy1 – Humanity would be better off without her strudle.
Guy2 – Fritz, that's what I would have told her.
Posted by: Chris | August 25, 2015 11:24 PM
That sequence really made Peter look like an idiot, since only like 18 people died on the Berlin Wall after 1975.
Posted by: Michael | August 25, 2015 11:34 PM
To be fair, Michael, this entire comic makes us ALL look like idiots.>sigh
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | August 27, 2015 4:43 PM
This entire story reads as Priest giving a big middle finger to the Spidey editorial staff. I actually don't mind the dark tone of the book and think it sets up a fairly good juxtaposition btw Spidey and Wolverine. But it's clear he's making Spidey look like a scrub for no reason other than to piss off Defalco or whoever else it was in the Spidey offices that stepped on his kicks.
Then again that was the M.O. for 80's Marvel, in-house fighting, warring alliances, and creative teams being picked solely by who was kissing up to who.
Posted by: JC | October 14, 2015 12:12 AM
Priest's thankfully very brief run on Spidey is just petty trash and this was the first Spider-Man story that I felt was truly bad. There were a lot of lame or lousy stories before but I feel this was the first case of something that sincerely did stuff with the character that was poisonous and should never have even been considered. Spidey does NOT need the extra emotional baggage of having killed a suicidal woman. I am so glad also every writer has completely ignored this.
Posted by: AF | January 6, 2016 8:25 AM
It's like this story can't make up its mind if Spidey is or isn't responsible for killing Charlie. If Charlie's intent was suicide, surely there was a much less convoluted way to do it. If Spidey was responsible, he doesn't seem to broken up about it in subsequent stories. If Spidey isn't responsible, what was the point of having Charlie die that way?
Posted by: mikrolik | January 6, 2016 5:57 PM
IIRC, Wolverine later claims in Web of Spider-Man that Charlie would have died anyway from the blood loss. So she threw herself in front of Peter's punch why?
Posted by: Michael | January 6, 2016 8:23 PM
Getting it over with?
Who knows, maybe Wolverine was lying even. As unlike him that might be.
Posted by: Max_Spider | January 6, 2016 9:32 PM
Because the alternative was being taken by the KGB, who, contrary to their reputation, weren't all smiles and sunshine. She was already begging Wolverine to kill her, but time has now run out. It's suicide-by-Spider-Man or nothing.
I don't think it's a bad idea to make Spider-Man the one who killed her. I definitely think that Marvel Comics (and the Marvel characters in general) weren't capable of letting their characters go that far, or deal with the ramifications. And it would have been the simplest thing in the world for Wolverine to cut her head off in the middle of the big fight. Spidey turns around, "You maniac, what have you done?" "What she was asking me to do, bub. Wanna make something of it?"
I don't think it's a bad idea or poorly-executed, in and of itself, but it is a good example of why Spider-Man shouldn't be in many 'dark' stories.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 6, 2016 10:11 PM
I think Priest was inspired by Peter David's conception of the Spider-Man/Daredevil/Sin-Eater story where, as PAD said in the collected version, you don't just stop hitting a guy because the battle's over. You're enraged, adrenaline is charging, you're going to keep hitting the other guy until you run out of steam, and this was Priest trying to take that concept further. This was totally wrong for Spider-Man, but Marvel could not deal with the moral implications of this scene, and buried it as quickly as possible. [Peter runs off to get married, Wolvie keeps killing people because that's what he does, and he's the best there is...]
Posted by: ChrisW | January 6, 2016 10:38 PM
@ChrisW: Indestructible bones doesn’t = can’t be knocked out though. He can be knocked out even in modern continuity. We’d established the healing factor I believe and we knew he had adamantium which was established as destructible. So it doesn’t add up unless you have Spidey mistakenly thinking he had a shot
I think everyone is being incredibly overcritical of Peter’s portrayal here.
Peter is out of his element both literally since he’s in another country and because he isn’t used to this espionage stuff where the moral lines are blurry and things get violent fast.
He’s simultaneously going through a lot of emotional turmoil over in the main series at this point in time. We see the situation with MJ, we’ve seen graphically violent street crime in PAD’s Spec issues get under his skin and give him cause to question himself, he’s up and down over whether to quit being Spider-Man or not following the Beyonder mind f***ing him, he’s got the Black Cat/MJ love triangle going on and he’s just lived through a big violent and exhausting gang war. A gang war in which he was very angry that he had to swallow the Kingpin’s return to power and got told off by Daredevil. And let’s be honest he’s still weirded out over the Jean DeWolff/Sin Eater thing and Flash is still on the run as is the Hobgoblin.
And then on top of that Ned Leeds has just been violently killed. Obviously he’s not gonna be on his A-game and be uncertain about things.
@JC: And yet 80s Marvel was financially and critically at least the second best era of Marvel ever. Because Stern ASM, Claremont X-Men, Michelinie/Layton Iron Man, Miller Daredevil and Byrne F4 speak for themselves I think.
@AF and mikrolik: Priest’s run as a writer was brief and mostly not good, excluding this story. Whatever was happening behind the scenes though you honestly cannot look at the stuff being put out under his editorship and call it trash.
Peter David made the Sin Eater storyline under Priest. The Firelord fight, happened under Priest. That era is incredibly solid.
I’ts true that Spidey doesn’t need the extra emotional baggage of killing a suicidal woman...but er...hello, he clearly dealt with it. That was the point of the end of the story and Web #29. Peter with MJ and Wolverine got through it and came to terms with it really not being his fault.
He’s done similar things under other circumstances. Peter basically blames himself for stuff as a kneejerk reaction and at some point silently comes to term with it not really being his fault unless it really was directly his fault. For example Gwen Stacy’s death he will blame himself for. But Flash Thompson getting crippled is something he didn’t carry with him. If he deep down genuinely blamed himself for half the things eh claims he does he’d either go mad or else simply cut himself off from people. The fact that he didn’t even in the wake of Gwen’s death shows that he can clearly assign blame in the right places. Or else he’s a selfish dick which wouldn’t add up with the other elements of his character.
Basically if Peter is undeniably responsible for something, he will feel guilty over it but if he isn’t really responsible, which is the case here for various reasons (the biggest being that Charlie actively tricked him) then his guilt will eventually pass. And again the story addresses this at the end when MJ comforts him and then later Wolverine tells him to get over it. It was a way to narratively have Peter let go of what he felt over Charlie and move on succinctly.
As for the point of having Charlie die that way, it was to demonstrate the harsh gritty realities of the spy world that Wolverine hails from which is at odds with Spider-Man’s experience. Remember this isn’t a Spider-Man story. This is a Spider-Man AND Wolverine story. That aspect is Wolverine’s world imposing itself on Spidey.
@Michael: She probably threw herself in front of the punch because she wanted to die ASAP with little pain and not give her pursuers the chance to do anything to her. Plus she probably wasn’t thinking straight or didn’t know her injuries were 100% fatal.
@ChrisW: Wasn’t Spec Spidey of this era entirely geared around dark stories? I mean Spidey’s gimmick is he’s realistic and human. He isn’t like Batman or Superman who are almost exclusively bright and hopeful or dark and gritty. He very much walks in between both worlds. Hence when Commeth the Commuter, the Death of Gwen Stacy, Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man No More and Kraven’s Last Hunt are all quintessential Spider-Man stories. He isn’t a light and fun character, but he isn’t a dark and grim character either. He’s both because...well everyone tends to be a mixture of both.
The marriage wasn’t motivated by this story and like I said, this was ultimately harmless. Peter accidentally killed someone who used him to kill themselves, and deep down soon realizes it wasn’t his fault and lets it go. Badda bing badda boom, done.
Posted by: Al | January 12, 2016 12:30 PM
Thank you for listing a bunch of comics I've read thrice over. As it turns out I already knew they were good comics. What that non-sequitur has to do with with the warring back office politics, haven't a clue.
Oh and btw at least three of those runs you listed not only ended prematurely but in the middle of ongoing storylines purely becuz the talent in each of those cases had had enuff bickering from editorial and decided to step away. But your right that does speak for itself doesn't it
Posted by: JC | January 12, 2016 1:01 PM
Al, I'm not sure what you're arguing about. About the only thing I like in this book [other than MD Bright's art] is the fact that Peter's out of his element. As I said above, this is why Spider-Man should not be a *dark* character for more than a storyline or so. He doesn't work that way. Now Wolverine, he can hack and slash all day and never get tired. That's fine.
I don't blame this story for the marriage of Peter and MJ. Their scenes together were actually quite good for what they were. Dramatic kiss that goes wrong, and then asking for a hug at the end. Could have been better, but could have been a lot worse. I think Peter and MJ's marriage was a bad idea, but if it's going to happen, this was actually one of the best stepping-stones to make it so. Honestly, my objection to the marriage is not intrinsically different to Marvel realizing that they needed to make Spidey single again, and doing a deal with the devil to make it so. As a writer, I would have just moved Peter closer to MJ in a 'will they or won't they?' relationship. But I wasn't in charge, and neither was Christopher Priest. I think Peter and MJ work very nicely here.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 25, 2016 1:07 AM
There are bits of this that I like, but I just can't get passed the central concept - grizzled old veteran teams up with the inexperienced, naïve kid. That would have been okay, if this had been published in 1965, but not in 1987.
Yes, I know that thanks to Marvel's sliding time scale, Spiderman is still officially a college student, but he had literally been in the business for twenty-five years, he appeared in three comics a month, he had teamed-up with other superheroes at least 150 times, he had travelled through time and gone from one end of the universe to the other. The idea that the KGB would all be a bit much for him and he would have an attack of the vapours, was beyond belief.
Spiderman's actions were driven by the needs of the plot, rather than coming organically from his established characterisation. Sorry, but that is just bad story-telling.
Posted by: Bernard the Poet | November 11, 2017 5:31 AM
I just read this in Epics and I have to agree with Bernard. It's a good story but only in isolation.
Posted by: Bigvis497 | November 11, 2017 2:43 PM
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|