Web of Spider-Man #10
Issue(s): Web of Spider-Man #10
Hearing that Spider-Man has helped Fortune (for the second time, after Marvel Team-Up #120), Steele decides he needs to recruit help, so he travels to the apartment of Herman Schultz, aka the Shocker. The Shocker's neighborhood is shoddy...
...but he's renovated his apartment to look like a "palace" and arranged a demonstration for Steele.
There's a complex contract signing process (who enforces assassination contracts?) and then Steele leaves without having a cigar or a drink with Shocker. Shocker correctly decides that Steele thinks he's a "loser". Steele indeed describes Shocker of being of "low caliber".
We soon learn that Steele/Van Lundt is a former Nazi, so i wonder if Shocker is meant to be Jewish and there's an anti-Semitic angle to Van Lundt's assessment, but there's nothing explicit in this story, and i think the idea is just that Shocker is and has been pretty low on the totem pole of super-villains and is being a little pretentious with his fancy apartment, especially after he was double-crossed by Egghead.
Shocker has also upgraded his powers so he's not dependent on his wrist-units, which was a nice twist...
...but Spider-Man responds by stripping the guy naked.
Pretty humiliating. Fortune, meanwhile, fends off Steele's non-powered goons, but winds up collapsing and having to get carted back to the hospital again, to the chagrin of his straight-laced, uptight son.
Steele, meanwhile, has Shocker's apartment blown up to ensure that the authorities can't connect the Shocker to him. And then he decides to head off to Europe. We're left with a tease that Steele is in a relationship with Sabbath, Fortune's old girlfriend and the object of his current quest. We're told that mystery will be unravelled "some other day".
Ten issues in, after rotating creatives teams, it's worth wondering whether this book was an improvement over Marvel Team-Up (especially since there's a guest star this issue). I'd say the issues have all been of middling high quality, which is better than the long term track record for Team-Up, but i think it reflects a general overall increase in quality for the Spider-Man line (Team-Up went out on a strong note). I don't know if the change to Web caused a permanent sales increase, but it's worth factoring in the fact that Marvel gave up the try-out/spotlighting capabilities of Team-Up with the switch. Creatively, while again the book has been decent, it doesn't really have a distinct voice or "reason to exist" beyond being "yet another Spider-Man book".
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
The Baron is solving a Rubik's Cube about five years after that craze had passed. I guess we can either say, "Well, he's old," or file it as a minor entry among pop-culture references/trends on which Marvel was tardy in the 1980s (books featuring a disco diva and a trucker, respectively). By 1985-86, showing a character to be a whiz at chess had once again become the go-to "genius" shorthand. You always come back to the basics.
Posted by: Todd | October 29, 2013 3:36 AM
Am I reading too much into the scene where Dom makes a remark to Pete about acting "like SPIDER-MAN" (emphasis theirs, meaning, Marvels) suggesting or setting up that he may suspect Spidey's secret identity is right in front of him?
Posted by: George Gordon | March 1, 2014 7:46 PM
This issue has always seemed really weird to me with its handling of the Shocker, who is usually portrayed as a blue-collar thief. I guess Fingeroth needed a Spider-villain of some kind to make the plot work, but....the Shocker? As an assassin? With a fancy office?
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 14, 2015 2:39 PM
We soon learn that Steele/Van Lundt is a former Nazi, so i wonder if Shocker is meant to be Jewish and there's an anti-Semitic angle to Van Lundt's assessment
Y'know, fnord, that's a really interesting idea. It's too bad that something like that was never actually pursued in a Marvel Comics story.
Screaming Mimi aka Songbird is Jewish, and on several occasions she worked with the second Baron Zemo, but unlike his father he was more of a generic fascist who didn't appear to be especially motivated by any specific anti-Semitism.
Obviously there was also Magneto, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, refusing to work with the Red Skull, a Nazi war criminal. But Magneto is not really a "super-villain" so much as a terrorist / political revolutionary.
Offhand I cannot think of too many Jewish bad guys in the Marvel universe. But it could make for an interesting story to have an otherwise-unrepentant costumed criminal who happens to be Jewish suddenly finds himself working with one of the various neo-Nazi super-villains who inhabit the Marvel universe, causing him to start having some serious second thoughts.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 14, 2016 11:57 PM
the idea of Shocker being Jewish would be an interesting angle.I'd always wondered why an American character got such a stereotypically German name as Hermann Shultz (I know there are loads of German Americans, but in the comic book world everyone remotely german is secretly a nazi, excepting Shocker and Nightcrawler.)
Posted by: kveto | March 19, 2016 3:24 PM
Shocker prides himself on being a PROFESSIONAL criminal, and that professionalism would logically carry over to how he maintained his office, in spite of the surroundings.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | May 24, 2017 11:10 AM
Unfortunately, this was Shocker's next appearance after his stint in the Masters of Evil where Egghead used him as a disposable pawn. I feel like those issues (Avengers 228-229) began the "Shocker is a loser" trend, and this follow-up further solidified it. Steele's treatment of the Shocker don't come off as anti-Semitic, just as arrogance and aloofness, and Shocker getting beaten and not completing the kill, plus Steele destroying his hide-out just really made it look like the Shocker wasn't getting respect from anybody.
Posted by: mikrolik | May 25, 2017 1:18 PM
Schultz is generally an ethnic German name, not Jewish, but anything is possible. However, I think the general assessment of Steele is just that the Shocker is low class, not a racial or religious slur.
The Shocker doesn't really do anything for me as a villain, but his Romita designed costume is classic. I'm actually surprised he is not used more whenever someone needs a generic goon. If there is a role for the Shocker in the greater Marvel universe, a hired thug to deal with potential superhero threats wouldn't be bad. He is just powerful enough to be a real threat to most of the street level Marvel heroes (Spidey, DD, PM& IF, and many others).
I never like it though when villains get tarred with "loser" status (unless they were originally meant as joke villains) because a threatening opponent is essential for the hero to look good. But being a "loser" and being on the lower end of the totem pole are two different things. Even a thug can be well written and menacing.
Posted by: Chris | May 25, 2017 3:28 PM
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