Web of Spider-Man #66-68
Issue(s): Web of Spider-Man #66, Web of Spider-Man #67, Web of Spider-Man #68
He storms out. Peter runs after him to talk, but their conversation doesn't go well.
One weird thing about Gerry Conway writing both this book and Spectacular is that the coordination between those titles isn't as seamless as you might think. Peter and Robbie also got into an argument about Peter's photo fraud in Spectacular Spider-Man #165, which was published a month before this and takes place before this, for unrelated reasons). There's no direct contradiction. But there's also no sense of context between the two sets of arguments, no sense that one comes before the other. They both just happen in isolation. This isn't new, exactly. You could always see that, say, the Marvel Team-Up writer got the memo that X and Y characters are currently having an argument, and you could see that writer acknowledging that fact in the story without really moving it forward. It's just a little weirder since Conway is writing both books, and in many ways writing them in such a way that they're really all chapters of the same story.
It also gets a little tedious when the same problem is brought up over and over again without any kind of progress towards resolution. But again that's a byproduct of the fact that we've got multiple Spider-Man books, and presumably some readers were only getting one of them.
Anyway, while Peter is chasing after Robbie, Betty Brant approaches Mary Jane and invites her out to lunch. MJ has a problem on her mind, and it turns out to be related to the fact that she saw Harry's Green Goblin costume in the closet the previous arc. Hearing about how Betty has come back from being "a little nuts" after the death of her husband convinces MJ that she'll tell Peter about Harry's costume.
The main story in this issue is about Tombstone, though. The Molten Man is having a little trouble fitting in at Harry's factory.
And Tombstone thinks that he can take advantage of that to get Molten Man to steal a new agricultural preservative from the plant that Hammerhead's organization wants to use in the cocaine trade.
You'll notice a Goblin shadow in the scene above.
Molten Man goes to Spider-Man for help with Tombstone.
Before meeting up with Molten Man, Peter goes home and hears from Mary Jane that Harry still has the Green Goblin costume (she says she saw the costume "last night" but see the Considerations). Peter and MJ then go to confront Liz, but when they go to look in the closet, the costume is gone.
Then Peter joins up with Molten Man to fight Tombstone.
And the Green Goblin shows up to help as well!
Joe Robertson is also on the scene. He got a news tip about Tombstone that turned out to be a trap. But Robbie is prepared with a gun.
Tombstone winds up getting trapped in the container with the preservative.
By the time the heroes (and ex-villains) get the door open, Tombstone is gone. In the next issue, we see him staggering through the street, covered in shadows. He attracts the attention of some thugs, but doesn't die when they shoot him, and he chases them away.
Spider-Man, meanwhile, chases after Harry, and tries to convince him to not be the Green Goblin.
Harry tells Spider-Man that it's strange "coming from you" that being a super-hero isn't a good role for a family man.
Peter worries that this means that Harry has remembered his secret identity. So when Harry returns in his civvies to the factory, Spider-Man keeps his mouth shut about Harry's secret ID.
Peter later breaks into Harry's apartment and snoops around, and finds a receipt that leads him to a building that Harry is using as a secret headquarters. Peter confronts Harry again, and they get to fighting. Harry wants to redeem his father's name.
I'm a little surprised to see Peter not making the case that he has super-powers. And Norman Osborn had super-strength. Harry is just a guy in a suit with some toys. Peter does make the point that Norman spent years preparing to be the Green Goblin, and that's part of it - Harry hasn't even done that - but it's been established at this point that the Green Goblin had actual powers beyond the suit. I think that's an important point that might have convinced Harry a little quicker. They do basically reach that point. They fight for a while, with Spidey having a tougher time of it than you'd think, and then Harry eventually realizes that "there were a dozen times in our battle that you could have killed me". He actually turns around very quickly on that after seeing a photo of Liz and Normie.
And you'll notice in the end that Harry does know that Spider-Man is Peter Parker. I feel like it would have been more powerful for Peter to take off his mask and make the point without half an issue of fighting, but maybe i'm going soft.
Back to Tombstone. He shows up at Hammerhead's place.
We next see Spider-Man meeting up with Joe Robertson. Robbie has been contacted by Tombstone, and he asks Spider-Man to look after his family. Spider-Man agrees, but tells Robbie to go to the cops (while secretly tagging him with a spider-tracer). Robbie doesn't go to the cops, and instead goes to Tombstone. Watching all of this is sleazy photographer Nick Katzenberg.
Robbie (with Katzenberg following) shows up at Hammerhead's place to find Hammerhead all tied up.
He then sees Tombstone.
I actually don't know what Robbie sees in Tombstone's skin and face. Tombstone has always looked like that. I guess the idea is that his skin actually looks harder now. He's not just an albino, he's a marble-hard super-villain. The impact is lost on me since, again, he's always looked like that, and half the time it's already seemed like he's had super-strength.
Anyway, Spider-Man shows up just as Tombstone is telling Robbie that he no longer has a grudge against him.
And we do see Tombstone's new powers in action. Spider-Man also unwittingly (and very cheesily) gives him a new tagline.
Tombstone winds up standing next to a building that is full of explosives, and Hammerhead recovers and has his goons shoot. The building explodes and Tombstone is seemingly killed.
As they leave, Spider-Man puts the pressure on Robbie to make up with Peter.
One really big note as it relates to my project: in the lettercol for issue #66, someone asks why there wasn't a footnote for a particular event (specifically from a scene during Acts of Vengeance where Dr. Doom mentions stealing Silver Surfer's powers). The letter writer says that Jim Salicrup was "lazy" for not including a footnote. The response is:
Lazy? LAZY? Perish the thought, Patrick! It's a conscious decision on our part not to footnote every reference made to an earlier tale. Our goal is to produce skull-searing sagas that are accessible to first time fans as well as devoted Marvelites. Hence, we only use a footnote when we feel an essential part of a story would be confusing without one!
Now, this is only Jim Salicrup talking, so based on this it's only technically policy for the Spider-books. But i have been noticing a line wide decline in footnotes. So i assume it's not just Salicrup. And it's definitely a trend that continues. I personally find it mind-boggling. To me, there's nothing more accessible than providing footnotes. At its most basic level, it signals that yes, this thing the person is talking about actually happened. It gives you a sense of whether it happened yesterday or years ago. Whether you missed an issue or just misinterpreted or forgot something that you did read (with an easy way to go back and check it). And it gives readers the option (not an obligation) to track that issue down to learn more. And of course it contributes to the sense of universe building that made Marvel special, but i suspect it's the flipside of that, specifically, that Marvel was trying to avoid; the idea that there's too much "continuity" and it would scare away new readers. But here's the thing: it's not like they're giving up making references. They're still talking about old stories. They're just not saying which old stories they're talking about. I'm also not sure what criteria they're using when deciding to put in a footnote. These three issues, for example, make references to stories going back to the Silver Age through stuff that happened a few issues ago, and the only actual footnote is to "last issue" and Amazing Spider-Man #312
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Mary Jane says that she only found out about Harry's Green Goblin costume "last night" (it happened in Web of Spider-Man #65). But these Web Of issues take place in succession and end with Tombstone no longer working for Hammerhead, while Tombstone is still working for Hammerhead in Spectacular Spider-Man #165-167. And Web of Spider-Man #65 can't take place after Spectacular Spider-Man #165-167, because it's in Web of Spider-Man #64-65 that Peter's feud with Joe Robertson over the photos begins (and the feud is seen in Spectacular #165). Spectacular Spider-Man #165-167 involves a trip to England for Peter Parker and a bout with amnesia, so there's no way for that to occur between Web #65-66, which it has to, and the events of Web #65 to still have taken place "last night". So we'll have to assume that MJ is mistaken or lying when she tells Peter when it happened. That does make a kind of sense. Peter's first reaction when he hears about the Green Goblin costume is to ask MJ why she didn't tell him sooner, and her immediate response is that it only happened last night, as if to deflect the criticism. A "couple nights" take place during these issues.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBetty Brant, Frank Farrow, Hammerhead, Harry Osborn, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Liz Allan, Mary Jane Watson, Molten Man, Nick Katzenberg, Normie Osborn, Spider-Man, Tombstone
More poor fare from Conway. He's just so determined to make something out of Tombstone. He's like the energizer bunny, not interesting but just won't go away. I remember this is when I first learnt that he was supposed to be a black albino. I'd just thought his skin was your standard comic book extreme colours (but nobody writing in like they did in Master of Kung Fu to complain about unrealistic skin tones)
I did like the scenes with Molten man trying to fit in, go straight, but being forced back into crime due to his rep. I'd have liked to have seen that explored more.
Posted by: kveto | June 23, 2015 4:11 PM
"Whether you missed an issue or just misinterpreted or forgot something that you did read (with an easy way to go back and check it)."
Posted by: clyde | June 23, 2015 4:13 PM
Peter actually encouraged Harry to take up super-heroing during Inferno, with Harry using his family as an argument against this. Now, the roles have completely reversed. I guess you could argue that Harry invoking Norman's name set Spidey off, or maybe the Inferno crisis ending brought Peter back to his senses.
Posted by: TCP | June 23, 2015 4:39 PM
Not sure why this Tombstone stuff is happening in Web all of a sudden; Tombstone had been fairly consistently been in Spectacular at this point; Conway is still on both titles at this point. Seems kinda arbitrary.
Posted by: mikrolik | June 23, 2015 7:21 PM
I think the thinking is, with footnotes you're sending the message that you really need to have read this other book in order to properly enjoy this one. Without them, it's enough for new readers to have the acknowledgement that it happened, while older readers can be secure in the knowledge that they actually saw it happen. Not saying that's accurate, just that that's the theory.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | June 23, 2015 8:07 PM
A lot of readers were angry about the way Peter treated Harry in this story. Peter attacked Harry without provocation, and acted surprised when it made Harry even crazier? That's how you're supposed to treat someone who's mentally ill?
Posted by: Michael | June 23, 2015 9:46 PM
Regarding placement vs. Spectacular Spider-Man annual #10 - unless there's a later story that confirms that Harry remembers that Peter is Spider-Man in this arc, i don't think placement matters. This story reads to me like it's revealing to the readers that Harry knows Peter is Spider-Man. His actual memory could have returned any time prior to that (e.g. circa ASM #312).
And also there's no confirmation in the annual that Harry knows that Peter is Spider-Man (unless we count the fact that he refers to "MJ" in a flashback/recap that might be interpreted as things he's saying aloud to Harry, but it's possible to ignore that). Placing the annuals after Peter learns that Harry knows that he's Spider-Man would be a good explanation for why Peter has MJ take him to Harry as opposed to, say, Mr. Fantastic, but it doesn't seem critical. Is there never an on-panel scene where Peter learns that Harry knows?
Posted by: fnord12 | June 24, 2015 8:18 AM
Peter won't know for sure that Harry knows his identity until DeMatteis' "Child Within" arc, about a year after this story.
Posted by: TCP | June 24, 2015 8:45 AM
I'm actually surprised it took Conway this long to give Tombstone actual superpowers. Before this arc, he was apparently in the same league as Kingpin, Ox from the Enforcers, and other "peak-human-strength" but supposedly non-super-powered villains who could somehow go fist-to-fist with Spidey who can bench 10 tons.
Posted by: mikrolik | February 16, 2017 4:51 PM
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