Web of Spider-Man #88-89
Issue(s): Web of Spider-Man #88, Web of Spider-Man #89
Richard is upset that the Kingpin was taken down by forces other than him.
But elsewhere in this story, it's talked about like the events here "contributed" taking down the Kingpin (it's just that no one thought to mention them during Last Rites). And the biggest part of the "Me too!" factor of this story happens when Richard is also attacked by a gunship in his father's office.
Richard's temple is grazed by a bullet. The distraction also gives Spider-Man a chance to escape.
Spidey is knocked out by the attacking soldiers, who turn out to be working for the Rose. But at this point, the Rose is working against Fisk, and he tells Spider-Man that Mary Jane and Aunt May are in danger in the Catskills, so Spider-Man agrees to go with him there.
We learn that Richard's head wound means that he's going to have to shave his head.
Fat, bald, and with a girlfriend with a white stripe. You see where this is going.
In the Catskills with the Rose, Spider-Man finds that the Praetorian Guard have been sent to kill his family.
Fisk shows up with reinforcements and shoots the Rose.
Who turns out to be Sgt. Blume.
And then someone else shows up to put on the Rose mask.
The Rose mask is like the Traveling Pants of the Marvel universe, apparently.
Fisk has already left, and he's completed his transformation into his father.
I think we've descended into absurdity at this point.
Fisk sets about rebuilding his father's empire.
Fisk takes the hit order off of Parker because at this point it's been confirmed that Nick Katzenberg took the photo.
At this point i'm not even sure what the relevance of the photo is anymore.
Oh, and the Rose becomes Blood Rose.
To try to find Fisk, Spider-Man tries to trace the Triads that attacked him in Web of Spider-Man #85. But instead he finds the Hobgoblin, who tells him that the Triads are gone because Deathwatch has been taken down by Ghost Rider.
But Hobgoblin is mad at Fisk for turning him away after hiring the Praetorian Guard. So he leads Spider-Man to Fisk.
Blood Rose is already confronting him.
Spider-Man has better luck against the Guard this time since they're not ambushing him.
Which ensures that he gets to the main event before Hobgoblin has a chance to assassinate anyone.
Spidey demands to know who the Blood Rose is, but that's mixed in with a number of other complaints and questions, and he even contemplates killing both of them or letting them die.
Hobgoblin recovers enough to cause a distraction, and that allows Fisk to try to make a break for it. He's shot by Blood Rose, who subsequently disappears. Spider-Man recovers no bodies.
So in typical Howard Mackie style, a storyline is concluded with more loose ends than we started with.
Things in this arc started off as a possibly interesting sub-current to Last Rites, then it seemed like it might just become a typical gang war story (which would be fine). But it got pretty silly by the end with Richard Fisk becoming a mirror image of his father and the mysterious and sudden appearance of "Blood Rose". Considering that this story was published after Last Rites concluded, it's too bad that it wasn't used as an opportunity to show the gang war upheaval that would have happened after Last Rites, instead of what feels like an attempt to get some of the importance of the fall of the Kingpin to rub off on this story by association.
I wonder if Mackie had a different end goal in mind that got changed at the last minute. It feels like things are being set up to restore the popular scenario from the mid 80s. First, instantly replace the Kingpin with a lookalike. Then introduce a new Rose to rival him. Finally, restore the Hobgoblin to a human status quo. While the idea of Richard Fisk becoming a mirror image of his father is ridiculous, that basic scenario could have provided ongoing scenarios similar to those in DeFalco's run on Amazing. It's possible Mackie reversed course when an editor or fans saw where things were going and objected. On the other hand, this could have been just Mackie's attempt at the least subtle "an apple never falls far from the tree" story ever.
Things are further complicated by identity swaps (with Richard not being who we think he is), but i don't think that was Mackie's original intention (thought bubbles of the Richard Fisk in this story thinking about his "father" indicate that Mackie did intend for Fisk to be Fisk)
It's also worth observing how Mary Jane and Aunt May are shipped off early on in this story, ensuring that there aren't really any downtime scenes or room for characterization. In that sense i'd rather have the guest star laden events that were happening in other Spider-Man books around this time, if only because there we got the same amount of character work but more cool fights.
Despite my complaints, i want to belatedly echo something Clyde says in the comments in another entry. It's something i feel like is implicit in all i do but i should say it more often. My favorite aspect of the Marvel universe is the way that the stories build on each other, and intertwine, and the way this story works with the events of Last Rites and Ghost Rider's Deathwatch arc are a good example of that. The individual stories may not be great, but i feel like all of the stories are elevated into something beyond the sum of their parts by being interconnected like this. It's why i spend days annotating and writing about stories that i often tend to complain about more than i compliment. So i think it is really cool the way this story adds another layer to Last Rites even if it isn't necessarily successful in all that it attempts.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: A footnote on page two of issue #88 confirms that it begins after the Kingpin was "taken down by strangers" in Daredevil #300. But since Spider-Man is a captive at the time that the footnote is shown, and Spider-Man appears with Mary Jane in Daredevil #300, the footnote must be referring to the early half of that story, before it was concluded (maybe right after the grand jury hearing). These issues therefore take place during Daredevil #300.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAunt May, Gauntlet (Alfredo Morelli), Jason Macendale, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Mary Jane Watson, Nick Katzenberg, Richard Fisk, Rose (Sgt. Blume), Spider-Man
Further complicating this story with retcons is this- at the end of this story, "Richard" is badly injured. In Web of Spider-Man 97, we find out that he was put on a boat taking him to a criminal surgeon, and it crashed, where he ended up on an island with Nightwatch. But in She-Hulk,Soule retconned that Nightwatch's heroic past was never real. So if that's the case, what really happened to "Richard" at the end of this story?
Posted by: Michael | November 22, 2015 1:36 PM
So Alfredo becums Blood Rose is dat it?
Posted by: JC | November 23, 2015 5:25 AM
JC, your assumption would be correct per the intentions of the original story, but that's not the way things end up. I've been dancing around spoiling the retcon since i was alerted to it, but i guess i can mention it here.
*Spoiler alert (for a 20+ year old story)!*
It will turn out that the Richard Fisk that we see throughout this story is really Alfredo Morelli, thanks to the wonders of Marvel plastic surgery. And the Blood Rose will turn out to be Richard Fisk. See the Appendix for more, and of course i'll get to those issues eventually.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 23, 2015 8:00 AM
I bet they seriously thought they were re-inventing a lame old character for the 90s by turning the Rose into "Blood Rose," complete with thigh bandoliers and cool sunglasses instead of nerd glasses.
And while I realize Mackie and/or Fingeroth likely intended this story's title to be a reference to the Umberto Eco novel, it's ultimately very ironic that a storyline called "The Name of the Rose" ends with so much uncertainty about...the name of the Rose.
Posted by: Red Comet | November 23, 2015 10:10 AM
Dat retcon sounds absolutely horrible. It turns an alrdy bad confusing story and makes it badder and confusinger.
Posted by: JC | November 24, 2015 5:29 PM
Really??? Spider-Man is looking directly at the 3rd Rose as the Rose puts on the mask. How can Spidey not have seen who it is!??!
Posted by: mikrolik | November 25, 2015 10:34 AM
Sure, Spidey saw him put on the mask, but that doesn't mean he could make any sense of what he saw. "Hey, it's Richard Fisk putting on a Rose mask! But wait, I thought Richard Fisk was fat and bald now?!? Who's this guy?"
Adding to the irony of a pretty bad story with an even worse retcon on the way, isn't Fisk's blond "Steve Rogers" look itself a result of plastic surgery? And of course, my pet theory is that Alfredo Morrelli in his first appearance during the DeFalco run was actually supposed to be Richard Fisk, until the editor nixed it.
Luckily this gets cleared up when Alfredo loses weight, grows black hair back, and becomes Gauntlet, super-villain sensation of the mid-90s.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 25, 2015 7:12 PM
(Looking back, the sometimes blond, sometimes redhead discrepancies with Richard's appearance seem to be just art inconsistencies--on a quick check I didn't see any reference to the plastic surgery I'd misremembered.)
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 25, 2015 8:05 PM
Oh, what a mess. An embarrassing hanger-on to Last Rites. And then it concludes with one of the more 90's things you could do: a blurb for the hologram cover for the next issue. We're a long way from Simonson's hilarious Thor blurbs.
Posted by: Erik Beck | February 12, 2016 6:53 AM
This started out alright and then took a nosedive into awful.
And also there's no pay-off to the Demogoblin stuff, despite it taking up so much space in the first 3 parts.
Posted by: AF | March 7, 2016 1:29 PM
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