Characters Appearing: Deathstorm, Lou Snider, Solo, Spider-Man
Issue(s): Solo #1, Solo #2, Solo #3, Solo #4
That's actually the most interesting thing about the series. The other thing of (very minor) note is that police detective Lou Snider, last seen in the early 80s, appears in this story. And of course poor overworked Spider-Man is a guest star.
As was the case in the Amazing Spider-Man annual #27 Solo back-up, Solo is going up against Deathstorm, a lieutenant in the terrorist group ARES (Assassination Revolution Extortion Sabotage). Writing today, i think it's kind of quaint that a hero (or whatever) who was invented to fight terrorists is going up against cartoonish organizations instead of "real" terrorists. Solo is kind of like the Punisher for terrorists, and the Punisher gets to fight "realistic" mobsters and drug dealers. On the other hand i probably wouldn't like how they'd handle that, so it's probably for the best. Still, why not have Solo go up against established Marvel terrorist groups like Hydra or even Forces of Nature? At least that would connect Solo to the greater Marvel universe. As it is, it feels like he's been put in his own little box with ARES and nothing he does will matter.
Another ARES lieutenant is named Cygnus, but Solo recognizes her early in the story as Rowena.
The shock of seeing her contributes to Solo failing to stop ARES from detonating a bomb that blows up the top of a building that houses the headquarters of an electronics company called Welles Technology.
A few hours later, another contingent of ARES led by a lieutenant named Scorch raids the UN building looking for counter-terrorism intel. But they are found by Spider-Man.
Kids, listen to Spidey. It's not "cool" to be terrorists.
The ARES group teleports away, leaving Spider-Man to explain himself to the police. Luckily Detective Snider is in charge.
We then cut to ARES talking about their motivations. This seems like a key thing to me. If Solo's whole MO is going after terrorists, then his enemies ought to have unique motivations. Terrorists have political goals. But ARES is only interest in selling its services to the highest bidder.
So ARES isn't a terrorist organization at all. They're a mercenary group. Terrorists can be interesting. Sometimes you even agree with a terrorist's goals, but not their methods. That can lead to moral dilemmas. But mercenaries are only motivated by profit. Generic and boring.
We learn Solo and Cygnus' shared history. They were both part of a UN counter-terrorism force called Omega Strike.
The is the organization that ARES was getting info on while at the UN. And both Solo and ARES use the teleportation tech designed for Omega.
But the organization was led by an Emil Tessler, who, along with some of the other members, had their own plans.
Tessler forged documents incriminating Solo, causing him to be driven out of the organization.
Later, an ARES group, led by Deathstorm, attacks a press conference at the UN. Both Spider-Man and Solo show up, but fail to stop ARES, and Det. Snider is badly hurt.
Spidey tries to capture Solo in the aftermath, but he teleports away.
Later, ARES is hired by "Delvadian" revolutionaries to pressure the Delvadian ambassador to vote down a resolution at the UN that would prevent the revolutionaries from taking over (in real world terms, this is giving way too much power to the UN generally and ambassadors in particular, but let's just go with it). Per their contract, they are only supposed to kill people if the ambassador refuses, but Deathstorm is violent and bloodthirsty. Cygnus tries to reign him in to little avail. Meanwhile, Spider-Man and Solo converge on the embassy, team-up up but fighting over whether or not to kill. They catch Scorch but Deathstorm kills the ambassador and escapes (knowing Solo's history with Cygnus, he uses her as a shield).
Solo figures out that the Welles Technology hit was contracted by the son of the CEO of Welles, so he tracks down the son and interrogates him to learn the location of ARES' headquarters. And then he kills him anyway.
You kids like this stuff, right? You like the Punisher! You'll love Solo!
Meanwhile, Spider-Man tries to intimidate Scorch into giving up info on ARES. It doesn't work, but ARES activates Scorch's damaged teleportation chip, bringing both him and Spider-Man to their HQ. So Solo and Spidey are Teamed-Up again.
There have been political conflicts at ARES. Deathstorm has been vying for Tessler's leadership spot, and no one is happy with Cygnus' attempts at being less violent. So while Solo and Spidey are fighting ARES, Tessler has both Solo and Deathstorm's teleportation chips disabled, and then he flees the base with Cygnus and some grunts and activates the self-destruct sequence. Solo and Spider-Man escape, and Spidey subsequently captures Solo and turns him over to some Vault Guardsmen.
Deathstorm also survives the explosion and rallies with a contingent of ARES people loyal to him, including Scorch.
Solo escapes Vault custody.
He subsequently reactivates his teleportation chip.
Tessler's contingent attacks the UN over the Delvadian vote again.
Hearing that the ambassadors are held hostage, Solo and Spider-Man once again converge on the same location (honestly, Spidey should have gotten equal billing for this series).
Tessler orders one of the ambassadors to be killed to intimidate the others, but Cygnus stops him. Then Solo shows up, but Cygnus tries to stop him from killing Tessler. It turns out that Tessler is Cygnus's father. Tessler teleports away, but he disables the teleportation chips for his grunts, allowing them to get captured. Tessler winds up getting caught by Deathstorm's group, and Deathstorm kills him.
After a big battle, Solo finally has Deathstorm on the ropes. But when he goes to shoot him, Deathstorm partially teleports, and Solo's bullet kills a civilian too.
And after that, Solo surrenders.
Maybe i'm being too naive, but Solo surrendering while thinking that he'll "never be able to make amends" for taking an innocent life makes it sound like he's giving up his mission. At the very least, you'd think he'd reconsider his position on lethal force. This will turn out to be Solo's last appearance in Spidey's corner of the Marvel universe, and it's arguably his last "major" appearance. But the next time he appears (Wolverine #134, Feb 99 - an "everybody fights Wolverine" story), he's back to shouting his "While Solo lives, terror dies!" tagline, so i guess he gets over this.
This was a competently told story, but it's boring. It's understandable to want to give Solo a personal stake in the plot. But doing so - especially in conjunction with the generic ARES organization - removes what makes Solo unique, making this a stock action/adventure tale. I actually think Solo's "the Punisher but for terrorists" angle makes him a character with a lot of potential. Marvel has a fair number of super-terrorist organizations (ULTIMATUM, Project: Earth/Force of Nature, MLF), and between that and some real world "ripped from the headlines" ideas, a lot could have been done. Unfortunately Eric Fein and company found a way to do a story about a guy who fights terrorists that features zero terrorists.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Spider-Man doesn't "feel all that friendly nowadays" per "the regular Spidey titles". A reference later gets more specific, placing this after Amazing Spider-Man #391.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I was actually looking forward to this miniseries, but I was majorly disappointed in it for all of the reasons fnord covered.
Agreed that it would have been so much more interesting to have Solo go up against actual terrorists with political motivations and a warped ends-justify-the-means mindset, instead of a bunch of one-note evil mercenaries. Obviously Marvel could not use any real-world organizations, but both ULTIMATUM and the Watchdogs would have fit the bill perfectly, and either could have made a great adversary for Solo.
Posted by: Ben Herman | December 21, 2017 1:34 PM
Old Dutch translations often cut up mini-series and used them as back-up strips. They started that for the first issues of Solo, Black Cat and Cardiac, but then dropped them. I think because by that time the Clone Saga was kicking into gear and they needed all the space in their issues to cover the constant crossovers. As a result I had only ever read the first issues of these series.
Between Spidey actually sending Solo to the Vault, instead of just meekly complaining about his methods like he always does with the Punisher, and Solo failing so miserably in the end, this comic sounds far more interesting than that first issue made me suspect. Still, doesn't look like it's actually any good, but at least it had potential.
Posted by: Berend | December 21, 2017 2:39 PM
Delvadia is the Tarantula's homeland.
Posted by: Michael | December 21, 2017 7:52 PM
Only a few decades later, you'd get your wish: Solo was revealed to be responsible for the dismantling of ULTIMATUM, though Deadpool got the credit. That was the setup for the first few arcs of the post-Secret Wars Deadpool series.
Posted by: cullen | December 21, 2017 8:09 PM
Solo got his own series in 2016. Is lasted only five issues
Posted by: Jay Montoya | January 5, 2018 12:40 PM
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