Spectacular Spider-Man #134-136
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man #134, Spectacular Spider-Man #135, Spectacular Spider-Man #136
Regarding the "darker" tone of this book during the Priest era, these issues actually have a reprise of the story that kicked that off, down to having "All-New, All-Daring" text on the cover of #134. The storyline in question is Peter David's Sin-Eater plot. These issues follow-up on that, with Sin-Eater (aka Stan Carter) getting released from the psychiatric ward where he was being held after SHIELD confirm that they've fully removed the chemicals that they put in him that caused him to go crazy. We readers get to see that he's still crazy, though: he sees visions of and has conversations with himself in his Sin-Eater costume.
Meanwhile, Peter Parker and Mary Jane continue their weird sex games...
...but Peter later finds out that Sin-Eater was released and he gets really angry...
...and gets even angrier when he gets to Carter's house and it appears that Carter has hired a press agent to monetize his "fame".
Spider-Man goes into the house to threaten Carter, intending to deepen his voice like the Shadow or Batman, but finds that things aren't what he thought they would be.
Spider-Man learns that Carter is in bad condition due to the beating that Spider-Man gave him.
Carter tells him that he deserved his beating and that he regrets what he's done. It also turns out that the press agent isn't really working on Carter's authority. But Spider-Man doesn't want to hear it and leaves, extremely rattled.
Meanwhile, we find out that Electro is out of prison.
For once, Electro decides he doesn't want to wear his mask.
But Spider-Man still recognizes him after leaving Stan Carter's house. However, seeing how badly he hurt Carter, he pulls his punches against Electro.
Couple that with the fact that Electro figures out he can cancel Spider-Man's wall crawling ability by removing the static electricity...
...and Spider-Man is defeated.
You'll notice some cops in that scan above, but they are gone by the beginning of issue #135 (chasing Electro, maybe?), and so Spider-Man is facing a crowd of angry bystanders.
And it's Stan Carter that shows up to protect him.
Carter is brought to the police station to be interrogated by Sgt. Tork, but since he was carrying a toy gun, Tork doesn't hold him.
Spider-Man crawls home, with his skin blistering from Electro and his psychological state even worse after the encounter with Carter.
Meanwhile, Carter is unable to find a job, so he winds up turning to that press agent after all. And the agent winds up booking him on the Morning Show on the same day that Mary Jane will be modelling there. Peter is in the studio to watch his wife, and he's outraged when Carter is brought on, so he changes into his Spidey costume to confront him. Electro, watching on television, rides the third rail to the tv studio to attack Spider-Man again.
In the confrontation with Cater, we learn that Carter and Jean DeWolff were lovers.
Then Electro shows up, but Spider-Man won't fight him.
MJ continues to try to cheer Peter up (i do like these little moments in their married life)...
...but Electro is emboldened by his victories and he decides to take over a power station and ransom it.
Spider-Man goes to stop him.
His strategy is based on something Mary Jane said about Rocky III. He lets Electro attack him and only reacts to the attacks, and this gets him back in the groove.
Meanwhile, outside the power plant, Stan arrives, dressed as Sin-Eater.
And he gets himself shot and killed.
Turns out the gun wasn't even loaded, but this was Carter's only way to "beat" Sin-Eater.
Interesting story. Exploring the implications of the violence that super-heroes can inflict on villains makes for a good theme, and this story of course follows up on the specifics of the original Sin-Eater story, where Spider-Man very explicitly lost control. This story isn't quite as impactful as the original but it's a good follow up. Sal Buscema, who will continue on as the regular artist for this series even after Peter David swaps this book with Gerry Conway, has a style here that is more reminiscent of his 70s work than what he did on Thor, and while that will work well for a "classic" Spider-Man run, it's nothing like the tone of Rich Buckler's pencils on the Death of Jean DeWolff. Still, it's competent art with a nice end-fight with Electro, and a good story.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Should take place after Amazing Spider-Man #297 when MJ was traveling. I wanted to place this after Iron Man #228 since Electro was thought to have been in custody at that time, but black costume Spider-Man appearances need to take place prior to Fall of the Mutants due to Amazing Spider-Man #298-300, and Iron Man #228 takes place after Fall of the Mutants due to a cross-over with Captain America. So it actually must be after this issue that Electro is being transferred to the Vault.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showElectro, Mary Jane Watson, Sgt. Tork, Sin-Eater, Spider-Man
Peter David reportedly hated the static cling idea for Spidey, but Shooter had insisted on it (before his departure, I guess) because he didn't like the earlier Handbook explanation for Spidey's stickiness, which involved micro-suckers or something. Note that when PAD comes to do Spidey 2099, he emphatically does not invoke static cling to explain his wall-crawling.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 21, 2014 9:51 PM
Sal's long run starts here and continues for over one hundred issues. Pretty impressive, especially considering the shift in styles and tastes in the '90s.
Posted by: Robert | May 21, 2014 10:09 PM
I like the ending.Carter was so tormented by the Sin-Eater he committed suicide-by-cop. I think the art does have a slightly old-school feel to it (you can tell the old timers from the new guys just by the art) but his storytelling is great.
Posted by: JSfan | May 22, 2014 3:36 AM
I actually like this better than the first Sin-eater storyline. The first one had Pete acting wildly out of character, IMO. In this one we see his guilt, a more standard PP characteristic.
It also backs up my theory that supervillans are much more successful when they fight out of costume.
Posted by: kveto from prague | May 22, 2014 5:23 AM
I didn't expect Carter to return here only to be killed off, but it was a good story.
Sal Buscema begins inking his own pencils on a regular basis during this lengthy run. Around issue #186, he will garner praise from the likes of Stan Lee himself, who will note in an interview that Sal has developed "a new style for himself" which would contrast the wilder Image stuff found all throughout mainstream 90's comics. I've never enjoyed Sal's work except for when he was being inked by Akin and Garvey but I could see what Stan meant about noticing a Sal Buscema renaissance of sorts.
Posted by: Clutch | May 23, 2014 9:36 AM
Loved the scene with Electro surfing on the third rail in the Subway station.
Posted by: Ryan | December 6, 2014 1:36 AM
Sal Buscema's work definitely stood out from the pack when I first started reading comics in the early-90s, and it remains a favorite of mine. His art, along with Alex Saviuk's in Web, gives stories a certain charm that I find to be largely missing from the MacFarlane/Larsen-era of Amazing.
Posted by: TCP | April 17, 2015 1:28 PM
Strange. I know the trade of The Death of Jean DeWolff that I used to have mentioned that Carter returned and had severe health problems due to the beating Peter gave him, but I don't think it mentioned his death at the end of the follow-up.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 23, 2015 8:37 PM
I like how Spiderman's victory, near the end of this story, is a perfect illustration of why he can beat someone who possesses much greater raw power than he does. Despite having fought Spiderman many times, Dillon is still stupid enough to be goaded into engaging him in a fist fight, which he has no chance of winning.
Posted by: Jason FP | May 19, 2018 8:11 AM
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