Spectacular Spider-Man #140-142
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man #140, Spectacular Spider-Man #141, Spectacular Spider-Man #142
At the beginning of #140 we learn that Joe Robertson may be paralyzed for life thanks to Tombstone. And after Robertson's family gets the news and go home, Tombstone shows up at the hospital to terrorize him some more.
Spider-Man goes to a local bar (not Josie's; a place called Aggie's) and beats up thugs until the propriety tells him that Tombstone is working for the Arranger (something the Arranger denied last issue). While at the bar, one of the thugs is about to shoot Spider-Man but instead gets shot by someone else. Spider-Man gives chase and thinks he sees someone familiar, but he has to give it up to get the thug to a hospital. Then he goes to visit the Arranger. The Kingpin is on the phone with the Arranger, talking about Roland Rayburn, the guy with persuasion powers, when Spider-Man shows up.
Spider-Man doesn't get any info from the Arranger, although i suspect it's more due to the thugs than the video.
Actually, i'm not sure why Spider-Man left. It's not like he can't take down a bunch of goons. I guess he just saw that the Arranger wasn't going to be intimidated.
Later, while visiting the hospital, Joe Robertson asks Peter to burn the tape he gave him, since Tombstone has threatened to kill his family if he goes against him. And Peter next gets a call at the Bugle asking him to meet him at Liberty Island. Peter arrives in costume, and finds the Punisher.
Issue #141 jumps ahead in time a little. The Punisher is said to have gotten suspicious when Spider-Man showed up instead of Peter Parker, but the Punisher agreed to meet Spider-Man on his boat.
The Punisher is after Tombstone, and it's a little more personal than usual.
For some reason, he's interested in the Joe Robertson tape (i mean, it's not like the Punisher usually cares about evidence). And he's threatening to go to Peter Parker directly if Spider-Man won't give it to him.
Spider-Man convinces him to wait and see if Peter can get Joe Robertson to release the tape.
Tombstone and some of the Kingpin's goons had been spying on the Punisher/Spider-Man meeting, and Tombstone thinks to himself how he's never gone up against a costumed hero while out in the Midwest and the [West] Coast.
Before Peter gets to Robbie, Ben Urich does. Urich has figured out that Robbie has recorded a tape incriminating Tombstone. At this point it's been determined that Robbie won't be permanently paralyzed. But he's still afraid to release the tape.
Meanwhile, Tombstone's goons interrupt the Punisher's breakfast.
He takes them out pretty easily and gets one of them to spill the beans: they weren't supposed to kill the Punisher, just lead him somewhere. So the Punisher goes there anyway. Unfortunately that just gets him mind controlled by Roland Rayburn, who is now officially the Persuader (note: not the Lightmaster).
Meanwhile, Tombstone goes to Mary Jane.
Mary Jane isn't badly hurt (we see bandages around her wrist, not said if anything was broken), and then Tombstone calls the emergency room and tells Peter Parker that he wants him to bring Robertson's tape to the booksigning he's doing for the Daily Bugle's Webs photobook in Atlanta, Georgia.
So Spider-Man and Tombstone have their showdown in Atlanta.
Tombstone gets the best of Spider-Man at first, but he recovers and says ultimately Tombstone is just a regular guy and no match for someone with super-powers.
And when Spider-Man has him beat, we find that he actually thinks of Joe Robertson as a friend.
Meanwhile, Joe Robertson has gotten over being afraid of Tombstone.
Also in issue #142, the High Evolutionary's men attempt to kidnap the Gwen Stacy clone...
...but she manages to escape, with the thought of going to Peter Parker for help.
And we still have the Punisher to contend with.
There isn't any innovation going on in this comic (ok, Tombstone's a new character that will have real longevity) but these are solid, if standard, super-hero stories by two veterans. I can definitely see the appeal of this book for someone that hated what was going on artwise in Amazing. And storywise, even though i generally think of David Michelinie as a better writer than Gerry Conway, the plots are at least equally thin and thanks to Sal Buscema's denser layouting there's more story per issue here.
The Punisher's appearance here reflects his increased popularity, and with that Marvel is changing the format of Marvel Tales. They used to reprint issues of Amazing Spider-Man in order, and more recently they've been reprinting Claremont/Byrne Marvel Team-Ups, but per an announcement in the lettercol for issue Spectacular Spider-Man #140, beginning with Marvel Tales #209 they began publishing exclusively Punisher appearances in Spider-Man, and they have enough to last over a year. And after that they'll turn to X-character guest appearances. This isn't a Marvel Tales entry, obviously, but i thought i'd mention the changing landscape here since it was mentioned in the lettercol.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The opening of #140 has Spider-Man thinking to himself about the events of last issue and how after that he stayed with Robbie until the paramedics came and then immediately went out to look for Tombstone and couldn't find him. I think it might have been intended that this take place soon after the end of last issue, but thanks to the reference to Robbie being in the hospital in Amazing Spider-Man #303 and other dependencies based on Peter's book tour and the Evolutionary War, i'm interpreting Peter's thoughts as just a recap of something that happened a little while ago, not immediately prior. At a minimum there's been enough time for surgery and a diagnosis of Robbie's injury. For the Punisher, this possibly takes place after Punisher annual #1, hence the boat once owned by a Colombian drug dealer (of course it could be any Colombian drug dealer). This takes place after the Webs book is announced in Amazing Spider-Man #304; the MCP has it taking place during the "two weeks" before the West Coast tour in that issue. The Gwen Stacy Clone appears again in issue #143 prior to Spectacular Spider-Man annual #8. The Punisher is brainwashed during this arc and it's "a week" before he's seen again in Spectacular Spider-Man #143, so issues of his own series shouldn't appear in between (Spider-Man, on the other hand, can have done other things during that week).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAmanda Robertson, Arranger, Ben Urich, Gwen Stacy Clone, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Kate Cushing, Kingpin, Martha Robertson, Mary Jane Watson, Persuader, Punisher, Randy Robertson, Spider-Man, Tombstone
This is an overlooked period of Spider-history. Sal is in top form--the Tombstone design is simple but effective--and Conway's Persuader/Lobo Bros./Chameleon mob stories are solid, if not (ahem) spectacular. During this period I thought of Amazing as the Spidey superhero book and this title as the Spidey street-level book, relatively speaking.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 9, 2014 9:13 PM
Peter thinks that Robbie is the only friend Tombstone ever had. We eventually learn that's not true- Tombstone has a daughter. I'm not sure if that cheapens the original intent of this story.
Posted by: Michael | July 9, 2014 9:48 PM
Sal's pencils were a main draw for me at this time. He was at the peak of his powers, with a very dynamic storytelling.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 9, 2014 10:03 PM
Some issues down the road, a reader will point out in the letter column that this story seemed like it was building to a Punisher-Tombstone confrontation...which quietly never happens. And when they finally do meet (in Daredevil #292-3, of all places), it has nothing to do with the murder of the Punisher's friend Ullman seen in this story.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 27, 2015 8:18 PM
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