Spectacular Spider-Man #158
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man #158
Spider-Man, like me, refuses to call the guy anything but Paste Pot Pete.
It's worth mentioning that Spider-Man fought Pete (as the Trapster) as recently as Amazing Spider-Man #213-215. Spidey acts like he's just barely heard of the guy thanks to stories from the Human Torch, but they've actually fought quite a few times over the years.
This time, though, Petey's game is on, and he defeats Spider-Man.
Spider-Man does eventually manage to break out of the shell and avoid drowning, but this still should count as Spider-Man's second loss during Acts of Vengeance. This villain switching thing (sort-of, in this case) really works, huh?
With Spider-Man thought dead, Kingpin is contacted and enticed to join Loki's cabal of arch-villains (but see the Considerations section on Amazing Spider-Man #326 regarding that).
God, that all feels so corny to me. The interaction between the arch-villains should be the coolest part of Acts of Vengeance, but they tend to be written (and in this case, drawn) in such a cartoony manner that it ruins it for me. For one thing, it wasn't that long ago that Kingpin didn't want Spider-Man killed, and at least i could still see him being very territorial about it, as well as about wary about these other villains doing him a "favor".
Peter returns home to Mary Jane to dry off, and then goes to his lab assignment with Professor Max Lubisch. Lubisch is attempting to tap into an "unknown energy source", but the experiment goes haywire.
Peter has to jump in to save Lubisch from the feedback, and then goes out as Spider-Man to save some bystanders from falling electrical wires. And in the process he is changed. It first manifests as an over-amplification of his spider-sense. And then an increase of his senses generally.
With his senses increased, he hears the Trapster muttering about recovering Spider-Man's body as proof for the Kingpin. So he goes to confront him again.
And now we see how else Spider-Man has been changed.
Spidey's new powers scare him "spitless".
We don't learn it yet, but Spider-Man has actually picked up the Captain Universe powers. So we're going to be going in a very different direction for the rest of Spider-Man's Acts of Vengeance stories. This could almost be seen as the thing that causes Loki's plans to fail*. The cabal will keep throwing villains at Spider-Man that should have been able to defeat him if not for the Uni-Power. If they had succeeded, they could have moved on to further successes. But instead they have to keep wasting resources on what they surely considered a street level hero. It's an interesting twist. Not the direction i would have wanted to go in (i'd much rather have seen regular Spider-Man fighting unusual opponents). And not one that gets much play in the core Avengers books even though, as i see it, Spider-Man becomes an important surprise sinkhole for the villains. But it definitely puts Spider-Man in a new scenario, and it surely raised the profile of the Captain Universe concept.
*The fact that Graviton didn't kill Spider-Man prior to this is also worth mentioning.
This issue is marred in part by Sal Buscema doing only breakdowns instead of full pencils. That seems to have been the case for the past few issues (sometimes both he and Esposito are just listed as "artists") but the art seems particularly painful here. A shame after the issues where Buscema was inking himself and looking really great.
In a subplot, we hear about Joe Robertson's chances for appeal after the jailbreak situation with Tombstone (which ended last issue). Things are also about to go in a weird direction between lawyer Cynthia Bernhammer and Nick Katzenberg, but more on that in a future issue.
As part of that scene, we also meet Stuart McPhee, the brother of "Bruiser", Robbie's cellmate in prison. It's hard to imagine him as Bruiser's brother; he's a White House advisor who may be able to get Robbie a pardon.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: See Considerations for Amazing Spider-Man #326 regarding the Kingpin's involvement in Loki's cabal, but this takes place after that issue, and Web of Spider-Man #59 takes place next.
Crossover: Acts of Vengeance
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
Maybe the Wizard told Graviton he wanted Spider-Man killed as a favor to the Kingpin or something, and Graviton misunderstoood.
Posted by: Michael | March 24, 2015 9:18 PM
I'm not sure the Mandarin's absence means he hasn't been recruited yet. We saw just Dr. Doom and the Mandarin in Avengers #311, for example, and we know the Wizard was recruited at that point. But i'm happy to put more comics before Avengers #311 to justify Peggy Carter's report to Quasar about the number of villain attacks.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 25, 2015 7:31 AM
Well, Loki says that the Kingpin is the FOURTH to join them, and Magneto, Wizard and Doom have already been recruited. Then again, Loki is the god of lies.
Posted by: Michael | March 25, 2015 7:45 AM
Oops, thanks. ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | March 25, 2015 7:48 AM
"Spider-Man thinks to himself that Pete's paste reminds him of the stiff tuxedo that he wore to his wedding to Mary Jane in Amazing Spider-Man annual #21."
Nothing like making beautiful memories of your wedding.:)
One could say that "Pete's paste reminded Pete of a particularly painful part of his pre-nuptials."
Posted by: clyde | July 21, 2015 3:39 PM
It's interesting that Spidey basically loses his first two Acts of Vengeance match-ups, but I think it's logical. Spider-Man generally has a bad track record squaring off against foes for the first time--I think, unlike the more professional heroes, he's not researching villains, for one, and maybe his Spider-Sense works slightly better against people he knows more.
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | November 14, 2017 10:17 PM
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