Spectacular Spider-Man #204-206
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man #204, Spectacular Spider-Man #205, Spectacular Spider-Man #206
Tombstone is actually aiming for a seat on a previously never seen before council of crimelords. He thinks that replacing Hammerhead, who was on the council, automatically gives him a seat. But that turns out to not be the case, and the council rejects his bid.
They tell him that they'll only let him on the council if he kills Spider-Man (and they don't intend to honor their promise even if he does).
While pursuing a vendetta against one of the mobsters, Tombstone wound up in an altercation with Flash Thompson and hurt him pretty badly before Spider-Man showed up. The Black Cat (Flash's girlfriend) is correctly upset that Peter didn't think to contact her when Flash was taken to the hospital. She decides to go after Tombstone on her own. But she gets knocked out (the Black Cat's showing in this story is really awful).
Spider-Man and Tombstone go into the water together, and Tombstone comes up with Spider-Man's mask and assumes that he's succeeded in killing him. The Black Cat dives in to rescue Spidey, but he winds up being the one to rescue her (the Black Cat's showing in this story is really awful).
Spidey borrows her mask and goes home, telling her that she doesn't have what it takes to beat Tombstone (the Black Cat's showing in this story is really awful).
Tombstone returns to the council and, when they still refuse to seat him, he beats the snot out of them...
...and tosses one guy out the window.
Spider-Man shows up in time to catch the guy, and to web up the Black Cat so she can't get hurt fighting Tombstone (the Black Cat's showing in this story is really awful).
The Black Cat frees herself in time to take out some goons, but the fighting of Tombstone is handled by Spider-Man, who webs up his fist so that he can punch Tombstone without breaking his hand.
The Black Cat at least gets to give Spidey a piece of her mind at the end.
The basic plot of this arc raises a whole bunch of concerns for me. First of all, it's meant to be the case that there's a lot of instability in the crime world right now due to the fall of the Kingpin. This has been mentioned in Daredevil and Punisher books. The idea that there's really some council running things is at odds with that. I could see it if this was meant to be something that just sprung up in the aftermath of the Kingpin's fall, but the council is depicted like it's always been there. At the very least, the Kingpin's fall should have been mentioned in some way.
The bigger problem is the relationship between "realistic" crime in the Marvel universe and super-villains. As i was watching this develop, i thought the idea might be that Tombstone took over Hammerhead's organization and then found that, ok, Tombstone can personally beat up Hammerhead, but that doesn't meant that he has what it takes to run a crime org. Nothing like that actually happens, and i can accept that Tombstone can indeed run a crime gang (as opposed to, say, Bullseye or someone). But i don't buy that Tombstone can muscle his way into a larger crime organization just because he's got super-powers. I accept that Hammerhead wouldn't have any super-powered muscle, in part because he's vaguely super-powered himself and in part because he fetishizes old crime movies. But there's no reason for the larger council to not have super-help, and there's especially no reason for them to not go out and hire someone after Tombstone initially makes his threat, on the chance that he succeeds in killing Spider-Man. And there's definitely precedent for this. The Kingpin has used a variety of super-powered henchmen over the years. Hammerhead himself used Tombstone as a goon, and Silvermane used to use Man Mountain Marko. Hulk #354 established that the Maggia used the Man Mountain process to create a whole squad of similar characters. The fact that this council doesn't have any such help, or at least run out to acquire such help after the threat of Tombstone is known, makes them look just as old fashioned and out of touch as Hammerhead (as an aside, when i was first introduced to Hammerhead it didn't really sink in that he was modeled after 1930s movie gangsters, because frankly he didn't act much differently than every comic book crime boss).
Also in these issues, Harry Osborne's video will leaves Peter Parker with a final "Gotcha!".
This gets Peter paranoid, and he shows up as Spider-Man at Liz's apartment, ranting that Harry may still be alive (meanwhile, the lettercol assures us that he's "Dead, dead, dead!").
This causes Liz to decide that she's going to move out of Manhattan with little Normie, and that means selling off her entire building, including the top floor that Peter and MJ rent at a discount. MJ convinces Peter to buy a brownstone on the upper east side whose owner - another client of MJ's agent - is moving to the west coast in a hurry.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Nick Katzenberg doesn't appear in this story directly, but at the Bugle it's said that he's been trying to reach Peter.
The first two parts of a three-part back-up featuring J. Jonah Jameson are in issues #205-206. I'll cover that story in a separate entry.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBlack Cat, Flash Thompson, Hammerhead, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Lance Bannon, Liz Allan, Mary Jane Watson, Molten Man, Nick Katzenberg, Normie Osborn, Spider-Man, Tombstone
I would have liked a scene where J. Jonah Jameson sees Peter Parker wearing a Spider-Man costume with a Black Cat mask, and just has no idea what to make of it
Posted by: Andrew F | February 15, 2017 3:05 PM
"Next: The Shroud" - What a way to bring in readers in 1993.
Posted by: Robert | February 15, 2017 3:11 PM
Robert - it must have worked since The Shroud gets his own miniseries in 1994.
Posted by: clyde | February 15, 2017 3:30 PM
So did Annex. Marvel has a long history of creating mini-series no one was asking for.
Posted by: Robert | February 15, 2017 5:28 PM
For what it's worth, Shroud's upcoming mini is promoted/footnoted next issue, so it's not a case of that particular issue creating a demand for the series. It was already in the works, and if anything the Shroud's appearance was to try to generate interest in it.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 15, 2017 5:34 PM
I think fnord is overthinking the council not having supervillains working for them. There have been stories where the Kingpin, Hammerhead, etc. have supervillains working for them and other stories when they don't. It's understandable that the council couldn't find a supervillain to protect them in the brief time between Tombstone's first and second visits.
Posted by: Michael | February 15, 2017 9:46 PM
Clearly Grant thought it was idiotic for someone who'd been arrested multiple times, and presumably booked under their real name, to have a secret identity, but Peter clearly thinks Flash is an idiot here and Michael's comment makes it seem that the Cat herself and the entire Bugle staff look like idiots.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | February 16, 2017 12:10 AM
Borrowing Black Cat's mask was probably worth a try, but it is difficult to imagine that it would do much to hide Peter's secret identity.
Black Cat herself is a difficult character to handle consistently in a supporting role for Peter. As a sometimes partner of Spider-Man with a public identity, she would be a natural lead to follow in order to find out Spider-Man's own secret id, so she can never be too close to Peter.
Her showing may be weak in this story, but let's face it, that is often the case. Here she at least shows a measure of a spine and a refusal to accept everything that Peter throws at her, without falling into the slutty or superficial personas so often attributed to her.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 16, 2017 6:59 AM
Hammerhead used Tombstone as a goon, but that was before Tombstone gained superpowers in Web 66-68, and in that arc, Tombstone turned against Hammerhead as well. But before that, Hammerhead teamed with the super-powered Chameleon, and hired Hobgoblin (Demo-possessed Macendale) as a hitman.
Posted by: mikrolik | February 16, 2017 4:40 PM
The Black Cat's showing in this story isn't great, but some of it was not all that awful. At one point she slashes Tombstone's face, whose skin can resist bullets. The notion itself is awful, but he was genuinely wounded, and this guy shrugs of multiple gunshots as if they were pebbles.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | April 5, 2018 11:06 PM
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | April 5, 2018 11:07 PM
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