Characters Appearing: Amanda Robertson, Anna Johnson, Aunt May, Ben Urich, Betty Brant, Black Cat, Cloak, Dagger, Firebrand II, Flash Thompson, Glory Grant, Harriet Rose Palermo, Harry Osborn, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Joy Mercado, Kate Cushing, Liz Allan, Marla Madison Jameson, Martha Robertson, Mary Jane Watson, Nick Katzenberg, Randy Robertson, Rebecca 'Rusty' Nales, Spider-Man, Victor Palermo, Willie Lumpkin
Web of Spider-Man #77-78
Issue(s): Web of Spider-Man #77, Web of Spider-Man #78
What he does do is overwork Alex Saviuk with an unnecessarily massive cast of characters. These two issues feature virtually every Spider-Man supporting character, plus a horde of new Morlocks, a new Firebrand, Cloak and Dagger, and some members of their supporting cast. All in one room.
The setting for this issue is a building that, with funding from the Daily Bugle, is going to be a new homeless shelter. So all of the Daily Bugle cast is at the dedication ceremony, along with Harry and Liz Osborn, and Flash Thompson and the Black Cat, Peter and MJ, and Aunt May and Willie Lumpkin.
Flash was under the mistaken impression that it was a costume party, so Black Cat shows up in costume, and Flash makes Alex Saviuk draw Stilt-Man, too.
By the way, if Willie Lumpkin doesn't shut up about his ear wiggling, i will strangle him.
Anna Johnson, Cloak's sister, is also at the party. She is homeless, and will be a resident of the shelter. For the party, the shelter's residents are working as staff.
Victor and Rose Palermo, former tenants of Aunt May's boarding house, also turn out to be among the homeless (everyone's looking a little panicked in the scan below because it's taken from later in the story).
And underneath the shelter is a group of Morlocks (Spider-Man recognizes them as "Morlocks", almost like it is a distinct thing from "mutants". Basically any mutant that looks disheveled is a Morlock, i guess).
Don't worry about the names and powers of these guys. They'll never be seen again. But for this issue they are trying to sabotage the party, because they don't want to lose their home. They had been living in the building that was renovated into the homeless shelter, and now they're living in the sewer beneath it.
But the real threat of the story is Firebrand, seen first out of costume with Mr. Munson, the administrator of the homeless shelter.
The story is that Munson has been paying money to Phillippe Bazin, the crimelord from Darkhawk, for the privilege of opening the shelter "on his turf". But Munson has been giving the money to Firebrand, who has been keeping it for himself.
You would think that extorting government officials that are doing perfectly legal work would not be the smartest career move for a crime lord, but i guess that's why Bazin isn't the Kingpin.
Firebrand unleashes major destruction, badly hurting many of the guests (and deliberately killing Munson). Even Aunt May is knocked out.
And when she wakes up, she's terrified that her nephew isn't around.
It seems like a lot of trauma to put Aunt May through for a fill-in story.
Cloak and Dagger show up, since they are searching for Anna.
So they wind up fighting Firebrand while Spider-Man, the Morlocks, and Anna try to get out of the sewer.
You'd think Firebrand's exoskeleton would be no match for Cloak and Dagger's quasi-mystical powers, but he seems immune to Dagger's light and manages to avoid getting sucked into Cloak's cloak. He also definitely wins the "Most Awkward Insertion of Origin Exposition" award for the year.
The plot is just an absolute mess of too many characters running around.
The plotting is super-chaotic, which is odd because it's actually a pretty simple premise. But adding the Morlocks and Cloak and Dagger to the Firebrand attack means there's too much going on for anything to get proper attention. And that includes Cloak and Dagger's ability to find Anna. That story is left for another day.
Except there will be no other day. This is Anna's last appearance. Terry Kavanagh is writing a "guest-stint" on this book (he'll be on the title through issue #80). So this was his one opportunity to wrap up the plot with Anna, whatever it was. It certainly wasn't compelling enough that people were going to be clamoring for Cloak & Dagger to get their book back just to see it resolved. I actually suspect that the germ of the plot for these issues was intended for Kavanagh's Cloak and Dagger run, and then Spider-Man and his cast got squeezed into it, which would account for the clutter. But that still doesn't explain why Kavanagh wouldn't re-work the plot to provide a resolution for Anna, given the opportunity.
Anyway, it's a dog, regardless of the reasons why.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Since Cloak & Dagger are under the impression that Spider-Man thinks they are dead...
...this should be their first meeting after Cloak and Dagger #14-19 (Spider-Man departed that story in issue #18 while Cloak & Dagger were teleported into the portion of the plot with D'Spayre). Since Spider-Man talks to Cloak during Infinity Gauntlet, this should probably take place prior to that (unless we want to rely on Nebula's 24 hour continuity reset, which is an option). Cloak and Dagger #18 was technically an Infinity Gauntlet tie-in, but in practice it takes place prior to Infinity Gauntlet #1, so placing this prior to IG #1 as well isn't a problem. Regarding the first Reference below, i don't think it's necessary that this take place immediately following Spectacular Spider-Man #174-175. Spider-Man could have later realized that Doctor Octopus might have set traps in the sewer.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Oh, boy! More confusion about whether or not Felicia has a secret identity!
And you're right, fnord, about this being quite the day for Aunt May. If she could survive all of this, she could probably also handle a long-overdue revelation from her nephew.
Posted by: TCP | October 13, 2015 3:31 PM
I remember Mark Gruenwald in a mark's remarks column using these issues as an example of a bad editor. Allowing a new Firebrand to be created when any number of other fire villains would have sufficed. He listed all the reasons it smached of lazy editing. Mark didn't call anyone out by name but I remember being a bit surprised he'd so openly criticize a colleague. (I'agree 100 per cent with Mark's reasoning)
Posted by: kveto | October 13, 2015 4:02 PM
Even worse, it takes a villainous identity that had some distinct character elements -- embittered radical, personal vendetta against Iron Man over the death of a hated father, relationship to a pacifist sister -- and replaces it with generic mercenary who flies and blasts stuff #4678. At least this Firebrand will get a tiny bit of connection to the original's political terror angle when he's used in New Warriors.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 13, 2015 7:42 PM
Tell me about it,TCP. Steven Grant would eventually explain that Felicia's real name was public knowledge and Flash was just pretending not to know that Felicia was the Black Cat. But half the Bugle is at this party. You'd think that one of them would have recognized Felicia and said something if her ID was public knowledge.
Posted by: Michael | October 13, 2015 8:43 PM
It is very hard to believe the Black Cat has any more of a secret identity than, say, the Shocker or the Rhino. She was interned under her true identity at the end of her first appearance, and was hospitalized (and made the news) with a very public identity when Doctor Octopus nearly killed her back in 1981 or 1982.
To be fair, David Micheline seems to have failed to notice that as well.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | October 13, 2015 9:02 PM
Felicia picked the Stilt-Man costume to flaunt Flash's body? How exactly does body armour, that completely hides his natural physique, flaunt his body?
Posted by: Dermie | October 14, 2015 12:21 AM
Looks like you might have forgotten a minor character in your Characters Appearing list: Spider-Man. :)
Posted by: Jimmy Impossible | January 13, 2017 12:40 PM
Added him. Thanks. (But please use the forum for pointing out obvious mistakes in the future.)
Posted by: fnord12 | January 16, 2017 2:35 PM
fnord, if your response to Jimmy Impossible above means (by extension) that I've been using the wrong methodology for my minor corrections to individual pages, I sincerely apologize, and plead genuine ignorance.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | January 16, 2017 2:51 PM
Not a big deal, Matthew. I just try to keep the comments on entries free of clutter. There's a thread of shame in the forum where typos and other obvious mistakes can be reported.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 16, 2017 3:07 PM
Comments are now closed.
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