Web of Spider-Man #97-100
Issue(s): Web of Spider-Man #97, Web of Spider-Man #98, Web of Spider-Man #99, Web of Spider-Man #100
These issues provide an answer to some of the questions left lingering from The Name of the Rose storyline. They also introduce Nightwatch and feature the only in-continuity appearance of the "Spider Armor".
We start with the character Blood Rose, who is acting as a vigilante in shooting up some drug dealers that he seems to know.
In the Blood Rose's previous appearance, he seemed to be Alfredo Morelli. But at the end of this opening scene we see him thinking to himself that "Father taught me only too well". Since we never met Alfredo Morelli's father, this is our first indication that Morelli isn't the Blood Rose. There's a much more prominent father/son relationship surrounding the Rose: Richard Fisk and the Kingpin.
We also see that Blood Rose is coordinating with the Foreigner.
Meanwhile, the "Richard Fisk" who oh-so-conveniently became fat and bald like his father in the previous story is being transported via boat. The boat crashes, and "Fisk" washes up on an island where he's met by a man named Trench.
Trench is a character called Nightwatch, and this is his first appearance. But i have to caution you that a 2015 She-Hulk story by Charles Soule retcons every appearance of Nightwatch as being a reality warp by a villain called Nighteater. In a story meant to take place during the period where Dr. Druid was being manipulated by what Soule inaccurately calls an evil spirit (he means Nebula-Ravonna), Nighteater cast a spell that warped reality ("an in-story retcon") that caused everyone to think that Nighteater was really a good guy called Nightwatch. The mechanics of this aren't clear. Nightwatch is a relatively minor character, but he did interact with other Marvel universe characters, and it's impossible to say that he simply didn't exist. I guess the idea is that what we're seeing in his 1990s appearances is the post-reality warp version. This is all very difficult for my brain to accommodate, especially since Nightwatch's story pre-retcon already involves time travel.
Trench puts "Fisk" on a diet and exercise routine so that he can lose all the weight that he gained in his previous appearance.
Looking, uh, better?
Meanwhile, Spider-Man hears about an attack on Fisk Tower, and finds the Blood Rose.
Blood Rose is backed up by some "Cyber-Hunters" sent by the Foreigner. There's also a little drama going on between Peter Parker and Joe Robertson, and it's resulted in Robbie having run into the Fisk building during the attack. So Spidey has to protect him while fighting. Blood Rose initially doesn't want to hurt Robbie, but his continued interference puts that to the test.
Rose and his hunters eventually withdraw, and Spidey tags him with a tracer.
I'm a little unclear who is still occupying Fisk Tower since the Kingpin has been toppled. We do see the Foreigner gloating to himself that the attack has exacerbated the power vacuum.
Later, the Blood Rose finds out that the Foreigner has been hired to kill him, and he confronts the Foreigner to find out who it was. Spider-Man picks up on his spider-tracer's signal during the middle of that fight and joins in.
Blood Rose nonetheless manages to hit the "Foreigner" with a grenade, but he turns out to just be someone in a mask. Spider-Man gets the guy to a hospital, leaving the Blood Rose to get the info he was seeking from the Foreigner's office before fleeing from the Foreigner's guards.
Spider-Man later returns to the Foreigner's office, but he's attacked by the Eel and someone named Blitz.
Oh, and Dragon Man, the Super-Adaptoid, the Dreadnaught, and the Vanisher.
They call themselves the New Enforcers. They say that they have their "own agenda" at the Foreigner's office.
The above scene is the last we see of Spidey and those super-villains in issue #99. It feels like a cliff-hanger, but there are still five pages of an "interlude" following the Fisk imposter and Trench. "Fisk" has decided that he's ready to leave Trench's island. Trench had told him that there's no way off the island, but Trench has discovered that he's been hiding a boat. He also found a mysterious case in Trench's tent, and he's stolen Trench's NES Power Glove out of it. (Yes i know i made the same joke with Shatterfist. If they're going to keep calling them Power Gloves, i can't be responsible for my actions. Just be thankful i'm not embedding scenes from The Wizard.) "Fisk" decides to call himself Gauntlet.
Trench worries that everything he's worked to prevent is going to happen anyway, so he feels he has no choice but to don his "cursed costume again" and become
After that, there's one additional page revealing that Blood Rose is indeed the real Richard Fisk.
There have been so many revelations and reversals regarding Richard Fisk that my only reaction is to lie down and take a nap for an hour.
...Ok, i'm back, and we still have this foil cover issue #100 with the bizarre looking Spider-Armor to contend with.
Spider-Man fights the New Enforcers for a bit and manages to survive, but they are able to raid the Foreigner's computer systems while Spider-Man is fighting Dragon Man. Meanwhile, Gauntlet arrives in New York, seeking vengeance on Richard Fisk, and Nightwatch arrives in pursuit of him, talking about trying to prevent his bloody destiny.
Blood Rose is later attacked by the New Enforcers, who have added Plantman and two seemingly new characters, Thermite and Tangle (!?) to their ranks.
The amount of villains included here bring up the same problem i have with Captain America #411-414. There are too many characters. Several of them are simply way too powerful to be lumped into a group like this (to fight Blood Rose, of all people). Plantman looks like he stepped directly out of his first 1963 appearance. Vanisher was being used in a more or less concurrently published story elsewhere (and in both appearances he's just a generic cypher). All over the place, it just feels like villains are being used randomly and with no regard.
Thermite, Tangle, and Blitz are at least new characters, but these are their only appearances.
Of course, the point is to give Spider-Man a sufficient threat that will require him to show up in his Steel Spider armor.
Meanwhile, Gauntlet confronts Blood Rose and reveals that he's Alfredo Morelli.
It's said that Morelli volunteered his combat experience to Richard so that they could topple the Kingpin without setting off a mob war. But all the plastic surgery and pressures caused him to become unhinged, and he truly believed himself to be Richard Fisk.
Nightwatch tracks down Gauntlet at this point. Fisk tries to shoot Morelli while they are fighting, but Nightwatch takes the bullet. God, are we sure that's not Spawn?
However, Nightwatch manages to retrieve the Gauntlet from Morelli.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man is hit by Thermite's freeze ray, and Spider-Man has to destroy the armor to escape.
So that's it for the armor. It does have some meta importance because it shows up in cartoons and video games and the like.
The police show up at the end and arrest both Fisk and Morelli as well as the Enforcers that Spider-Man has knocked out (at least eight of them).
An epilogue shows that there are even more New Enforcers.
Spider-Man isn't really sure what's going on. He's still not sure how Richard Fisk can be alive, and he never heard of Alfredo Morelli (who, despite his island regiment, still looks like a stronger version of Fisk), so the police just book him as Gauntlet. It seems that it was the New Enforcers who hired the Foreigner to kill Blood Rose, and then they destroyed the Foreigner's computer to hide their trail. But that isn't explicitly spelled out at the end, and this is the only appearance of the New Enforcers as far as i know.
In issue #98, we also see the Spider-Man Infinity War Doppelganger fighting off demons in the sewer.
A back-up in issue #100 shows Nightwatch's origin. A "decade" ago, soon after graduating from ESU with a science degree, Kevin Trench ran into a weird portal at an airport. Trench was attacked by an invisible attacker. But then Nightwatch came out of another portal and saved Kevin thanks to his nightvision.
Nightwatch then died, revealing that he was an older version of Kevin. Kevin is then immediately put in a position where he has to stop some AIM agents (in non-regulation uniforms) from hijacking his girlfriend's plane. He thinks that his costume is out of control.
But he later recognizes that he was indeed in control of the costume and that he was fully responsible for his violence. So he retired to his deserted island, allowing the authorities to believe that he was dead thanks to his future self's corpse.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 298,733. Single issue closest to filing date = 212,200.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: I'm following the MCP in making these four issues occur sequentially without interruption for Spider-Man, and of course they're all part of the "My Enemy's Enemy" storyline. But issue #99 says that Spidey tagged the Blood Rose with a tracer (which happened in #98) "weeks ago", even though a scene from the end of #98 continues directly at the beginning of #99. So i guess a fair amount of time passes somewhere during issue #98. Two more weeks pass during issue #99. This takes place after the Human Torch set ESU on fire in Fantastic Four #373. Spider-Man also lists Venom as one of his problems, but that doesn't have to refer to anything specific.
The MCP treats the Super-Adaptoid appearing here as a one-off, separate from the one currently appearing in Captain America. There's no context to the Eel's appearance here vs. his crowd scene appearance in Captain America #411-414, and the same is true for the Vanisher vs. his New Warriors appearances (he just shouldn't appear between New Warriors #29 and #34).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAunt May, Ben Urich, Betty Brant, Controller, Doppelganger, Dragon Man, Dreadnaught, Eel II, Fixer, Foreigner, Gauntlet (Alfredo Morelli), Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Madame Menace (Sunset Bain), Mary Jane Watson, Mary Parker Duplicate, Mentallo, Mr. Fear (Alan Fagan), Nightwatch, Plantman, Richard Fisk, Richard Parker Duplicate, Spider-Man, Vanisher
Looking back on this issue, I appreciate the "nod" to the original Enforcers. I also can't believe anyone was fooled by the "Richard Fisk" on the island. Blood Rose being the "real" Fisk makes sense for two reasons. 1. - the last name being "Rose" and 2. - the mask resembling The original Rose's mask. That's just my opinion. I also liked the Spider-Armor. However, I was happy that it never made a return.
Posted by: clyde | September 8, 2016 4:12 PM
Thus begins the Terry Kavanagh era of Web of Spider-Man. Say what you will about "Name of the Rose," but I always thought that story worked well enough on its own; there's no reason for all of this retconning beyond just messing with reader expectations for the sake of it. I'm admittedly still unclear on whether Howard Mackie intended Blood Rose to be the real Richard Fisk from the beginning, though. Either way, I'll take Mackie's stories over Kavanagh's in a heartbeat.
Eel and Spider-Man make reference to their last encounter, which was actually in a special "collector's edition" comic from Charleston Chew.
The "even more" New Enforcers at the end of issue #100 include villains like Mentallo, the Fixer, and Madame Menace, but, as fnord points out, nothing is done with them and they never appear again. This backs up the point made above about villains being used indiscriminately to prop up plots. To state the almost-obvious, characterization in general seems to take a huge nosedive in the 90s. That said, I would love to see Madame Menace/Sunset Bain as a Spider-Man villain. His rouges gallery could use the diversity, and there's even a Ditko connection to exploit!
Posted by: TCP | September 8, 2016 4:19 PM
Thanks for pointing out the Charleston Chew comic reference, TCP. To be clear, it's not a very specific reference and there's no footnote, but it does seem that they must be referring to that comic. Spider-Man says, "I don't need to be struck by lightning -- to know when the Eel's come slithering out of his slime.". And the Eel responds, "But I'm not alone anymore, Spider-Man.". This is the first time outside of that Charleston Chew comic that Spider-Man has met this Eel. Spidey did meet the first Eel in Untold Tales of Spider-Man #11, but that hadn't been printed yet and the Eel wasn't alone in that story, so that can't be what they're referring to. So it must be the Charleston Chew comic.
Just wanted to spell this all out since giveaway comics aren't assumed to be in continuity be default. I've added a Reference. The Charleston Chew comic was already on my What's Missing list.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 8, 2016 4:51 PM
I assume that Thermite is the 616 version of the Squadron Supreme character.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 8, 2016 4:54 PM
I'm truly depressed. The only book I could read in and still enjoy in the 90s was Spider-Man but it's getting hard. I love this site but the 90s onwards are really bad times in terms of stories and I'm finding it hard to read any of the entries. I'll probably hang on until the old Clone Saga comes around then I might be out. :(
Posted by: JSfan | September 8, 2016 6:19 PM
The Spider-Armor action figure is by far the stupidest action figure I ever purchased, and they were all extremely stupid, so that's saying something.
Posted by: Andrew F | September 8, 2016 7:19 PM
I actually find reading the entries for stuff I didn't enjoy to be really compelling; sometimes I realize I misjudged things, sometimes it's cool seeing a holistic "what went wrong/what could have been better" perspective.
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | September 8, 2016 7:40 PM
I think the idea of the She-Hulk retcon is that most of Nightwatch's appearance were an illusion. Keep in mind that in the She-Hulk story, Jen, Greer and Monica "remember" that Nightwatch is a hero once the spell is completed and nobody seems to have heard of Nightwatch in this story. I think the idea is that the She-Hulk flashback takes place shortly before Druid's death in 1995 and all previous appearances of Nightwatch were a memory implant. But the problem is that it makes no sense for Nightwatch to be a memory implant in this story. If he wasn't real, then how did Alfredo get off the island and where did he get the glove from?
Posted by: Michael | September 8, 2016 7:48 PM
They actually put the Holographix Foil cover in the next issue blurb? How many times will Marvel make me say "How more 90's can you get?"
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 9, 2016 6:55 AM
Nightwatch looks like a cross between Spawn and Matt Wagner's Grendel.
Posted by: Tuomas | September 9, 2016 11:14 AM
I assume that Thermite is the 616 version of the Squadron Supreme character.
At a little more of a stretch, Tangle's power is vaguely reminiscent of another Squadron Supreme-r, Haywire.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 9, 2016 2:01 PM
Nightwatch is such an obvious Spawn rip-off that I'm amazed that McFarlane didn't sue.
As for the New Enforcers - this group seems to miss the whole point of the original Enforcers. Those guys were street-level semi-normals. This group here includes the Dragon Man and the Super-Adaptoid???
Posted by: Piotr W | September 9, 2016 2:54 PM
Todd was probably afraid marvel would sue him right back for stealing Spawn's design from the Prowler.
Posted by: kveto | September 9, 2016 3:23 PM
Nah, I can't see it. Prowler isn't that similar to Spawn - different colour scheme, completely different powers... Meanwhile, Nightwish has nigh-identical colour scheme, almost the same costume (up to the "demonic" collar of the cape) - and his costume is alive, just like Spawn's. Really, I don't get why there was no court action...
Posted by: Piotr W | September 9, 2016 3:40 PM
It's pretty clear that's where he got the design idea. Just look at the scans on this site of Todd's version of Prowler (fnord even points it out in some).
Also, he probably didnt care about a throwaway character in the lowest selling Spider-man mag. He was too busy making money hand over fist in the buyers market.
But most likely because Todd has a lot of bad experiences in court.
Posted by: kveto | September 9, 2016 3:46 PM
Yet another Wizard magazine Famous Worst.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 9, 2016 3:54 PM
You guys sure McFarlane didn't sue (or at least threaten to) over Nightwatch? I always heard they killed him off a couple years after this because they were scared of legal action.
Fun fact: Back in the early 2000s certain message boards like GameFAQs had profanity filters that wouldn't let you post Nightwatch's name because of the word you get between the "h" and the "c".
Posted by: Red Comet | September 9, 2016 4:06 PM
@Kveto: oh, I know that McFarlane-drawn Prowler looks similar to Spawn. But there's a difference between getting a design idea after drawing one character and copying almost everything about him, including some details of his powers...
@Red Comet: oh, I didn't know about the legal action threat! I would be interesting to have this verified...
As for vulgarity filters, I've heard that Dick Van Dyke had some problems with these, too ;)
Posted by: Piotr W | September 9, 2016 4:23 PM
So what was the point of calling the team "The New Enforcers"? What connection did they have to the old Enforcers? Not that I expect anyone to be able to answer those questions, but still…!
Posted by: mikrolik | September 9, 2016 4:31 PM
Meanwhile, Nightwish has nigh-identical colour scheme, almost the same costume (up to the "demonic" collar of the cape) - and his costume is alive, just like Spawn's. Really, I don't get why there was no court action...
Just wait until later, when they give him a villainous, not-quite-human clown as an antagonist.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 9, 2016 6:24 PM
Wow, I never realized that Nightwatch's alter-ego is also Black. Geeeez!
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | September 9, 2016 9:19 PM
@Omar: wait. Are you being serious now..? Marvel ripped off Violator, too?
Posted by: Piotr W | September 10, 2016 11:36 AM
Spider didn't need armor to fight Juggernaut or Firelord. This is just dumb.
Posted by: Matt | September 23, 2016 1:49 PM
IMO, I don't think it's that he didn't need it. It's more "impressive" & "shocking" to readers that he was able to fight those two without any armor or special enhancements. For a lower-powered opponent, it's ok to use something extra to help him out.
Posted by: clyde | September 23, 2016 2:09 PM
@Omar: wait. Are you being serious now..? Marvel ripped off Violator, too?
Just hang tight until fnord covers the backup stories from #104-106.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 23, 2016 2:57 PM
Listen, if Marvel's marketing department says Spider-Man needs armor (and, oh-so-coincidentally, an expensive silver foil cover to show off said armor) then he needs armor, logic be damned! :P
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 23, 2016 3:22 PM
Oh right, Nightwatch is a rip-off (probably unintentional) of yet another concept: Monarch, the DCU bad guy who is the future self of Hawk (of Hawk and Dove). Both characters inherit their super-powered armor from their dead future selves with no explanation of how that macguffin could exist.
Posted by: iLegion | February 12, 2017 1:32 AM
One thing that becomes really clear in retrospect is that Kavanagh just could not do Spider-Man's battle-banter. It's all grim tactical statements and 90s technobabble instead. I can't see Spider-Man tossing around phrases like "extreme temperature blasts and high-tensile organic filaments -- wielded by rank amateurs," for example, but here it is."
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 11, 2018 6:19 AM
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