The Plot: Peter Parker is threatened with eviction if he doesn’t repair his apartment’s smoke damage. Soon, as Spider-Man, he’s unable to stop the Black Fox from stealing the Eye of Carnelia from the Carnelian Embassy. Spider-Man learns of the Fox’s fence, Andre Boullion, and decides to sell his golden notepad. Spider-Man spots the Black Fox leaving Andre’s office, and is shocked to discover Andre’s body inside. Spider-Man assumes Fox is the killer, but soon learns that the mercenary Chance is responsible. Spider-Man defeats Chance, and sells the notepad to another fence the Fox tried to use. Unable to sell the Eye of Carnelia, Black Fox returns it to the embassy for the reward money. Meanwhile, Peter decides to pay Nathan Lubenksy’s hospital bills rather than save his apartment. He returns home to discover Mary Jane has made the necessary repairs.
The Subplots: Aunt May’s boyfriend, Nathan Lubenksy, is in the hospital after taking a beating in Amazing Spider-Man (he’s a gambling addict). Robbie Robertson is afraid Jonah Jameson is trying to usurp his editorial control of the Daily Bugle.
Web of Continuity: The Black Fox is an elderly jewel thief who often tricks Spider-Man into letting him go. Chance is a mercenary obsessed with…chance. Rather than charging for his services, he wagers on the outcome of his assignments.
*See _________ For Details: The Black Fox and Andre Boullion last appeared in Amazing #265. Chance kills Andre because he refused to join his employer’s intelligence network. A footnote points towards recent issues of Spectacular. Peter and MJ painted his apartment in Amazing #273.
Commercial Break: The somewhat infamous Power Pack/Spider-Man child abuse prevention comic is advertised on the back cover of #15.
Review: Wow, that golden notepad stuck around for a long time, didn’t it? Since character and ongoing continuity counted more than anyone’s “personal vision” in these days, David Michelinie begins his run by addressing the few recurring storylines this fill-in prone title’s accumulated. The golden notepad storyline had potential at the beginning, but unfortunately stuck around in the background for almost a year, as Spider-Man would occasionally remember he’s supposed to be angsting over it. Michelinie addresses the more practical questions, such as how does Peter go about selling a golden notepad in the first place? Dealing with an underworld fence doesn’t feel right for the character, but this is at least addressed during the story. And it should come as a shock to no one that Peter ends up using the money to help someone else rather than himself.
Allowing MJ to save his apartment actually forecasts an issue from the early days of their marriage -- Peter’s insecurities over being with someone much more successful than he’ll probably ever be. Michelinie will go on to write many of those early marriage stories, and he’ll revive Chance and Black Fox regularly during his run on Amazing. He clearly has some affection for the characters, and is able to use their unique gimmicks very well in this arc. The fake-out at the end of #14, hinting that the Black Fox killed Andre Boullion, is a great clifhanger.
The combination of Mike Harris and Kyle Baker looks nice, and very ‘80s at the same time. If you’ve read any of the Bill Sienkiewicz/Mary Wilshire issues of New Mutants, you know what I mean. There are a lot of shadows, and everything is slightly realistic yet slightly stylized. I’m assuming the missing detail lines and faded colors are an aspect of the printing process used during the time.