Spider-Man heads to LA to retrieve a damaged web-shooter, which he left on the Statue of Liberty’s torch, along with his clothes and ID. The torch is being used on a Tournament of Roses float, and unbeknownst to Spidey, a group of yuppie terrorists wants to abduct it to draw attention to the plight of avocado farmers. The story grows more ridiculous from there, as a sunburned Spidey chases the runaway semi-truck carrying the torch throughout Los Angeles. It’s one of those stories that hinges on Spider-Man having insanely bad luck at every turn, but it never grows tiresome. The most entertaining fill-in so far.
Jim Owsley was apparently supposed to take over the title with this issue, but he says editorial interference lead to his early departure. This is a sequel to Owsley’s Spider-Man vs. Wolverine one-shot, which I’ve never read, but I know is controversial amongst Spidey fans. The story also ties in to Owsley’s “Gang War” arc in Amazing, which has a pretty low reputation. If you’re not familiar with all of the continuity, the issue reads as a bit of a mess. Ned Leeds, believed to be the Hobgoblin, is dead. His partner, Richard Fisk (the Rose), now wants to drop the criminal identity he created, but is still sending his men on shady missions. Fisk’s pal, Alfredo (sporting a ponytail and giant ‘80s sunglasses) runs afoul of the new Hobgoblin, but Spider-Man saves his life. In the midst of all of this, Wolverine shows up to check on Spider-Man after the events of Spider-Man vs. Wolverine. A multicultural street gang picks a fight with them, as Wolverine tries to convince Peter that he can’t quit as Spider-Man, which I guess was still an ongoing storyline in the other books. It’s disjointed to say the least, but finally something is happening in this book.
The Wages of Sin
No Spider-Man this issue, just a story dedicated to Richard Fisk recapping the past few years of Amazing Spider-Man storylines…I mean, confessing his sins to a priest. The big draw of this issue is the combined origin stories of the Rose and Hobgoblin, although the Hobgoblin material is essentially negated when Roger Stern later returns and reveals Ned Leeds was never the real Hobgoblin. I know a lot of people hate the idea of Ned Leeds as Hobgoblin, but it seems like the story does a credible job of tying the revelation into all of the established clues of the time (I was too young to be following Amazing during those years, so I imagine my perspective is different from that of many fans, though). After recapping around thirty comic books, Richard Fisk confesses to accidentally killing a police officer while in his Rose identity. His guilt leads him to drop any pretense that he’s just pretending to be a criminal. On the final page, he appears in the office of his father, the Kingpin, offering to work for him. I’m sure this was all a setup for something, but Kingpin became a de facto Daredevil character in this era, and Richard Fisk was forgotten for years. Next issue: Spidey’s married and Kraven wants to kill him.