Credits: Kurt Busiek (writer), Steve Butler (penciler), Don Hudson & Chris Ivy (inkers), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)
The Plot: Two brothers, Wyndell and Ricky, are apprehended by Spider-Man while stealing a car. Years later, Ricky works as a bond trader, but lives in fear that his teenage arrest will be discovered. Wyndell has become the super-powered criminal Bloodshed. When crimelord Bazin demands a million dollars from Bloodshed after a botched drug delivery, Bloodshed turns to his brother. Ricky is reluctant to help Bloodshed steal securities and reaches out to Spider-Man. Bloodshed soon attacks Spider-Man, who subsequently escapes and investigates Ricky. He mistakenly believes Ricky’s the criminal, but learns the truth when Bloodshed invades Ricky’s office. Ricky overcomes his fears and helps Spider-Man place Bloodshed in custody.
The Subplots: None.
Forever Young: Ricky has grown up, graduated college, and become a bond trader, all after an encounter with Spider-Man. The story tries to cover for this by later declaring Ricky was sixteen when Spider-Man apprehended him (although the art makes him look around twelve or thirteen), and by having Peter assert the event occurred during his “first few months as Spider-Man.”
Review: Before he really made a name for himself, Kurt Busiek would occasionally show up as the fill-in guy. This is one of his strongest stories from the fill-in days, a human interest story about two brothers that have followed very different paths in life. Not only is Ricky reformed, but he’s racked with guilt over his youthful indiscretion. Fearful that his past will be discovered, Ricky lives a lonely life of simply doing his job and keeping his head down to avoid attention. Wyndell has embraced crime, and even advanced into the early stages of supervillainy. Druglords have given Wyndell super-strength and an armored suit, and perhaps as a practical joke, an attached pink ponytail (Wyndell is a black man with short hair, making this even more ridiculous).
The story hinges on Ricky’s characterization in order to work, and Busiek’s portrayal of his insecurities and inner conflicts make Ricky an easy character to pull for. Spider-Man is, perhaps, not the best hero for this story, as it requires someone who’s been around for a while, but Marvel of this era wasn’t obsessed with “youth” so it wasn’t much of an issue then. Future Web artist Steven Butler makes his debut as fill-in artist, and I really like his interpretation of Spider-Man. It’s very much the classic Spider-Man of the Romita era, with a little bit of the ‘90s exaggeration thrown in. When Butler eventually takes over the title, he’ll stick with a Bagley-style Spidey, but this is the version I prefer.