Friday, May 13, 2011

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #86 - March 1992

The Dark Within

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Keith Williams (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)

The Plot: Spider-Man continues to search for the Rose, while armed men break the Hobgoblin out of jail. The deranged Hobgoblin chases the men back to their employer. Richard Fisk confesses to authorizing the jailbreak, and tricks Hobgoblin into attacking Spider-Man. Following an altercation with Nick Katzenberg, Peter learns of the Hobgoblin’s escape and pursues him as Spider-Man. During their fight, a sickly Hobgoblin splits into two individuals -- the human Jason Macendale and the Demogoblin. Demogoblin escapes while Macendale is placed in custody.

The Subplots: The Kingpin orders Richard Fisk to kill an employee that’s failed him. Richard doesn’t respond, so the Kingpin performs the murder. Later, the Rose chastises Richard for ordering the jailbreak without his permission. At the Daily Bugle, Robbie Robertson reveals that he doesn’t know how the mysterious photo was published in the first place.

Web of Continuity: Kingpin is upset about losing someone “very close to me,” which is later hinted to be Typhoid Mary. This references Daredevil #297, which ended with Daredevil arranging Mary’s institutionalization in a mental hospital.

*See _________ For Details: Spider-Man mentions his previous encounters with the Hobgoblin in Moon Knight #33 and Ghost Rider #17.

Miscellaneous Note: The Statement of Ownership has average sales at 211,167 copies with the most recent issue selling 203,800.

Review: Richard and the Rose continue to meet in dark rooms, Kingpin continues to emasculate Richard, someone else arrives to kill Peter/Spider-Man, and Peter fears he’s going over the edge. All plot points covered in the previous installments. Mackie does convey the idea that the contract on Peter’s head is making him progressively unglued, signified this issue by Peter almost throwing Nick Katzenberg out of an open window, so the plot is impacting the characterization, but it’s hard to deny the story’s taking its sweet time. Apparently, this issue is supposed to end Peter’s “gone too far” arc, as he witnesses the birth of Demogoblin and declares, “I’ll never let that kind of hatred spew forth out of me.” Obviously not subtle, but it’s a credible way to connect the action story with Peter’s ongoing character arc. Now, can the story move on?

What I’ve always hated about this issue is the sudden birth of the Demogoblin. As a kid, it was the first time I realized that sometimes things just happen in a comic because the writer says so. Apparently, this ties in to Hobgoblin’s previous appearance in Ghost Rider #17, but the only information given about that story is that Hobgoblin was touched by “Blaze’s hellfire.” For someone who had never even read a Ghost Rider comic, that didn’t help a lot. The story reads as if the Hobgoblin has a bad headache, strains a bit, and suddenly he’s split into two separate people. And Demogoblin has got to be one of the worst Spider-villains ever. The living embodiment of McFarlane’s misguided “religious zealot” revamp of the Hobgoblin, drawn more hideously with each appearance…yuck. I’m glad Jason Macendale can go back to his standard Hobgoblin identity, but unfortunately the months ahead showed that Marvel was far more interested in Demogoblin. As Macendale was essentially forgotten, Demogoblin made an appearance in what seemed like every Spider-title at one point or another. I still can’t believe such a rotten character was used so often, even during the ‘90s.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I didn't like Demogoblin either, but I liked that following from the split, Mackie tried to rehabilitate Macendale into a credible villain several times over the next few years -- first in the "Hobgoblin Reborn" 2-parter here in Web, which I absolutely loved when I first read it, then in adjectiveless Spider-Man #50, where he tried to get ahold of Kraven's strength formula, then during the "Blood Brothers" crossover, where he became a cyborg. Unfortunately, none of those stories ever really took, and poor Jason continued to be a third stringer until Roger Stern mercifully executed him in Hobgoblin Lives. But Mackie sure did try!

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