Monday, May 16, 2011

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #87 - April 1992

The Best Defense

: Howard Mackie (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Sam De La Rosa (inker), Rick Parker & Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Bob Sharen (colorist)

The Plot: The Hobgoblin is stolen from custody by Richard Fisk, who spares his life in exchange for Spider-Man’s. Nick Katzenberg arranges for his informant, Twitch, to send Spider-Man into a trap. After Twitch speaks to Spider-Man, he’s killed by the Praetorian Guard. Later, the Rose turns against the increasingly ruthless Fisk. Fisk responds by sending Hobgoblin after the Rose. The Hobgoblin then teams with the Praetorian Guard, defeating Spider-Man in battle.

The Subplots: Richard Fisk’s girlfriend Rebecca is concerned about his erratic behavior. Spider-Man runs into Demogoblin, who surprisingly declares he “isn’t the enemy” and leaves. Sgt. Blume, a detective investigating the murder at the Parkers’ home, returns to speak to Peter. He instead listens in on a message left by MJ and Aunt May, who are still hiding in the Catskills.

Web of Continuity: Richard Fisk is growing more muscular, yet developing a double chin as of this issue. This foreshadows perhaps the most absurd moment of the storyline. Initially, Fisk plans on killing Hobgoblin as retribution for Ned Leeds’ murder, but accepts Hobgoblin’s offer to kill Spider-Man. Finally, an excited Spider-Man mistakes Demogoblin for Harry Osborn from a distance, which ties in to Harry’s disappearance from this era’s Spectacular Spider-Man.

I Love the (Early) ‘90s: Spidey unleashes a sarcastic “NOT!” after discovering a group of kids hiding at the pier where he’s being attacked by the Praetorian Guard.

Review: Well, the pace does pick up in this chapter. In fact, I would argue that Richard Fisk’s moral degeneration happens a little too fast to be truly convincing. One of the major problems with this story is the idea that Richard is destined to turn into his father, yet we’re never given a believable set of circumstances that leads to this point. Apparently, it’s the photo of his meeting with the Rose, published in the first installment of the storyline, that’s set him off, but…why exactly? Allegedly, he’s partnered with the Rose to bring down his father, which is a noble goal. How exactly does this lead to him zealously calling for the deaths of Peter Parker and Spider-Man?

Ignoring Fisk’s shaky motivation, the issue does have some promising advancements. Remembering Fisk’s grudge against Hobgoblin is a nice continuity point, and their eventual partnership helps to highlight just how far gone Fisk is supposed to be at this point in the story. Having the Rose turn on Fisk first is another decent twist, since Fisk has been the aggressor so far, and I’m glad Mackie didn’t wait any longer for the duo to turn against one another. Sgt. Blume's subplot has a mediocre pay off next issue, but he’s drawn menacingly enough by Saviuk here to make you wonder what Mackie has in mind for the character. The espionage material is really the highlight of the storyline. Unfortunately, the issue ends with the introduction of another group of generic hired thugs, the Praetorian Guard. Body armor, giant guns, ponytails, ridiculous headgear…hmmm….where’s the guy with beard stubble and a backwards baseball hat?

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