Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #89 - June 1992

A Rose by Any Other Name…

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Sam De La Rosa (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)

The Plot: Richard Fisk murders a group of rival gangsters, as Spider-Man scours the city for him. He encounters Hobgoblin, who’s angry with Fisk for not paying his fee. Hobgoblin offers to lead Spider-Man to Fisk if he helps dispatch Fisk’s guards. They reach Fisk just as he’s under fire from the new Rose, Blood Rose. Spider-Man defeats the Praetorian Guard and the treacherous Hobgoblin, but loses Fisk when he falls into the harbor. Blood Rose also escapes in the confusion.

The Subplots: The Daily Bugle runs a correction for the photo erroneously credited to Peter Parker. Meanwhile, Nick Katzenberg nervously packs his bags, convinced that his life is in danger.

Web of Continuity: Fisk recognizes Blood Rose’s voice and identifies him as his former “best friend.” This is a large hint that Blood Rose was originally intended to be Alfredo Morelli, Fisk’s previous ally against the Kingpin.

*See _________ For Details: Hobgoblin tells Spider-Man that Deathwatch is nowhere to be found. A footnote points towards Ghost Rider #24.

Review: Okay. Blood Rose. I’m not going to say the original Rose design was a stroke of genius, but I believe his creators intentionally made him look like a dork. It’s supposed to be absurd that this guy wears eyeglasses over a leather mask. But Blood Rose? What’s the excuse for giving him a jumpsuit, a bandoleer, a thigh belt, an ankle belt, and pouches, pouches, pouches? Oh, yes. 1992. Adding “Blood” to his name also amps up the x-tremeness, and of course those nerd glasses had to be ditched for sunglasses. If only someone thought to give the guy a trenchcoat or an even bigger gun. Do you think there’s some way he could smoke a cigarette through his mask?

Blood Rose’s introduction isn’t even the worst moment of the finale. As a conclusion to a six-month storyline, this is a nightmare. The new new Rose’s identity is never revealed, Nick Katzenberg’s fate is left dangling, Richard Fisk conveniently disappears at the end, and numerous questions remain unanswered. How did the photo end up in the Bugle in the first place? Who wrote the blurb about a future underworld “exposé” in the caption? That’s more than just a “printer’s error.” How many of the Rose’s men saw the Spider-Man costume in Peter’s bedroom? Did the Rose ever learn his identity? If Sgt. Blume had heroic intentions for becoming the Rose, why was he casually murdering his own men? If these men weren’t working for the Rose, then who else could’ve sent them?

The rushed ending makes you wonder how exactly this story was plotted out in the beginning. After an issue that averages around five or six panels a page, the final page is suddenly crammed with ten panels. In those ten panels: Richard Fisk runs away from Blood shot in the back and falls in the harbor...Spider-Man searches for him...after a “fevered search” can’t find him...returns to the warehouse, only to find a rose left behind by Blood Rose...a rose that’s crushed when Spider-Man vows to learn his true identity one day. That’s one page! How much planning am I supposed to believe went into this arc when the conclusion had to be crammed into one rushed page? Since the storyline had such a promising start, it’s unfortunate that Mackie’s debut fizzles out like this, but I’m afraid it’s an indicator of what lies ahead for this title.

1 comment:

Adam Farrar said...

#88 and 89 were the first issues of Web of Spider-Man I bought. I was nine and a half and just getting into Spider-Man. My comics gateway drugs were TMNT Adventures and G.I. Joe but then I transferred to Captain America, X-Men and Spider-Man. Spider-Man was made easy thanks to the Spider-Man Saga book that Marvel put out which summarized 30 years of comics into 4 issues of text and panels.

I have a distinct memory of reading 89 while waiting in the doctor’s office and being confused so it’s nice to know I would have been just as confused. But at the time, I was just getting into comics and had an attitude of, “hm, ok, what will the gas station spinner rack have for me tomorrow?”

Of course while I was then steadily reading Amazing, Spectacular, and Spider-Man I didn’t come back to Web until 95 & 96 for the “Spirits of Venom” crossover, which is odd since I didn’t pick up the other parts. I think I was just into Venom. My memory is unclear. Then came 100 and Maximum Carnage and I was on all four books and miniseries as well.

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