Thursday, July 7, 2011

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #93 - October 1992

The Test

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Bob McLeod (inker), Steve Dutro (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)

The Plot: After Hobgoblin kills several of the Foreigner’s men while training, he agrees to pay off his debt by killing Moon Knight and Nick Katzenberg. Foreigner notifies Spider-Man of Hobgoblin’s assignment, hoping to add another level of difficulty for his prospective employee. Spider-Man finds Moon Knight and joins in his fight against Hobgoblin. When Hobgoblin mistakenly believes Moon Knight has drowned, he flees. The heroes follow, hoping to save Katzenberg’s life.

The Subplots: Mary Jane is jealous of the time Peter’s been spending with Betty. He buys her flowers and a pack of Malomars to placate her. Meanwhile, the imprisoned Demogoblin calls out to the Doppelganger.

*See _________ For Details: Mary Jane worries that Peter is emotionally fragile following the return of his parents in Amazing Spider-Man #365 and #366. Hobgoblin previously fought Moon Knight in Moon Knight #32 & #33. Moon Knight needs Reed Richards for a cure for “whatever is rotting my body away.” A footnote says Moon Knight #40-43 has the details.

I Love the ‘90s: When the Foreigner uses a spotlight with a Spider-Man design to draw his attention, the hero remarks that he feels like he’s in a Michael Keaton movie.

Review: It’s odd that the Foreigner quickly disappeared from the books after killing Ned Leeds, only to resurface in several Web issues in a row five years later. Perhaps Howard Mackie felt that characters like Foreigner and Richard Fisk shouldn’t have disappeared into limbo, but I’ve yet to see any evidence that he should’ve been the one to revive them. His big idea for Richard Fisk was to literally turn him into his father, and the Foreigner doesn’t seem to do anything but hire and train cannon fodder.

This is the second story in a row that has the Foreigner casually allowing the death of his agents, which seems like an uneconomical way of running a criminal empire. Foreigner claims that killing the men wasn’t a part of Hobgoblin’s training fee, so now he has to work off the debt, but why did he allow this in the first place? Instead of standing by and offering a dispassionate commentary while Hobgoblin murdered some of his finest men, couldn’t he have tried to stop him? And if the idea is that Hobgoblin is worth the loss of a dozen men, that requires us to ignore just how many battles he’s lost over the years. Mackie’s trying to resell the Jason Macendale Hobgoblin as a real menace, but giving him AIM weapons (Liefeld guns, basically) only serves to undermine his gimmick. If the Hobgoblin has to resort to using laser cannons, he’s not really the Hobgoblin anymore.

Outside of the superhero battles, there’s a brief subplot scene with MJ uncharacteristically nagging Peter about helping Betty Brant in the previous arc. I’ve always been under the impression that Mackie doesn’t understand MJ’s character, and this is an early hint of what’s to come. She isn’t a nag, she isn’t particularly jealous, and she’s not going to put Peter down for helping out a friend. I doubt she could’ve had a successful modeling career if she routinely consumed entire boxes of Malomars at a time, either.


Matt said...

Ahh, so many memories of this two-parter -- plus the "Spirits of Venom" crossover that it leads directly into.

I agree that Hobgoblin's "Liefeld guns" are silly, but in spite of that, this issue totally sold me on the idea of the non-powered Jason Macendale Hobgoblin as a credible threat. It's too bad no one other than Mackie used him in the early- to mid-90's.

This issue also introduced me to Moon Knight, and I found the character interesting. Not interesting enough to start reading his book regularly, but he stuck with me, and about five or six years later, I really got into the character, and bought up every single appearance he'd ever had in a Marvel comic. Not surprisingly, the Terry Kavanagh-written Moon Knight comics of this era are the character's all-time low point -- but somehow I still owe this iteration of Moon Knight for sparking my interest.

Lastly, this issue taught me what a malomar was. I'd never heard of the things before. I've still never seen one in person.

Harry Sewalski said...

I loooooove Moon Knight! I forget where I first heard of him, but after Spider-Man and the X-Men he's my next favourite comic book character! (He's followed closely by Nova, Iron Man, and Daredevil, for those curious).

Was Moon Knight super-popular in the 90's? I've noticed that his series from the 90's is the longest he's ever managed to sustain a series, and I'm wondering whether it's due to good quality or just because he was a gritty vigilante and it was the 90's.

Matt said...

I love Moon Knight too, but mainly just the Moench stuff from the 70's and 80's. I think his 90's series lasting so long was more due to the speculator market of the 90's than anything else.

The first part of the series, written by Chuck Dixon, is pretty good -- though the annual team-ups with the Punisher get old, especially since they tended to be multi-part arcs every time. The remainder of the series is by Terry Kavanagh and is down to his usual standards. It was this series that truly made me realize what an awful writer he was.

I seem to recall a multi-part storyline by J.M. DeMatteis someplace in there as well, which revisited characters from the Moench years (a rarity in the 90's series), and was quite good.

Harry Sewalski said...

Didn't the 90's Moon Knight series retcon the Hatchet-Man as having not been Marc's brother after all or something? I have a feeling I read something along those lines in one of the Marvel handbooks, and it sounds like a bad idea. I've read some of the really early Moon Knight stuff (in the hardcover Countdown to Dark), and the Hatchet-Man story was brilliant. Said retcon feels inappropriate and like a bit of a mess.

Matt said...

Yes, that was one of the Kavanagh stories... I don't recall the particulars, but the Hatchet Man was revealed to be someone other than Randall Spector, and Randall himself returned as a super-powered member of some evil cult. It was horrendous.

Also, for no apparent reason, Kavanagh revealed that Khonshu was not a god of vengeance after all -- he was actually a god of justice. I think the "explanation" was that Marc had originally read a bad translation of who or what Khonshu was.

Harry Sewalski said...

Ah, of course Khonshu was the god of justice. That's totally necessary.

Good thing that Huston managed to pick up the reins and make Moon Knight awesome again - pity that we'll probably never see anything Moon Knight-related as awesome as that. I quite enjoyed the first arc of Vengeance of the Moon Knight before it degenerated into Moon Knight Team-Up, and I thought that the Bendis/Maleev series was done pretty well, but sadly I doubt that we'll ever see anything as good as Huston's run.

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