Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Alex Saviuk & Joe Rubinstein w/Derek Yaniger (art), Steve Dutro (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)
The Plot: Spider-Man arrives to stop Blood Rose from killing the Foreigner, who they discover is actually an imposter. The actor is injured by a grenade blast, forcing Spider-Man to abandon Blood Rose and get the man help. Weeks later, he’s killed in the hospital. Spider-Man swings to the Foreigner’s headquarters to investigate, and is attacked by the New Enforcers: Eel, Blitz, the Vanisher, Dragon Man, Dreadnought, and the Super-Adaptoid. Meanwhile, Blood Rose unmasks in private, revealing himself as Richard Fisk.
The Subplots: The Richard Fisk that’s living on a deserted island discovers Trench’s arsenal. He steals Trench’s power glove and demands that he now be called “Gauntlet.” He escapes on Trench’s boat, forcing Trench to don his Nightwatch identity. In New York, MJ is upset when Peter goes missing. Robbie Robertson tells MJ that he sent Peter upstate to take “seasonal pictures” for the Bugle, a story Peter confirms. Later, MJ offers Peter a job taking publicity photos for her soap opera, Secret Hospital.
Web of Continuity: MJ is still smoking. When she sees through Robbie’s window what appears to be him getting dressed in front of Betty Brant, she suspects they’re having an affair. Blood Rose refers to the original Rose as “the real Rose” and says he took up gardening to support his ruse, even though on the same page he reveals himself as Richard Fisk.
*See _________ For Details: A footnote points towards recent issues of Amazing for details on Peter’s parents.
Review: And now this story officially becomes a joke. Blood Rose taking out the remnants of the Fisk empire, a mystery man hiring the Foreigner to turn against him, and Richard Fisk washing ashore a deserted island aren’t exactly gripping ideas, but they could’ve coalesced into something readable. With this chapter, the story jumps into characters swapping identities, new characters popping up out of nowhere, and the introduction of a new team of Enforcers that looks as if it was assembled by throwing darts at a wall covered in torn-out Handbook entries.
I can’t imagine why anyone thought it would be a good idea to have two Richard Fisks, but this is the same writer who convinced the Spider-office that the clone should be revived, so maybe his mind works along these lines. The Richard Fisk we’ll soon learn is a fake dons a non-Nintendo power glove and renames himself “Gauntlet” this issue, a name that was not only already taken by an X-Men villain, but apparently loved enough by Kavanagh to show up again during his X-Man run. He’s pursued by Trench, who we discover has secretly been a Spawn-clone named Nightwatch all along. Nightwatch goes on to have an ongoing series (I believe retroactively declared a mini-series), but he’s probably best remembered for the last minute costume redesign that had Marvel de-Spawning the guy after the promotional images for his series had already been released.
As for the subplots, the teases that Robbie and Betty are having an affair are slightly crass, but they do grab your attention. In a way, this suits the soap opera tradition of the Spider-titles, but it also feels a little too sleazy for a Spider-Man story (although we of course learn later that nothing happened between them). The “Peter might have a small connection to MJ’s job” subplot doesn’t sound so exciting, but I’ll give Kavanagh credit for trying to work out a story that involves Peter and MJ as a couple. What I don’t understand is the brief subplot about Peter disappearing one morning without leaving a note. If, as Robbie said, he simply went upstate to take photos for a color insert, why did he keep this from MJ? And why is she not angry with him when he comes home that night? Why doesn’t Peter feel guilty for causing his wife unnecessary worry? Why was this even in the story, aside from setting MJ up to “discover” Robbie and Betty? It’s certainly an odd one.