Live and Let Die Part One - Darkness Descends
Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Alex Saviuk (breakdowns), Stephen Baskerville w/Al Milgrom (finishes), Dutro, Krol, & Babcock (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)
The Plot: Hearing rumors of a theft, Spider-Man sneaks into Morelle Pharmaceuticals’ unveiling of its neo-bionics project, F.A.C.A.D.E. He confronts Gambit on the rooftop, but their fight ends when Spider-Man’s convinced Gambit isn’t the thief. The Black Cat appears, warning the heroes that something’s wrong inside. Soon, they face the Silencers, and stop them from stealing Morelle’s nuclear-powered generator. Later, Bugle photographer Lance Bannon catches someone sneaking into the F.A.C.A.D.E. armor. “Façade” blasts Bannon in the chest and flies away.
The Subplots: Guests at the Morelle Pharmaceuticals party include Jonah Jameson, Marla Jameson, John Jameson, Dr. Ashley Kafka, Lance Bannon and his fiancé Amy, rookie Bugle photographer Cole Cooper, Betty Brant, Mike Wilson (a lecherous Morelle employee who stumbles across Spider-Man’s fight with the Silencers later on), “renowned European industrialist” Archer Bryce, Victor (Archer’s apparent manservant), and Dr. Thomas Haney, who leads the presentation. Haney’s body is discovered by Lance Bannon at the issue’s end, and the killer is presumably the shadowy figure who’s snuck inside the F.A.C.A.D.E. armor.
Web of Continuity: F.A.C.A.D.E. stands for Full Acclimation Combat and Defense Explo-skeleton. (That’s right. “Explo-skeleton.”) Black Cat says she’s “crossed paths before” with the Silencers. A footnote says, “Remind us to tell you about it sometime.” Looking online, I can't find anyone who's cared enough to create a profile for them. Gambit claims that he’s at the unveiling to make sure members of the Thieves Guild haven’t targeted the project. John Jameson exits the party early after an argument with his father, who disapproves of his new job at Ravencroft.
Gimmicks: This issue comes polybagged with a preview of the upcoming Spider-Man animated series and a facsimile animation cel. I believe the background cover color is what was called a "fifth ink" color. The cover price is $2.95, but a regular-priced edition was also available.
Review: Oh, Façade. This one’s certainly a classic. As future issues will make clear, Kavanagh’s trying to create a murder mystery (Bannon’s merely paralyzed this issue) that uses some of the established supporting cast members and a gaggle of new characters as potential suspects. Kavanagh’s worked overtime inserting characters into this issue, presumably with the goal of creating a few red herrings and perhaps legitimate clues as to Façade’s identity. Unfortunately, as a mystery, the story’s a joke, and not only because the resolution is never given. The book’s a few issues away from getting swallowed into the clone debacle, so poor ol’ Peter Parker’s going to have bigger issues than the unsolved member of a barely remembered supporting cast member from the early ‘80s.
To this issue’s credit, the art’s an improvement over the previous Saviuk/Baskerville team-ups, the Gambit/Spider-Man fight likely thrilled the target audience, and the story’s vague enough at this point to give you hope that maybe this is going somewhere. Unfortunately, “Live and Let Die” turns out to be a prelude to a lengthy, chaotic period of substandard Spidey stories.