Fun’n Games with the Four Star Squad!
Credits: Tom DeFalco (writer), Joe Bennett (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Comicraft’s Kiff Scholl (letters)
The Plot: As Dusk, Peter spies on Roughhouse and Bloodscream, who are on a secret mission for Black Tarantula. Later, as Ricochet, he teams up with Delilah to confront them. During their fight, Bloodscream nearly kills Delilah. To throw his opponents off guard, Peter quickly changes into all four of his identities during the fight. Finally, in his Hornet guise, Peter defeats Roughhouse and Bloodscream. In exchange for his freedom, Bloodscream gives Peter info on Black Tarantula’s plans. Peter’s stunned when Bloodscream hands him a photo of MJ and her friends.
The Subplots: Peter notices Chesbro from the ESU campus when he invades Roughhouse and Bloodscream’s hideout. While meeting with Black Tarantula, Fortunato recalls the legend of an associate of Marco Polo who discovered martial arts in Asia, studied with the Hand, and learned the secret of immortality. Meanwhile, Kaine attacks the Scriers sect in Euboea. Later, Robbie looks for Alison Mongrain at the hospital, but she’s gone. He does see a Scrier being wheeled in, carrying the mark of Kaine.
Web of Continuity: Spider-Man’s already given up the Hornet ID at this point, since this story explicitly follows his battle with the Vulture, yet he’s still concerned with establishing the Hornet as a hero this issue.
I Love the ‘90s: Delilah refers to Roughhouse and Bloodscream as “Beavis and Butthead” (sic). Later, Ricochet asks to be sent to next Thursday after Roughhouse knocks him “into next week” so that he can catch the latest ER.
“Huh?” Moment: MJ is amused that Peter has chosen to pretend to be a criminal in two of his four new guises. He did? I’m assuming the idea was that Dusk would also be branded an outlaw, due to his team-up with Trapster, but this hasn’t been conveyed in the stories yet.
Review: The hook this issue is seeing Peter use all four new identities during the story, which doesn’t sit well with the continuity of the other titles; honestly, I'm not surprised at this point. I think it was inevitable that someone would do this story, but it probably should’ve been saved for the final chapter of the crossover. Doing it as the second Ricochet chapter leaves the Ricochet persona with barely anything to do, since so much of the story has to accommodate the other three identities. Ultimately, what did the creators get out of Ricochet? His alleged criminal ties certainly amounted to nothing. He gets a team-up with Delilah, which is something Spider-Man would’ve done anyway in order to stop Black Tarantula, and there’s really nothing else there. What else could be said about the issue…? This Black Tarantula material remains tedious, DeFalco’s dialogue is occasionally stuck in the Silver Age, and Joe Bennett’s art occasionally still has that awkward inhuman quality to it. So, nothing new. Fans of the Clone Saga were surely freaking out, though, to see the return of Kaine. And when that’s the highlight of your issue, you should know you’re in trouble. (By the way, many of the panels I've posted lately come from the Green Goblin's Hideout, which is a great fansite dedicated to Norman Osborn).