Comics : Marvel Team-Up #141

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Totalistic Team-Ups

This review was first published on: Jul 2011.

Background...

During last issue's team up, Black Widow, Spidey and Daredevil got caught in the middle of a shooting of a pawnbroker during a blackout in the city. The police tried to pin the shooting on one gang member named Juan Santiago, who became Matt Murdoch's defendant. Spidey tracked down who they thought was the real killer, a mohawked thug named Howard "Cool Breeze" McNeal (who's so tough his nickname sounds like a brand of laundry detergent).

Unfortunately for Murdoch's case, McNeal's murder weapon didn't check out, and before Spider-man himself could follow up, he was whisked away to the Beyonder's planet to participate in the Secret Wars.

In Detail...

"Blind Justice"
Marvel Team-Up #141
May 1984 : SMURF 251.860 : SMURF 252.525 : SMURF 252.600 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man & Daredevil (w/ Black Widow, vs. The Gang)
Editor:  Danny Fingeroth
Plot:  Tom DeFalco
Writer:  Jim Owsley
Pencils:  Greg LaRocque
Inker:  Mike Esposito
Cover Art:  Art Adams
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Articles: Daredevil, Kingpin

Matt Murdoch, a couple of police detectives, and a street tough named "Cool Breeze" (snicker) and his lawyer are in an interrogation room. The detectives are trying to pin the murder of a pawnbroker on Cool Breeze, but he won't cop. Murdoch is monitoring Breeze's heart level, and finds he's telling the truth. Breeze is ejected from the room, and Murdoch explains that his own client is up on the same charge, and that Murdoch thinks he's innocent as well.

At this point, Murdoch runs into Ben Urich out in the hallway of the police station, and Urich recaps the plot so far. Urich says he knows Murdoch could find a way to pin the rap on either suspect if he wanted, but that he won't rest until he finds the real murderer--but before he can finish his sentence, he turns to find Murdoch gone. Changed into costume, Daredevil thinks to himself how he sometimes can't stand Urich, how Ben has the ability to look right through him. Daredevil also wonders where Spider-man disappeared to, after showing such active interest in the case.

Black Widow is dropped off at the pawn shop that was the scene of the murder. Going in, she finds the same gang from the previous night, putting the shop back together. Out comes one Frank Arnold, who claims he's bought the shop and it's inventory from Zelnick's widow. Widow asks if he always employs gangsters, Arnold says somebody has to give disadvantaged kids a chance to turn their lives around. Widow leaves in disbelief, thinking to herself that Arnold knows who the killer is.

Daredevil meanwhile, is at the gang's hangout, knocking them around and calling them unprepared and sloppy. Of the last thug standing, Daredevil demands he tell him everything he knows. Over at Kingpin's penthouse, the Arranger is giving Kingpin a report while Kingpin fights ninjas to train. Arranger says "operations interference by costumed adventurers seems to be at an all-time low", that it's like almost all of them have disappeared from the face of the Earth. Almost all, that is, as Daredevil is still causing Kingpin problems.

Murdoch is talking to his client, Juan, who's being held for the Zelnick murder. From the information he gathered as Daredevil, Murdoch knows that Zelnick was Juan and the gang's fence for stolen goods. Juan repeats that he didn't kill Zelnick, Murdoch says he knows, and Juan says in that case get him off the charge and to mind his own business. Later, Daredevil is hanging out with Black Widow, explaining the situation. Widow is of the mind that Murdoch should let his client hang, but Murdoch wants to see justice done while finding the real killer, that muggers have rights too. Widow says she thinks Americans take their freedoms to a ridiculous extreme, and that she knows the new pawnshop owner Frank Arnold knows who killed the pawnbroker.

Over in Central Park, an eyewitness is relating to a news reporter how he witnessed Spider-man coming back to Earth through a space portal (with Dr. Connors in tow, obviously). Up in the trees of the park, Spider-man finds that the clothes he'd left behind have been turned into a bird's nest, but he's able to retrieve his wallet and keys. He swings off with Connors, reminding him that they can't tell anyone what's happened to them. Connors says it's not like anyone would believe them anyway.

The next day, Peter is whistling as he enters the Bugle. He comes across Urich, who asks where Pete's been. Peter replies that he's been in a far distant galaxy, fighting for the salvation of the universe. Urich starts filling him in on the Santiago case, that the other suspect was clean and it's back to square one. Before he can finish his sentence yet again, Peter is gone. Pete berates himself for thinking the mess was all cleared up before he was beamed to Beyonder's planet. On the Bugle's rooftop, he concentrates, and with the power of the symbiote costume, changes his street clothes into the black Spider-man costume. Spider-man finds his new outfit so snazzy, that he thinks after he resolves the murder case, he should "roll up the rest of my old Spidey outfits, dribble them into the nearest Goodwill deposit box, (so) underprivileged kids worldwide can slip into one of my old outfits and be persecuted by old publishers with crew cuts".

Slipping into Murdoch's law offices, Spider-man isn't recognized in the black outfit by Murdoch's law partner Foggy Nelson. Their secretary (?) Becky identifies him as Spider-man in a "silly looking outfit". Not finding Murdoch and bantering with Nelson and Becky for awhile, Spidey swings back out the window, with no leads or direction in the case. He rankles at Becky calling his outfit silly-looking, thinking "sister, that hairdo of your's gave me a real charge too!".

Travelling to interrogate Arnold, Daredevil and Black Widow are stopped by the Arranger, who says he has a proposition for Daredevil, from the Kingpin. Spidey, meanwhile, is watching the gang load gear into their van that to Spidey look suspiciously like goods that were stolen from the pawn shop. He thinks "Of course, I could be wrong. And Gary Coleman could be a KKK High Druid!" (you just can't make this stuff up).

At the pawn shop, the thug who drove the van there is telling Arnold he wants out, that he doesn't want to tangle with Daredevil anymore. As Spider-man watches from the shadows, Arnold and the thug are approached by trench-coated goons, who identify themselves as sent by the Kingpin, saying that Zelnick was one of Kingpin's operatives and that he knows Arnold killed him. Arnold confesses to the shooting to the Kingpin's men, saying he was drunk the night of the riots and doesn't know where he got the gun. Before they can retaliate, Spidey jumps in and kicks them around, glad to finally be recognized in costume by one of the thugs. Before he can get any further, Daredevil appears, and tells Spidey to back off, that the Kingpin's men are under his protection. Arnold is run down by Black Widow, and makes him hand her his gun.

Daredevil explains that without Kingpin's men, Arnold never would've confessed. Now Murdoch's client goes free, and the Kingpin gets even with Arnold, that that was the deal Daredevil made with Kingpin. Spidey is enraged that DD would deal with Kingpin, telling him "we're supposed to be the good guys, remember?" and swings off.

The next day, the case is dismissed against Murdoch's client Juan Santiago. Outside the court, Black Widow asks Murdoch if he's proud of himself, and Matt says no, that he made some "unpleasant compromises to see some imperfect justice", and that what Spider-man said to him last night got to him. Looking on from a rooftop is Spidey, thinking all is well, that the right killer is going to jail. He thinks he might've been a little hard on Daredevil, and wonders why DD didn't say anything about Spidey's new suit?

In General...

First off, no one writes Spidey as such a jerk quite like James Owsley. Some of the stuff Owsley has Spidey saying this issue is simply nuts. It could be argued that this is merely a side-effect of Peter wearing the symbiote costume, heightening his aggression, but I think it's more just Owsley's general writing style. He better voices Daredevil and Natasha here in this story at least.

Otherwise, I like the somewhat morally ambiguous take on the characters and the situation this issue. Murdoch, being the lawyer that he is, reasons he can cut his losses and keep an innocent man from being charged with a murder, and all he has to do is cut a deal with Kingpin, which of course puts him at odds with Spider-man (who, while he's busy being a jerk, still has his moral compass it seems).

I could see where the new black suit must've annoyed readers after awhile--from Spider-man himself endlessly harping on it this issue ("he didn't say anything about my new suit!") to the editors themselves (witness Danny Fingeroth's letters page cajoling regarding Spidey's "fantastic new costume--how do you like it, huh, Huh?").

Overall Rating...

A somewhat tangled street-crime tale, a style that would be become de rigueur in Spider-man's side books in the years to come. As is, it's well done here and this issue's story offsets the cosmic adventuring of the Secret Wars and living alien costumes nicely. Three-point-five webs.