Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #281

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This story is part of an Arc: "Silver Sable, Sinister Syndicate"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2009.

Background...

Flash Thompson was set up by the Hobgoblin to take the fall for him, and was unmasked in a Goblin suit by Spidey. In spite of that, Peter resolves to help him as much as he can, and to help raise money for Flash's legal defense, takes a job with Silver Sable in trying to take down Jack O' Lantern. Lantern sends the Sinister Syndicate after them instead, who ambushes Sable & Spidey at Coney Island Park!

In Detail...

"When Warriors Clash--!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #281
Oct 1986 : SMURF 281.500 : SM Title
Arc: Part 2 of "Silver Sable, Sinister Syndicate"
Editor:  Jim Owsley
Writer:  Tom DeFalco
Pencils:  Brett Breeding
Inker:  Brett Breeding
Cover Art:  Mike Harris
Layout:  Ron Frenz
Staff Only
Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #289
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man vs Silver Sable (TPB)
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #46
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #47
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #48
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #49
Articles: The Beetle, Boomerang, Flash Thompson, Hobgoblin IV (Macendale), Hydro-Man, Jack O'Lantern (Jason Macendale), Jameson, J. Jonah, Rhino, Rose (Richard Fisk), Robertson, Joe "Robbie", Sandman, Silver Sable, Speed Demon

On the opening page, the Sinister Syndicate: Beetle, Rhino, Boomerang, Hydro-Man and Speed Demon, are all standing around looking down on Spidey and Silver Sable, taunting them. Sable restates that there's not a decent reward to be collected on any of them--Beetle says that's bound to change when word gets out that they destroyed the two of them, and aims his fingers at them to release an energy blast. He's bashed from behind by Sandman, who tells them to get away from the web-swinger and "the broad" (lol). Hydro Man and Rhino attack Sandman, Spidey and Sable try to make a run for it. Her ankles are still messed up from kicking Beetle's exo-suit last issue, and Spidey has to help her. When they find cover, she suggests they escape. Spidey asks "what about Sandman?". Sable says while she appreciates his help, she didn't ask for it, and as long as Spidey's working for her he'll follow her orders. Boomerang and Beetle catch up with them, prompting them to run off again.

Elsewhere in Manhattan, Jack O' Lantern is discussing with his henchmen how the Syndicate is charging him a small fortune to eliminate Sable, freeing him and his gang to pursue more lucrative business. Unfortunately, he says, there's no other work, and the New York crime lords don't appreciate his talents. He says he's going to pull off a crime so daring, it'll make the job offers flood in.

At the Bugle, a page boy is giving Jonah tomorrow's morning edition, hot off the presses. He says the papers even still warm, to which Jonah says "that's the best part, my boy, the best part!". Seeing another feature on Hobgoblin makes Jonah grumpy. He wonders why Robbie Robertson decided waste ink on Hobby again and goes to ask him. Robbie's working late in his office and Jonah enters. Robbie is lost in thought when he walks in--Robbie says something doesn't smell right regarding the Flash Thompson arrest. He's been staring at a stack of pictures of Gobby on the day he was captured. Suddenly it hits Robbie that somehow the pictures may prove Flash is innocent.

Back at Coney Island, Sandman's formed his lower body into a tank and makes a run at Rhino. Rhino bashes him full force, sending him flying into a cloud of sand. Then the Speed Demon runs around the cloud creating a small tornado that Marko can't get out of. He screams. Spidey and Sable have hidden inside a ferris wheel cart, as Beetle and Boomerang fly past on their trail. Spidey says he's going back for Sandman, Sable calls him a fool, and that he's working for her because he needs the money. Spidey says maybe so but it's still the right thing to do and swings away. Sable makes an ankle splint out of her headband, and goes to catch up with Spidey. She says she doesn't want him dying on her, because his heirs would hold her responsible and probably sue.

Over at the jail house with Flash Thompson; His lawyer Sharon Banks is telling him not to give up. Flash says Hobgoblin framed him well and the police have enough to convict him; he says he's merely a nobody who screws up everyone's lives, and that he belongs in jail. Sharon tells him to snap out of it, that she refuses to lose the case because losing makes her look bad. There's an explosion and alarms- -Jack O' Lantern comes bouncing in the jail house on his pogo glider. He knocks out some more guards and zaps his way into Flash's cell. He knocks Sharon aside and karate chops Flash, saying he's here to spring him. Flash resisted, and Jack O' Lantern wonders doesn't the fool want to be rescued (still thinking he's really Goblin)? He blows a hole in the side of the jail and drags Flash off.

News of the escape has reached the Rose, who's hanging out on his high-rise patio with the real Hobgoblin. When Rose gives Hobby the news, Hobby smashes the drinking glass he was holding in his hand, saying he was using Thompson to keep the police busy while he and The Rose expanded their criminal empire. Rose says they can still use the situation to their advantage--if Flash is killed before he's recaptured, the police will think Hobby's actually dead. Hobby agrees, and sees it as an opportunity to teach Jack O' Lantern a lesson, and takes off on his glider laughing.

Sandman has reformed his physical state, and tells Hydro-Man to back off, that Hydro's not in his league. Hydro-Man says it's time they found out who's actually stronger, and that he heard Sandman quit. Sandman says he got involved because he came to the park and saw Hydro-Man there, who reminds him of how he used to be--bitter, brutal and uncaring. Sandman says he hates being reminded of his former self and pummels Hydro-Man unconscious. Jack O' Lantern meanwhile has Flash unconscious at his hideout. He tells a thug to keep an eye on Thompson and strolls to another room, thinking perhaps Thompson turned state's evidence and that's why he didn't want to be rescued. Hobgoblin crashes in on his glider, calling Jack O' Lantern an interfering fool, and tells him he freed the wrong man. Jack O' Lantern says it was an honest mistake, to not get so upset. Hobby says it's a fatal mistake. Flash awakens meanwhile, and breaks a chair over the head of his thug captor and escapes down a stairwell. The Hobby / Jack O' Lantern fight has moved outside, to the open air. Hobby triggers a computerized barrage of electro-blasts, which blow Jack O' Lantern of his pogo glider. He lands on a rooftop face-down, and Hobby goes in for the kill. But Jack throws a concussion grenade which blows Hobby and his glider down into the street and into a department store window display. Jack then pogos away on the rooftops, saying if Hobby wants Flash he can have him. Hobby also flies off.

Hydro Man decides to focus on Silver Sable, and is drowning her in a sustained wave. Spidey sees this and webs up Boomerang, lassoing him around his head. He's about to release Boomerang at Hydro-Man, but his spider-sense informs him Rhino's running up on him. He releases Boomy at just the right time anyway, standing his ground even though it means he's got to take a hit. Boomerang crashes into Hydro-Man, freeing Sable. After getting clobbered by Rhino, Spidey's in a daze. Rhino is ready to finish him off, but somehow Spidey fights through his daze and gives Rhino a merciless beat- down. Speed Demon realizes his team is losing and thinks he should escape, but he runs over Sandman hidden on the ground, who consumes him. Beetle says it's time for the team to make it's exit, and has Boomerang throw an exploding boomerang to mask their escape. Beetle and Boomerang, the two flyers, then grab the rest of the Syndicate and zip away. Spidey collapses as soon as the fight ends. He's revived moments later by Sandman and Sable. Spidey asks after the money Sable owes him, but she says he quit and that she owes him nothing. She mentions a freelance opportunity to Sandman as they both walk off together. Spidey swings home, thinking he risked his neck for nothing, not earning a penny for Flash's legal fees. His concussion from getting nailed by the Rhino flares up, and he has to take refuge on a rooftop, his head spinning. He wonders if he's sustained brain damage.

Finally, Flash is out in the streets, disguised in a trench coat and hat that he nabbed from Jack O' Lantern's hideout. He says there's no one left to rely on, and the police and crime-lords are both after him. Scurrying into an alley, he vows not to give up.

In General...

When the cover of this issue says "this one has it all!", it reads as the typical Marvel hyperbole. But this issue really does deliver on a number of fronts. The battle between the Syndicate and Spidey, Sable and Sandman is truly great, even though the Syndicate themselves are such hopeless dorks that they rarely seem to pose too much of a threat.

Better is the battle between Hobgoblin and Jack O' Lantern, though it seems a bit short at two and half pages. It's enough to get the point across to Lantern (Jason Macendale) that Hobgoblin is not a super-criminal to be trifled with. But then Hobby blows it for himself by letting Flash Thompson escape. Oops!

The much-vaunted Parker luck is in full effect here; trying to help his friend Flash, he gets mixed up with Sable and Syndicate, gets a roller coaster dropped on him, a sprained arm and a massive concussion. And in the end gets nothing in the way of compensation from Sable. If there's something missing from this issue, it's the lack of supporting cast. It's unclear what Robbie sees in the Hobgoblin photographs that makes him believe he can clear Flash--I can't remember what that led to, if anything. Being on the run, it's not looking good for Flash, but he just might clear his name yet.

Overall Rating...

Graded down just a bit in comparison with last issue, but still features two grand, knock-down drag-out fights. The Coney Island setting is a refreshing change from the usual city-scape battles. Minor gripe: it's just unbelievable that bringing down a giant roller coaster at Coney Island, among destroying many other things, wouldn't bring police right away. Good stuff, regardless.

Footnote...

Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #119 segues nicely from this story, with Peter still feeling the effects of the concussion.