Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #108

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This story is part of an Arc: "Death of Jean DeWolff"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Spectacular Beginnings

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

Captain Jean DeWolff was recently killed in her apartment by an unknown assailant. In an odd turn of events, Spider-Man and the police are working together to find her killer.

Ernie Popchik, one of Aunt May's border was mugged in broad daylight by three teenagers. As Spider-Man, Peter was able capture them for the police. They were represented by Matt Murdock in court and released on their recognizance pending trial. Peter, May, and Ernie are not happy with this arrangement.

The mysterious "Sin-Eater" appeared in the chamber of Judge Horace Rosenthal who presided over the arraignment case and killed him in cold blood with a shotgun. Matt Murdock - a friend of the judge - was unable to prevent his murder.

In Detail...

"Sin of Pride"
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #108
Nov 1985 : SM Title
Summary: Daredevil, Sin-Eater
Arc: Part 2 of "Death of Jean DeWolff"
Editor:  Jim Owsley
Writer:  Peter David
Pencils:  Rich Buckler
Inker:  Brett Breeding, Josef Rubinstein, Kyle Baker, Pat Redding
Cover Art:  Rich Buckler
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Review
 Reprinted In: The Death of Capt. Jean DeWolff (TPB)
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #19
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #20
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Daredevil, Jameson, J. Jonah, Mercado, Joy, Robertson, Joe "Robbie", Sin-Eater

After killing Judge Rosenthal, the Sin-Eater escapes through the window. A crowd begins to gather outside his chambers after hearing the gunshot. Murdock searches for a safe place to change into Daredevil so he can capture the Sin- Eater.

Outside the courthouse Peter and May listen to Ernie's complaints about the current state of the world when a panicked mob from the courthouse runs away from the Sin-Eater. Peter quickly finds a deserted store and changes into Spider-Man.

When he appears, the Sin-Eater turns his shotgun on him and opens fire. Spider-Man easily avoids the buckshot but it finds secondary targets in the gathering crowd. Spider-Man is beside himself since his actions unintentionally caused serious injury. He attacks while Sin-Eater is reloading. With the injured people on his mind, he does not dedicate his full concentration on the Sin-Eater who proves to be a formidable opponent.

During their fight, he notices a police badge and judge's gavel on Sin- Eater's belt. Since Stan Carter told him that Jean's shield was missing, he deduces that Sin-Eater is her killer. When accused, Sin-Eater admits to killing both DeWolff and Rosenthal.

The momentum of the fight shifts in favor of Sin-Eater as Spider-Man is unable to emotionally disconnect. He is beaten repeatedly with the stock of the shotgun, despite his efforts to defend himself. Spider-Man catches his second wind as the Sin-Eater stops to explain the difficulty of his "mission". His next punch drives the Sin-Eater 10 feet from him.

As he looks around, Spider-Man sees Aunt May lying on the ground just as the Sin-Eater tries to escape. With his web-shooters damaged during the fight (defending himself), he resorts to throwing a tracer on the Sin-Eater in the hopes of finding him later. This does not go as planned - the tracer is discovered and discarded. Peter quickly learns that May is fine, simply knocked down by some frightened people.

Unable to find a place to change amid the chaos of the courthouse, Daredevil arrives too late to be of any use.

The next day, Spider-Man arrives at Detective Stan Carter's office to confirm that Sin-Eater is Jean's killer. Stan has just received a ballistics report that backs up his claim; the weapon used to kill Jean was used to kill Rosenthal. Carter also enlightens Spider-Man on the origins of the term "sin- eater". In superstitious societies a designated person will visit the recently deceased. The family will have food and drink prepared for this person to consume as a method of absolving their sins, allowing them to enter Heaven. Their version of a sin-eater steals tokens that represent his victims.

At this point, Spider-Man notices an autographed picture of Nick Fury on Carter's desk. Carter admits that he is a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and insists that he get to the reason for his visit. He tells Carter that he wants to officially check Jean's apartment for clues in case something was missed by the police. Carter informs him that he can't allow that to happen - officially.

Spider-Man's search of Jean's apartment turns up no new evidence. He does however find dozens of photographs and newspaper clippings of himself in a drawer. One specific picture gives him pause: an intentionally altered photograph of her standing next to Spider-Man. It seems that Jean's interest in him did go beyond the professional level.

Peter and Matt Murdock attend the funerals of DeWolff and Rosenthal, respectively. Their funerals occur in adjacent cemetaries. Murdock's hyper- senses detect the heartbeat of the Sin-Eater nearby but once again cannot follow-up due to the large crowd at DeWolff's funeral.

Later that day the Sin-Eater kills Reverend Bernard Finn in the confessional.

In General...

Overall a very good continuation, but a few minor items bother me.

I'm trying to give Peter David the benefit of the doubt, but Murdock is coming across as a bit inept at playing superhero. When Rosenthal was killed, he couldn't find a place to change, arriving way too late to stop Sin-Eater. During Rosenthal's funeral, he knows that Sin-Eater is nearby, but is unable to do anything. It can be argued that in both cases circumstances were beyond his control, but it makes him come across as almost helpless, which just doesn't feel right.

Also during Spider-Man's fight with the Sin-Eater, the Sin-Eater got in too many good punches for a first time villain. Given that Spider-Man was distracted, it still seems that he should have beaten Sin-Eater in a one-on-one fight, enhanced strength or not.

Overall Rating...

4.5 webs. Slight drop from last issue due to the odd handling of Daredevil and a few other items.

Footnote...

There is an article on "sin eaters" at Wikipedia.org