Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #110
This story is part of a Lookback Series: Spectacular Beginnings
This review was first published on: 2007.
Police Captain Jean DeWolff was recently murdered by the serial killer known as the Sin-Eater. Spider-Man and Daredevil have just discovered that Detective Stan Carter - who worked with Jean - is the man behind the mask.
Both heroes are aware that Jonah Jameson is next on Sin-Eater's list. Spider-Man knows that Betty Leeds (a former girlfriend) is staying with Marla Jameson (Jonah's wife) at their penthouse while their husbands are out of town.
Spider-Man frantically calls to warn Betty about the imminent attack; as he screams into the phone to leave Jonah's penthouse he hears Carter open fire.
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #110
Jan 1986 : SM Title
Summary: Death of Jean DeWolff (End) DD & Spidey exchange identities
Arc: Part 4 of "Death of Jean DeWolff"
Reprinted In: The Death of Capt. Jean DeWolff (TPB)
Reprinted In: Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #23
|Articles: Aunt May Parker, Betty Brant, Daredevil, Hobgoblin IV (Macendale), Jack O'Lantern (Jason Macendale), Jameson, J. Jonah, Leeds, Ned, Robertson, Joe "Robbie", Sin-Eater|
Spider-Man and Daredevil race toward Jonah's penthouse. Spider-Man quickly outpaces Daredevil, simultaneously remembering his history with Betty and fearing the worst.
At Jonah's penthouse, Sin-Eater stands in front of Jonah's desk in his office. It was here that Betty answered Spider-Man's phone call and came face- to-face with him. Carter stares intently at the hole his weapon created in Jonah's high-back chair and begins to walk around the desk, casually mentioning that this was the first time he has missed. He finds Betty hiding underneath the desk.
He asks her about Jameson's current location. She misunderstands thinking he's referring to Marla. He corrects her stating that her "friend" has left through the front door; he wants Jonah. When she admits she works for him, he begins to strangle her with his shotgun while explaining his actions. He wants Jameson because of his stance against masked vigilantes. He killed Finn for his work against capital punishment. He killed Rosenthal because he "coddled" criminals. He killed DeWolff "because [he] felt like it".
At this point, Betty grabs a letter opener and stabs him in the leg. Carter pulls out the opener and prepares to gun her down when Spider-Man comes crashing through the window. Carter shoves her toward Spider-Man - who is grateful she's alive - and reloads.
Spider-Man disarms him and attacks him, beating him mercilessly. When Carter manages to utter a weak "No more" Spider-Man continues hitting him at full strength, assuming that he's trying to trick him. Betty watches this in abject horror.
Daredevil finally arrives and separates Spider-Man from the obviously unconscious Carter. Spider-Man warns Daredevil to stay out of his way. Daredevil refuses reminding him that Carter is not a threat in his current state. Spider-Man will hear none of it. Daredevil stands in front of Carter and draws the line. Spider-Man crosses said line and punches him through the broken window.
Daredevil regains his bearings and saves himself from certain death. He begins taunting Spider-Man to get him physically out of Jameson's penthouse. In his current mental state, Spider-Man is easily provoked and follows Daredevil. He begins swinging wildly at him. Daredevil's hyper-senses and Spider-Man's diminished fighting abilities due to his rage are the only things keeping his head attached. Daredevil eventually lures Spider-Man into Central Park where he confuses his spider-sense and beats him unconscious with his billy club, but just barely.
Betty is interviewed about her encounter with Sin-Eater. Marla explains that when he heard the blast, she went outside to call the police. She apologizes for leaving her, but Betty assures her she did the right thing.
Once news of the Sin-Eater's identity breaks, New Yorkers are understandably disturbed. They being to voice their distrust of the police, thinking that they were all involved in this somehow. Peter learns this firsthand when he is assigned to cover the "man on the street" reactions to this story.
In the midst of this, newly-promoted Captain D'Angelo and the District Attorney learn of Carter's tenure in SHIELD. He was involved in an R & D project to determine if a modified dose of the drug PCP could be used safely. They quickly learned that while the drug boosted strength and endurance it had too many unpredictable side-effects. Stan's unexplained violent outburst when the program was discontinued proved them right. Despite an intense process to purge the drug from his system, it was not complete. When his partner died several months ago, it activated the remnants of the drug and created the "Sin- Eater" identity. D'Angelo is furious that Carter may be found innocent by reason of insanity.
The news media are tipped off that Carter will be moved to Riker's Island from the 14th precinct which has become the site of a very angry mob. Robbie reassigned Peter to cover precinct 14. He stands on top of a nearby building in full costume taking pictures. Daredevil arrives to observe the move and again tries to reason with Spider-Man on the nature of justice. Daredevil poses the question "What if it were him [Spider-Man] that was arrested?" Spider-Man insists that there is a distinction between Carter and himself.
At one point the crowd begins an assault on the precinct, demanding they turn Carter over to them. While some of the cops try to hold off the mob, others attempt to sneak a sedated Carter out the back. A smaller group lead by Carl Weatherby - Jean DeWolff's stepfather - discovers their ruse and attack Carter and the skeleton crew assigned to protect him.
Daredevil leaps into melee to protect Carter while Spider-Man stays behind, refusing to help Carter in any way. Daredevil soon finds himself hopelessly outnumbered and in need of rescuing himself. He screams for Spider-Man to help him but is ignored. Only when Daredevil calls out "Peter" does he realize how much the situation has deteriorated. Acknowledging that he has a responsibility to protect everyone, Spider-Man rescues Daredevil from the mob and Carter from Weatherby, who is intent on murdering his step-daughter's killer.
Once Carter has been placed inside the transport vehicle and they are safely away do Spider-Man and Daredevil have a serious talk. Daredevil admits he knows Spider-Man's identity and discloses his own. Peter is shocked at the identity of the real man without fear and suggest continuing the conversation at his apartment. As they talk Peter receives a phone call from Aunt May. Ernie Popchik turned himself in for shooting three teenagers on the subway. Their injuries aren't serious but they are in the hospital. May begins to wonder what will happen to him since he can't afford a lawyer.
Murdock steps in and assures May that Ernie will be provided a lawyer free of charge. It won't be him, but he will find a reputable one to prove to Peter that the system does in fact work. Peter agrees to keep an open mind.
Watching Spider-Man beat the living crap out of a "regular" human is disturbing. Even though Carter has enhanced strength and endurance from his days as a lab rat in SHIELD it's nowhere near Spider-Man's power level.
While reading this I simultaneously felt justified and horrified at his actions. On one hand I can understand that someone in his situation would feel frustration and betrayal. Within a short span of time, losing an ally (and potential romantic interest) like DeWolff and being jerked around by the deceitful Stan Carter who ironically killed her and was coordinating efforts to find her killer.
On the other hand, this is not acceptable behavior for Spider-Man. Since he is the "everyman" hero, it reminds us of what everyone is capable of doing when we let our emotions get the best of us. Peter can be a bit reckless sometimes, but this is probably one of the best examples of his worst behavior. Had Daredevil not been there to run interference, he would have probably beaten Carter to death with his bare hands. He would have regretted it instantly but it would have been too late.
Many people wonder why most of the popular heroes don't kill their enemies and move on. The lives lost during their next rampage more than justify the sacrifice of one. I submit to the jury "Exhibit A". It's not about finding quick and easy solutions; it's about abusing one's powers. Once anyone - including our favorite hero - starts misusing their abilities, they are no longer a hero. They add to society's problems instead of correcting them.
5 webs. A great ending to a great arc. In most cases, the final issue doesn't follow through with the setup. Not in this case. The issue ties all of the other chapters together, has a character milestone (identity exchange), and ends on a positive note. That's difficult to do in most cases, but Peter David succeeds here.
There are a few inter-issue continuity problems regarding the artwork, but it's not enough to detract from the score (although it should have been caught).
The only bad aspect of the story - and this is minor - is Daredevil's constant reminders to Peter about the importance of the legal system and equality. At times they come across as a bit preachy. Keep in mind that Peter won't listen to him, so repetition is necessary. Every democratic society's legal system has its flaws, but in the final analysis, it's the only thing separating us from complete chaos. As one of my high school teachers once put it, "If you have absolute freedom, then you have no freedom".
We don't find out what happens during Popchik's assault case, but at least Murdock went the extra mile for Peter and promised a good lawyer for him to prove his point. That small touch justifies the frequent reminders.