Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #119

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Spectacular Beginnings

This review was first published on: 2009.

Background...

Spider-man had Dr. Strange remove Black Cat's bad luck hex, in effect removing Black Cat's powers. They cut out when Felicia was raiding the Foreigner's penthouse. Sabretooth hunted down Felicia in retaliation, but Spider-man intervened, shooting webbing into Sabretooth's face and tricking him into tearing it off, sending him to the hospital.

In Detail...

"Catfight!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #119
Oct 1986 : SM Title
Summary: Black Cat vs Sabretooth
Editor:  Jim Owsley
Writer:  Peter David
Pencils:  Rich Buckler
Inker:  Bob McLeod
Cover Art:  Rich Buckler
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Articles: Bambi, Candi, and Randi, Black Cat, Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

Our story opens with Spidey spinning around New York disoriented from having a concussion (after a battle with the Sinister Syndicate over in Amazing). He decides to forego web-slinging for wall crawling and street walking. Another pedestrian wonders who the nut in the spider-suit is. Spidey thinks once Flash Thompson is found (on the run and thought to be the Hobgoblin), he can give up being Spider- man for good. Then he admits that once the Flash crisis passes, he'll probably find some excuse to keep web-slinging, and what would he be if he weren't Spidey? Just a photographer and science major drop-out?

Upon entering his apartment through the skylight, his spider-sense alerts him to someone being in the apartment. It's Mary Jane, who says she didn't hear Pete come in. She informs Pete he's having a party in his place tonight and she's already invited everyone.

We cut to a hospital room, a bandaged-faced man lying in a bed. He is obsessed with getting even, getting revenge on everyone who's beaten him. When the doctor comes in, the man decides the doctor will be the first. The doctor says his patient's prognosis is good--with a little surgery, medication and time, the patient could be as normal as anyone, his savagery could be cured. The patient grabs the doctor's throat, saying "you're first!". The patient changes into the doctor's scrubs and surgical mask, thinking there'll be many, many more bodies. Upon slipping out of the room, two police officers are stationed outside the room. One asks how the patients' doing, and if that's 'catsup' on the doctors hands, then realizes it's blood. The patient easily dispatches them, counting them as two more. The patient removes his bandages, revealing himself to be Sabretooth, with scars and stitches all over his face. He says aloud to no one in particular that he'll find Spidey, and rip him inside out.

Pete and MJ are getting his place ready for the party. He says MJ doesn't really want to hear about his travails as Spidey. MJ says what kind of friend would she be if she wasn't willing to listen. Pete starts to talk about how MJ should've seen him taking on Rhino and The Syndicate out on Coney Island--that when they dropped a ferris wheel on him Pete thought he'd had it. A crash comes from the kitchen as MJ drops a glass, which she shrugs off. Pete then finds extra fabric to repair his suit that Sabretooth ripped the front off of. One inch closer, Pete says, and Sabretooth would've disemboweled him. Another crash comes from the kitchen. How about them Knicks? MJ asks sheepishly. Pete says he gets the feeling she's trying to change the subject. Pete finds pictures of Felicia as Black Cat, saying their relationship was a fiasco and tears up the pics. MJ says she was never happy that Pete was seeing Felicia, not to tell him how to run his life. Pete thinks to himself she sounds jealous. He says Felicia's a part of his life he's given up, just like he's going to give up being Spidey, before he runs out of dishes.

Out on Roosevelt Island, Black Cat is riding on a cable car tram. She ruminates on her feelings for Peter, how she still loves him but doesn't want to. She tosses a stack of photos of Spidey into the river and says goodbye to him. Sabretooth meanwhile is running around on the rooftops. He has a scrap of Spidey's torn costume, of which he can track Spidey's scent.

Meanwhile, Pete is showing in his attractive young female neighbors Candi, Randi, and Bambi. He introduces them to Joe Robertson. Joe says Pete's very lucky, that when he was Pete's age his next door neighbor was an 80-year-old tuba player. Sabretooth is getting closer. He thinks how he will rip his enemy's head from his body, and watch the lifeblood pump from the useless body. He will then take the head to the Foreigner, who will then welcome Sabretooth into his Assassin's Guild with open arms. The camera pulls back to show someone tracking Sabretooth, staying downwind to not be detected.

Back at the party, Pete is talking to Harry Osborne about Flash Thompson. Harry says Flash kidnapped his wife as Hobgoblin, and almost made her lose her baby, so Harry says he has no sympathy for Flash. Pete says Harry has known Flash since college, and does he really think he could be Hobgoblin? Harry says how well do any of them really know eachother? Harry says he and Pete were once roommates, and he'd bet there was nothing Pete could've hid from Harry. Pete feels a twinge of guilt over deceiving his best friend Harry. They rejoin the party and mingle, when suddenly Pete's spider-sense hits and he excuses himself. MJ stops him, complaining that he's always running off. Pete then spots what's catching his attention: spotting Sabretooth out on a rooftop outside, who then jumps down from the rooftop to the street and onto a squad car and takes out a couple of cops. MJ says Pete can't go after him, that he's not well. Pete says concussion or not, he has no choice. Sabretooth says the cops are nothing to him, that he can kill a hundred of them and not break a sweat. He demands Spider-man get down there so he can kill him too. One of Pete's partygoers asks what's going on, saying it sounds like a talking lion is outside. Sabretooth says Spidey's not coming out fast enough, and he'll have to kill a cop while he's waiting. Suddenly someone kicks him from behind. It's Black Cat--she says Sabretooth wanted to kill her last time, but Spidey butted in, and that they have unfinished business, so they should finish it and scratches Sabretooth's face opening his wounds. Sabretooth asks where Spidey is and why Cat's hiding him. Cat says Spidey thought she could handle Sabretooth just fine. Pete's still watching from the window, thinking Cat's risking her life to save him. He thinks he can't just stand by and watch her do it.

Cat thinks she has to beat Sabretooth and how humiliating it would be to get killed while Peter is watching. She's barely dodging Sabretooth's swipes. Sabretooth says Cat's just a warm up, and she says she's the main event and not to forget it. Peter is changing into his costume, knowing full well that once he leaves the party all his guests will know he's Spidey but there's nothing he can do because he can't let Cat get killed. Sabretooth grabs cats leg and takes a bite, getting a mouthful of a metal mini- crowbar hidden in her costume. She becomes terrified and with the adrenaline rush, jumps on Sabretooth, mashing his face into the pavement over and over until he's out. Spidey is watching from a rooftop. As she is escorted away to the hospital by the police, she winks up at Spidey. Later on, after the party Pete thinks how Felicia risked her life just for him. Mary Jane thinks to herself how she looked down on Felicia before, but is slightly envious of her now. Sabretooth is in a hospital bed again, with four police officers surrounding him with their guns drawn. He thinks how he'll get even with Black Cat & Spider-man, and how the blood will flow through the streets and the Foreigner will be impressed.

In the end, Foreigner and Black Cat are together. Foreigner says he's surprised, that he didn't think Felicia had it in her to beat Sabretooth. She says she didn't either. He replies it's the first step in gaining Spidey's confidence in her, so they can both bring him down. He asks if she's still has feelings for Spidey--Cat says she's finally her own woman, but lucky for him she's willing to share and kisses him.

In General...

A good follow up to David's story in #116. But once again, Sabretooth's characterization seems a bit off. Did he not have a healing factor at this time a'la Wolverine? His facial scars should've healed by this story if so. What seemed fearsome about him on an initial read comes off now as slightly pat: a blood-thirsty psycho of the month. I like how one of Pete's partygoers describes Sabretooth as sounding like a talking lion--just how it should be. The discussion between Pete and Mary Jane at the beginning about the risks Peter takes is nice, and is a good foreshadowing to their eventual marriage. Black Cat continues to get fully fleshed out, and her scheme with Foreigner to take down Spidey continues to unfold and comes to a head in forthcoming issues. Rick Buckler and Bob McLeod's gritty art again complements this tense story--the Black Cat/Sabretooth battle is rather brutal and they show every bloody minute.

Overall Rating...

Not quite as good as Sabretooth's last appearance in Spidey, but David's storytelling continues to shine here with a nice change of pace issue.