Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #134
This story is part of a Lookback Series: Henrique Investigates
This review was first published on: 2002.
Pertinent events at the time: Spidey was recently married, and even more recently buried alive by Kraven in Kraven's Last Hunt. Venom was yet to show, so Spidey still wears the Black Costume (note, not the symbiote, the regular one).
Also, long time supporting character N.Y.P.D. Captain Jean DeWolff had been murdered some time ago, in Spectacular Spider-Man #107. Working with Sargeant Stan Carter to find the serial-killer who targeted "sinners", a masked man who called himself Sin-Eater, Spider-Man seeked vengeance and justice for a dead friend. When he finally unmasked the villain, he found Carter's face. Blind with fury for being betrayed, and for Jean's death, he beat Carter senseless, and was stopped by DareDevil short from killing him. After that, he almost let an angry mob kill Carter when he was being taken into custody. DareDevil's desperate call for him made him come to his senses.
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #134
Jan 1988 : SM Title
Summary: Electro, Stan Carter Released
Arc: Part 1 of "Return of the Sin-Eater"
|Articles: Electro, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Sin-Eater|
The story starts with some psychiatrists debating wether they should release Stan Carter from the insane asylum or not. They make a small recap of Carter's life. He was an ex-SHIELD agent, who took part in a program to test some super-soldier-like drug. It didn't work, and he went beserk. The program was cancelled, the drugs were supposedly removed from his organism, and he became an NYPD Detective. When his partner was killed, Carter, an extremely religious man, went into a deep depression state. He started drinking heavily, and all together with his mental state reactivated the drugs in his bloodstream. Bent on vanquishing sin, he became the Sin-Eater, and you know the rest.
While they decide Carter is no longer a menace, since the drugs are defenitely out of his system (so says SHIELD), and nothing could cause another breakdown. We know better, of course, since in his cell Carter dismisses the intentions of a very vocal Sin-Eater persona.
Next, we get a very nice Peter/MJ interaction, and we move to the streets, where the third major player in this story walks about costumeless. Electro has escaped from jail, and is thinking about how everytime he dons the costume, Spider-Man shows up and KO's him. He'd love to humiliate him, to make him suffer. But that's no use, he just wants some money to leave the city. He enters a jewelry and tries to rob it using a fake weapon. Of course, the weapon is harmless, but he just shoots electricity through it. Meanwhile, Peter finds out about Carter's release and gets mad. He decides to jump on his Spider-Suit and pay him a visit. When he arrives, he sees a guy stopping the journalists and anouncing himself as Carter's agent. Getting even more mad, Spidey goes through the window. His orginal intents fall to the ground when he comes to face with a limp and stuttering man. When he asks what happened, he adds partially deaf to the list of physical injuries. Shocked, he asks if it was in the hospital that he got hurt, and Stan reveals that in the hospital he got cured. He got like this after Spider-Man trashed him last time, but that he deserved it. Peter storms (consequence of a guilty conscience) saying that he has no right of making him feel guilty, since he has an agent ready to make him win some dirty money. Turns out he has no connection to the man, that he just doesn't leave and wants to cash in on Carter's criminal past. When he says that Spidey shouldn't feel guilty, that he deserved every broken bone, every... etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, Spidey can't take it and runs off through the window. The Sin-Eater Persona laughs at the scene as Carter crumbles saying that unlike Sin-Eater, Spidey has a conscience. I'd say, if Carter hadn't lost it, he'd see that he is Sin-Eater's conscience.
Somewhere else, Dillon robs another store. The police is at the exit, and they think he has a taser weapon. Boy, does he prove them wrong. A guilty Spidey drops behind his back, unnoticed by the villain. He taps his shoulder and handles him a very weak punch. Electro replies by zapping non-stop. Spidey realises that he's very shaken by what he did to Carter, and makes a "static" joke. Electro is suddenly enlightened (pun intended) and calls to himself all static electricity. Unable to stick to walls anymore, Spidey plummets to the groun, while Electro zaps him in mid air. Electro wins! He sees that Spidey still breeths, but he decides to leave him alive to humiliate him even more. As he flies away, people and the police loom over a fallen Spidey.
This was great. Spidey's fear of crossing the line, Spidey's insecurities, Electro's arrogance and overconfidence, Stan Carter's nobility and repent, and the Sin-Eater's cold cruelty, all of them were displayed in the most human way possible, making me actually feel sorry for Carter, which I would never thought I'd be after the Death of Jean DeWolff.
Full marks, five webs, with more to come.