Comics : Spider-Man Tangled Web #17

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This story is part of an Arc: "Heartbreaker"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Tombstone's locked up in a secret military prison, and if his bad heart doesn't kill him, the corrupt guards or a fellow inmate will do it for him. But Spidey's least-favorite albino still has a trump card to play, and it might just be the person you'd least expect.

In Detail...

Spider-Man Tangled Web #17
Oct 2002 : SM Title
Summary: Tombstone
Arc: Part 2 of "Heartbreaker"
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  Daniel Way
Pencils:  Leandro Fernandez
Inker:  Leandro Fernandez
Cover Art:  Leandro Fernandez
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Tangled Web) #3
Articles: The Spot, Tombstone

Lonnie Lincoln, a/k/a Tombstone, is in solitary confinement after his attempt on the life of the Kangaroo. His former cellmate, Jonathan Ohnn, is gone, having been granted parole for ratting him out. Kangaroo is busy punishing Tombstone's former crew members for conspiring against him. And Sangese, a guard who has taken a serious interest in Tombstone's death, is withholding his medication. It isn't long before prison officials find Tombstone passed out on the floor of his cell, apparently dead. The doctors manage to resuscitate him, but it's clear that Tombstone needs immediate surgery to save his life.

Later, Tombstone wakes up in the recovery ward, feeling worse than the time Spider-Man threw a Cadillac at him. McKenna, a midgit guard that has become Tombstone's ally, tells him that his surgery has been rescheduled for this afternoon. Tombstone tells him to make sure Sangese is in the ambulance. McKenna objects, saying that Sangese will kill him at the first opportunity, but Tombstone tells him to shut up. "Have I made one wrong move yet? Quit yer whinin' an' grow up." "Very funny."

McKenna finds Kangaroo in the cafeteria. He tells him that Tombstone is vulnerable, and that he can find him by crawling through a heating vent outside the weight room. "It's a tight fit, but you can make it if you hold your breath." Kangaroo runs off to find the vent, and McKenna goes over to talk to some of the prison's more... amorous inmates. McKenna goes to beg off ambulance duty--by faking the consequences of a bad lunch--Kangaroo crawls into the vent and promptly gets himself stuck. The four "amorous" inmates find him hanging butt-first out of the vent. "He is definitely flirting with you this time."

Meanwhile, Tombstone and crew have reached the mainland, and an ambulance is racing toward the nearest hospital. Sangese tells Tombstone that he's going to kill him, but is interrupted by some kind of disturbance outside. The vehicle swerves, then falls onto its side. All the chase cars can see is some kind of portal, which then vanishes. Inside the ambulance, Sangese turns on a flashlight and finds Tombstone standing over him, grinning ear to ear.

Seven weeks later, Tombstone is relaxing at a posh mansion just outside of New York. A portal appears and through it comes The Spot, who takes off his mask and reveals himself to be Jonathan Ohnn. The Spot asks Tombstone how his surgery went, then asks if Tombstone can help him out. "Make me an offer." Tombstone smiles. "Ya know what I missed most while I was in there with those savages, laid up with a bad heart? Killing people..." he snaps Spot's neck... "and Harlem." Fade out.

In General...

Anybody mourning the death of the Spot should take heart. This turn of events is just screaming to be retconned. The Spot will be back sooner or later. After all, Daniel Way only killed him off to show what a punk Tombstone is. It's the kind of ending that deserves to be forgotten, and likely will be.

This storyline started off decently, but went downhill. There are a few reasons for that. First of all, the novelty of rooting for a guy like Tombstone wears off quickly, I've found. That leaves you with a story with no sympathetic characters, which is tricky to pull off and Way couldn't quite handle it. Secondly, McKenna's "indisposition" and the final fate of the Kangaroo were both downright unpleasant, especially the latter. It seems like both were intended to go for the cheap laughs, but the crude humor was not appreciated. Third, as I said before, killing off The Spot was unnecessary.

I think the biggest problem, though, was the lack of Spider-Man. Granted, this book is devoted to the lives of Spider-Man's supporting cast, but it IS his book and lately he's been AWOL. Other than a brief, badly-written cameo in "The Collaborator," Spidey hasn't played any role in the last three issues. One of our staff members, Henrique Ferreira, questioned whether Tangled Web might be losing its focus a little, and he might be correct. The book is, after all, supposed to show how Spider-Man affects the lives of those around him. A mobster has to sacrifice himself after Spidey takes out one of his projects, or a wrestler stakes everything on one match only to have Spider-Man leap into the ring and pin him, etc. This book shouldn't be a Tombstone limited series, but that's essentially what it was. And that's just not good enough.

Overall Rating...

It's a decent story for the most part, but is it a Spider-Man story? Tangled Web is slipping lately. Two webs.