Comics : Web of Spider-Man #84

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This story is part of an Arc: "The Name Of The Rose"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Worst of the Worst

This review was first published on: 2002.


This six part story is a serious contender for the worst ever story of all Spider-Time. Personally, I think Terry Kavanagh was Spider-Man's worst ever story-teller, but Howard Mackie comes a pretty close second, and this story hails from 1992, a year which heralds a low point in Spidey's career.

This story mistakes fight for action, action for plot, and plot for interest. If a university professor was looking to teach a class about what went wrong with comics, this would be a textbook piece. It takes a mysterious enigmatic character - The Rose - and transforms him into a two-dimensional gun-toting photocopy of so many that have gone before.

The story abounds with cookie-cutter machine-gun wielding heavies, stereotyped oriental ninjas, and formulaic cybernetically enhanced goons with an abundance of unexciting firepower. It features worn-out, recycled has-been uber-villains like Kingpin and Demogoblin, without adding any new perspective. To be blunt, this is exactly the kind of hackneyed, unimaginative, regurgitated claptrap which excites twelve-year olds, and makes anybody with half an education embarassed to admit that they own a single comic.

So, without any prejudice, let's get on to the objective review.

In Detail...

"Family Ties"
Web of Spider-Man #84
Jan 1992 : SM Title
Summary: Hobgoblin, Kingpin, Rose, Richard Fisk
Arc: Part 1 of "The Name Of The Rose"
Editor:  Danny Fingeroth
Writer:  Howard Mackie
Pencils:  Alex Saviuk
Inker:  Keith Williams
Cover Art:  Alex Saviuk
Staff Only
 Reprinted In: Complete Spider-Man (UK) #24
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Hobgoblin IV (Macendale), Nick Katzenberg, Kingpin, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Rose (Richard Fisk), Rose II (Sergeant Blume)

The front cover promises... Now It Begins! The Greatest Era Of All For Web Of Spider-Man. Oh dear me, that verges on criminal mis-representation if you ask me. For 'Greatest' read 'Darkest', and maybe we're a little closer to the mark. But let's turn to the first page...

Kingpin is doing his usual exercises... fighting a dozen ninja at once, killing one of them 'pour encourager les autres'. His son, Richard Fisk (formerly The Rose, formerly formerly The Schemer - both one-time enemies of The Kingpin) is watching with some mixed emotions. As for how one ordinary unarmed guy, no matter how heavily muscled, can beat a dozen armed martial artists... well that's another question. But if I was the U.S. Martial Arts Association, I'd have Marvel in a law-suit before you could say Kung Fuey.

Meanwhile, Spidey is fighting a psychotic rambo-type mongoloid with a big knife and a young female captive. These two pages are so patronizingly stupid in themselves to make you consider taking holy orders swearing to never read again - but believe me, it gets worse, so don't quit now.

I don't want to drag you through all the details. But here's a quick overview. We see Richard Fisk calling The Rose about something urgent. Huh, but Richard is The Rose. Obviously not right now. We see Nick Katzenburg, sleaze reporter for The Daily Bugle reading a story in the paper that should have been his story, and being very mad. We see a bunch of CIA-style bad guys in heavy shades with high-tech guns raiding Peter and MJ's apartment.

Peter and MJ are at Aunt May's for dinner (so is Willie Lumpkin... but let's not talk about that). The bad-guys in shades with guns then motor over to Aunt May's house, pointing the aforementioned guns and demanding to see Peter.

Spidey turns up and kicks some A##, and lets the villians go, since they refuse to talk. Yeah, that's what super-heros do when somebody shoots at their family, they just let them go, saying 'get out of here before I get mad'.

So what were these guys on about? A photo in the Bugle, threatening an upcoming expose of some major villain... photo credited to "Peter Parker", instead of Nick Katzenberg, who actually took the pic. Ooops!

Overall Rating...

We're off to a great start, with half a web. Keep this up, and we truly are looking at the Worst of the Worst.