Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #99

Background

Wow, look at that cover. Even in 1985 a cover like that had to have stood out on news stands (though maybe not in a good way). With Charles Vess’ beautiful Hobgoblin cover for Amazing Spider-Man #261 hitting shelves the very same month, Al Milgrom’s Spectacular book must have looked like Spidey Super Stories in comparison.

Last ish we saw the painfully slow build up to this issue which included Black Cat and Spidey beating up some thugs, Black Cat revealing that her powers came from the Kingpin and finally we were witness to a mild mannered scientist turning into the spectacular Spot.

Story 'Spider On The Spot!'

The Spot is getting the hang of his new trans-dimensional powers in the labs at Kingpin’s tower. He’s discovered that he can grab a spot off of his body and throw it into the air. While in the air, the spot (which is actually a portal), can be entered by The Spot and he (or one of his body parts) will instantaneously be transported to another spot (didja follow all of that?). The Spot decides that he should probably keep the powers that he has gained to himself until he can fully explore their potential. That means keeping them a secret from his boss, the Kingpin of crime.

Meanwhile, Spidey swings back to his apartment after a night out on the town with the Black Cat. After switching back into his civvies, Pete runs into three beautiful blondes that are moving into the apartment next door. Bambi, Candi and Randi would not only change hair colors by next issue, they would also become fixtures in Pete’s life through the remaining years of his ‘80s bachelor lifestyle. On his initial run in with the three ladies (and I do mean “run in”), Pete clumsily bumps into all three. As Pete blushes at the ladies’ flirtatious greetings, a frantic Sha Shan comes running up the stairs in a panic. Pete quickly comforts her and the two head out onto the street as Sha Shan explains that her relationship with Flash Thompson is again in troubled waters. Peter does his best to calm Sha Shan down, while Flash himself is seen spying on the sight of his former rival meeting with his girlfriend from a parked car.

Peter then makes his way to the Daily Bugle to speak to Joe Robertson. While running into Betty Brant, Pete finds that his longtime friend gets awfully defensive when Pete asks her about Flash. Once Pete gets the chance to speak to Robbie, the conversation gets interestingly contentious over the fact that the freelance photog didn’t get pics of the recent blackout (what does a photo of a blackout look like anyway?). Peter apologizes for his lackluster production and in turn Robbie apologizes for his Jameson like behavior. With a hearty handshake, the two long time friends share a poignant and touching moment.

Now that Pete has wrapped up a few loose ends that concern his regular life, he decides to suit up and settle things in his alter-ego life. His first destination is the loft apartment of his girlfriend, Felicia Hardy. The plan is to confront the Kingpin at his tower base and Felicia is garbed up as the Black Cat in anticipation. Once Spider-Man arrives at her apartment, the Cat shows Pete a gift that she has spent all day working on. The gift is the black costume, a costume that just months ago was declared an alien symbiote by Reed Richards. Not surprisingly, Spidey flips out over the sight of the costume. Felicia tries to explain that this version is only a replica that she made herself, but Spidey says that he can’t wear it because just the sight of it still gives him the “heebie jeebies.”

At Kingpin’s tower, construction workers are repairing the damage that a rampaging bionic Silvermane caused back in Spectacular Spider-Man #96. While Kingpin watches over the construction work, an alarm alerts him to the presence of both Spider-Man and Black Cat. In another part of the building, the Spot hears of our heroes' presence as well and decides to confront them himself.

The next page clues us in on the whereabouts of the rogue symbiote as it bonds with some gray-haired tourist in a back alley. This interesting plotline will carry over into the next issue.

Back at Fisk Tower, the Black Cat and Spider-Man are learning first hand the true extent of Black Cat’s bad luck powers. As the two face off against Kingpin’s defense systems, Black Cat is able to avoid nets and even bullets by the sheer breadth of her powers. The only problem is that the nets and bullets that veer away from the power possessing Cat end up in the path of a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. All this changes when a black portal swallows up Black Cat and a spotted man steps out of another. After Spider-Man regains his composure due to laughing uncontrollably at his adversary's name and appearance, the Spot proves that his powers are indeed useful. He’s able to land numerous punches as he darts from one portal to another. Spider-Man all but brushes off the assault, but the Spot claims that “even the strongest of trees can be felled by sufficient strokes with even the smallest of hatchets!”

As the “battle” wears on, the Spot finally takes the upper hand by grabbing Spider-Man by the arm, dragging him into a portal, and flinging him into another portal that is stationed directly in front of a brick wall. By this time, Black Cat has found her way back to the rooftop where the fight is taking place. Once she arrives, she sees Spidey dazed by the collision and The Spot takes the opportunity to depart. His parting remark is a warning to stay away from the Kingpin. Spider-Man and Black Cat decide that they need to rethink their strategy and confront Kingpin another time, while both secretly feel as if they may be better off taking on the Kingpin themselves.

General Comments

This is a much better issue than the first part of the arc. There is actually a decent amount of monumental things going on here; we get the first appearance of Bambi, Candi and Randi, the first appearance of the cloth black costume and we get to the see the Spot in action for the first time. One of my favorite parts of this issue though is the time that Pete and Robbie spend together. This was at a time when Jonah had started his Now Magazine venture and promoted Robbie to Editor in Chief at the Bugle. Showing some of the strain and pressure that was heaped upon Joe during the transition was definitely a nice touch.

The Black Cat stays largely annoying throughout this issue though, and it just doesn’t seem like Al Milgrom has nearly as good a grasp on the character as his predecessor Bill Mantlo did. Though the Cat would stay a pivotal character for years to come, you’ll soon find out that her days as Pete’s main squeeze may very well be numbered.

Overall Rating

Luckily, Milgrom gave us two solid final issues before his time as writer on Spectacular ended. There is a lot going on in this issue and Al juggles it quite nicely. The double-sized issue #100 of PPTSSM is next.