No background needed for this one. It flows directly from last issue, but if you missed that one you can pick up the main story easy enough.
|Cover Art:||Sal Buscema|
|Reprinted In:||Complete Spider-Man (UK) #2|
Jumping right into things, this issue starts with a breakout from The Vault - the prison for supervillains in the Marvel Universe. Using the information he got from last issue, The Hobgoblin has succeeded in locating the man known as Carrion. Conveniently, Carrion is being transported back to The Vault from a court appearance. (I can just imagine that scene - the chairs and desks keep withering under his touch, he's called in contempt of court by the judge, and is forced to float by himself in the corner until all the proceedings are done.)
Anyway, Hobgoblin attacks the envoy, zaps two Guardsmen, then tears off the back of the truck that's holding Carrion. One of the Guardsman recovers, however, and puts Hobby in servo-headlock that totally incapacitates him (and just last page he was bragging about his new demonic powers)! Luckily, Carrion emerges from the back of the truck, reaches in between a tear in the Guardsman's suit, and he's turned into a rotten sack of potatoes (the Guardsman, not Carrion).
Hobby tries to convince Carrion to help him with his plan to kill Spider-Man, while Carrion waxes poetic about how all he wants is to live a peaceful un-life. Hobby then whips out a little Spider-Man ragdoll, goadig Carrion into a revenge-filled rage. (I'm not even going to speculate why Hobby has a Spider-Man doll to begin with!) The pair eventual escapes, just as more Guardsmen arrive on the scene.
Next, we switch scenes to the Baxter Building, where Spidey and Reed Richards are doing a little clean-up. It seems Hobgoblin busted in the night before and stole the rest of the research notes on Carrion. Appreciatively, he left a pumpkin bomb as a calling card so Spidey can put two and two together. As Spidey leaves, he gives the reader a brief recap of Carrion II's origin from Spectacular Spider-Man #149, and then stops by the science department at NYU (this was back when Peter was still going to grad school). He broods some more, wondering whether he should have told Malcolm McBride's family about their son's situation. Then MJ shows up and takes Peter off to a picnic.
Meanwhile, in the sewers somewhere beneath New York, Hobby is busy telling Carrion the truth about himself. It seems Professor Warren's virus had wiped Malcolm McBride's memory. But with a little prodding, Carrion does remember his mother. But he wants to go see her for himself. Hobby obliges.
Speaking of heart to hearts... For a change of pace, we switch to JJJ's penthouse apartment, where Joe Robertson stops in for a visit. Last issue, Jonah offered Joe a job at his new start-up magazine, but Thomas Fireheart had given him a counter offer to be the new publisher of the Daily Bugle. Jonah wants an answer. Joe's upset that he even has to ask. It's a touching moment, and seems out of synch with the rest of the issue unless you look at it as a foil to the exploitive partnership between Carrion and Hobgoblin.
Cut to Peter and MJ's picnic, which Peter is ruining it in characteristic style by brooding over his Carrion dilemma. He eventually decides to go tell Malcolm's mother the truth, and the stage is set for our hero and villains to finally meet.
It's night already, and now we're in Queens. Carrion is lurking outside the kitchen window of his mother's house looking very creepy. She looks up, and, understandably, frightened half to death. Carrion tries to tell her that he's her son. She's hesitant to believe him. But before they can say anything further Spidey busts in through another (or the same?) kitchen window. He shoots a web onto Carrion's hood and whips him around the room and tosses him out the very same kitchen window (Quite a feat, that is.)
Carrion is upset that Spider-Man broke up his reunion, so he gives the wallcrawler a swift kick. Then, he tries to pounce on him. Spidey jumps away and tries to reason with Carrion, telling him there may be a cure if he gets help. But his stalling tactic doesn't work, as Hobby springs up out of the sewer and stuns our hero - giving him just enough time to think that Hobby's demonic powers must have dampened his spider-sense - and then drags him underground with Carrion following.
So there it is. That's quite a cliffhanger - our hero at the mercy of two of the creepiest villains around at the time! There's not really a lot of action, but it's the middle part of a 3-part story so that can be forgiven.
This was my first introduction to both Carrion and Hobgoblin. Carrion seemed really cool - he had the typical zombie mojo, with the added twist of his decay inducing touch and that red dust of death he carries around. And Hobgoblin finally returns with his new demonic powers, which should have made him an even bigger threat than before. (I just don't think the writers knew what to do with him at this point, though.) While the two characters seem a natural fit story-wise, lending it a creepy "Ghost & Goblins" feel, it doesn't turn out as promising as it should. But I'll save the rest of the criticism for the next issue's wrap-up.
No footnotes this time. Everything leads directly to next issue's climax.