Web of Spider-Man #21

Story 'The Enemy Unknown'

  Web of Spider-Man #21
Summary: Flashback, Phoney Spider-Man
Editor: Jim Owsley
Writer: Larry Lieber
Pencils: Larry Lieber
Inker: Vince Colletta
Cover Art: Larry Lieber
Articles: Aunt May Parker (FB), Mercado, Joy

Pete and Joy are on a ferry in the Irish Sea on their way over to Ireland. Pete is sniffing and Joy tells him to watch out, else he might get a cold. This gets Pete thinking back to the last time he had a cold...

There is a street mugging going on and Spider-Man is watching on. He asks the muggers if they are OK, then leave them to their business. The police turn up and arrest the crooks, who tell them Spidey had let them go. But then, up on a nearby roof, we see some blonde guy take off his Spidey mask. It is just some fraud using suction cups to appear like Spider-Man

Back at his flat and Pete is suffering from a cold while Mary-Jane looks after him. Elsewhere and the false Spidey has broken into an office building high up with an iron bar. He steals some jewellery and hangs around just long enough for the police to see his escape.

As the news of 'Spider-Man's' robbery gets out, the mayor is worried about the backlash from the public but Jonah is ecstatic. After seeing a news report, Pete changes into his black costume and swings off, still full of cold, to try and find out what's happening.

After spotting his alter-ego (who wears the blue and red costume) on a rooftop, Spidey swings down but sneezes at a most inopportune time and crash lands on the roof. He manages to get a tracer on the other Spider-Man but the police show up and try to apprehend him. After avoiding them and swinging off, he spots the impostor and his accomplice in an alley and, feeling too weak for a fight, simply follows them.

He tracks them down to their flat and sets himself up ready to pounce when the police presence has gone. Inside and the two (who seem to be brothers) look at a picture of their Dad and say they are doing it for him. Spidey goes into their apartment after they've left and finds a scrap book. It turns out that their Dad was shot by a gang that Spidey was trying to apprehend after they had taken a hostage. Many of the onlookers deduced that is Spider-Man hadn't have barged in to nab the crooks, they never would have taken a hostage and no- one would have been killed.

Spidey then notices some pictures of the Roosevelt Island skyway train and realises their next plan involves something there. Over on the sky train and 'Spider-Man' has taken a hostage (his brother) after stopping the train dangling over the ocean. He demands $1million. The real Spidey swings into the action, giving the game away that there are two. The red and blue fake one tries to attack him with a blowtorch on top of the sky train.

The flames effect the wires, though, and the fake Spidey's brother falls off. The real Spidey webs him and saves him, though. He also webs the wires to stop the whole train plunging down. Back at the shore and the fake Spider-Man is arrested.

Back to the present and Pete and Joy have arrived in Ireland (Northern Ireland to be precise). On their way to Belfast, something happens - we don't see what - but Pete's final words are: "Oh my gosh! What happened?"

General Comments

I'm going to have to plead ignorance here as I have no idea why they put in a flashback story, as opposed to continuing the ongoing stories. I won't bother speculating, either, so will just treat this as a separate story in its own right

This is a nice, self-contained story that, while not adding an awful lot to the overall Spider-Man storyline, puts more pieces in place about the direction the character is going. Once again an innocent bystander is put in jeopardy because Spidey has rushed into a situation. This time the bystander was killed, which is what led to the whole phoney situation.

As I've said before, I really like the more-realistic direction things are going in the Web Of title where Spidey's actions have repercussions. Is it really more important to prevent a robbery for material goods at the expense of innocent people's lives? These are questions that real security and police services have to deal with every day and it's good to see Spider-Man getting some of the same treatment.

The cover is really excellent on this issue - the best of the Web series so far. With two Spideys on the front, it can't do anything else but intrigue you and urge you to read (and buy!) to find out just what is going on.

Considering it's a flashback to when Spidey's supposed to have a cold, though, his germs play surprisingly little part in the story. Aside from missing his swing once when he first spots the phoney, that's about the sum of his ailments.

Overall Rating

A reasonably good storyline with some interesting issues arising. Good as a stop-gap but let's get back to the proper storylines now, eh?