It's the spring of 1985 and a major shake up is about to go down in the world of Spider-Man. The infamously tyrannical Jim Shooter is about to put an end to the long running Marvel Team-Up book and replace it with a new title called Web of Spider-Man. He's also about to put a 22 year old Jim Owsley in charge of editing all three Spider books.
Owsley's vision as editor of Spectacular is far different than the book that Bill Mantlo and Al Milgrom had been grooming over the past decade. Soon Milgrom's whimsical subplots and polka dotted villains will exit stage left. A darker Spectacular Spider-Man, written by the inexperienced but hugely talented Peter David, is right around the corner.
Al Milgrom's swan song as writer of Spectacular wraps up his Spot saga within the pages of a double-sized collectable #100 issue. Milgrom himself takes over the penciling duties from Herb Trimpe, who was responsible for the art on the last three issues. Trimpe (a long time Marvelite and former Marvel Team-Up artist) would never draw an American Spider-Man comic again.
|Inker:||Geof Isherwood, Vince Colletta|
|Cover Art:||Al Milgrom|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #24|
The opening splash page depicts a half nude Kingpin lifting Spider-Man above his head. “Fool! You think you can pit your strength against Wilson Fisk. The Kingpin of crime?!” shouts Kingy as he launches Spider-Man into the ground headfirst. In the background, a frantic Black Cat screams at Kingpin to stop. Instead, the Kingpin rips the Black Cat’s wig from her head. It turns out that the opponents that Kingpin is grappling with are sparring partners dressed up like Spidey and the Cat. The Kingpin, still nearly naked, then makes his way to the labs at Fisk Tower to get an update on the progress that scientist Johnny Ohnn has made. Unbeknownst to Kingpin, Ohnn has recently turned himself into the transporting villain known as the Spot. Ohnn, who is still trying to keep his powers a secret from his boss, is able to gather all of the spots that cover his body and make one giant spot out of them. This giant spot is located on Ohnn’s chest and he is now able to conceal it with clothing. Once the Kingpin has been updated on Ohnn’s progress, he makes his way to anther part of his tower. Still, Ohnn is utterly terrified that his enormous boss might learn his secret.
Back at Peter Parker’s apartment in Chelsea; Bambi, Candi and Randi are all dressed up for a beach party and are eager to ask their cute new neighbor if he would like to join them. All three ladies have not only changed hair styles since their initial appearance last issue, but they also have different colored hair (all three were originally depicted as blonde). They decide not to bother Pete though, seeing as how he came in so late and probably needs his beauty sleep.
Pete is in fact asleep and dreaming about the Black Cat, Mary Jane and the alien black costume. He’s awoken by the sound of a telephone and it’s Sha Shan on the line. Sha Shan fears that Flash is cheating on him and asks Pete to tail him. If I were Pete, I wouldn’t touch this problem with a ten foot poll, but selfless Parker throws on his Spidey costume and sets out to stalk his friend, Mr. Thompson. Peter follows Flash all the way out to Long Island where he finds his former rival playing semi-pro football. After hanging out for a while, Pete all but concedes the fact that Flash is playing football in his spare time and not cheating on Sha Shan; that is until he sees Betty Brant Leeds show up and immediately meet Thompson in an intimate embrace. Flash and Betty’s relationship is officially official (and mind you, Ned Leeds is very much alive at this point).
Once Spider-Man gets back to his apartment, he calls up the Black Cat to let her know that they should not see each other tonight. The Black Cat’s bad luck powers have been, well – bad luck, and Spidey feels as if he should confront the Kingpin without her help. The Black Cat, who feels as if she can handle the Kingpin situation on her own, agrees with her boyfriend, though secretly she too wants to confront her nemesis by herself.
As Spider-Man gets close to Kinpin’s tower, security cameras clue Fisk in on his expected guest. Just like the night before, Ohnn is also alerted by the tower’s security systems and he makes his way to the rooftop to again welcome Spider-Man. By first sticking a spot on the security camera so that the Kingpin can not see his appearance, the Spot then ambushes his friendly neighborhood foe by throwing dozens of portals into the air. Spider-Man is not amused.
While the Spot and Spider-Man battle, the Black Cat sees her boyfriend in action and decides to take an alternate route into the tower. She uses a machine gun sentinel to lower herself into the tower and she then takes advantage of the duct system to move about the building. Meanwhile, Spidey is finally able to sneak up on the Spot but his attempted punch does no good because of a conveniently located portal the Spot placed on the side of his head. After this, Spider-Man realizes that it’s going to take more than brute force to beat the Spot and he decides to back off and let his enemy go on the offensive.
Inside the tower, the Black Cat exits the duct to find a legion of Kingpin’s men waiting on her. With the help of her bad luck powers, the Black Cat easily defeats the thugs and stumbles into a dark room. Within the room a towering Wilson Fisk waits behind a desk. He has been expecting her. Interwoven into Black Cat’s advances throughout the tower is Spider-Man’s battle with the Spot. The Spot has seemingly taken the upper hand in the battle. He has thrown out numerous portals across the rooftop and is using this to his advantage. There is basically nowhere that Spider-Man can turn and not see a portal. From these portals, the Spot is able to land blow after blow on our hero.
Back inside the tower, the Kingpin explains exactly why he was nice enough to give Black Cat her powers back in Spectacular Spider-Man #89. Fisk explains that it was actually a cunning bit of revenge on the Black Cat, devised after she stole a nuclear detonator from him on the eve of the Owl/Octopus war in Spectacular Spider-Man #74. The powers that were given to the Black Cat obviously affect those who try to harm her, but they also affect those who “keep steady company with (her).” So in a drawn out bit of revenge, Kingpin knew that the powers that he gave to the Black Cat would eventually harm his greatest enemy, Spider-Man
As the Spot continues to grow in confidence as he rains blows upon Spider-Man, Pete is able to get closer and closer to his enemy. Eventually Spidey is close enough to land a vicious punch on the Spot. After throwing out so many spots into the air, the Spot lacked enough spots on his body to absorb a punch by Spider-Man. After getting clobbered, the Spot disappears in fear and Spider-Man is able to enter Fisk Tower and finally confront the Kingpin. Angered by Kingpin’s dealings with the Black Cat, Spider-Man instantly attacks his old enemy. The two trade blows for some time, eventually the Kingpin even throws a spiral staircase at Spider-Man. Their intense battle comes to an end after Spider-Man deals a decisively devastating two-fisted attack on the crime lord. Battered and beaten, the Kingpin threatens the arachnid by calling the police, saying that he will charge the web-slinger with trespassing. After forcing Fisk to promise to leave the Black Cat alone, Spider-Man reluctantly retreats.
After crawling to the top of the tower, Spider-Man is surprised to find Black Cat on the roof. Black Cat is in deep thought; she knows that the only way for her boyfriend to be safe from her bad luck powers is to longer see him. Before she has the opportunity to tell him this though, Pete makes the first move and breaks up with Felicia. He says that he can’t stay with someone so amoral, and someone who is more in love with Spider-Man that she is with Peter Parker. Devastated, Felicia Hardy shouts out, “Fine with me, mister Parker!”
Back at his apartment, Pete is restless. He can’t get Felicia’s reaction out of his head. He decides that a little web-slinging might clear his mind. Little does he know, the alien symbiote has made its way across town and is waiting for its former host in Peter Parker’s closet.
So the Black Cat and Spider-Man have finally broken up. It’s about time. The idea of a romantic side-kick for Spider-Man was an interesting idea, and Felicia Hardy (when written correctly) is a great piece to the Spider-Man cast, but this doomed relationship had gone on long enough. Milgrom was wise to clean up basically all of the Black Cat plot threads before his departure.
The action is definitely ramped up on this issue. The battle with the Spot was far less ridiculous than last time around. I think Milgrom had a better idea of how he wanted the character to look than his former penciler, Herb Trimpe did. The real highlight of the book though is the fight between the Kingpin and Spider-Man. I know we’ve seen the big lug fight our hero a number of times, but it’s always captivating to see the enormous Wilson Fisk go toe to toe with Spider-Man. The idea of Spider-Man using his wits to beat the Spot and his brute strength to beat the Kingpin are nice touches.
As for the Spot, we wouldn’t see him again for over a decade. JM Dematties would bring him out of retirement in the late ‘90s so that he could make fun of him. Fred Van Lente would give the character a darker edge upon his return in Amazing Spider-Man #589. As of late, the Spot has become more of a Daredevil villain than he has a Spider-Man adversary.
Milgrom gives us a nice finish to his run as writer on Spectacular. The Spot is defeated and subsequently retires (for a while), the Kingpin takes a two-fister to the head and Peter breaks up with the Black Cat. If you’re fond of Milgrom’s writing, you might want to check out the 6-part Round Robin saga he put together for ASM in ’91. It starts with Amazing Spider-Man #353.
The alien symbiote plot line would roll over into Web of Spider-Man #1.