Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #128

 Posted: 2009
 Staff: Adam Winchell (E-Mail)


Black Cat wants payback. She gained actual bad-luck powers from Kingpin, but they were powers that hexed Spidey himself, affecting his luck in life and in crime-fighting. After he and Black Cat split up as a couple, Spidey visited Dr. Strange, who removed the hex but warned Spidey it could negatively affect the hex at the source. It did: Cat's powers cut out while she was raiding the penthouse office of the Foreigner, and she suffered a brutal beating at the hands of his thugs. She swore revenge on Pete for interfering.

After this encounter, Foreigner took an interest in Cat and tracked her down, devising a plan for how she could get even with Spider-man. Foreigner bought the gear and costume of the villain Blaze and sent a hired thug in the outfit to off Spidey and Cat. Blaze failed and was paid a visit by Foreigner or one of his operatives (in disguise as police captain Chris Keating), who broke Blaze's neck in his jail cell, claiming it was Spider-man who did it. Spidey's now on the run for the murder he didn't commit, and is unaware that Black Cat isn't on his side at all but playing against him.

Story 'Spider Hunt'

Felicia's enraged, saying she's going to tear Foreigner's heart out and serve it for breakfast for playing her for a sucker. Pete tells her to calm down, Felicia says that's easy for him to say, and then goes on to recap all the recent events. Pete says she should try to track Foreigner down while he finds out who killed Blaze in his holding cell and blamed Spidey for it, and swings out the window of his apartment in costume. Cat says it's a perfect time to use his darkroom to develop a roll of film she's been holding..that she'll be needing it sooner than she thought.

Meanwhile, Jonah is paying a visit to the Symkanian Embassy, where Silver Sable is training in her gym by taking on a bunch of hired guards. Jonah says he wants her to track down and bring Spider-man to justice, saying he wants her to make it stick before he can be proven innocent for the recent charges of killing Blaze. Jonah says he'll also pay her a cool half-million to do it. Sable says a full one million, non-negotiable. Jonah is taken aback but agrees.

At the Empire State U library, Spidey's dropping in on Barry and Ashley, the two ESU students who devised the Blaze persona to test Spider-man, back in Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #103. Spidey accuses them of selling the Blaze gear to Foreigner, and asks where Foreigner can be found. They tell Spidey to look in a record store and say they don't know what he's talking about. Spidey thinks they sound too realistically scared to be lying, and tells them no more stupid college pranks. As he leaves, they go back to what they were working on: a counterfeit Mona Lisa painting to substitute with the real one. Some police try to stop Spidey out in the street, but he swings off, saying they can't fire at him for risk of hitting civilians.

Over at the Police Precinct, Captain Chris Keating is furious with the officers for letting Spidey go. He grouses to Sgt. Tork about what they're teaching in the police academy and does he have to be the arresting officer and witness and everything? Tork thinks Keating's been on edge lately. He's broken out of his thoughts by Stan Carter, aka Sin Eater, paying a visit from the psychiatric ward.

Carter explains that what he did to Captain Jean DeWolff still horrifies him, that he wasn't himself when he did it. He says his doctors think controlled field trips like this one to the precinct could be good for him. Tork asks what the point of his visit is--Carter says the whole Spider-man investigation makes no sense, and explains why, but we don't get to see what he says, yet. As Carter leaves, Tork's fellow policemen are baiting Tork for talking to Carter, asking what he wanted. Tork says he tried to convice him that Spidey's not a murderer, but he that he doesn't listen to murdering scum like Carter.

Spidey's swinging around wondering what to do next, out of leads, when he runs into Daredevil. They had a recent fight over in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #287 so Spidey's ready to take him on again. Daredevil says he's not there to fight, and recommends that Spidey get a good lawyer for the murder accusations. Spidey says he's never 100% sure he can trust DD, but that he can trust Black Cat and that's all he needs. Daredevil tells him to suit himself and leaves. Spidey wonders if DD's right, if Spidey himself is out of his league with this frame-job. Lost in thought, he doesn't notice that Sable's agents are pinpointing his location.

Flash Thompson, meanwhile, is in the hospital recovering after his encounter with Hobgoblin and Spidey. He's recently been cleared of being Hobby himself, and is trying to work up the courage to phone Betty Brant and offer her support for her recently-deceased husband Ned Leeds. When he gets Betty on the phone, she's in denial over her husband's death. He hangs up, telling the nurse to get his clothes, that he's leaving--the hospital staff convince him otherwise when he can barely get out of bed.

Sable's agents get the drop on Spidey, meanwhile, in an aerial pursuit. He takes many of them out, bantering the whole time. Spidey recognizes them as Sable's Wild Pack. He wonders who's footing the bill to send them after him. Cat meanwhile is at Pete's apartment still, talking to Keating on his house phone. Keating tells her everything's going fine on his end, that the frame-up against Spidey is solid.

Spidey's thrashed most of the Wild Pack. He recognizes the squad leader as the SHIELD agent he encountered recently, who shot and killed young Alex Woolcot when he was on the run a few issues back in Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #118. The agent says he was fired by Nick Fury himself for the incident, but that Sable hired him on, knowing how much the agent wanted payback against Spidey. Moments later, his fellow agents awake to find the squad leader, stripped of his uniform, and webbed up completely except for his mouth. He tells his fellow agents to get the stuff off of him. Spidey, swinging away but still within earshot, bets that the agent won't wait until the webbing dissolves to get out of the stuff, and is pleased to hear the guy scream as they tear it off of him.

Pete returns to his apartment after changing into civilian clothes that he had stashed in a nearby alley. He thinks he's lucky to have Felicia to rely on during this mess. He walks in to hear her on the phone with someone--Foreigner. She tells Forry that Keating says the Spider-man frame-up is "iron-clad", and that not to worry, Spidey is putty in their hands. She says his problem is he's too trusting.

General Comments

A nearly-perfect issue. Very amusing, and satisfying, to see Spider-man get payback against the SHIELD agent who gunned down Alex Woolcot.

As for Jonah siccing Sable on the webhead, it feels a bit tacked-on and secondary to everything that's happening, but makes for the nice action spreads the issue needs. A pity Spidey didn't get to take on Silver Sable himself--I'm not sure this is what Jonah had in mind by paying her 1 million to bring in Spidey, but no matter.

Daredevil's page and a half appearance here is negligible, pointless even, despite him being featured on a box in the cover. Cat's new costume, also heralded on the cover, is a bit lame with it's Wolverine mask; it's an outfit I think she only wore for this issue and the next before it (and she) disappears.

The plot with Black Cat and Foreigner framing Spidey continues to build and boils over next issue, where we find out what's on the roll of film she develops. Nice to see a callback to David's own issue #103, which introduced Blaze and the college kids who "created" him. Also surprising to see Stan Carter again--it adds yet another layer to his tragic character as he's basically disgraced and slightly crippled after his encounter with Spidey. His appearance sets up the exceptional Return Of The Sin-Eater story line to come.

One thing noticably different is a lack of the darker edginess (and dark humor) that editor Jim Owsley brought to this title. He exited with issue #122, and the feel of this book changed dramatically, which I believe added to the overstuffed, overcooked quality of Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #123 (which set up the murder of Blaze). Owsley's own fascinating insider take on his editorship of this era's Spidey-books, his mentorship of Peter David and his own ousting from Marvel makes for great reading for any fan of 1980's Marvel comics (and can be found here: http://www.digital-priest.com/comics/adventures/frames/spidey.htm).

Overall Rating

A lot going on in this issue, but it's very controlled and contained by Peter David. He winds down his run on the title with some fun recalls to his own recent storylines.

 Posted: 2009
 Staff: Adam Winchell (E-Mail)