Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #129

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


When Spidey first met the Black Cat, she was a cat burglar. Upon going straight, they began a rocky relationship that eventually ended when she learned he was "just" Peter Parker. Black Cat then underwent an experimental surgery to gain actual powers funded by the Kingpin. It resulted in Cat having actual bad luck powers, which began to go haywire and affect Peter's life. When he went to Dr. Strange to remove the hex, it altered Cat's powers which failed her during a ransacking of the Foreigner's penthouse office.

Mad for going behind her back, Cat vowed revenge against Peter, and after meeting the mysterious Foreigner, agreed to help him take down Spidey. It involved Felicia's apartment being firebombed by the villain The Blaze, also on Foreigner's payroll. When Spider-man publicly threatened Blaze after beating him, Foreigner paid Blaze a visit in jail disguised as Police Captain Chris Keating, breaking Blaze's neck and pulling out the cell window bars, claiming Spider-man broke in and did it.

Story 'Foreign Affairs'

After the firebombing of her apartment, Felicia had temporarily taken up residence with Peter. The first page or so consists of a recap of the events up above. Pete comes home out of costume and overhears Felicia on the phone with Foreigner, talking about how they set Peter up. At first he plans to play it cool, draw her out, and be cunning like her. Instead he loses his temper, tearing the apartment door off it's hinges in rage. Felicia hangs up with Foreigner, Pete goes to web her up before she can escape, but she throws a bomb into his darkroom, saying he chase her or save his camera equipment. When Pete webs up the bomb, he finds it was only a smoke bomb; she lied to him again. Pete's next door neighbors are on the roof, and spot the Black Cat leaving his window, so he can't follow her out or risk his identity. He instead takes the stairs, intending to change in an alley and give chase, but runs into Flash Thompson coming in his building's front entrance. Flash says they have to go see Betty, that she needs help now that her husband Ned is dead (see ASM #289). Flash collapses in Pete's arms, Pete realizes he can't leave his friend this way and that he can't chase Cat at this time.

Over at Captain Keating's office, Keating is giving the job of catching Spider-man to Officer Tork. Tork doesn't think the murder rap on Spidey feels right. Tork thinks back to when Stan Carter (formerly Sin Eater--visiting from the loony bin) came around to his office earlier. Carter pointed out that if Spider-man really broke into Blaze's cell, why didn't he tear the bars out from the outside instead of pushing them in? Also why would Spidey attack while Keating was in the cell with Blaze, why not wait? Carter says Tork's time would be better spent checking up on Keating.

Flash and Peter meanwhile take a cab across town to Betty's. Betty invites them in, saying Ned will be home any time now, and that she's preparing dinner for him. Pete whispers that Flash should take it easy and be subtle. Flash agrees, and tells Betty that Ned is dead and never coming back, that she's acting really weird. -Subtle as a brick, Flash, Peter says. Betty laughs off what Flash says, but he grabs her by the shoulders, screaming that Ned's never coming back. She slaps him and says to shut his lying mouth. Finally she relents, saying Ned's dead and she can't even remember what he looks like. Flash holds her as she weeps. Peter backs out of the room, into the hall, thinking "jeez".

Over at Foreigner's, Forry asks what happened between she and Pete earlier, she says "later.." and starts to undress. Pete meanwhile is at the police station, under the pretense of interviewing Keating for the Bugle in an attempt to get some leads on the case and on Cat. Upon being directed to the absent Keating's desk, Peter answers his ringing phone, thinking he has nothing to lose. He recognizes the person on the other end of the line as Felicia, trying to change his voice so she doesn't recognize it. Felicia tells him to have Keating meet her at an address, that it's important. Disbelieving his own good luck, he runs back to his apartment to change into Spider-man and track her down.

Silver Sable pays a visit to Jonah at the Bugle, returning his million dollar advance paid to Sable by Jonah to track down and bring in Spider-man last issue. Sable says Jonah isn't worthy to sponsor Spider-man's downfall. Looking through the envelope, Jonah realizes there's only $425,000 there, and calls out to her asking where the rest is. She says simply, "expenses".

Foreigner is asking Felicia at his place whether she wants French or Italian for dinner, that they'll fly to either place from NY. Felicia says surprise her, she loves surprises, whereupon Spidey crashes through the window. Foreigner hops out of bed, throwing the mattress at Spidey. Spidey says "not bad, you're stronger than you look--can you do this, creep?" and tears the matress in half. Foreigner responds "why would I want to?" and escapes through a trap door under the bed. Cat phone 911 as she's getting her costume on, saying Spider-man's trying to kill her boyfriend. Spidey follows throgh the trap door--some kind of private gym. Foreigner is standing, waiting for Spidey to approach--as he does, Foreigner disappears and reappears behind Spidey, almost taking his off with a punch before spider-sense warns Peter. Spidey asks how is he able to move so fast, Forry says that would be telling. He does it again--Spidey thinks it's impossible, that no one's that fast and Forry shouldn't be able to touch him. Forry says he's disappointed, that Felicia told him Spidey's more formidable than that. Trying to get him talking to buy some time, Spidey asks what else did Felicia say about him. Forry says that she made other comparisons between the two of them, and that Peter came up a bit..short. Forry grabs Spidey off the wall and throws him across the room. Spidey watches the wall clock as Forry wails on him--it jumps ahead ten seconds at one point as if Forry is skipping through time.

Peter clocks him really good, knocking out one of his teeth. Forry throws the tooth at Spidey, and it explodes. Spidey and Forry grapple and their fight leads them crashing out the window and into the street. Silver Sable is driving by with her driver, wondering where all the policemen are off to in hurry, and to follow them and find out. Peter realizes Forry is using hypnosis on him--blacking him out when they make eye contact for a few seconds so he can get in and hit him. Spidey closes his eyes and, using his spider-sense, gets a good hit in on Forry, knocking him out. When he opens his eyes, he's surrounded by the police outside. Tork comes up and starts reading Spidey his rights. Cat calls down from the balcony--she asks if Spidey would like her help now. Spidey replies she's the last person on earth he'd want to be indebted to. "Perfect," Cat says, dropping an envelope down to Tork. Tork opens the envelope, looks, and tells the cops to stand down. The captain pulls up in a squad car, but Tork says he's letting Spidey go. The captain asks him if he's lost his mind--Tork shows him the pictures Cat threw down: a shot from the outside of Keating tearing out the cell bars in Blaze's cell. Spidey goes back searching Foreigner's house for Felicia, but she's long gone.

Pete gets back to his apartment and drops through the skylight. Mary Jane is there--she had called a locksmith to fix his busted door. She also comments on how he spends so long in the bathroom, covering for him so the locksmith won't wonder how he got in and didn't use the front door. After the guy leaves, Pete begins to fill Mary Jane in on what happened. A message is delivered to the door--a letter for Peter from Felicia. She explains that she was playing both the Foreigner and Peter against each other. She explains that she's the one who took pictures of Keating in Blaze's cell, from the outside. She also says she intended for Peter to overhear her talking on the phone at his place, and sent a lead to Keating at the police HQ intended to bring Peter to the Foreigner's. She says her plan to get back at Peter backfired when she realized she had fallen back in love with him. She says she's certain the Foreigner will now have her killed, so she's on vacation: she encloses a photo that shows her in a bikini on a cruise line. (Wow, in the time it took for Peter to get home from the earlier scene, she had booked a trip, taken a picture of herself and wrote a letter and had it sent? Impossible). Peter tells MJ he'd like to be alone for awhile after finishing the letter. Then he comes to his senses and stops her in the hall. She says that's what she's around for, to glue him back together when he goes to pieces.

In the last pages, Silver Sable is having a drink with the Foreigner. He says the entire thing was an attempt to test Felicia's loyalty as it was to get Spider-man. He says she failed him and he will have to kill Felicia. He also reveals that he had Captain Chris Keating killed and was posing as him for several years, him and at least two dozen of his other associates. He also reveals that it was he who was in Blaze's cell posing as Keating when he killed him. Foreigner thanks Sable for putting their "blood feud" aside for awhile long enough to take him to this hideout. Sable says it's the least she can do for her ex-husband. They toast a drink.

General Comments

This is a rather good end to the plot threads Peter David had been building on since the beginning of his run. Foreigner is a loathsome creep of a villain and it's nice to see Peter finally wail on him a bit.

The reveal that he's also Silver Sable's ex-husband is quite funny (as he had sent his ex-wife an exploding bouquet of flowers a few issues ago--but they never showed her or said who she was--and no average woman but Sable probably would've survived that). When it rains, it really pours on Peter. He was manipulated by both Foreigner and Cat, and they both got away. At least he is cleared for the murder of Blaze from a few issues ago. That was a plot point that really didn't have time to simmer, but it's no matter. It's never explained here at least just what the extent of Foreigner's powers are--posing as Keating he was able to pull a section of wall out of a jail cell which would make him very superpowered. The reveal of his hypnosis techniques was a nice touch too--Foreigner was quite the formidable foe for Spidey, but to my knowledge no other writers bothered to do much else with him.

Cat also drops out of the Spidey books for awhile after this, which is a good thing. David had taken her about as far as any writer possibly could. She'd been the focus of this title for a little too long and it's nice to see that she gets a good send-off here, especially one written so well.

Peter David's run on Spectacular more than lives up to the title's namesake. His stories had better humor, mystery, long-running plot lines, memorable characters, and an adult storytelling approach that resonated more deeply and truer than most other writers who came and went on Spidey around the same late 80's 2 to 3 year window. The fact that a Spectacular Spider-man Visionaries: Peter David collection doesn't exist is a crime against comic fans generally and Spidey fans specifically (how about it Marvel??). With his brilliant 3-part Return Of The Sin-Eater storyline after this (which makes a nice bookend to the Death Of Jean DeWolff story with which he started his run on Spec), he ends his tenure on Spider-man in the late 80's (except for random scripts for Web Of Spider-man after this), There's no question that Spider-man as well as it's readers were all the richer for what he contributed.

Overall Rating

A nice wrapping-up of various plot lines by Peter David before his final, excellent 3-part arc on the title. Humor, action and with lots of the Spider-verse cast of characters appearing, this one really delivers the goods.

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