Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #152

 Posted: 2002
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)

Story 'A Wolf's Tale...'

In a ruined, devastated city, Spider-Man runs, dragging along an exhausted J. Jonah Jameson. Two blue-black werewolves pursue them. Jonah declares himself unable to go on so Spider-Man gently rests him against some rubble and turns to face the charging monsters. One of the wolves leaps on him and knocks him flat on his back. The other creature turns its attention to Jameson. Jonah tries to get to his feet but the werewolf leaps on his back, forces him to the ground and starts chomping on him. Spider-Man has been struggling to keep the slavering jaws of his werewolf away from his throat but the death of Jonah Jameson distracts him and the wolf murders him by slashing his throat with his claws. "Your first kill" says one wolf to the other, "how did it taste?" "Hot. Sweet." replies the other wolf. The first wolf agrees that "the first kill remains the best" and he metamorphoses into Eduardo Lobo as he speaks. The other wolf proclaims herself "afraid" and metamorphoses into Gloria Grant, though still fanged and with pointed ears. "What is happening to me?" she screams. Eduardo takes her in his arms, kisses her with passion, and perhaps gets more intimate than that. (They are both naked, after all, and Gloria gives out a cry that becomes a baying at the full moon, as she changes into a werewolf once again.) "You have hunted, you have killed, you have tasted the blood of your prey" says Eduardo, "and now nothing can ever tear us apart..."

And then Gloria wakes up with a jolt. She is on her bed, still dressed in the clothes she wore when she was out with Betty and Flash. It has all been a nightmare. Well, not all of it. A large blue-furred werewolf is crouched at the foot of her bed, watching her and Gloria knows that this wolf is Eduardo. She remembers the moment that he confronted her in her apartment, when he told her he couldn't trust her and when he charged her. At that moment, Gloria passed out, "expecting to die". But, here she is, not dead. Eye to eye with her lover, the werewolf, instead.

Outside the apartment, Joy Mercado continues her surveillance. She still feels guilty about spying on her friend but she also knows that Eduardo Lobo is a gangster and could put Gloria's life in danger. Out of the corner of her eye, Joy sees something move through the sky. It is Spider-Man on his web and he seems to be in a hurry.

Spidey's destination is "Vitelli's Warehouse", where the Lobo Brothers are "receiving a weapons shipment" this evening. Spidey has gotten this information from the Arranger after he overcame his indecision and agreed to help the Kingpin in his battle against the werewolves. He opens a skylight in the warehouse roof, sets up his automatic camera, enters, and dangles from one of the rafters. Inside, there are at least nine men, opening crates and pulling out automatic weapons. They talk about a second shipment that is expected at the end of the month and they can't wait until "the Brothers" give them the word to "use this stuff". Spidey introduces himself to the proceedings by sliding upside-down on a web to about head level. The men instantly create a crossfire by shooting their guns at him but the spider-speed is working well and Spider-Man is no longer where they are shooting. As the men try to figure out where he has gone, the web-slinger jumps down from the ceiling and flattens all of them. But then, the webhead's spider-sense warns him of danger from behind. He turns just in time to see a brown-haired werewolf leaping for his throat. At the last instant, his instincts take over and the wall-crawler leaps aside but his reflexes are too fast for his head and he finds himself smashing through the warehouse wall before he knows how close he is to it. The warehouse is right on the waterfront and Spidey finds himself falling into the East River. By the time he resurfaces the werewolf, the men, and the weapons are all gone. The only thing he has going for him are photos that make Spider-Man look like "a first-class baboon"; just the kind of pics that J. Jonah Jameson has been buying lately.

But even that is not to be. Jameson rejects the photos, claiming, "they made Spider-Man look too vulnerable". After all of this, Pete is hardly in a sociable mood but he has a lunch date with Flash Thompson and Harry Osborn. The two men wave at him from a sidewalk table at a café (And, need I mention that it's been snowing and cold for all the previous issues and now it's warm enough to sit outside for a lunch date? That crazy El Nino weather!) The fellows ask him why he seems so down and Pete replies "Going back to school is harder than I'd expected plus MJ and I spend all our free time apartment hunting". Pete sits down, orders a burger and coffee ("Black, both of them.), and asks Flash why he wanted to meet. Flash holds up yet another inflammatory anti-Spider-Man Bugle headline ("Mob Violence Blamed on Spider-Man") and tells Pete that something has to be done about it. Harry would like to help out Spider-Man's image but sees himself as just a businessman. "Public relations is out of my league," he says. Pete tells the guys that Jameson won't even buy his photos anymore. Still, one thing Flash learned in working with inner-city kids is "if you don't fight for what you believe, nothing changes". He suggests starting up the "Spidey Appreciation Society" that he began in High School. Harry is agreeable to it. But Pete is distracted by another story in the newspaper. The headline reads, "Government Commission to Study Federal Prison Reform" and this reminds him that Joe Robertson is still stuck in prison.

And so we segue over to Lewisburg Penitentiary. There (in scenes that I have skimmed over because they had nothing to do with the Lobos), Robbie Robertson has been "adopted" by a huge man called Bruiser. (Bruiser is a seven-foot, 350 plus pound black man who wears a white muscle shirt and has a shaved head.) They walk together in the prison compound. Bruiser places his hand on Robbie's shoulder as Robbie explains that he was put in prison because he witnessed Tombstone kill a man twenty years before and only reported it a few months ago. Bruiser assumes this means that Robbie was sent up because he "finked" and Robbie must explain that he's in jail "because I didn't fink soon enough". Bruiser tells Robbie that there are new rules in prison. "Lucky you an' me are gonna be special pals", he says. (I'm not sure I want to know what "special pals" means in this circumstance.) Robbie appreciates the "interest" but warns Bruiser that Tombstone is a bad man to have as an enemy. Bruiser figures he can take care of himself and he must demonstrate this immediately. Tombstone is also in the compound with seven sycophantic inmates. He sics all seven of them on Bruiser. Bruiser gets Robbie out of the way, and then mops the floor up with the seven men. The guards run up, nightsticks raised, and cart Bruiser off to solitary. Bruiser assures Robbie that Tombstone will not make a move against him until the solitary stint is over. "Cause that's the rules" he says, "and if you wanna get by in the slam... even a tough guy like Tombstone... ya gotta play by the rules". Tombstone's frustrated look shows Bruiser to be correct.

Back in Midtown, Spidey taps on the Arranger's window at Fisk Tower. The Arranger opens the window and gripes at Spidey for contacting him at work. "You're only to contact me at my condominium or by telephone," he says. Spidey could care less if the Kingpin finds out about his "arrangement" with the Arranger. He has shown up to tell the Arranger that the Lobos are indeed "arming for war". He suggests that the Kingpin sue for peace. The Arranger explains that the Lobos are out for blood. "Either help stop their arms shipments or share responsibility for the violence that will engulf this city" he says. Spidey agrees to continue the alliance. But the Arranger plans to "be rid of him" after their alliance is completed.

It is now morning at Gloria Grant's apartment. Eduardo is back in human form, wearing nothing but a pair of white slacks. Gloria, still frightened and curled up on her bed asks Eduardo why he didn't kill her when he said he was "finished" with her. Eduardo stares out the window in silence. Then he starts telling a story. "My mother died at my birth" he says, "I never knew my father, curse his soul." He and Carlos "grew up poor and alone on the streets of Puebla De Zaragoza", keeping themselves alive by stealing chickens and trading them in for "shelter and safety". As the boys grew, they "felt different from the other children of the streets". They hunted at night since they saw very well in the dark. Carlos "had a strange taste for violence". But Eduardo "had a taste for beauty". He used to hide behind a tree and watch Esmelda Valdez ride her horse on her wealthy father's ranch. One day, the horse got a scent of the hidden Eduardo, reared until Esmelda fell off, and bolted for home. Eduardo immediately came to Esmelda's rescue and soon, they were spending all their time together. They ran hand-in-hand on the beach, they kissed, they stood arm-in-arm on a hill and looked down on the town. And Eduardo started feeling a strange stirring that he thought was love but was actually something else.

One night, Eduardo and Esmelda lay in each other's arms under a tree when a trio of horsemen rode up, silhouetted by a full moon. Esmelda recognized the leader as her brother Ramone, who was there to announce to his sister that she had shamed the family. Whip in hand, Ramone charged on his horse and attacked Eduardo, driving him off. Alone and in pain, Eduardo's rage grew so great that it triggered the stirring in his blood. He turned into a blue-black werewolf and attacked Ramone and his men.

In the morning, Eduardo awoke. He was stretched out naked near a tree, human once more. He looked around and saw the three men murdered, their throats slashed and lying in their own blood. And then he saw Esmelda, killed in exactly the same way. He held her in his arms and cried out in horror over what he had done.

Eduardo soon realized that he and Carlos are mutants, "shapechangers who take the form of wolves when the moon shines full and bright, a curse ignited by the hormonal changes of puberty". But while Eduardo's experience made him horrified by his powers, Carlos reveled in his. It was Carlos who used his charisma to unite the South Texas mobs. Eduardo only came along for the ride. They were both satisfied with this life until the Kingpin sent the Punisher to assassinate them. Now they are in New York, "to avenge our honor and defend our lives". Gloria asks if she was just being used and Eduardo admits that, at first, that was the intention. But, unexpectedly, she stole his heart and he cannot bring himself to let her go. ("You have tamed the wolf in my soul.") The lovers embrace and kiss in front of the window, which gives Joy Mercado, still spying outside, the chance to snap some pictures of the couple. Joy believes that Gloria is "destroying herself" and she wants to help but she wonders how her obsessive spying can do any good particularly when she feels such activity is "flat-out wrong".

Spidey, too, is wondering about the morality of his activities as he web-slings back to Aunt May's Forest Hills home. Back in his bedroom, Peter changes out of his Spidey duds and discusses his dilemma with Mary Jane (who seems overly-preoccupied with checking out her photos in her portfolio). MJ tells Pete she supports him no matter what he chooses to do. Pete replies that he's afraid of making a mistake. "Creeps like the Arranger kill people," he says. And eavesdropping on the conversation, Kristy worries that Peter might get hurt and even die. Kristy, you see, "fell in love with Peter Parker as only a sixteen-year-old can" when she first came to live with MJ. Now this worry just might push Kristy farther into her own troubles... troubles that "might very well destroy her life."

 Posted: 2002
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)