Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #7

 Posted: 18 Jul 2023
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)


Peter and Mary Jane got married. Don’t argue!

Story 'The Honeymoon'

In rural New Mexico, the Puma was reluctantly taking part in a ritual battle with other members of his tribe. The battle was performed at the insistence of his uncle, whom soon halted the ritual. He told Thomas that he was still worthy of being the Puma, yet he was disappointed. Thomas Fireheart had become the Puma in order to defend the tribe from “He who comes from Beyond,” also known as the Beyonder. Yet he didn’t defeat “He who comes from Beyond” alone. Spider-Man had helped and Thomas was obligated to thank him in proportion to his help. Puma had doubted himself, which made him weak and allowed Beyonder to teleport him to the other side of the planet. Puma returned to America and was about to kill the Beyonder when Spider-Man stopped him. His uncle reminded him that he didn’t need to kill Beyonder, merely protect the tribe from him. He was sent out to thank Spider-Man, which burned Fireheart as he had come to dislike Peter and his alter ego.

In a French village called Cassis, Peter and MJ began their honeymoon. Peter was confused by the francs and MJ helped him pay the driver. He was soon tossing their luggage from the ground to the balcony, admitting that he was showing off. They had a villa all to themselves and MJ proclaimed it was like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” She found a note from Bruce, who was an ex-boyfriend and let them use his villa. He had also tried to convince her to not marry Peter. She knew Peter was sensitive about the trip and put the note away. Peter was amazed that their bathroom was bigger than his apartment and MJ distracted him with a kiss.

As they walked the beach, they wished they could commute between Cassis and New York. Peter thought of how MJ was used to seeing such places as part of her modeling career, while he could barely pay the rent. He hoped that he hadn’t condemned her to a “soup and sandwich” lifestyle. She could see he was feeling bad and cheered him up by taking off her dress and running into the water. Later at a fancy restaurant, Peter was annoyed by his tuxedo and the prices of the food. A group of women recognized Mary Jane and rushed over to see her, saying they needed to go out on the town. She awkwardly introduced them to Peter and they were stunned that she was married. One called marriage the “kiss of death” and they left.

They were then greeted by a man named Carmen, who was surprised to see her in France. She again introduced Peter and Carmen called him “Msr. Watson.” He owned a modeling agency and asked Peter what he did for a living. Peter excused himself and Carmen took his seat. He held Mary Jane’s hand and said Peter was wrong for her. He lacked her light and spark. He said he wanted her to model for him, he’d give her an exclusive contract. She said it would be unfair to Peter but Carmen talked her into thinking about it. The waiter told her that things were looking better for her.

Peter sulked as MJ drove them back to the villa. She surprised him by suddenly driving up to the water and kissing him.

Much later, they returned to the villa and found the lights on. Peter jumped inside and found Thomas Fireheart having some tea in a business suit. MJ walked in and said it was good to see Puma, who told her to call him Thomas. Peter again felt upstaged but Thomas came to offer him a job. He suggested that Peter work in his company as a scientist while still act as Spider-Man. He said Peter would work in the best labs and, if he wanted, could accompany him on missions as Puma.

MJ was thrilled by the offer while Peter was quietly suspicious. Fireheart was in Marseille on a mission to recover stolen goods and told him to meet with him at his office if he was interested. The starting pay was $80,000 plus extra for work as Spider-Man. After Fireheart left, Peter pondered the situation. He had made a poor living as a photographer since high school despite having talent as a scientist. Now he had a wife to think about. He’d also be better able to help his aunt.

He showed up late to the meeting at Fireheart’s office the next evening, telling him that he still wasn’t decided on the offer. Fireheart told him he was being arrogant and Peter responded that he wasn’t going to be his lackey, and said to not be domineering. Fireheart silently noted that Peter had some fire, which he almost respected. Fireheart’s employees showed up with models of the Basilica of St. Victor, and Fireheart explained that a client had hired him to recover priceless antiques that had been stolen from him. The items were the Ova Ignata, a pair of golden jeweled eggs. Peter was indignant that he was risking himself for some eggs and Fireheart told him to take this seriously. He began to explain his plan when Peter interrupted and again said he was risking his life over eggs. Peter hadn’t brought his costume but Fireheart had expected that and had a duplicate ready.

Soon Mary Jane’s friends showed up and took her partying.

At Fireheart’s building, Peter was wearing the new costume and was impressed at how close it was to his own. Even the web shooters were identical, which made him uneasy. If this costume was so exact, then it meant he had been under close surveillance. Still, he had risked his life countless times for free, so he might as well get paid. As he swung away, the webbing snapped and he realized it was too brittle. As he fell, he wondered how Fireheart’s scientists could have screwed up the formula when he had created it in high school. A second web line snapped and he crashed into a barrel of fish.

At headquarters, Fireheart’s assistant reported that Spider-Man was returning to the building. Spider-Man helped himself to one of the labs and was impressed by what he saw. It made him even more confused how the webbing had failed. He created more web fluid but was unsure of some of the chemicals, as the labels were strange. After he left, he learned that the new webbing was acidic. Making the new fluid upset the timetable so he entered the basilica from an upper level, instead of the basement as instructed. Fireheart’s tracer reported that Spider-Man wasn’t entering the basement and Fireheart ordered squad A upstairs. He fumed that everything had to be rearranged.

As Spider-Man made his way through the dark hallways, he admired the costumes spotlight. He admitted that Fireheart’s design made his look Neanderthal. He bumped into a priest and quickly learned he didn’t speak English. His spider sense went off and he dodged some steel tipped darts fired by three ninjas. He beat two of them and then melted the sword of the third one with the acid webbing. The ninja ran off and Spidey was annoyed that the priest was still following him.

At a nightclub, Mary Jane was out dancing and two men were arguing over who would dance with her next. They didn’t get a chance since her friends pulled her away.

At the basilica, Spider-Man found the egg under a step on a staircase. An armored figure appeared and called himself The Guardian of the Ova Ignata. Peter actually admired the egg and webbed a chandelier that hung over the guardian, which fell on top of him. Peter was still looking at the artifact when the priest pulled a gun on him and said in English to give him the egg.

MJ and her friends were having drinks on a waterside rooftop as they toasted each other. One of them said Peter must be very special and MJ said if he got her to settle down, then he was.

Peter handed over the egg to the priest, who asked why he smelled like fish. Spidey grabbed the egg, jumped to the ceiling and managed to avoid getting shot all at once. As the priest shot at Spidey a flying machine that looked like a Swiss Army knife blasted the crooks hand. Spidey ran off, followed by both the machine and the crook. Fireheart continued to monitor the situation and decided to move to the rendezvous point and wait for Spider-Man to complete his “mission.” He then expected Peter to accept the job offer. He had put up almost $100,000 security for the eggs because Spider-Man wouldn’t be fooled by imitations. He still wasn’t happy to offer Peter a job. He already had top level scientists working for him, he didn’t need “some low level basement tinkerer” on staff.

Spidey bounded down the hallway, trying to remember his way out. He couldn’t make a web pouch for the egg so was carrying it in his hand. He found a balcony and began to swing away when he saw the crook get pushed over the side by the robot. He caught the crook by a web and gloated from a balcony, thinking he was in the clear. He even tossed the egg into the air. That’s when the robot attacked, making him drop it. He tried to catch the egg with a web while dodging the robot’s blasts and actually snagged it. Unluckily the acid webbing burned and melted the egg. He took his anger out in the robot and as he smashed it he complained that he wanted to prove himself. He wanted to show he was as good as Fireheart, as Bruce, as Carmen but now he screwed it up. Looking at the parts inside the machine, he recognized the design.

At a restaurant MJ and her friends were fighting off male admirers when she noticed Fireheart at another table. She went to talk to him and he didn’t bother to hide his irritation with Peter. He said Peter was over an hour late and his attitude had been adolescent. MJ said she loved his tie. He went on to say that Peter hadn’t been professional and most people would kill for the opportunity he had given her husband. She complimented his hair, saying the Eddie Munster look was very hip. Fireheart thought to himself that he had planned to put Peter in some dead end location in his company and forget him. Mary Jane complimented his cologne just as Peter arrived.

He tossed the remains of the robot and the costume at Fireheart, telling him to bill him for the damages. Peter yelled that he had been set up, that the costume was full of sensors transmitting information back to Fireheart’s building. The final nail in the coffin was the microprocessor from the robot, which was designed by Fireheart’s company. Fireheart replied that the offer had been legitimate but he had wanted more information on a new employee. Peter replied that Fireheart didn’t trust him with a real mission, so he invented one. The other patrons watched the scene in horror, while MJ’s friends cheered Peter. He went on, telling Fireheart that he may not be a world class scientist or tactician but he was as good as anyone else. He would give MJ a good life on his own. He gave Fireheart the egg and they left.

A few days later as Peter and MJ get ready to leave, Fireheart arrived at the villa. Peter started to tell him to save it but Fireheart went on. He again said the offer was legitimate and still stood, as there was a debt of honor between them. His actions only deepened the debt. Peter said the debt was erased as long as all of the data he collected was destroyed, as well as a promise to stay out of Peter’s life. Fireheart agreed and left, wishing both of them well. Peter told MJ they had a plane to catch and a new life to start.

General Comments

This isn’t a bad story but it is forgettable. There is no sense of danger and neither Fireheart or the robot are especially intimidating. Peter had to deal with a nuisance, nothing more.

Puma’s tribe obviously has high regard for honor and debts, yet Puma himself resents it. I would think that a person of such high stature in the tribe would embody that code of honor. That said, I don’t mind a character that dislikes Spider-Man without hating him. He is neither a friend or enemy to Peter. That’s not bad to see in a character, as much of the time it seems like other superpeople either love or loathe him.

Mary Jane didn’t do much but party. She also had an odd habit of smiling constantly. If her husband was feeling self conscious, or being belittled or chewing out a two faced potential employer, she stood there with a smile. At least she was “in the mood” during the trip.

I was annoyed by Peter on one hand but also understood. In some ways he seemed like a pouting child by feeling bad for himself (he thought he’d rather be at McDonald’s than the French restaurant) but no one likes being looked down on. I was surprised that he didn’t hit the waiter or Carmen with a one liner. He had a point about having the same photography job since high school, and he had a new wife to support. He needed to step up, yet Fireheart’s motivation was untrustworthy. It was a BS situation.

BTW, the $80,000 job offer in 1987 comes out to $214,865.49 in 2023.

Overall Rating

Fine but nothing amazing.

 Posted: 18 Jul 2023
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)