Web of Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #55

 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)
 Staff: Kerry Wilkinson (E-Mail)

Story 'Showdown'

It has been a month since Carlos Lobo promised to draw the Kingpin out of hiding and now the full moon has come around again. On a busy New York street, the brown-furred and black-furred werewolves attack indiscriminately. Eduardo perches on the roof of a taxi and grabs a man by the throat. Carlos slashes a bystander across his chest. One of their henchmen uses a machine gun on a theatre marquee. But the slaughter has been spotted by Spider-Man. He swings down out of the sky and webs up the machine-gunner. He next plans to tackle the Lobo brothers directly. Unfortunately, a distraction occurs. The wrecked theatre marquee catches fire and breaks loose from the building. There are people still standing underneath it and Spidey knows he must act to save their lives. Swiftly, he attaches a web to it and then scales the wall above it, using the strength of his back to hold the marquee up. The strain is incredible and the wall-crawler cries out in pain. Still, he is successful. When he can no longer hold the marquee up and lets it crash onto the sidewalk, the bystanders have all gotten away. But, by that time, the Lobos have also left the scene. A tingle from his spider-sense directs the wall-crawler's attention across the street. Nick Katzenberg is there taking pictures. He gives Spider-Man a derisive salute. (Lets' pause for a moment for this question: Why make such a big deal out of Spidey ignoring his spider-sense whenever he saw the Chameleon disguised as JJJ if he's then going to ignore it when he sees Nick Katzenberg? Hasn't the wall-crawler learned anything? Shouldn't he check out Katzenberg to see if, maybe, the Chameleon is disguised as the photographer this time around? And if he isn't... if the spider-sense is going off because the real Nick is simply taking pictures, then why was it ever unusual that the spider-sense was going off around JJJ? If all it takes are bad intentions, the real Jonah should set it off every time.)

The webhead swings to the top of a Canon billboard to retrieve his camera. He removes his mask as he perches up there. (He'd better hope Nick Katzenberg doesn't have a telephoto lens.) He reflects on the way the Chameleon refused all his pics while masquerading as Jameson and he hopes the real Jonah will buy his photos again. Then he feels guilty about worrying about himself while the "city burns". (And, in this panel, it looks like half of the city is on fire!) First priority must be to stop the gang war. Pete doesn't like to involve her, but he thinks he knows the one person who "may hold the key to ending it"... Gloria Grant.

Later, a white van pulls up by a hotel delivery entrance, the back doors open, and the two snarling werewolves leap out. The full moon is just starting to set which changes the brothers back into human form. Two henchmen bring out bathrobes for the Lobos to wear. And up on a third floor balcony, Gloria Grant looks down and watches it all. She tells herself to look away as the brothers transform, she tells herself to pretend that "this wolf is not your lover" but she knows "that the time for pretense is long past". Moments later, Eduardo enters the room. He gives her a playful tug on her chin and then kisses her. Gloria no longer remembers how it began... "this love affair with a monster"... but she is very afraid it is destined to end badly.

At Fisk tower, the Arranger supervises a crew of construction workers who are there to repair the Kingpin's office, which is still damaged from the Lobos attack. He nervously checks his guns with the silver bullets. He is afraid that he is on the top of the werewolves' revenge list. He is also afraid the Kingpin will blame him for the gang war and give him up to the Lobos in exchange for peace. While the Arranger mulls this over, a sedan enters the basement garage. A large man with a diamond tipped cane enters a private elevator. The next thing the Arranger knows, someone is tapping him on his shoulder. He turns, pointing his weapon only to find the Kingpin standing there. "Put that gun away, Arranger, you fool," says the big man, "before I shove it down your throat". Then he tells the Arranger to contact the Lobos and "arrange a meeting for tonight". It's time for "this war nonsense" to end.

One of the construction workers sneaks away from the group after eavesdropping on this news. He enters the stairwell and heads for the street. By the time he is on the ground floor, he has re-assumed his identity of the Chameleon. Outside the building, Hammerhead's car waits out in an alley (with unconscious Kingpin guards around it). The Chameleon leans his head in the window and tells Hammerhead that "that fat fool is back", that a meeting is planned which means, "he's given us the perfect setup for an ambush".

At the Daily Bugle, Jonah Jameson stands behind his desk and looks down at about ten photos of Spider-Man. Half are by Peter Parker, half by Nick Katzenberg and both show the events of the Lobo battle. Which ones to print? Peter and Nick are in the office, too. Nick argues that his pics are better because they show "that wall-crawlin' menace tryin' ta kill a bunch'a people with a burning theatre marquee". Pete argues that his pics are better because they show "the truth: Spider-Man saved those people". As Jonah scratches his head and loosens his collar, Peter argues that Jonah has always "printed the truth" no matter his personal feeling and Nick argues that truth is a slippery thing. Jonah still hasn't made a decision when Kate Cushing pops into the office and simplifies the situation. "Print Katzenberg's pictures and I'll quit," she says. Jameson goes into a rage, claiming that he won't respond to threats and that he had already decided. "Parker, take your photos to layout" he says, "you're page one!"

Outside Jonah's office, Joy Mercado buttonholes Peter. She whispers to him that she is sure that Gloria Grant is involved with "that gangster Eduardo Lobo". Since she knows Pete and Glory are old friends, she begs him to "talk to her". Nick Katzenberg, sucking on a toothpick, listens in on this conversation. Glory Grant and a gangster? "Sounds like my meat", Nick thinks.

So, Peter marches right over to Glory's desk and asks her why she looks so sad. And Gloria is so despairing she comes right out with the truth in such a direct manner ("The man I love is a criminal.") that Peter can't cope with it. He tells her to "follow your heart", and then he beats feet out of there as fast as he can. He chides himself for his actions. "The woman's in pain" he thinks, "and I blow her off with a tired cliché" But he actually did have to run to meet with MJ to check out an apartment.

The flat is on the West Side in Hell's Kitchen now known as Clinton. (The only resident of the area that we see is a bearded guy with glasses, wearing a Superman shirt. Clark Kent undercover? Hey, doesn't Clark Kent live on Clinton Street? Is this a severely "in" joke or have I just read too many comic books?) MJ is already in the place when Pete enters. It is a spectacular dump. Cracked walls, springs sticking up out of the chairs (but at least it's furnished!), cabinet doors coming loose, an absolutely filthy stove, and a toilet in the main room with only a curtain to separate the user from any company. And, says MJ, it's "only $200 a month over our price range". She leans up against the wall, feeling thoroughly discouraged. "What went wrong with our lives?" she asks her husband. "I used to have a terrific modeling career, we used to have a home of our own. We used to have fun." Peter takes her in his arms and tells her he can't do anything about the first two items but he can help with number three. Then he makes the mistake of telling MJ "this is almost the first private moment we've had since your cousin Kristy came to visit" which reminds MJ that Kristy is in the hospital for which MJ partially blames herself. Pete sighs. "So much for number three" he thinks.

At dusk, Spider-Man is in Chelsea, spying on Gloria Grant's apartment. His patience is rewarded when a white van pulls up and Gloria runs out and climbs in. In the van, Carlos tells Eduardo it is a mistake to bring Gloria but Eduardo wants her with him to show her they are going to talk peace with the Kingpin. Spidey feels "like a creep" for using Gloria to find Eduardo but he doesn't hesitate to follow the van across the Queensboro Bridge into Queens and over to the Unisphere (the giant globe left over from the 1964 World's Fair) in Flushing Meadows Park. Spidey secludes himself atop the Unisphere and watches as a car pulls up and the Kingpin, the Arranger and two gunmen get out. The Lobos and their men exit the van and walk up to meet them. (Gloria stays in the van.) Spidey sets his camera and settles in to watch.

The Lobos start by asking the Kingpin the reason for the meeting. The big man tells them that the "war is an unnecessary distraction". He wants to know what the Lobos want in exchange for peace. That question is easily answered. They want "the man who arranged our assassination". They want the Arranger. The Kingpin considers it (as the Arranger recoils in fear) but his answer remains unspoken as the meeting is crashed by a trio of "old-style roadsters". Spidey recognizes them as belonging to Hammerhead and his mob. They are staging an ambush.

The three cars drive by, firing their machine guns at the exposed group. The two Lobo henchmen are gunned down and the Lobos blame the Kingpin for setting them up. But it soon becomes clear that the Kingpin is also a target. The Lobo and Kingpin men return fire and a full-fledged gun battle breaks out. In the hail of bullets, the windshield of the van is fractured. Inside the van, Gloria Grant starts to panic. She calls for Eduardo and, in moments, he is there. He pulls her out of the van and pushes her underneath it. "Stay under here" he says, "don't move and remember whatever happens, never forget, I love you". And with that, the full moon rises and Eduardo Lobo turns into a werewolf once again. His nice white suit is ripped to shreds by his lupine body and he howls in rage. Then he spots the Arranger and leaps at him, yelling that "all this [is] your fault".

In the midst of chaos, the Arranged looks over his right shoulder and sees Eduardo pouncing. He pulls out his gun with the silver bullets but, before he can aim, Spider-Man leaps in and knocks the Arranger to the ground to protect him from Eduardo. The gun goes flying from the Arranger's hand and winds up underneath the white van, right in front of Gloria Grant.

The Arranger claiming, "we have an arrangement", begs Spider-Man to help him kill the Lobos. But Spidey replies that the deal was to stop the gang war. "You guys came here to make peace..." he says, "Don't let Hammerhead's mob ruin what you started". But now the web-slinger himself is in the fray. Eduardo keeps him busy, trying to slash him with his claws. Not far away, Carlos in wolf form jumps onto a car roof and uses it as a launching pad to slaughter Hammerhead's men. One thug complains that the job was to "waste the fat man" and not to deal with a pair of werewolves. He is slapped into unconsciousness with the back of the right hand of the Kingpin.

Away from the action, Hammerhead and the Chameleon sit safely in a sedan, smoking cigars, and observing the proceedings. They are already in the process of carving up Manhattan for their respective territories. "I'm partial to the Upper West Side," says the Chameleon. Hammerhead is agreeable to that. He wants "everything south of Central Park". And having agreed to this split, they split themselves... leaving the scene before anything is determined.

The battle between Eduardo and Spidey continues. The webhead keeps trying to avoid the reach of the snarling wolf but, finally, Eduardo gets a hold on Spider-Man's left leg. Standing outside his limo, the Kingpin swats thugs away with his walking stick, even as he continues to berate the Arranger for his utter failure to "arrange my business affairs to minimize my involvement". Just then, Carlos leaps at the big man. The Kingpin swats him with the head of his cane and Carlos is immediately knocked unconscious. Why was Carlos handled so easily? Because the Kingpin "took the precaution of having [his] cane tipped with silver."

The Kingpin and the Arranger look around the scene of the battle. Spider-Man and Eduardo are still struggling with each other. Otherwise, everyone else is either dead or unconscious. With the Arranger trailing behind him, the Kingpin decides to walk away from the scene. All the gunfire will surely bring the police soon and he does not want to be implicated in this battle. As for Spidey and the wolf... "With any luck, they'll kill each other".

So, it is down to Spidey and Eduardo grappling on the ground with Gloria (now out from under the van) watching in horror. One moment, Spidey is on top of Eduardo, the next moment the tables are turned and Eduardo is winning the battle. Spidey holds Eduardo by the snout as he tries to keep his teeth at bay. The Lobo Brother declares the need for blood to satisfy him. "One of us will walk away tonight" he says, "One of us will die." And just then, there is the sound of a gunshot and Eduardo recoils, shot in the back. His limp body falls on top of Spider-Man, pinning him down.

Over by the van, Gloria Grant holds the silver-bullet loaded gun of the Arranger, its barrel still smoking from the shot. Shocked by what she has done, Glory runs to Eduardo and turns him over on his back. She holds his hand and touches him on the chest while muttering, "Don't be dead... please, oh please, oh please". An unpinned Spider-Man is impressed with the guts Gloria displayed in shooting her lover. But he can't dwell on it long. Carlos has regained consciousness and is charging right at him. But now Spidey has reached the end of his rope. Yelling out, "Haven't you ruined enough lives, broken enough hearts?" the web-slinger clocks the werewolf with a powerful punch. He continues his rant until he realizes he has knocked the werewolf out. "Great" he says, "I'm yelling at a floor mat". Then, Glory Grant starts screaming that Eduardo is dead.

She is kneeling on the ground with Eduardo's head in her lap. With death, the Lobo brother has changed back to his human form. Spider-Man approaches and tells Glory she did what she had to. "You saved my life," he says. Gloria turns to him with a tear in her eye and yells, "I wasn't aiming at Eduardo, I was aiming at you!" Then she turns back to her dead lover. "Peter told me to follow my heart," she says, "I tried, Eduardo, my love, my only love... I tried". Spider-Man stands above her with nothing to say.

But over in the bushes, Nick Katzenberg is taking pictures. He decided to follow Gloria after overhearing Peter and Joy talking and he is glad he did. He can see the headline now: "Spider-Man implicated in gangland rubout!" He knows Jonah will snap it up. Sucking on a toothpick, with an evil glint in his eye, Nick basks in his success. "Yessir, Nick" he thinks to himself, "somedays I just love my job to death!"

General Comments

Well… that's it. Gang War over. Just like that. It built and built and then … stopped. This is a really bizarre ending and reeks of being rushed. Not only that but it's only a partial conclusion. All the main players escaped. One Lobo is alive and one dead.

I don't see the point in bringing back characters like Hammerhead if they are to be used so sparingly. Even Spider-Man is a peripheral character and you get the feeling that with this – as well as the most recent issues of Spectacular – that he wasn't really needed at all.

The Lobos attacked Kingpin's offices. No Spidey. The Lobos and Kingpin and Chameleon all rumbled here. Spidey wasn't really needed. Not only that but the whole Chameleon/Jonah injecting Spider-Man and his battle with Hammerhead was rushed through too. It's just all a terribly disappointing end after a long, long build-up.

Overall Rating


This is already so horribly long that I'll try not to stretch it out too much farther. Still, a quick look at what becomes of various characters is warranted.

Carlos Lobo, the surviving member of our featured villains, is never seen again after this issue. Presumably he was arrested at the scene of the gang battle and is currently in prison. He wouldn't be the same without Eduardo (just another werewolf) but an update on him is long overdue.

The Chameleon and Hammerhead continue their partnership. They are joined by Tombstone in Spectacular Spider-Man #157 (Mid-November 1989) who has escaped prison with Robbie Robertson (by falling out of a helicopter!) in Spec #155 (October 1989). The two end up in a fight during which Robbie stabs Tombstone in the chest with a pitchfork, (in #157). This shocks Tombstone because he thought he and Robbie were friends. Tombstone goes his own way and hooks up with Chammy and Hammy who, apparently end up splitting the city as they discussed since they are rarely seen together again. Tombstone hangs with Hammerhead, gains powers of invulnerability and tries to take over Hammerhead's mob in revenge for Hammy putting a hit on Robbie Robertson. Or something like that.

The Chameleon ends up committing suicide in Webspinners #11 (November 1999). The last time Tombstone appeared against Spider-Man, he was fighting Ben Reilly (Spider-Man #73-74, October-November 1996). Hammerhead last met the webhead in the Spider-Man: Lifeline Mini-Series (April-June 2001).

The Arranger is murdered by order of the Kingpin by Knight and Fogg in Spectacular Spider-Man #165 (June 1990). Detective Frank Farrow shows up at this murder scene, too, but he pretty much disappears from the Spider-verse once Gerry Conway is no longer the writer.

Nick Katzenberg is also neglected and misused after Gerry's departure. In Amazing Spider-Man #385 (January 1994) , Peter has had enough of MJ's new smoking habit and he takes her to see Nick in the hospital. Katzenberg is revealed to have lung cancer and to have suffered a heart attack. This visit convinces MJ to kick the habit there and then. It is mentioned sometime thereafter that Nick has died. So goes another of (too many) killed-off and wasted Spider-supporting characters.

Kristy, on the other hand, is very much alive if completely forgotten. Her parents Lou and Sybil Watson are finally notified and fly in from Paris in Web of Spider-Man #58 (December 1989) only to get in a fight with Kristy at the hospital and stalk back out again. When Kristy is finally discharged from the hospital she again settles in with Peter and MJ but leaves them to become a live-in babysitter for Liz Allan Osborn, taking care of little Normie (Web of Spider-Man #69, October 1990). Unfortunately, Kristy is only seen once taking care of Normie (in Spectacular Spider-Man #169, October 1990) and only a few times after that before being consigned to oblivion. Her last appearance may be Peter Parker: Spider-Man Vol. 2 #19 (July 2000) in which a young woman of her description is introduced as Mary Jane's "niece Chrissie". Poor kid. They can't even remember her name.

Joy Mercado and Kate Cushing have disappeared as well. Joy was last seen in Amazing Spider-Man #367 (October 1992) where Peter refers to her as "the Bugle's top reporter". Not "top" enough to be seen in the last ten years, however. Kate's last Spider-title was Spectacular Spider-Man #215 (August 1994) unless you want to count the blonde woman standing around in the background with Ben Urich and Angela Yin in the back-up story in Spectacular Spider-Man #225 (June 1995). Her most recent appearance was in Captain America '99 Annual of all places in which she is referred to as the editor of the Bugle's Metro Desk.

Pete and MJ's apartment hunt ends when they agree to move into the top loft in a SoHo building owned and occupied by Harry and Liz Osborn (Amazing Spider-Man #321, Early October 1989). They move in and have a housewarming party (in ASM #326, December 1989) attended by the whole gang. Little Normie Osborn has regressed from being a toddler just a few months before to being a baby again. Kristy is nowhere to be found.

Gloria Grant seems to have suffered no long-term effects from accidentally killing her lover. She is all smiles and cooing over Normie Osborn at the aforementioned housewarming only two months after the whole ordeal with Eduardo (if you judge the time by cover-dates). Lately she has been hot and heavy with Randy Robertson. Eduardo is yesterday's news, people.

And, yes, Bruiser and Eduardo are still dead.

Note: Details by Al, General and Rating by Kerry.

 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)
 Staff: Kerry Wilkinson (E-Mail)