Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #110

TITLE: Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #110


COVER DATE: January 1986


24 pages


As I mentioned last time, I've never really been a huge Spider-Man collector. I enjoy the character well enough, but don't have the passion to follow his titles day in and day out. With that being said, it doesn't mean that I don't read 'em every now and again.

This issue holds a special place in my collection, as these four issues were the first Spider-Man books that I recall buying fresh off the racks. I remember enjoying his appearances in Secret Wars, and definitely thought his new costume introduced there was bad-ass, but for some reason it never spurred me to start picking up either of his two regular titles.

Eventually, however, I did buy a few issues and it was with this storyline that I started. I couldn't tell you what finally spurred me to buy a few, but I'm glad I did. This particular arc was pretty intense, compared to what else was out there at the time. It definitely struck a nerve, and when I think of good Spider-Man storylines, this one always jumps to the top.

It's actually been quite a while since I've reread it, so I'm curious to see how it holds up to today's standards. Peter David's one of the best writers out there, not super flashy by any means, but he's consistently good just about every time he puts pen to paper. I have faith that this issue won't disappoint, but still...this was Peter David's first comic book work, so the chance for some clunkiness is still out there.

Finally, with this issue Peter David takes the lead with the most issues reviewed by a writer here at the Random Longbox. The funny thing is, he did it with no help from his 10 year run on The Incredible Hulk, of which I have the whole shebang just waiting to be picked for a review sooner or later. He's got a ways to go before he catches up to Curt Swan, who currently holds the record for most books reviewed, but with the sheer number of Peter David books I have in my collection it's bound to happen sooner or later.

All My Sins Remembered
  • Writer: Peter David
  • Layouts: Rich Buckler
  • Finishers: M. Hands
  • Colorist: Bob Sharen
  • Letterer: Rick Parker
  • Editor: Jim Owsley
  • Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
The conclusion to the Death of Jean DeWolff storyline begins as both Spider-Man and Daredevil are racing to the home of J. Jonah Jameson to avenge the death of Betty Brant at the hands of the Sin-Eater. Little does Spider-man know, however, that Betty is not quite dead yet as she managed to duck under JJJ's desk as the Sin-Eater fired his shotgun.

Just like he killed a priest who opposed capital punishment and a judge who coddled criminals, he has come to take down JJJ because he's against the idea of masked vigilantes. While not having any particular beef with Betty, he promises to kill her so that she can deliver a message to Jonah in the afterlife.

Betty shows she has a little life left in her as she grabs a letter opener and stabs him in the leg. That maneuver buys her a few moments, which is all she needed as Spider-Man comes crashing through the window and is surprised to see her alive.

The thought that Betty was dead, coupled with the other senseless deaths brought about by the Sin-Eater, have pushed Spider-Man to the edge. He arrived before Daredevil, and while he's fighting solo he shows a level of bloodlust that Peter rarely shows.

The Sin-Eater doesn't really stand a chance against an enraged Spider-Man, and now unmasked he's at his mercy. He apologizes to Spider-Man, but it's too late. Spider-Man tells him to save his apology for the one who deserves it, Jean DeWolff!

It's at this point that Daredevil catches up to him and sees Spider-Man on the verge of beating the Sin-Eater to death. He jumps in between the two, as Sin-Eater is obviously defeated, but Spider-Man will not be brought out of his bloodlust quite so easily. With Daredevil now between him and his prey, he becomes the new target of Spider-Man's rage.

Daredevil uses this to his advantage and taunts Spider-Man into following him as he leads him away from the Sin-Eater. Leading him away frm Jonah's house, Daredevil keeps him distracted enough that he is able to get a few lucky blows in and pummels him into subconsciousness.

Over the next couple of pages we get an awful lot of exposition that brings us up to speed with the chain of events that brought us here, so here's the super quick rundown.

The Sin-Eater was none other than Stan Carter, the actual police detective in charge of catching the Sin-Eater! With him in custody, the citizens of New York are not happy as they now have reason to fear both the criminals and the police. The rest of the force is put on alert as demonstrations start to crop up outside of police headquarters.

Jonah returns from his business trip to the news that Spider-Man has saved the life of his wife and secretary in his very own home. That's one more debt that JJJ owes Spider-Man that will more than likely go unpaid.

Back at police headquarters, we get more backstory about Stan Carter as they are visited by a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. He informs the police chief that Carter was a test subject in a drug enhancement program earlier in his career. It seems S.H.I.E.L.D. was experimenting with their own version of a super soldier serum. It worked, but also had unstable and unpredictable side-effects. The program was deemed too dangerous and was mothballed.

All of this new info means that it's possible that Stan Carter will be able to avoid responsibility on an insanity plea. That's the last thing this city needs to hear about.

The police decide to transfer the Sin-Eater to Riker's Island, and it's here that we catch back up with Spider-Man and Daredevil. Watching the transfer from a nearby rooftop, they debate the difference between justice and vengeance. Spider-Man still sees a big difference between what he does and what the Sin-Eater did. Daredevil is trying to show him that everyone deserves their day in court, even the Sin-Eater, whom Spider-Man was unwilling to give that option earlier in the story.

It's an argument left for another time, as the demonstrators on scene have succumb to mob rules and decide to take out the Sin Eater. Daredevil jumps down to protect him, but Spider-Man is still hesitant to expend any effort to protect the Sin-Eater.

The wild mob proves too much for Daredevil's heightened senses and hey are soon overpowered. He's at the mob's mercy as he calls out to Spider-Man for his help. What catches him by surprise, is that Daredevil called him by his first name!

With the death of his uncle and Gwen Stacy still hanging over him, Peter finally swings down to help out Daredevil as another innocent life lost on his watch would be too much to bear. Together they disperse the mob and get Carter secured at Riker's.

With everything wrapped up, Peter and Matt have a little unfinished business. Matt explains that he was able to use his enhanced hearing to figure out that Peter Parker and Spider-Man shared the same heartbeat and were the same man. He lets Peter know his secret identity as Matt Murdock, and the debate about justice and the law is back on...albeit on more friendly terms now.

Luckily for them, I guess, one of Aunt May's elderly friends has done something rather rash. It seems that in all of the recent simmering civil unrest, one of her friends took his old service pistol on the subway and shot three young punks who were hassling him.

Why is that lucky? For now Matt Murdock will demonstrate how the court system uses law to administer justice fairly by arranging representation for Aunt May's friend.


...not even Peter David was able to escape the first time writer's curse of too many words. Granted, this was a different time and stories were told in a different fashion, but the story really hit a brick wall about half-way through as it shifts gear from slug-fest to morality tale of civil unrest.

The moral turmoil that Peter goes through seems a little heavy-handed, but not having re-read the previous three parts, I'm willing to give Peter David the benefit of the doubt that it got set up more thoroughly along the way.

Still, wordy as it was in parts, I like what he was trying to do with comparing and contrasting the extremes of masked vigilantes. Bringing in Daredevil to play, pardon the pun, devil's advocate for the justice system was a nice touch.

The art by Buckler and Hands was good, but also seemed to miss a step once the story switched gears. The fight against Sin-Eater and the showdown between Spidey and DD was very well rendered, but as soon as the exposition starts the artwork got a lot rougher and less defined. It was a vast difference from the first half, and definitely took me out of the story for a moment or two.

I'd forgotten that this was the issue where they learned each other's secret identity, so that was a pleasant surprise. Even more so, as it's a stark contrast to the state of the Marvel Universe over the last 5 years or so where everyone distrusts everyone and deals with the devil have rendered all of this moot anyway.

That's the great thing about longboxes, as we'll always have the good old days right at our fingertips.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

Related links for your surfing pleasure...
  • Rich Buckler's official websites here and here
  • Peter David's official website
  • The Hipster Dad takes a spoiler-free look at an old copy of the trade collection
  • Tom at the Fortress of Soliloquy once posted about this storyline too


  1. I'd forgotten about the guy at the nursing home shooting the punks on the subway. Pretty nervy for a mainstream comic, as Bernard Goetz had done that same thing in real life just a couple years before.

    --Thelonious Nick

  2. It was pretty nervy, but it also seemed like almost too much. I think the story could've been tightened up a bit by leaving that by the wayside without losing too much from Peter and Matt's morality debate.

    And here you would've thought that only Peter had the wack-a-doodle friends to worry about.