This issue, TAC continues to really be at odds with what’s going on in ASM, trying to hit the same story beats first. This one came out a month before ASM 260, but… well, you’ll see. The beginning of this issue is a mess, tons of recaps with a little story progression sandwiched between them. First a recap of the last 2 issues followed by Silvermane forcing his way out of Cloak’s, uh, cloak by “stealing his light” (The whole “light-as-lifeforce” thing with Cloak & Dagger is weird), which also ejects Varley & Johnston and leaves Cloak even more weakened than last issue. And then things just go to crap, timeline-wise. It starts snowing because of the previously-mentioned Thor story, and then it says “a short time later” when cutting to a scene where Peter puts on the old red & blue suit for the first time, and it’s still snowing. So this is, like, right after he came home as Bag-Man. But he was CLEARLY putting the suit on for the first time in ASM 259, and now he’s doing it again (After a huge infodump about MJ knowing his secret and how he lost the alien).
Milgrom even has him spell out how he has to check his webshooters to find ones that work because they’ve been out of use for so long, even though malfunctioning webshooters are a PLOT POINT in ASM 260! Like, this is a mess. Danny Fingroth really fell down on the job here. So as far as I’m concerned, this takes place right where we’re looking at it. Anyway, he hops up through his skylight to meet The Black Cat, who I guess was just waiting for him up there. He recaps more details about last issue, and then she recaps her previous dealings with The Kingpin. They resolve to just go look for Dagger, even though they have no idea where she is. Then we cut to Kingpin’s tower, where he’s learning Dagger is too messed up to heal Vanessa, and The Answer has to recap why. Like, seriously, we’re 8 pages into a 22 page comic and it’s all recaps. Then Silvermane smashes through the ground floor of the building, relentlessly hunting Dagger. Kingpin orders Vanessa & Dagger taken to “the keep” for protection, but The Answer doubts it will help. Theeeen we cut to MJ, ruminating on the end of ASM 258, ASM 259 apparently not having happened yet (I’m getting a headache, man). As she recaps how she told Peter she knows his secret, she inserts some info that didn’t actually get discussed so we can use that to cut to Flash?
Weird. In the midst of this endless recapping and broken timeline, it’s at least nice to see MJ not sporting a mullet. And then Flash runs into panicking Betty Leeds.
These are no ordinary goons, though, they’re the minions of Surtur, part of the ongoing business in Thor. Nice typo there, Betty. And yo, Betty Brant needs to take a hard look in the mirror. Back in Wolfman’s run on ASM, she got tired of Ned never being around and tried to cheat on him with Peter, and now Flash says one nice thing and she’s ready to do it again. Your marriage clearly isn’t working, ma’am, Face Front, True Believer. Good grief. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, if hordes of monsters are rampaging around New York, why isn’t Spider-Man getting involved?”
How much longer can this charade go on? Cat manages to get Spidey focused on Dagger again, but he says this isn’t over. As they head for Kingpin’s place, Cloak has already arrived, sensing Dagger is inside. He sees the swath of destruction caused by Silvermane and knows he’s here, too. So he uses some of his remaining energy to teleport to Dagger. Above, Spidey is talking about how hard it will be to break into Kingpin’s tower when a giant chunk of the wall flies out. This is the part in a normal Spider-Man story when he has to dive down and stop it from smashing people on the street below, but this story is a disaster, so they just swing on in. They see Silvermane tearing up Kingpin’s goons, but they figure that’s not their deal (Also not very Spider-Man-like), so they rush off to find Dagger. Page 14 and this comic is finally going somewhere. Elsewhere in the building, Kingpin has The Answer putting Dagger in a machine to transfer her energy to Vanessa.
Spidey and Cat find their way to the room where it’s all going down, narrowly getting in through big metal doors. Spidey helpfully offers to go deal with Silvermane if Kingpin will give up Cloak & Dagger, and instead, Kingpin says he calls on Black Cat’s debt to him and orders her to stop Spider-Man.
Which begs the question: Why has she been honoring her debt to Kingpin in the first place? “Honor among thieves” or something? Iiiii dunno, I kinda just want to get this issue over with, at this point. So: Kingpin fights Silvermane, Cloak ejects Black Cat, The Answer begins analyzing the situation and just comes up with some crucial plot points outta nowhere…
I know he’s “The Answer” but you can’t just make stuff up. Spidey engages SIlvermane, but he can’t really do much except try not to get killed. Cloak is freaking out, Kingpin’s freaking out, Spider-Man’s freaking out, and The Answer…
Ka-flash, everybody. The Answer completely disappears, no corpse left behind. Dagger is now supercharged and glowing. She returns Silvermane’s “light,” bringing his brain back online, so HE then freaks out and runs for it, smashing through the nearest wall to escape. Kingpin begs Dagger to save Vanessa, and she says no, saving Cloak instead. Now she’s powered back down to normal and Cloak is back up to normal, so it’s all good for them, and they teleport out without so much as a “good-bye” to Spidey. Then there’s the same 6 panels of ASM 258 that were reprinted in MTU 147. Aaaaalright. Weird placement. Then…
Sheeeeeesh, what a fiasco. I’m glad the Spider-titles won’t have a single moment to converge on again any time soon, because this hasn’t gone so well. They handled Spidey going to and returning from Battleworld pretty well (The weak link being TAC, of course), but they were stepping all over each other ending the alien costume story, and TAC was by far the worst offender. But, yeah, the books should be able to be themselves now.