Cat! Not.. not the most interesting name. Is one of those guys Cat? I confess I don’t remember. The first “The Cat” was a lady, and eventually became Tigra, leaving the name open for… someone, I guess. Och, look at this splash!
Gorgeous. All the writers making jokes about The Clone Saga are really pushing it. But look at Spidey moving through the city:
Welcome back to The John Romita, Jr. Fan Blog. Guess we’re in media res on this one. As our hero walks into the smashed up bar full of similarly smashed up goons, he thinks that the guy doing all this is making his life easier, but he still can’t condone this violence. Some of the goons wake up, saying things like, “Thank God, it’s only Spider-Man!” and begging him to help them. One says they “don’t know nothing about the kid.” Internally, Spidey wonders what Betty Brant got him into, and then we rewind to get some backstory on all this. Peter & MJ were having what MJ says is their first quiet night alone since SM 75, but Peter is messed up from his vampire bite, as he always is, so she suggests he take some aspirin and let her nurse him back to health. Peter thinks he better not take too many or he’ll aggravate his long dormant ulcer. Deep pull! Remember back in ASM 113 when he got diagnosed with an ulcer? I think this is the first reference since back then. But then Betty Brant calls to tell him to turn on CNN. Some ruck peoples’ kid was kidnapped, and she wants them to find it. Peter’s not sure, but it turns out she was calling from a cell phone at their front door, and so we flash back to the present, where Spidey tries to question more beat up goons in an alley, but they start shooting at him.
Oh, that’s scratching my brain. I think that’s a Ditko homage, but I don’t have the exact reference. Of course, it would’ve been 2 of 6 panels on a Ditko page, but even so. That didn’t get Spidey anywhere, so we flashback again to Betty leading Peter in slipping into the crime scene. Despite the books recently trying to position her a cub reporter despite her doing it almost 10 years (of comics), here she’s talking like an old pro, saying she’s been in situations like this dozens of times. Inside, they find the kidnapper beat up “a couple dozen” cops. Then we hope back to the present, as 3 goons running through an alley are brutally dispatched by the still-unseen Cat. One of the manages to say he heard they took the kid to the piers. Then, back to the recent past, as Peter & Betty examined how the kidnapper ripped doors off their hinges.
Wait a sec, I’m remembering this…
Yeah, ok. I wondered at the time if this story originally featured Shang Chi and someone refused to let this guy be him, so Shang Chi became “Shen Kuei.” But now, I have the internet and wikis, so I know The Cat is actually a character created in Master of Kung-Fu back in 1976. It appears this was his first appearance since a brief stint in Marvel Comics Presents in 1988, before which he’d not been in anything since a 1982 issue of Master of Kung-Fu. 2 deep pulls in a single issue. The Cat is so fast Spidey can barely stay out of his way as he tries to explain he’s here to help. Cat says he doesn’t need help, but Spider-Man’s danger sense proves otherwise as he dives them both out of the way of a huge zap.
Razorfist, one of comics’ goofiest villains, who previously had his hands replaced with big blades until the redesign in this very issue, drops down to kill The Cat. Spider-Man pretends to flee the scene so he can go save the boy as the martial artists start fightin’. Shockwave sees Cat isn’t just allowing himself to be cut to bits and lights up his hand to remind Cat he could still kill his son. So Cat leaves himself open to 2 big slices from Razorfist, but back upon the roof…
Back to being handless for you, Dopyefist! Cat further beats up his foe, saying he’ll let him live to tell his mysterious employer that The Cat plans to stay in New York and prosper. Hearing that, Spider-Man worries he’ll be fighting The Cat soon, but for now, thinks if he can prevent any parent from suffering what he and MJ did, he will, always.
That last panel is complicated by Jack O’Lantern’s dumb cat in TAC. I don’t think that’s who it’s supposed to be, but who knows? I just can’t believe they don’t power right past this stuff. I mean, sure, Peter & MJ should be forever changed by this experience, but it’s something no one wanted to do in a Spider-Man comic, and it seems like you’d just rip that bandaid off and throw it away. I thought that was the point of jumping ahead several months. I think some of these moments are really well done, but still, I think it’s weird they happen at all. This issue is still more excerpts from letters about SM 75, as they said they’d run part of every letter they got. Still people mad and happy about most aspects of it. It surprises me I never see the names of future comic pros in the 90s comics. All through the 60s, 70s and 80s, people who would one day get into the business were getting letters printed. Not so much in the 90s.