Last post, Roger Stern was the latest to fill-in on ASM after Marv Wolfman abruptly left. This post, one issue into Roger Stern’s tenure on the book, we have… a story by Marv Wolfman (co-plotted with Steve Leialoha)? I dunno! Really playing musical chairs here. Steve Leialoha, Alan Gordon & Ben Sean on art duties. We begin with Spider-Man swinging around and noticing a pretty fancy funeral procession, which he decides might be worth taking some photos of for work. When the procession ends, the coffin is brought into not a funeral, but… a warning?
So mysterious! We focus on one of the hoods, who is tasked with stealing a jade statue in the middle of a Chinese New Year parade. But in the process of trying to do so, he thinks he sees the henchmen of a mobster called “Black Alfred” after him, and he soon gets shot. Spider-Man is once again obliviously on the scene, taking photos for work with no idea what’s really happening, and swings home to develop his pictures. He leaves them to dry without noticing he accidentally photographed the killing!
Very wacky. Then Peter is summoned to work, where a weirdly glib Barney shows him the photo he took of the murder. He’s understandably upset and swings off to figure out what happened. Then we check in on the aforementioned Black Alfred… who is black. Ugh, comics, come oooon. He is working out and talking about how important that is to his profession.
That one of Alfred’s goons in the process of being bullied into taking some other mobsters to his lair. Very busy underworld this issue. Spider-Man has come to think he probably photographed a mob hit, and stops a random theft so he can interrogate some guys about it (And probably to get an action scene in this issue).
Very manic, and rather Ditko-esque. From there, we cut to the kid who was selling out Black Alfred, only it was a setup, and the guys who came to kill Alfred get killed themselves. Alfred is well on his way to wiping out the competition. Meanwhile, Spider-Man does some research. The goon he talked to said the body from the murder was taken to The Taylor Building, so Spidey looks it up, and finds the Taylor Building is owned by one Malachai Toomes. And if that plus all the bird metaphors in this issue weren’t enough to let you know the new mob boss is inexplicably The Vulture, I guess you have to wait a couple more pages, because Spidey says Toomes’ uncle is “an old adversary of mine,” but refuses to call him by name, I guess in case you don’t know it. Ok. Alfred nabs the item Vulture sent him after while Spider-Man approaches the Taylor building, helpfully expositing that Taylor who used to own it would feed his enemies to a giant furnace in the 20s… I’m sure that won’t come back up later. Spidey smashes through a door right into a brawl with a bunch of goons.
How’s Spidey gonna get out of this one? This issue feels like it was produced in a hurry. It looks like it, for sure, and the story’s kind of a long walk to an obvious conclusion. But we’ll see how it wraps up next time.