Alright, with the whole missing stunt out of the way, we can check back in with a more normal issue of ASM. Why yes, that is The Deadly Foes of Spider-Man under a much better group name several years before the Deadly Foes mini. And this cover is clearly inspired by the cover of ASM 141. I’m not sure I’d go quite so far as to call it a swipe, since a lot is different, but idea is more or less the same, and the Spider-Mans are very similar, and Beetle and Mysterio are very similar. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned anywhere that, prior to The Great eBay Hysteria of 2018, one of Marvel’s great Epic Collections came out covering a lot of the period between ASM 261 and ASM 290, which, at the time, I didn’t have almost any of. So I got the book, and then I bought the singles it didn’t include, and suddenly I could read from my collection of the alien costume story right through the 80s and 90s. So that was kind of the beginning of all the reading that turned into this blog, really. Eventually I discovered I could get Silver Age books cheap, rewound to ASM 129 and read from there, etc, etc, but I read this material at the beginning, taking no notes, envisioning no blog, just reading. And so I am reading it again. It’s Tom DeFalco writing and Ron Frenz doing breakdowns, Brett Breeding doing finishes and Paul Becton coloring for the quasi-auspicious debut of the Sinister Syndicate. Not exactly the A-list of the other “sinister” group, but a fun enough idea. The issue begins with Spidey and Silver Sable in dire straits at Coney Island out of nowhere.
Reading this, I was pretty surprised to see what I had previously thought of as Erik Larsen’s redesign of Rhino. The shoulder pads and such are a very 90s touch, but here they are early.
And, with that question asked, we can roll back to how he got involved in a mess like this. It’s not that hard to puzzle out, he went to answer Silver’s ad in the paper from last issue. She was busy at the time.
I have no desire to touch the politics of this page. Spidey reminds us he’s decided to quit, blah, and Silver tells him she’ll pay handsomely for his help, and he says no. When she points out he’s already fought Jack O’Lantern several times, why not get paid for it, he has no answer. And I don’t, either. Peter refusing Silver’s money has always been kinda hard to swallow. We jump ahead from there, to Flash pleading with Sha Shan to testify on his behalf, but as you may recall, things ain’t great between them by this point.
The Marty McFly vests Frenz keeps putting Peter in are hilarious every time. Flash’s lawyer reiterates that he could really use some help, and Peter thinks that he can’t quit Spideying while FLash needs him, and goes back to Silver to accept her offer so he can give the money to Flash. Frenz also swipes the Spider-Man from the cover of ASM Annual 2. Silver sez Jack called her and told her he’s in Coney Island. Spidey says it’s a trap. She says obviously. And we can now return to the battle from earlier, all caught up.
The C-Team announces they all have reason to hate Spidey and plan to make their rep as a team by taking out Silver, and we’re off. Silver runs away, thinking they’re safer if they divide their foes. She’s chased by Beetle and Boomerang while the others try to fight Spider-Man, and don’t do a very good job, on account of being Speed Demon, Hydro-Man and The Rhino.
Not happy times in ASM. We check in on Sandman, now living with the Cassadas (Maybe the first time we see them? I’ve lost track), going for a walk, then back to the fight. Gee, where could he be going, having been introduced abruptly for no reason? Silver handily dispatches Boomerang, to no one’s surprise, but Beetle’s bulletproof armor proves more of an issue for her, making her flee again.
Shouldn’t he have said “human rhino?” Like, all rhinos are living, dumb dumb. So, Rhino’s “One more job so I can get out” bit is established way back in 1987, and like Sandman living with the Cassadas, is still a going concern in the early 90s. Time to hit up a couple more subplots.
Man, everyone wants to talk to Kingpin about Nuke in Spider-Man comics. Hey, is Roderick Kingsley The Hobgoblin? I love how they have so many people acting shifty right now, trying to throw the readers off. Especially since who Hobgoblin actually was hadn’t been decided yet since Roger Stern’s pick was rejected. It could literally be anyone. But…
…maybe it’s not Roderick, after all. Macendale could take Hobgoblin’s place, eh? Well, we’ve already seen that he does, but how? When? Back at the fight, Silver manages to kick Beetle in the face like she did Boomerang, which stuns him for awhile, but maybe breaks both her ankles. You know, it’s nice to see someone actually get hurt punching and kicking people in metal clothes for once. Regular people punch characters like Iron Man all the time and their hands aren’t instantly shattered, it’s silly. Spider-Man rushes to her aid, butcher’s mostly immoble and the bad guys are regrouping. Our heroes hide out in the Cyclone rollercoaster, thinking they’re safe, but…
Oh, wow, Sandman is here. I can’t believe it.
Egad, MJ is unwittingly hanging out with The Hobgoblin! But who could that make him? What’s funny about this interaction to me is, it makes Stern’s pick for Hobby harder to work, and also makes very little sense for the person eventually revealed behind the mask. But since that person wasn’t the Hobgoblin when this issue came out, it was fine. It really is crazy how many parallels there are between this story and the Clone Saga.
I’m sure this is the end for Spider-Man. In the letters, as is often the case, everyone wants to guess who Hobby is. So many people went on record wanting JJJ for it during the years this mystery dragged out. That’s just silly, and yet, it was such a common guess. Ned Leeds, Molten Man, Mary Jane, John Jameson, Richard Fisk, and even Barton Hamilton are all guess this issue alone, but one Michael Rett offers the following possibility: “You guys don’t know. You’re just giving reader the run-around!” Congratulations, Michael, on sort of being the first person to write a letter correctly guessing the identity of The Hobgoblin! By this point, several letters have already guessed Stern’s choice, DeFalco’s choice, the person eventually ID’s and I think even the person Peter David would later suggest when he was tasked with wrapping this up after things fell apart behind the scenes, only to be told no, also, but as of this issue, Michael got it.