Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #2

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Lost Classics

This review was first published on: 2002.

Background...

Ralph Macchio has over four hundred credits as editor of various Spider-Man books but only a handful of credits as writer. Here is his only work for Spectacular Spider-Man featuring Spidey's battle with the Karate Kid. Ha ha! Bad joke. Just kidding. Actually, it features some impending Scourge-bait known as Rapier.

It's time for our second annual annual Lookback at Annuals annual. If you're looking to get your bearings, it may help to know that this issue appeared in the same month as ASM #207 and PPSSM #45 both cover-dated August 1980. The cover shows Spidey fencing with some guy in the cheesiest looking outfit I have ever seen on a super-villain. Somehow I picked up this comic anyway.

In Detail...

"Vengeance is Mine.. Sayeth the Sword!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #2
Year 1980 : SM Title
Summary: Rapier and Silvermane
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  Ralph Macchio
Pencils:  Jim Mooney
Inker:  Mike Esposito
Cover Art:  Bob Budiansky
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 Reprinted In: Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #2
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Annual (UK) 1983 (Story 1)
Articles: Watson, Anna (BTS), Aunt May Parker, Glory Grant, Jameson, J. Jonah, Leeds, Ned, Rapier, Robertson, Joe "Robbie", Silvermane

It is midnight on the docks of Manhattan and Spider-Man has stumbled on a group of men surreptitiously loading boxes onto a waiting ship. He suspects that he has "stumbled onto a nice little heist in progress" but he doesn't get a chance to think more than that before his spider-sense starts tingling. He looks up to see a man leaping down towards him. He can't make him out in the fog but we can, unfortunately. He's wearing this orange leotard with brown boots that have a yellow design that is supposed to resemble swords (with their hilts at his knee and tips poking into his feet). The one-piece affair has a yellow belt and, above that, a shirt section that is too small to be properly buttoned. Rather, it has laces that hold it together while the wearer gets to show off his manly chest. The outfit is sleeveless to show off his manly arms but he wears brown gloves that color-coordinate with his brown cape. The whole thing is topped off with an orange Zorro mask. Let us not forget the stylish streak of gray in his hair. And, oh yes, he is carrying a fencing epee. Possibly the goofiest look in the history of comics.

This sorry-looking lunkhead seems to be diving right down toward Spidey but he is actually streaking past him. Spidey worries that "if he doesn't break his fall, he'll break his neck" but then the guy does a somersault in midair... which may be impressive but I still don't see how that breaks your fall. He lands on his feet on top of one of the crates being toted into the ship. One of the toters recoils, wondering, "Where'd dis jerk come from?" "That should be the least of your worries, lout" says the swordsman, "What should really concern you is where you're going! If you'll pardon the existential exclamation." (Oh brother! This is going to be a loooooong annual.) Leaping up and doing the splits in the air, he fells the two toters with two kicks. Then, he lands on the dock, faces the other men, flashes his weapon, and orders them to "Surrender, swine, (No, the men on the dock aren't stealing pork... that's surrender comma swine, he's referring to the men as... oh, ever mind.) or face the flashing blade of Rapier!" (Rapier! Rapier!!! Who, in their right mind would actually pick a name like that? You know what conversation should follow every time this guy blurts out his name? His next words should be, "No. It's Rapier. It's three syllables, all right? Rap-I-er. Rap-I-er!! It's Rap-I-er!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) One of the men is unimpressed. He tells Rapier he has a gun to counter the sword. "Then use it, lad, spit lead and quickly", says Rapier. (Oh brother!! I can't take it! It's only page two!) The man's reflexes are too slow. Rapier moves in and touches the man with his foil. (Uh, that's, you know, his sword.) It has an "electro-stun attachment" to it (Yes. Really.) that zaps the gunman and knocks him out.

Rapier keeps gabbing ("Ahh, but given the freedom of choice all honorable men should have... blah, blah, blah.") as he props himself up with his right hand while he leaps up and kicks another man in the snoot. (Don't ask me where his sword has gone while he does this.) Then, back on his feet again (and sword back in hand) he punches the face of a man who tries to approach him with a switchblade. (And what do you think that guy was thinking? "Let's see. I have this little switchblade and that guy has this big sword. I think I'll pull out my knife and attack him!") Another of the thieves holds a lead pipe in his hand and tries to sneak up on Rapier. ("That's Rap-I-er!") "I'm gonna enjoy droppin' this big-mouth dude" he thinks. (Do it, buddy! Do it!) Unfortunately, Rapier turns and socks this guy so hard that he drops the pipe and hits the deck.

Up on his perch, a clearly-delusional Spidey decides that Rapier has "got class", but that he can't stay up where he is and "appreciate him all night". He decides he must leap into the fray. Down he comes on his web, taking out three bad guys with his swing.

The fight isn't over yet. (How many of these guys are there?) Rapier uses his sword to knock the gun out of one guy's hand, while Spidey takes care of four others (including a guy who decided that he would enter this fight using a piece of a broken bottle!) No, wait! He takes care of five others. I didn't see the guy in the white shirt and green pants whom Spidey knocks right off the pier.

In the aftermath, Spider-Man and Rapier face each other. Rapier tells Spidey that "often have I hearkened to tales of your battles against the underworld". Spidey tells Rapier that he's been reading "about your own one-man war on crime in all the papers lately". Spidey webs up the bad guys, and then wants Rapier to tell all about himself. Rapier tells Spidey he has other things to do. Spidey objects, uncharacteristically, saying "But we know so little about you" and Rapier zings him with "Do we not both wear masks? I would have believed that you more than most would know the need for anonymity". (I would think so, too, Ralph. Like this conversation would ever happen.) Rapier walks off proudly into the fog. Spidey gets this feeling that "I've just been put down".

So, Spidey calls it a night and web-slings home to his Chelsea apartment. This is the place, you may recall, that has the skylight that enters right into his bathroom. Spidey uses the skylight, walks into his living room (with the cigar store Indian and big stuffed animal and marlin on the wall), and gets into his green pajamas with polka-dots. All warm and cozy for the night, Pete decides to call Aunt May who is currently staying at Anna Watson's house. They have a "warm and tender" conversation and Pete makes sure to say, "I love you" to May when they're done. May makes sure to say, "Don't forget to call. Please." After the call, Pete sits on his bed and reflects on how wonderful it is to have Aunt May in his life.

The next day, photographer Peter Parker and reporter Ned Leeds return to the docks on which Spidey and Rapier appeared the night before. The longshoremen have no use for "nosey reporters" and tell the men to "beat it". (Actually, one man wearing a red wool cap, does all the talking. The other men just stand around, staring.) Ned tells the men he is not looking for trouble but he would appreciate any information they may have on the "crime wave on the docks". No one steps forward to assist him. Pete decides to take a picture of one of the crates sitting on the dock but he never gets the chance. A goon with blonde hair and a black mustache pushes Pete away. "The only picture you're gonna take is of my fist comin' at'cha if ya don't shove off" he says. Wool Cap grabs Ned by the shirt while Blondie grabs Pete by the lapels of his blue jacket. Ned starts to fight back but Pete tells him to drop it. "Let's just leave... for now," he tells Ned. Blondie thinks that "Now yer talkin' sense, jerk" and he lets go of Pete's lapels. But he also takes Pete's press card away from him. As the reporters leave, Blondie tells them to tell "any other snoop-noses" that they are not wanted on the docks. Ned and Pete leave. Ned tells Pete that he doesn't like being pushed around. Pete tells Ned "we're not going to get any info by starting a brawl". He also doesn't want to accidentally give away his secret identity by slipping up and revealing his spider-strength.

Back on the street, Pete hails a cab and heads for the Daily Bugle. (Ned tells Pete he has "another assignment" and does not share the cab.) When he arrives, Pete tells the driver to "keep the change" and heads for the entrance to the building. Just before going inside, his spider-sense starts tingling and for good reason. Just inside the door, two goons (one older man with gray in his hair, wearing a fedora, and sucking on a toothpick; the other a younger man with blonde hair and a three-piece suit) snag him. Fedora has his hand in his pocket, implying that he has a gun. ("Listen up, punk. This bulge in my pocket ain't a billfold," he says.) Three Piece Suit tells Pete to "walk nice and quietly to the elevator". The three men take the elevator up to the Bugle editorial offices. When they arrive, Pete can't believe his eyes. The whole floor has been taken over by hoodlums. The Bugle workers are all so frightened that "nobody even looked up as we came in".

Fedora and Suit take Pete to the Publisher's office. Inside are two more goons holding J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson at gunpoint. Also in the room is the boss of all these hoods. "One of the most powerful Maggia Chieftains in the entire country"... Silvermane!

(Silvermane was last seen hitting the floor with a thud after falling from a great height in a battle with Spider-Man and Green Goblin III back in ASM #180, May 1978. Looks like he got better. And why not? After all, the old man dissolved into nothingness back in ASM #75, August 1969 and still managed to return to life.)

Silvermane thanks his goons for bringing Peter Parker. (Turns out Suit's name is "Pecile".) Now he can get down to business. He tells Jameson that he wants him to "refrain from printing any more of those distasteful organized crime exposes" and threatens him with grave consequences if he continues. Then he turns to Peter and tells him to "avoid the waterfront district unless [he is] planning an ocean voyage". He pulls Peter's press card out of his pocket and returns it. With this, the hoods prepare to leave but Jonah has gotten his dander up and he tells Silvermane "no one tells me how to run the Bugle!" Silvermane begs to differ. He calls over his man D'Alessandro, the one with black slicked-back hair, a green suit and a mustache who had Robbie at gunpoint when Pete walked in. D'Alessandro grabs Robbie by the arm and twists it so severely that "it feels like it's breaking". Silvermane turns to Jameson. "Shall it continue?" he asks. Jonah is forced to give in but he promises Silvermane that one day he'll "pay for this outrage". Silvermane scoffs at him. "With my legal counsel, you won't even be able to prove I was in this office today" he says. Then, as he leaves, he turns to Peter and takes his camera away from him... "just in case any unwanted photographs were taken". "You can choke on it, Mister," says Pete. Then, as Silvermane and his men leave, Peter manages to flick a spider-tracer at them. It adheres to the back of one goon's jacket.

With the hoods gone from the premises, JJJ, Robbie and Pete discuss their options. Jonah wonders whether he should cave in to Silvermane's demands but Robbie thinks he must "print the truth". Peter steps in and agrees with Robbie. "If we cave in" he says, "they might come back with another list of demands. The news comes first. Period." JJ likes Peter's "spunk". Pete takes advantage of Jonah's admiration by mentioning that he is now minus his camera and needs a new one "if I'm going to follow up on the story". He asks Jonah for an advance. Jonah grouses at first ("Why of all the conniving con-jobs... to take advantage of circumstances like this to pick my pocket".) but gives in rather quickly. Pete bails out of the office before Jonah can yell at him some more.

Outside on the street, Silvermane and his men climb into their waiting cars and head back to their office. Up on the roof, Peter changes into his Spidey duds and sets out to follow his spider-tracer. He tracks down the cars as they drive along Park Avenue. When the sedans pull into the underground parking garage of a building, Spidey breaks off pursuit. Silvermane and his goons take a private elevator up to their offices. When they arrive, they find someone has gotten there ahead of them. Spidey is sitting in Silvermane's chair with his feet up on Silvermane's desk. The two hoods that were left to guard the place are strung up in web sacks that now hang from the ceiling. ("Sorry, boss," says one webbed-up bodyguard, "He caught us nappin'.") While this sight distracts the thugs, Spidey makes his move. He leaps over the desk and lays into the men before they have time to pull their guns. Two get kicked in the jaw and a third gets webbed up in Spidey's initial attack. With his next move, he kicks another guy in the head and swipes the gun of yet another goon with a shot of webbing. A sixth hood is taken care of when his gun is swept away by webbing. But the seventh hood (the bald guy in the blue suit) has his gun out and pointed by the time Spider-Man gets to him. No problem, though. The web-slinger jumps onto the man's back, and uses the man's shoulder as a launching pad to propel himself to the ceiling. Bald Blue Suit gets pushed to the floor by the force of Spidey's jump.

Now, either there are more bad guys in that room than I thought or some of them have gotten up again. One fires his gun at Spidey but misses. Another is knocked out with a two-handed punch to the jaw from Spider-Man who is standing on the ceiling and hanging upside down at the time. But the plaster on the ceiling comes loose and Spidey falls to the ground. A revolver and a machine gun fire upon him as he falls. Then, four goons apparently decide to converge on the spot toward which the wall-crawler is falling which puts them in perfect position to be knocked out by Spidey simultaneously! You heard me right. The webhead uses both arms and legs to wallop all four thugs before he even reaches the ground.

Silvermane, meanwhile, has kept his distance from this whole fight. When he sees that Spidey is "making fools of my men", he pulls his own gun and decides to take action. But when he discovers that Spidey is "leaping around so quickly, I can't get a bead on him", he decides to take it on the lam instead. (Actually, he tells himself he is leaving to return with more reinforcements. Yeah, right. That must be it, Silvermane.) He runs down a hallway and opens a door before he is grabbed by the collar of his jacket and pulled back by the Amazing Spider-Man. Spidey picks Silvermane up, scales the wall, heads over to an open window, and dangles Silvermane out of it, hundreds of feet above the ground. He promises to bring Silvermane back inside "if I can have a moment of your time". Silvermane has no choice but to agree to this request.

So, Spidey yanks Silvermane back inside and throws him into his desk chair with a "wump". (Though Silvermane, apparently, stands right back up.) Spidey sticks a finger in Silvermane's face and tells him that he has friends at the Daily Bugle and he has heard about the threats. "If anyone at that newspaper is harmed in the slightest," he tells Silvermane, "you'll answer to me for it". After issuing this statement, he starts to leave out of an open window but, first, he shoots some webbing into Silvermane's coat pocket and comes up with Peter Parker's camera. "This belongs to someone who asked me kindly to return it" he says. With that, Spidey swings away, leaving a very angry Silvermane behind. "No man mocks Silvermane with such impunity and lives to tell of it" thinks Silvermane, thinking of himself in the third person, "No man."

Elsewhere "in the small gymnasium of an expensive townhouse" a fencing match is taking place. Masks cover the combatants' faces but one man wears white while the other wears black. The man in black tells the other "I requested this session because I believed I had at last discovered a worthy opponent. But you disappoint me greatly." After all, the man in white is "deemed the finest fencer on this coast" but he is no match for the man in black who continues to belittle his opponent while he systematically takes him apart. He finishes the match by knocking the epee out of his opponent's hand, knocking the mask off his opponent's head, and pointing the tip of his foil at his opponent's throat. He tells the beaten man that he is lucky to escape with his life. Then, he sends the man in white home with his tail between his legs, lecturing him all the while, in a really annoying fashion.

Alone, the man in black enters an "opulent den" complete with fireplace, bookshelves, comfy-looking red armchair and freestanding globe. "If only that fool knew he had received a lesson from the now famous crime-fighter Rapier," he thinks. ("No, no. That's Rap-I-er!") Then, he complements himself on how well he has guarded his identity, as if his fencing opponent couldn't figure it out in an instant. Only one person knows about his secret life and that is his "beloved Clarissa". And, just then, Clarissa herself enters the room. She is an attractive brunette in a low-cut white blouse and hip-hugging orange bellbottom slacks. She allows Rapier to take her in his arms and then delivers her bombshell. She wants her man to "give up being Rapier". Rapier tells her he cannot quit until he's accomplished his goal. "Is this one man who so obsesses your every waking moment worth our happiness together?" asks Clarissa as she gestures at a copy of the Daily Bugle sitting on a nearby table. Rapier uses his sword to tear a photograph of Silvermane out of the front page. He tosses it up in the air and, very dramatically, impales it on his sword, right through Silvermane's heart. "Yes" replies Rapier to Clarissa's question, "Silvermane must die! And he must die by my hand and mine alone!" Clarissa asks if the death of Silvermane will end it all. "You have my word, my darling. My word" says Rapier, who has this really annoying habit of repeating words from his sentences. Then he takes her in his arms and kisses her.

At the Bugle, Peter enters Jonah's office to thank him for his cash advance. Jonah shuts him up, then waves around the Bugle's latest edition. It is the same one we saw at Rapier's place. The headline is "Crime War Intensifies" and it has that picture of Silvermane. JJ goes into this long harangue about how he refuses to give in to criminals and how "we are going to hold fast to our principles regardless of the cost". Peter reminds Jameson that he was there when this decision was made so he doesn't need the lecture. (We were there, too, which makes me wonder why it's being repeated to us. Maybe Ralph needed to pad out the page count.) Jonah opens the tabloid to its centerspread, which features photos of Rapier fighting various hoods. He tells Peter he wants shots of Rapier "on the centerspread of the Bugle every night this week". Not only that but "I'm even scrapping a series of editorials I'd prepared on that masked menace Spider-Man and replacing them with an all-out assault on organized crime!" Jameson crumbles the paper in a fist as he continues to rant about outraging the public, forcing officials to act, and so on. Finally, he collapses into his chair, muttering, "I'm counting on you... I'm counting on all of you."

This all concerns Peter. JJJ "looks completely wasted". When he leaves the office, he asks Glory Grant why Jonah is acting so strangely. Glory tells him that Robbie Robertson was taken to the hospital after being "dragged into an alley on his way home and beaten up". Jonah's current behavior masks his rage over the beating of his best friend.

Pete heads to the elevator and runs through the whole thing in his mind. Clearly, Robbie was beaten up to warn Jonah to desist. Jameson is responding by stepping up his attacks. Peter realizes that "Someone's going to get hurt really bad" as this whole thing escalates. He decides on a course of action. First he will visit Robbie in the hospital as Peter Parker. Then he will visit Silvermane as Spider-Man.

Just as Pete steps into that elevator, two sedans arrive at the "monastery-turned-museum" called the Cloisters on Manhattan's northwest side. A goon named Sardone opens the car door and lets Silvermane out. Silvermane reminds his goons that he sent out the word that he wants to meet with Rapier here "to discuss a profitable arrangement". He has received a message from Rapier to meet him. He orders his men to spread out and take their positions around "the courtyard Rapier selected to rendezvous". It must appear that Silvermane has come to the meeting alone (and drove two cars, apparently!) until the time comes to spring the ambush.

The tombs and statues of the Cloisters immediately spook Silvermane's men. One thinks it's "like a scene outta one'a them foreign horror flicks. Just before the vampire leaps out and chomps on the guy's neck." Another gets jumpy because "this dump reminds me of the slammer in a crazy way". Pecile get so spooked that he jumps out from behind a tomb and orders a fellow hood named Savvarino to "freeze or I'll shoot!" Another of the gang peeks around a corner and is bothered by the fact that "it's almost impossible not to make noise in this place... with these stone walls and ceilings, it's like an echo chamber". And yet another raises his gun and orders "You behind that wall!" to come out... only to realize he is trying to order around a statue. When he lowers his gun, he is kicked in the back by a foot in a brown boot. Then in rapid succession, goons are clunked on the head with the hilt of a sword, karate-chopped in the back of the neck with a hand in a brown glove and tripped with the blade of a sword while the swordsman hides around a corner until only Rapier and Silvermane remain.

Speaking of Silvermane, he waits in the agreed-upon courtyard and is starting to wonder if Rapier has suspected a trap and decided not to show when he is greeted with a call of "You need look no further, sir!" Silvermane peers into the shadows and can see Rapier lurking back there. He asks the swordsman if he has come alone. "Indeed" says Rapier, "And you?" "Yes as we agreed," says Silvermane. "Then" says Rapier as he steps out of the shadows, "how do you explain this?" Rapier steps into the light and reveals that he has one of Silvermane's goons, unconscious, and skewered through the jacket on his sword. Rapier tells Silvermane that he expected treachery "knowing you as intimately as I do". Silvermane doesn't recognize Rapier until the swordsman removes his mask (which, to be honest, pretty much just covers his eyes and is not much of a disguise). Then, he recoils with recognition. Rapier is Dominic Tyrone... Silvermane's old partner!

I'm not even going to try to figure out how this can fit into the history of Silvermane as we know it from ASM #73-75 (June-August 1969)... because it doesn't, okay? In any event, here comes Rapier's origin.

Thirty years ago, Dominic Tyrone was Silvermane's "oldest, closest friend". They work their way through the New York mobs as a team. We see them shaking down a couple of guys together. We see them using tommy guns to mow down a bunch of guys together. We see them toasting each other as they start their ascent up the ladder into the Maggia hierarchy together. With that toast, they swear "an oath of undying loyalty to each other". But Silvermane always planned to double-cross his partner. One night, as Tyrone takes a walk, a thug comes out of an alley and hits him over the head with a blackjack. Then two hoods take Dominic to "a lake outside the city". They tie him up, weight him down and toss him in. But, as the thugs drive away, a young woman in a red one-piece bathing suit comes out from behind some vegetation. She has witnessed the whole thing and she dives into the water, finds Tyrone at the bottom of the lake and swims with him to shore. After that, she drags him all the way to her nearby home where her father calls for an ambulance.

Soon after, Dominic is on the operating table at the hospital. The problem is not the near-drowning but that "the cowardly blow I had received to the base of my skull had damaged the nerves in my spinal column". He eventually undergoes a series of operations to try to prevent complete paralysis.

Later, in a hospital room, with the young girl who saved him in attendance, a doctor explains that he likely will never move again. But the doctor does not reckon with the "burning anger which fueled my determination to recover against all odds".

And so the days go by, as Dominic uses his hate to spur on his recovery. One day, he is able to move his hand. Over the years (and it looks like he stays in the hospital for all this time!) Dominic slowly recovers his ability to walk. Through all of this, the young girl (who is, as if you didn't know, Clarissa) stays with him and helps him along. Even after regaining all of his motor functions, Tyrone keeps pushing. He pursues "the perfection of my body" by weightlifting, doing calisthenics, and fencing. Eventually, he becomes so proficient at swordplay that "I was defeating the finest fencing masters" and "the rapier became a true extension of my arm, as subject to my will as my very fingers".

All along, Dominic keeps his revenge in mind but he holds off until, less than a year ago, Clarissa's father dies. At the gravesite, he takes Clarissa in his arms and whispers to her "that the time had finally arrived"... which is just the sort of comfort a grieving person is looking for, isn't it? And so, he puts together the goofiest outfit of all time and decides to spend time pretending to be a hero just so he can "interfere with Maggia affairs to such an extent as to provoke this confrontation" ... which, let's face it, makes no sense at all. Since he knows all of Silvermane's secrets, certainly Tyrone could have just confronted him and killed him without concocting the silly secret identity.

Now, before we move along to the rest of the story, let's take just a moment to consider everyone's age. If Rapier and Silvermane met thirty years before, then Rapier should be at least fifty, even though his appearance never changes along the way. Silvermane also looks the same throughout, even though he is a very old man when he first appears and gets rejuvenated later on. (Or, as Bob Dylan put it, "For I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.") And Clarissa still looks like she's about twenty years old even though her father is portrayed as a young man in the flashback that shows Clarissa dragging the half-drowned Dominic into the house and is later referred to as "aging" at his funeral. So, there's some sort of weird time-warp going on here but, do I care? Uh-uh. I'm just here to tell the rest of the story.

Silvermane is decidedly unimpressed by Rapier's story. He pulls out his gun and scoffs at the idea of Dominic countering it with a sword. But Rapier points his epee and fires an electric bolt right into Silvermane's chest. "It was for just such an occasion that I added the stun blaster attachment" he says as he stands over his foe, "Somehow... I knew." (Ooohh! Heavy.) Silvermane isn't even knocked unconscious by the jolt. Lying on his stomach, he peers up and asks what Rapier plans to do. Rapier poises his sword over Silvermane's back but doesn't drive the point in. Instead he declares that he's going to destroy his old friend "bit by bit, little by little". Which is when Spidey steps in... and he's heard every word.

Spider-Man leaps down to join the two men in the courtyard. He has followed the spider-tracer that he attached to one thug's jacket back at the Daily Bugle. Rapier tells Spidey to "stay out of my way" but the web-slinger refuses to let Rapier commit murder. He tells the swordsman to "hand over the dipstick". Rapier counters by tossing a second sword (and who knows where he was keeping it) to Spidey. He orders him to "pick up the sword if you value your life". Instead of complying, Spidey intends to web Rapier up but he isn't fast enough. Moving like lightning, Rapier flicks his sword at both of Spidey's wrists and cuts his web-shooters away so that they fall uselessly to the ground. How did he even know about the web-shooters? He explains, "I noticed your odd hand motions when you fired your webbing last evening on the docks and I surmised the slight bulge around each wrist might be some type of web containers." Yeah, yeah. Whatever. In any event, Spidey is forced to pick up the sword to defend himself and the battle begins.

Immediately, Rapier leans in with his foil, pressing the attack. Initially, Spidey fends off the attack, but Rapier then gets a thrust in. His sword rakes across Spidey's chest, tearing his costume and the web-spinner suddenly knows that "this guy's playing for keeps". Rapier crows that he has "drawn first blood... an excellent indication as to who will ultimately be the victor". He continues to press ahead, backing Spidey down a few flights of steps that almost trip up the web-slinger. In self-defense, Spider-Man decides to "cheat a bit". He leaps up and stands on the wall while he continues to feint and parry. When Rapier stabs at him, Spidey jumps back down to the ground. When Rapier sweeps his blade at him, Spidey jumps up in the air to evade it. The wall-crawler avoids the next thrust by somersaulting backward over a sarcophagus and springing into a high-ceilinged chamber. And, by the way, while this fight is going on, these two guys talk a lot! They blather on so long about the pluses and minuses of being on the respective sides of the law that they manage to turn this sequence into one of the most boring fights of the web-slinger's entire career. But all the boredom also serves a purpose. Spidey succeeds in dulling Rapier's senses with his chatter (or, as he puts it, "I broke your concentration for just a second") and takes advantage by using his sword to knock Rapier's sword out of his hand. With that, the wall-crawler tosses his own weapon away. He prefers to finish the battle hand-to-hand.

But, then, a hand reaches out from behind a sarcophagus and snatches the sword that Spidey discarded. It is Clarissa who has followed Dominic and who has just happened to hide behind this one particular tomb where Spidey tossed away his weapon. The web-slinger's spider-sense tingles but he ignores it. This allows Clarissa to clonk him over the head with the hilt of the sword. The man who is strong enough to face off against the Rhino and Mr. Hyde drops down unconscious after Clarissa's savage blow.

When Rapier realizes what has happened, he is not happy. Clarissa admits that she has followed him because "something told me it would not go well tonight". Rapier shakes a fist at her and calls her a "little meddler". He wants to get his revenge all by himself. Now his plans are ruined because of her interference. It doesn't matter to him that she did it because she loves him. No. Now he's "going to have to begin again". "And when I return home, I expect you to be gone" he callously tells her. ("And, by the way, it's Rap-I-er! Three syllables!")

Meanwhile, in the adjoining courtyard, Silvermane gets up on his hands and knees and crawls over to his gun. Just before he gets there, Rapier runs past, not even looking at him. Wrapped up in his confused thoughts about Clarissa, Dominic leaps to the roof of an arched corridor, oblivious to the crawling Silvermane. He reaches the peak of the roof at the same time as Silvermane reaches his gun. Steadying his shaking hands, the Maggia boss takes aim and shoots Rapier in the back! Rapier falls off the roof into some damp leaves on the outside of the building. These leaves break his fall. He manages to stand and stagger off. It is difficult and he is going numb from the bullet wound but he vows to make it "even with the pain". "But I won't crawl" he declares. He will run away like a man.

Back inside, Silvermane has lapsed into unconsciousness, Spider-Man has called the police, and Clarissa has chosen to stick around to explain things. When the authorities arrive, they put Silvermane in an ambulance. The mob leader will "probably recover fully". Then the webhead has a chat with one of the cops about Rapier's real motives. The officer tells him that Rapier has been "a big boost to the department's war on organized crime" and he wonders if Spidey's comments are just "professional jealousy". Spidey replies with the biggest dose of psychobabble he has muttered in quite some time. Are you ready? "The last thing in the world I am is envious of that guy. He may have made a name for himself but in my book, he's still a nobody... I've a hunch Rapier was forced to confront something inside himself tonight, something that's been gnawing away at him for years and was ready to explode. And once it did, I think he lost the most precious possession he ever had. And someday, someday, I hope he realizes it." What in the world can you add to that? Nothing. Just get out of the way of the closing credits. (Well, there aren't really any closing credits, but you get the idea.)

So, what's next for Rapier? Is there even any doubt? He just happens to be one of about twenty or so lame villains hanging out in the bar with no name only to be gunned down by the bartender who turns out to be the Scourge of the Underworld (in Captain America #319 (July 1986). Do you think he was there "realizing" that "he lost the most precious possession he ever had"? I doubt it. More likely, his last words were, "Three syllables! It's Rap-I-er!!!"

Silvermane returns in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #69 (August 1982). When we first see him, he is bedridden with multiple broken bones that have never healed from the fall he took in Amazing Spider-Man #180 (May 1978). In other words, the story we have just reviewed is completely ignored as if it never existed. It's just left on the continuity cutting-room floor. Which is a pretty good place for it, don't you think?

In General...

Hmm. Let's see. Rapier is both boring and silly with one of the goofiest costumes in history. Silvermane is so out of character in every way you can imagine that he might as well just be an entirely new character. The wordy swordfight between Rapier and Spidey is a complete embarrassment. And did Rapier really ditch the beautiful and loyal Clarissa because she had the nerve to give him an assist? This is nearly as bad as it gets.

Overall Rating...

And you wonder why Ralph is editing instead of writing more comic stories? One measly web.