Spider-Man #80 concludes the 'Crown' saga that has been transpiring in the past few issues. The mysterious Crown has taken Peter and his new ally, the strange hero SHOC, prisoner at Fortunato's mansion. Fortunato has been helping Hydra continue its quest for world domination. Peter has been locked up in the depths of the mansion with a very hungry Morbius the Living Vampire!!
Dr. Andrea Janson has SHOC hooked up to this huge machine, trying to discover the secret to his powers. Of course, the process is extremely painful. We even get a glimpse of Baron Von Strucker, Hydra's head dude, visiting Fortunato and the boys. Strucker leaves, telling Fortunato to finish up quickly. Crown disappears, after asking his sweetie, Dr. Janson, to help him out and find out SHOC's secrets.
Switch to Peter, who is having a hell of a time keeping Morbius at bay. The guards watch the struggle, but get blindsided by a band of intruders. The vampire is about the feast on Peter (again!), but Morbius is blasted by the unseen intruders. Peter thanks his would-be saviors, but he too is rendered unconscious with energy-weapon fire. The same can also be said of Dr. Janson, who gets knocked out along with all of Hydra's cronies. Later, Fortunato shows up with Crown, who vows to crush the fools that took his beloved Andrea from him.
Peter wakes up to the sound of a very familiar voice. He sees that Morbius and SHOC are to either side of him, restrained. The voice emerges from the shadows, and it's....Hammerhead!!! He's about to put a slug in Peter's head, but SHOC breaks out of his shackles. HH still has the upper hand, using Peter as a bargaining chip, and wants SHOC to help him bring Fortunato's organization down. After a few snappy comebacks, they all retire to the kitchen and a few steaming bowls of spaghetti to discuss their plans. After SHOC agrees to help Hammerhead, Peter yells at him, trying to dissuade the hero from siding with one of Spidey's oldest enemies. Two goons escort Peter up to the roof, and off the edge.
Meanwhile, a Hydra ship comes hovering over the building where Hammerhead, his cronies, and their families are located, and Crown and the Hydra boys slide out the side in Crown's trademark black crap. Chaos quickly ensues, allowing Morbius to escape (after snacking on a couple of thugs), and Spidey to finally enter the fray. Rooftops light up with gunfire as Crown and Hammerhead's forces go to it. Spider-Man tries to shield a little kid from the gunfire, but he's the son of a mobster, and doesn't want anything to do with the web-slinger. SHOC and Crown go head to head, with Spidey getting in the way (of course), and Hammerhead even takes a couple of pot shots at Crown.
The Big Bad Guy, however, has different plans. He knows that he's dying, due to the immense power he holds within his suit of armor, and so he overloads it, planning on taking half of the Big Apple with him! But before he can, Morbius appears out of nowhere and attacks Crown. The power builds, and the sky turns a hideous blue-black. SHOC knows what's going to happen, and funnels his power through Spidey's web-shooters, creating a huge web-shield over a section of the city. An explosion follows, and Crown, Hydra, and Morbius are gone! Hammerhead thanks Spider-Man by sparing his life, and leaves the two heroes on the rooftop.
A fair ending to a good story. First, I thought that the storyline was just a villain revival with Morbius. Then I thought it was another lame sidekick intro with SHOC. But, as it all developed, the whole thing became really interesting! Though I didn't like the way Morbius threw himself into the fray at the end, becoming the Living Martyr, I did like Crown as a villain and, against my better judgment, I like SHOC. Though he still lacks definition and a real sense of depth, he's better than some other heroes ol' webhead has been teamed up with.
I'll be conservative and give the grand finale a 3. Though I think the whole story was well done, this issue in itself was rather average. I think that the whole 'mob war' gimmick has been done to death, especially where the webbed-one is concerned, and I would personally like to see more original hooks.
J.R. Jr's art is, as always, very cool, and the improved inking of Scott Hanna, while still a bit rough, looks much better than what we've seen in previous installments. The dark, gritty feeling of this magazine still holds up, and that's what makes it one of my favorites!