Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #358

Background

The final showdown has been set between Spider-Man's band of heroes and the Secret Empire. Midnight is in control of the Empire and is making a stand with his nurse, Lynn (the Empire's original cyborg), Eliot Franklin in his wrecking crew armor, and an unlimited supply of soldiers.

The heroes have trailed the retreating Secret Empire to their final hideaway and have freed Nova. Let the battle begin.

This is part six of the six-part saga 'Round Robin'.

Story 'Out On A Limb'

  Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #358
Summary: Gatefold Cover
Arc: Part 6 of 'Round Robin' (1-2-3-4-5-6)
Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Writer: Al Milgrom
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inker: Randy Emberlin
Cover Art: Mark Bagley
Articles: Midnight, The Punisher

The opening page reads like a scorecard to a boxing match, giving you the matchups and players, for the fight to come. The fight begins and every character stays true to form as they have done throughout this series. Spider- Man, Nova, and Darkhawk (the heroes with actual power) go after Midnight, Lynn, and Thunderball; while Punisher, Moon Knight, and Night Thrasher occupy themselves with the hundreds of Secret Empire soldiers present.

Lynn gives a one-page explanation of her cyborg implants. She was the pet project of Number One (who was murdered), and was fitted with whatever technology Jeff survived through. Essentially, Jeff Wilde was a guineu pig for new weapons and technology while Lynn was to be the Empire's prized agent.

Midnight, Lynn, and Thunderball discuss the new ruling elite of the Secret Empire as the battle ensues. Thunderball realizes that the endless supply of soldiers has actually come to an end and the six heroes have them outnumbered. Before the team can enjoy it, however, the Seekers (Grasp, Chain and Sonic) arrive and put the odds back in the Empire's favor.

Sonic has the Punisher in his grasp as Spider-Man tries to divert his attention. Midnight strikes with a cryogenic beam while Spidey's back is turned and inadvertently freezes Sonic. Punisher takes his knife and reverses it, using the handle to shatter the now brittle armor of Sonic. Exposed, Sonic is punched out by the Punisher just as he is taken out by Grasp. Sonic out. Punisher out.

Nova goes after Grasp when he watched him put the Punisher down. Grasp opens and energy net, waiting for the hero, but Nova is too powerful and drives through the net to take Grasp down. However, the energy is too much and takes Nova out as well. Grasp out. Nova out.

Meanwhile, Chain is strangling Night Thrasher. Moon Knight sees the same energy leech that took out the Punisher in ASM #355 in the remains of Sonic's armor. Moon Knight puts it to Chain's back and takes him out as the armored villian releases Night Thrasher. Chain out. Night Thraser out.

The only people left are the ones who started this storyline. Midnight, Lynn, and Thunderball remain as do Spider-Man, Moon Knight and Darkhawk. Spider-Man has been keeping the attention of the cyborgs, that is, until Midnight realizes Moon Knight is still in the fight and goes after him. Midnight is on the brink of killing his former mentor when Spider-Man stops him from afar. The cyborgs again turn on Spider-Man and have him on the ropes as Thunderball watches from a distance.

Spidey is able to web Lynn's eyes and focus on Midnight. As Lynn pulls off the webbing, however, she reveals her entire cyborg face. Midnight is disgusted by the fact that Lynn would allow the Empire to do this to her willingly, while he had it done as a necessity to keep him alive. She tries to convince him with the pain inducer that had been planted in him orginally by the ruling elite. Thunderball tries to take the inducer from Lynn, hoping it will give him control of Midnight and the entire Secret Empire, but is defeated easily by the cyborg.

Not wanting to live a life as someone's pawn again and unable to rule alongside Lynn, Midnight chooses to bring the entire building down around them all. He shoots lasers at all of the support columns as Lynn tries desperately to stop him. The entire safehouse comes crashing down as the heroes grab as many survivors as possible and escape.

The series ends while the heroes look toward the rubble only to see some movement amongst the wreckage. The only survivor is Eliot Franklin, who had fought his way through the rubble with the disattached arms of Midnight and Lynn, locked together in a firm grasp. Spider-Man tries to console Moon Knight by saying that Midnight may have done more damage to the Secret Empire, incidentally of course, than they could recover from.

General Comments

A fit ending to the 'Round Robin' storyline. No one, even Spider-Man, was going to defeat two cyborgs so its only fitting that they destroyed themselves. Also, it was good to see Jeff Wilde come around and make the right decision at the end. Obviously, he did not forgive Moon Knight (and most likely never will), but he did realize the monsters he was working with in the Secret Empire and chose to go the other way.

Being cyborgs you would expect to see Jeff Wilde and Lynn again someday, although to my knowledge they have not resurfaced in Spider-Man. There were some relationships built amongst the heroes that you would like to see continued in their own arcs if not again in Spider-Man. Most notably, the Punisher, Night Thrasher, and Moon Knight team-up.

Overall Rating

Spider-Man says at the end of the issue that Midnight may have, inadvertently, destroyed the Secret Empire for good and it seems to have gone that way. Hydra and A.I.M. still wreak havoc on the Marvel Universe, but the Secret Empire seems to have had enough after this series.

The heroes teamed-up in this series made it work. The only one whom seemed to be missing out of this New York street squad was Daredevil.

Footnote

Mark Bagley would take a two-issue hiatus to return with the origin of Carnage storyline. ASM #358 also marked the end of Al Milgrom's horrendous dialogue.

This final issue was published in January of 1992. During this time, Bagley was continuing his run on New Warriors which would end in July of '92. Darkhawk was confronted by an old Spider-Man foe, Tombstone in Darkhawk #11. Moon Knight was wrapping up a two-issue story with Spider-Man and the Hobgoblin and begninning a four-issue arc with Punisher in Marc Spector: Moon Knight #35. Finally, Punisher was wrapping up his bi-weekly saga the 'Final Days of the Punisher' in Punisher #58.