So what is a supervillain to do when there are no banks to rob, worlds to conquer, or heroes to fight? Why not grab a couple of brewskis with some other well-known bad guys? This month's Tangled Web takes us inside the nightlife of some of your favorite Marvel villains. And don't miss the surprise guest star....
A man in a hat and trench coat walks into a downtown New York bar. After a little flirting with the waitress, he orders a double shot of bourbon and begins to people watch. In attendance are the Rhino, Matador and Stilt-Man (who nearly get into a fight over Matador's sexual orientation), The Whirlwind, Hyde, Doctor Octopus, and others. After a while, the Vulture walks in the door and sits down at the table with the man in the hat. The older man begins to gripe about his week when another visitor arrives. This man is Alyosha Kravinov, the son of Kraven.
The three kick back and have a few drinks. Alyosha is calm, suave, and hitting on the waitress like nobody's business, but quickly and painfully subdues Tombstone when the albino tries to pick a fight. The three of them talk about women--mostly the women Alyosha has scored and the ones Vulture never will, but the topic keeps coming back to "HIM." Spider-Man. Alyosha and the Vulture both have had run-ins with Spidey over the last week. Alyosha was captured with the help of the Torch, but the Vulture got away. "I am sick to death of the super hero community," complains the young Kraven. Vulture continues to whine about how Spider-Man doesn't play fair, but eventually admits the worst part of fighting him: "It's the jokes. I think making those kind of personal insults in the heat of a battle is extremely lowbrow. This is a BUSINESS. For him to make it personal like that isn't right."
The conversation gets heated until the man in the hat intervenes. "Let's remember why we came out here tonight. It was to have some laughs, not fight like schoolboys." Alyosha nearly loses control, but backs down for the first time. Vulture asks the man in the hat what happened to him that week, and he admits that he and Spider-Man have a different relationship. He pays the tab and gets up to leave, but his drinking buddies won't let him. "What happened with you and him that makes him treat you so special?" The man pauses, then takes off his hat.
"I kidnapped his girlfriend. And killed her. Right in front of him. It was a blast!"
Dead silence. Nobody can believe what Norman Osborn just told them. He finishes the last of the bourbon, walks out of the bar, and flies away on his glider, laughing the whole time.
This was a good one, folks. I still think stories like these--where Spider-Man is peripheral at best--make for the best Tangled Webs. Where else can you see where some of Marvel's bad boys unwind after a hard day? (Doc Ock was shoots a mean stick with those tentacles of his.) A second reading was necessary as I spent the first time wondering who the mystery man was. It was obvious in retrospect, what with Norman's comments about being "green with envy" and redheads causing so much trouble, but for a moment I was wondering if it was Peter himself keeping tabs on his sparring partners. A foolish notion, but who cares?
The characters themselves were well written, with one exception. The Vulture was perfect as a bitter, envious old geezer who can't take a joke. He's just always seemed like a guy who has a harder time dealing with people's disdain than a blow to the head or three, and that really came through. Especially whenever anyone suggested that he couldn't get the lady he was lusting after. Norman, as always, had control of the entire situation, and you could tell he enjoyed shocking everybody with his admission about killing Gwen Stacy. That's just the kind of thing that makes Norman tick.
Alyosha was a different story, though. I don't have a problem with the way he is written here, but his character has never been consistent since his introduction right after "Revelations." J.M. DeMatteis scripted him as a bi-polar maniac who could shake your head one moment and rip it from your arm the next. Howard Mackie devolved him into a boring, typical supervillain. Here, he's the gallavanting playboy with $30 mil and the phone number of every woman on the Eastern seaboard. There's nothing wrong with Ron Zimmerman's portrayal, and it would make for some interesting stories, but the Spider-Man writers need to come to a consensus on Alyosha Kravinov and STICK TO IT.
But Alyosha works well in this story, as well as pretty much everything else. Don't miss this one.
Four webs for a fun, original comic.