Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #46

 Lookback: Filling Gaps
 Posted: 7 Sep 2022
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)

Background

In a desperate attempt to increase his strength, Jason Macendale was possessed by a demon. The demon eventually separated from him and became a menace in it's own right, called Demogoblin by Spider-Man. Macendale and Demogoblin became bitter enemies, as Demogoblin was a religious fanatic that wanted to cleanse the world of all sinners, especially his former host. Demogoblin had recently joined Carnage in his massacre across Manhattan but now was looking to get back to his personal quest.

Story 'Directions'

  Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #46
Arc: Part 1 of 'Beware the Rage of a Desperate Man' (1-2-3-4)
Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Writer: Howard Mackie
Pencils: Tom Lyle
Inker: Scott Hanna
Cover Art: Tom Lyle
Articles: Chameleon, Demogoblin

In Midtown, Spider-Man was trying to escape from the mess that his life had become. Harry Osborn had recently died, but left one last parting gift to Peter: his parents were actually artificial life forms meant to kill their "son." It was a plan aided by the Chameleon. The creatures were defeated and the Chameleon was sent to prison but the episode had left Peter bitter and angry. No matter how many times he defeated a criminal, they always came back. He found himself leaping and climbing across the city to get his mind off of his life.

At a gothic church, the Demogoblin was perched on the roof. The demon reflected on his latest actions, and how he had been swayed by his bloodlust into joining Carnage and his "family." Now that he was rid of them, he was free to pursue the cleansing of the earth by killing all sinners. His first target was his old host, the Hobgoblin.

As he swung across the city, Spider-Man spotted Demogoblin as he flew his brimstone glider. Seeing the monster free yet again infuriated him and made him feel useless in his actions. He followed the creature.

At an apartment over looking Central Park, a two bit thief was showing the place to Macendale. The thief, whom Macendale called "Worm," had heard of Macendale's personal problems and though what he found would cheer him up. Macendale was impatient and wanted to know the point of why he had been brought to the apartment and Worm showed him a painting hanging on the wall of Kraven the Hunter. The apartment had been empty since his death and Worm had found Kraven's journal after breaking into the place. Worm claimed that most of the things in the journal were personal but some of it was meant for Kraven's son to see. Unfortunately it was written in code. The young Kravinoff had been sent back to Russia to fight for the family's estates but Worm knew he was wealthy and would want his father's journal.

Macendale called Worm a small thinker and the thief maintained that with Macendale's worldwide resources, they could get into Russia and the Kravinoff estate. In response, Macendale withdrew a razor bat and threw it at Worm, gutting him. Macendale knew that Kraven had had the strength to take on Spider-Man and he wanted that power for himself.

At that moment, Demogoblin burst into the room, saying that he had come for his former host. Macendale wanted to know why he couldn't leave him alone and the demon told him that their psychic bond could only be broken by death. As Macendale found cover behind a couch, Demogoblin reminded him that hiding was pointless. He knew the human as well as he knew himself. Spider-Man arrived and pulled Demogoblin away with a web, saying that at least he could surprise the monster. Demogoblin ordered Spider-Man to leave and Spidey refused to let a killer go free. The monster resented being compared to Carnage, as his cause was righteous. He had been misguided but now his path was pure. Spidey mocked Demogoblin as the demon attacked him with magical flames, saying that this certainly proved how different he was from other killers. Moving inside the apartment, Spider-Man recognized the animal trophies as belonging to Kraven, which triggered his memories of being buried alive before Kraven's suicide.

Throwing pumpkin bombs at Demogoblin was a failing tactic, and Macendale wanted to know if Spider-Man was going to help him. Demogoblin asserted that nothing would deter him from his mission, not even Spider-Man. Disgusted, Spider-Man tackled Demogoblin saying that he made him sick. He went on about how pure and holy his cause was, but in the end he amounted to nothing but a murderer. Projecting his anger of Harry onto Demogoblin, he raged that no matter how many times he put some costumed creep away, they always came back. They all thought that their causes were good but his cause was to put them away permanently. Completely webbing up Demogoblin, Spidey went to find Macendale, who was running for the door.

Spidey webbed the door closed and Macendale tried to convince him to finish off Demogoblin for good and he'd be out of Spider-Man's life for good. Spidey refused, saying he saw what he had done to Worm. After being slammed into a wall, Macendale asked if Spider-Man expected an apology for killing Worm, who he called a loser. Spidey was tempted to end Macendale right there, but Demogoblin used his brimstone power to burn through the web cocoon to freedom. He was tired from using so much power but insisted that nothing would keep him from settling matters with Macendale. Demogoblin rushed past Spider-Man and shoved Macendale against a wall, saying it was time to end everything that happened between them.

He was pulled backward by Spider-Man's web and beaten to a pulp, as the hero told him he was in no mood for a long fight. He webbed the demon's hands together and he was too weak to burn through the webs again. Spider-Man warned Macendale to not make him angrier than he already was and he replied with some pumpkin bombs. Spidey pulled Demogoblin to safety, despite his own resentment. Macendale escaped on a glider before Spidey could put a tracer on it. He knew that Macendale would be back, because they always come back. He looked at Kraven's portrait and thanked him for being the exception.

As Spidey carried Demogoblin away, he warned him to be quiet before he forgot who he was and dropped him. Demogoblin explained that his mission was now to forgive Macendale, as the blood feud between them was pointless. He could forgive Macendale as he could forgive no one else.

Later, Jason Macendale arrived in Russia, telling a customs official that his visit was a combination of business and pleasure. He was looking forward to seeing what Kraven's son could give him in return for the journal.

General Comments

This issue shows pretty clearly how Jason Macendale and Demogoblin were boring villains. Demogoblin's one trick pony religious mission feels out of place in a Spider-Man comic. (I always thought that he would make more sense as a Dr. Strange villain.) Macendale was a poor substitute Hobgoblin for Roderick Kingsley. Kingsley was a crook that knew how to use finesse and when to use muscle. He made plans and used other crooks against each other. Macendale was a blunt instrument and in the end, a petty thief. In a way, he even knew this. His search for real power led him to being possessed by a demon, which backfired. He sought power from Kraven's formula, which still wasn't enough to make him an A list villain. In the end, he tried to use cybernetics to enhance himself but that didn't work either.

Meanwhile, Peter was angry at being betrayed by his best friend. Seeing him angry isn't necessarily a bad thing, sometimes he's too good for his own good. Yet despite all of this, it's a dull story so far. There is no, well, soul attached to any of it.

Overall Rating

It's a hollow story.

 Lookback: Filling Gaps
 Posted: 7 Sep 2022
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)