|Cover Art:||Alex Saviuk|
It is 7:01 AM and Spider-Man is already on the job. A "U-Rent" truck is driving along FDR Drive just as Spidey expected. (He has been tipped off by the Arranger that this truck is bringing a supply of "stolen Army surplus munitions" for the Lobos to use in the gang war.) The web-slinger jumps onto the roof of the truck and has to immediately evade gunfire. Two men riding inside the truck have heard the "ktump" of Spidey's arrival and blast through the roof with their automatic weapons. The webhead leaps down so that he is right outside the driver's side window. Then, he punches right through the glass, smashing the driver in the jaw, and knocking him unconscious. Still clinging to the outside of the truck, Spidey sticks his right arm inside the cab and steers. He takes an exit and whips the truck up onto a sidewalk under a bridge. The two men inside jump out with their guns as soon as the truck comes to a full stop. They are immediately hit with webbing that attaches them to the fender of the truck. Spidey is perched up on the foundation of the bridge and he brushes off his Spanish and speaks to the two men in their native tongue. (And considering he is using phrases like "special chemical compound", "pleasant tactile qualities" and "wholesome wintergreen aroma", I'd say his Spanish must be pretty good.) The webhead asks where the men were taking this "nice little arsenal". The man with the yellow headband on that says "Nike: Just Do It" spits as he replies. He freely admits that the weapons were to be used against "El Hombre Gordo"... the Kingpin. He defiantly promises, "By midnight, the Kingpin will bleed all over that fine building of his."
Spidey leaps away, leaving the men for the police. He finds a pay phone and calls the Arranger to tell him that an attack will occur before midnight. The Arranger is shocked to learn it will happen so soon. "How do I explain it to Mr. Fisk?" he asks. Spidey doesn't care. "All I want to do is stop the war" he says and hangs up on a sputtering Arranger.
Walking down the hallway to the Kingpin's office, the Arranger gets a teensy bit nervous. He realizes that the Kingpin may blame him for the whole problem with the Lobos. It was him, after all, who arranged the assassination attempt on the Lobos because they "were a threat to our expanding operations in the south". The Arranger can only hope that the Kingpin will understand. He knocks and let's himself into the Kingpin's office. He enters and admits to his boss there is something he has to tell him.
At the Daily Bugle, Peter Parker tells Kate Cushman about the planned attack on the Fisk Tower. He asks if Jonah Jameson will run the story "without independent collaboration". Kate doesn't know. Even though she is City Editor, Jonah has been treating her "like a glorified copy girl". So, Kate and Pete enter JJJ's office and Pete's spider-sense starts tingling as it does whenever he's "around Jonah these days".
Jameson has his back to the duo, his hands behind his back. He smokes a cigar and stares out the window while Kate gives him the lowdown on the situation. If they print the story, they may force the attack to be called off. If not, "we could have a full scale massacre to report in the morning". Jonah brushes that aside. "We print the news," he says, "And you don't have any news, Parker, my boy. All you have is rumor and speculation". If there turns out to be a massacre, well, "that's no business of ours", he says. Kate tries to protest but a disgusted Peter stalks out of the office. When Kate tries to defend Peter's reliability by reminding JJJ that he is "one of your best photographers", Jonah pooh-poohs her. "Katzenberg... is top man now" he says. Just then, Katzenberg shows up. Jonah puts his arm around Katzenberg's shoulder, calls him "Nickie" (three times), ushers him into his office and slams the door in Cushing's face. If it weren't for the "personal loyalty" she feels to Joe Robertson, Kate decides, she would quit right away.
Meanwhile, a discouraged Peter Parker is waiting for the elevator when Joy Mercado hails him from behind. She offers to buy him "coffee at Louie's" if he will listen to what she has to saw about Gloria Grant. Soon after, Pete and Joy sit outside at the café (since it is suddenly summer, you know) and Joy confesses to her spying. She shows Pete her photos of Gloria and her boyfriend, Eduardo Lobo. This is the first time Pete has heard that one of the Lobos is Gloria's new man and he feels like an idiot... but at least he now knows why his spider-sense went off when he passed the couple in the lobby of the Bugle (back in Web #51). Pete hands the photos back to Joy and promises to talk to Gloria about it.
Walking alone afterwards, Peter kicks himself for not recognizing Eduardo. After all, he saw the Lobos in their human form back when the Punisher tried to assassinate them in Dallas (in Spectacular #143) and it's not like him to ignore his spider-sense. But he does just that seconds later as he walks past the entrance to the Bugle's underground parking lot. His spider-sense tingles, telling him there is danger in the garage but he again decides that "I must be losing my grip".
Down in that parking garage, J. Jonah Jameson enters the curtained-off back seat of a 1930s sedan. By the time he has taken a seat and pulled out a cigar, he has changed his appearance to that of the Chameleon. He brings the "good news" that the Lobos will attack at midnight, which should open the way to "a new crimelord tomorrow morning", an opening the Chameleon plans to fill. His cigar is lit by the other man in the sedan, who reminds him that they are a team. "Remember you got a partner" the man says, "and his name is Hammerhead".
It is going on eight in the evening in Forest Hills when Mary Jane bids goodnight to Aunt May and Kristy. She has done modeling work all day and now must leave for a late night shoot. She doesn't want to do it but she and Peter need "big bucks" if they are going to "afford a new apartment". Aunt May finishes up the dishes as Kristy sits on the counter and nibbles on popcorn. May is so struck by how hard MJ is working that she feels "quite idle". She wonders if she should find some volunteer work and starts to ask Kristy her opinion but changes the subject when she notices that Kristy's arms and legs are covered with bruises. Kristy gives the excuse that "I guess I'm just clumsy", then locks herself in the bathroom. She is still very upset over the danger that Peter will face if he tries to get photos during the gang war. She's also afraid of revealing that she loves Peter because "if he knows... he'll send me away". She checks out her appearance in the mirror. She is so thin that her cheeks are sunken but she thinks, "Look at me, I'm so fat". She knows Peter will never love her if she's so fat. She knows she can't let anyone know how she feels. She knows that, somehow, she has to get rid of the hurt she is feeling.
At about 9:30 pm, Spider-Man arrives at Gloria Grant's apartment in Chelsea. He lets himself in through the bedroom window. The apartment is empty and dark but Spidey finds Eduardo's shredded clothes on the floor. He also finds a receipt for the rental of an aircraft hanger at LaGuardia. That is going to be his next stop.
At a little after 10 pm, the Arranger checks the heightened security for the Fisk Tower. There are double guards on all exits, each door is "armed with a vibration-sensor-triggered explosive charge", the lobby is filled with plainclothes guards carrying nerve gas in briefcases, the windows on the first six floors have been bulletproofed, "titanium-alloy shutters" have also been installed for the windows of the first two floors, and men are stationed in "every store and restaurant in a four block radius". In fact, they have already spotted and IDed Nick Katzenberg waiting "in a luncheonette across the street" but have determined he is harmless. ("No one is harmless," says the Arranger.)
The Arranger is paged just after receiving this information. He is summoned to the office of Mr. Fisk. The Kingpin sits behind his desk in the darkness and orders the Arranger to report. The Arranger tells his boss that a midnight attack is expected and the men are prepared. "So am I" says the Kingpin. He then tells the Arranger that the two of them will discuss his "responsibility" in drawing the ire of the Lobo Brothers once the attack is finished. He then orders the Arranger out. Once he leaves the office, the Arranger allows his fears to show. He knows the Kingpin holds his life in his hands. "How can he be so calm?" he thinks.
At 10:38 pm, Spidey rides atop an oil tanker into LaGuardia Airport. He has finally put two and two together with the clothes he found in Glory's apartment and the wolves he keeps encountering and decides that Eduardo Lobo must be a werewolf. But he soon has other things to think about. As he climbs the wall, heading to the window of the aircraft hanger, he is suddenly surrounded by a hail of bullets. The Lobos' sentries have spotted him. Now their gunfire attracts the men inside the hanger. They run outside and start shooting, as well. Spidey has no choice but to leap into the midst of them and start punching. He keeps up a steady patter ("In a properly run universe, I should be rich and well-admired...") as he methodically takes out all of the henchmen. But then his spider-sense starts tingling and he turns to see a blue-furred wolfman jumping down at him. He uses his great agility to leap over the leaping monster but is unprepared for an attack from a brown-furred wolf. (Actually, the fur color gets a little confusing here. Both Lobos end up looking gray-furred in this sequence, and then both look blue.) The second monster uses its claws to slash him across the back. Spidey leaps away but is surprised to see there are two of them. "Los hermanos Lobos" prompts Carlos, "The brother wolves!" And, speaking, he attacks, with Eduardo approaching from the other side.
Spidey uses Carlos' momentum to flip him over his head, then uses his spider-sense to move his head just in time to keep from being perforated with Eduardo's claws. He socks Eduardo in the jaw, then ducks to avoid a leaping Carlos. Spidey is starting to worry if the Lobos are "more than [he] can handle". He leaps onto a nearby crate, then springs away from the shadow of the hanger. The Lobos swiftly follow. But, just then, the henchmen open the giant door of the hanger and an "Army surplus military assault helicopter" flies out. The Lobo brothers take giant leaps and board the helicopter even as it is ascending. Spidey snags the bottom of the copter with his webbing and hitches a ride.
Up in the chopper, the men notice they are losing altitude. Even though they "tested the weight for crew and cargo this mornin'", something is dragging them down. Just as they fly over the East River, they look outside and see the web-slinger. Two men fire their automatic weapons at him. Spidey is so inundated with bullets that he must let go of his webline and dive for safety into the river. By the time he comes back up to the surface, the helicopter "carrying a load of south Texas mobsters with enough weapons and ammunition to overthrow your average size South American dictatorship. Plus two werewolves." is gone.
At 11:14 pm, the Arranger sits in his office worrying about the blame he will take for the failed assassination attempt of the Lobos (which he feels he "inherited") when he hears a growing noise. He looks out the huge picture window behind his desk and sees a helicopter heading right for the building.
At a little after 11:30 pm, Aunt May and her friend Arthur (who wears a blue beret and a purple sweatshirt and walks with a cane) finally decide to knock on the bathroom door. It has occurred to them that Kristy has "been in there for hours". May taps loudly and calls to Kristy but gets no response. Why? Because Kristy is unconscious, lying over by the toilet, and she is not looking good!
Bagley's style of art is apparent immediately with the way Spider-Man's eyes in his mask are bigger. He also looks much more muscly here than he has been doing in recent times. The art is gorgeous … but still not up to the amazing quality of Todd McFarlane's on, well, Amazing.
The biggest problem with this, however, is how different everyone looks. As much as I like McFarlane's style, if you compare his MJ to the versions in Web Of and Spectacular, you'd be hard-pressed to know they're the same person.
It's good to see Joy back, if only for a brief spot. Her character was used big for about half a dozen issues earlier in the Web Of run but she has since been forgotten.
As for the story itself, Gerry Conway's leadership is well underway. The layers of his story, with Kristy's eating disorder as a background to the bigger things show a much greater maturity than much of the writing leading up to his period in charge. He has an excellent knack of juggling more than one ongoing plot thread at once without dropping (too many) balls.
There's a lot more clarity to this individual issue than to the issue 51. It flows a lot better and you can see how one plot device is linking to the next. The Lobos aren't the best of villains but at least the bigger picture is coming together.
Details by Al, General and Rating by Kerry.