This is a public service announcement from the Crawlspace and Marvel – friends, do not let friends drink and web swing. That’s right, Crawlspacers, we’re going to Web of Spider-Man #38 for a funny story and to find out why Peter doesn’t drink. But first we’ll need a designated slinger!
We’re jumping back to May 1988, when gas was but a $1.08, Ronald Reagan was a lame duck president, and Web of Spider-Man was in need of a writer. Actually, to be fair, they had one (Peter David), but he had two months before he could start.
Solution? Let’s try out this new guy named Fabian Nicieza. It’s just Web, it’s not like anyone really reads it anyway. Actually to be fair, Nicieza had written one Marvel comic before now, but as it was a New Universe title, it is debatable on whether or not that counts.
Nicieza is probably best known for being a co-creator (o.k., that fact is also debatable) of Deadpool, but the man loves Spidey. In an interview, he ranked them and Spider-Man came in as his third favorite hero (behind Dick Grayson and Superman) – or more specifically, the Silver Age Spider-Man. The love he has for this character, in my opinion, helped him to knock this issue out of the park. So enough about the writer, let’s get on to the comic.
This comic takes place after the marriage, but before Pete and MJ move into the townhouse.
The cover shows Hobgoblin smugly exclaiming that he’s back. But back from where? Well, to answer that, we need to know who is behind that mask. In this instance, it is Jason Macendale, jr. If you need a brief recap, this is a guy who was recruited out of M.I.T. to join the CIA, but was kicked out after it was shown that he was too brutal for Uncle Sam. So he turned to a mercenary and criminal lifestyle and developed the costumed guised of Jack O’Lantern. After he contracts the Foreigner to kill the Hobgoblin, he takes over that guise.
Now, I’ve read commentary that criticizes this issue for being that one that starts Macendale down a path of being a loser, but Macendale has always been a loser and will continue to be. Two early example that come to my mind forever define this character to me. One is the first time we meet him in a Spider-Man comic book. Jack o’ Lantern had just had his butt handed to him by Machine Man and then thinks he’s able to take on Spidey? Not for long, once he realizes how strong Spidey is, he high tails it out of there. Another is when he and the Hobgoblin are caught in the gang war between the Rose and the Kingpin and Hobgoblin is loving every minute of it and Jack o’ Lantern, well, not so much….
Don’t want to take my word? Well, we can consult the Spider Yoda himself. In the third part of his “Squandered Legacy” article, J. R. Fettinger not only trashes Macendale, but Marvel (at that particular time) as well: “For you see, the Jason Macendale HobGoblin wasn’t just a mediocre villain – he really was the embodiment of what Marvel had become in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s – a cheap imitation of something that had once been great.”
Or we can even see the Kingpin’s summation of Macendale in his very first appearance as the Hobgoblin in Amazing Spider-Man #289:
There are some attempts by Macendale to make himself look cool in front of the Kingpin’s henchmen,
but that all goes away when Tombstone… well, look for yourself:
This is an early appearance of Tombstone. His first appearance was in issue 36 and at this point, he has no real powers and he still tosses Hobby out the window. No worries, Macendale fans, he survives by calling on his cybernetic remote controlled glider (which isn’t too far fetched).
So we leave that loser and get to what is fun about this issue – the party! MJ is throwing a going away party for Peter as he is leaving the apartment that he has been in for the last fourteen years. Well, fourteen years our time. Peter finds the apartment (well, Liz Allan finds it) in ASM #139 which has the issue date of December 1974 and is, I believe, that longest running home for Peter in the comics. It had a wealth of side characters over the years. Not the least of them is his landlady, Ms. Muggins. In this first issue, her husband Barney is mentioned, but he doesn’t actually make an appearance until this WoSM issue!
Back to the party! It’s filled with side characters including Amanda Robertson, Aunt May, Aunt Watson, Bambi, Betty Brant, Candy, Flash Thompson, Glory Grant, Harry Osborn, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe ‘Robbie’ Robertson, Joy Mercado, Lance Bannon, Liz Allan, Mamie Muggins, Martha Robertson, Mary Jane Watson, Randi, Randy Robertson, and MJ’s friends Fran, Mindy, and Jasmine.
Another person present at the party is Dick Wagner and his band. Now, if you’ve been paying attention to Cobwebs, you know to always investigate if a nobody character has a first AND last name. So I checked. All it did was confirm that I am musically challenged, for if I wasn’t, I would what you surely already do – that Dick Wagner is the Maestro of Rock and guitarist for Alice Cooper in the ’80s. I am also not sure why he’s singing “Scene of the Crime,” which is a Ratt song, not, from what I can tell, his own or Alice Cooper’s (but then again, I am music illiterate, so if you are screaming at the screen cursing my ignorance, please enlighten me in the comments section).
If you look in the bottom of that panel, you’ll see that one of MJ’s friends (Mindy?) is commenting on the Nagel. This is another big ’80s reference. Nagel is an artist who had a particular look that adorned many a wall in the ’80s. I found one comic panel in ASM #298 where it appeared in the background. I’m showing it here matched next to the closest Nagel I could figure (Nagel gallery). If you can find a better panel, let me know in comments section.
By the way, Pete’s not the only superhero with a Nagel, in the movie The Watchmen, the Comedian has one hanging near his secret closet.
Also making a guest appearance (throughout different pages) is Spuds MacKenzie.
Who is Spuds? If you are asking that, then you did NOT live through the 80s. Spuds is THE party dog that featured in Bud Light commercials, like this one, for instance:
Here’s where Alex Saviuk really shines as a great comic book artist – here we have a bunch of side characters and THEY ARE ALL RECOGNIZABLE. Oh for the good old days…
All through the issue, there are different conversations that continue in the background. The humor is not over the top and best of all, not explained. The lines are dropped and the writer moves on. Anyone interested in how to write humor could definitely stand to analyze this particular comic. My favorite is when the rock band comes in and Joe Robertson deadpans, “I doubt they play jazz.”
The running gag that actually matters to the plot is the punch. Pete’s all stressed out about not having money for his last bit of rent, being trapped in the party scene, and knowing that his land lady is lurking around, so MJ brings him some punch to lighten him up. Let’s count how many cups of punch he actually drinks:
By the way, check out that last word balloon from MJ. THAT’S how you write a married MJ. She doesn’t have to always like it, but she understands it. If you miss the old MJ, you might want to check out a site I stumbled across while researching this article called The Mary Jane Experience – a daily dose of Mary Jane from the comics for those of you who miss the good old days.
Let’s keep in mind that all six of those punch cups were drunk in about fifteen minutes or less. The result?
Oh, remember the Hobgoblin? Well he is indiscriminately blowing up parts of town in order to draw Spidey out (and coincidentally Harry
Lyman Osborne is in that traffic, freaking out after his run in with the Hobgoblin back in ASM #261 (although that was Kingsley, not Macendale), so Spider-Man ducks out of the party to go meet him. Let the hijinks ensue. It is at this point that the reader, if he or she didn’t already figure it out, Hobgoblin, and even Spider-Man finds out that Spidey is drunk. Hobgoblin calls him out on it:
Hobby still can’t defeat the wall crawler despite Spider-Man webbing himself to a pole. Eventually Hobgoblin defeats himself (loser). What? You don’t think I gave enough time and energy to the fight itself? Well that because George already did it a few years ago on Friday Night Fights. Go listen to it now. When you’re done, Crawlspace search Friday Night Fights and listen to all of them.
We end with this all-time great page:
Folks, if I were reviewing this issue, it gets an A+ out of me. I like just as much now as I did when I first read it. Feel free to compare it to the other time Parker gets drunk (I’m looking at you ASM #601) and tell me who understands the character better? As for me, I’m going to search Marvel Unlimited for more Nicieva and Saviuk comics.
“1988 Economy/Prices.” 1980s Flashback. n.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2016. <http://www.1980sflashback.com/1988/economy.asp>.
Big Shiny Robot. “BSR! EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Fabian Nicieza.” Big Shiny Robot. n.p., 19 Dec. 2008. Web. 16 June 2016. <http://www.bigshinyrobot.com/3091/bsr-exclusive-interview-with-fabian-nicieza/>.
Couper, Jonathan. “Locations: Peter’s Apartment.” Spiderfan. Comic Boards, 2013. Web. 23 June 2016. <http://www.spiderfan.org/locations/apartment.html>.
“Dick Wagner.” Dick Wagner the Maestro of Rock. Dream Domain, 2015. Web. 23 June 2016. <http://www.wagnermusic.com/biography.htm>.
Fettinger, J. R. “Squandered Legacy: The Rise and Fall of the HobGoblin Part Three.” Spidey Kicks Butt. n.p., 2010. Web. 16 June 2016. <http://www.spideykicksbutt.com/SquanderedLegacy/SquanderedLegacyPart3.html>.
Riccitelli, Joseph Jr. “Major League Records Held by Don Mattingly.” The Don Tribute. n.p., 11 Mar. 2007. Web. 23 June 2016. <http://www.donniebaseball.com/mattingly/donrecords.html>.
“Web of Spider-Man (1985 1st Series) Comic Books.” My Comic Shop. Lone Star Comics, 2016. Web. 16 June 2016. <https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=96531>.
“Web of Spider-Man #38.” Comics Chronology. Super Mega Monkey, n.d. Web. 16 June 2016. <http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/web_of_spider-man_38.shtml>.
“Web of Spider-Man Vol 1 38.” Marvel Database. Wikia, n.d. Web. 22 June 2016. <http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Web_of_Spider-Man_Vol_1_38>.
Wilkinson, Kerry. “Web of Spider-Man #38.” Spiderfan. Comicboards, 2005. Web. 13 June 2016. <http://www.spiderfan.org/comics/reviews/spiderman_web/038.html>.
All scans are from my own copy of Web of Spider-Man #38
In two weeks…