Cobwebs #23: Drunk Spidey

wosm38-coverThis 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!



 This issue is only worth $1.35, so head on down to your local comic shop and pick it up.  Or you can find it in the Spider-Man’s Greatest Villains trade paperback on Amazon for two bucks.    Comic Mad has the issue available online, but I don’t know how they can do that without occurring legal problems.

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.

sm-dpNicieza 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.

jackwimpBut it doesn’t work out too well for him.

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:


Kingpin of Crime? Maybe. Kingpin of Grammar? I think not.

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.

partypanelAnother 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?


Just in case you are as baseball inept as I am music inept, Mattingly set the MLB record of most home runs in 8 consecutive games and also most grand slams back in 1987. Short answer – the guy doesn’t swing and miss.

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.


credible hulk


“1988 Economy/Prices.” 1980s Flashback. n.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2016. <>.

Big Shiny Robot. “BSR! EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Fabian Nicieza.” Big Shiny Robot. n.p., 19 Dec. 2008. Web. 16 June 2016. <>.

Couper, Jonathan.  “Locations: Peter’s Apartment.” Spiderfan. Comic Boards, 2013. Web. 23 June 2016. <>.

“Dick Wagner.” Dick Wagner the Maestro of Rock. Dream Domain, 2015. Web. 23 June 2016. <>.

Fettinger, J. R.  “Squandered Legacy: The Rise and Fall of the HobGoblin Part Three.”  Spidey Kicks Butt. n.p., 2010. Web. 16 June 2016. <>.

Riccitelli, Joseph Jr. “Major League Records Held by Don Mattingly.” The Don Tribute. n.p., 11 Mar. 2007. Web. 23 June 2016. <>.

Web of Spider-Man (1985 1st Series) Comic Books.” My Comic Shop. Lone Star Comics, 2016. Web. 16 June 2016. <>.

Web of Spider-Man #38.” Comics Chronology.  Super Mega Monkey, n.d. Web. 16 June 2016. <>.

Web of Spider-Man Vol 1 38.” Marvel Database. Wikia, n.d. Web. 22 June 2016. <>.

Wilkinson, Kerry. “Web of Spider-Man #38.” Spiderfan. Comicboards, 2005. Web. 13 June 2016. <>.



All scans are from my own copy of Web of Spider-Man #38


I’ve got to get out of here!

Credible Hulk


In two weeks…




(20) Comments

  1. Tez

    @Frontier, if Peter's metabolism is faster than average but he still processes alcohol the normal way biochemically, he'd get drunker, faster, for a shorter amount of time.

  2. Al

    LOVE this issue, one of the first I ever read from the greatest villains trade mentioned above. I felt MJ’s word balloon was iffy actually. Because...surely by this point she knows it’s always going to be this way but accepts it. meh, I no. prize it as just a wobble on her part. I figure that his metabolism HAS to be faster but not in every way imaginable. Specically it takes some strong stuff to make him drunk. So he probably got drunk by having so much in such a short space of time. I also figured it was because he was kind of too much of a wholesome kid to drink too much.

  3. Chase the Blues Away

    This is one of my all-time favorite Spider-Man one-off stories. It's funny, it makes great use of Peter's history and supporting cast, everyone is in character, there's a fun superhero fight and everything pays off in the end. Pus, the writing respects the readers' intelligence. If Slott wrote this, the panel of Peter acting drunk would read: "My head! So dizzy! Almost as if I drank alcohol but that's impossible! I hope I don't meet a super villain because if I did, I would probably web myself to a pole!" It's also one of the issues I point to when people whine about the marriage "ruining" Spider-Man. It's too bad Nicieza hasn't written more Spider-Man. It's even sadder that no one currently working on Spider-Man titles seems to have 1/50000 of the same grasp of how to tell a comic book story.

  4. Adam S.

    @Mark: I don't know much about Lifeline. From the summary I read it seems almost like it's a riff on the Tablet of Time story during Stan's run. I would check out The Final Adventure, though. It deals with Peter and Mary Jane adjusting to life in Portland during the Clone Saga.

  5. Cheesedique

    Nice write up--I just re-read this issue back in December, and was very impressed by how well it holds up. No doubt one of the best issues of Web. Another good Niecieza / Saviuk story is an issue of Web soon after this, I think it's in the 40's, where Peter has to retrieve Nathan L's ring that was stolen by a homeless Looter. That was also a really solid issue, with great characterization of Peter.

  6. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ xonathan - :) @ Adam S. - I don't remember those two limited series. I'll have to look them up. Are they any good? @ Hornacek - Venom Galactus! Well, you can only draw what you're given in the script... Something about it looks a lot like Buscema's art to me. Maybe it is the cloud/fog background.

  7. hornacek

    @Adam S. I will always remember Alex Saviuk for this:

  8. Adam S.

    Unfortunately, if you're looking for Nicieza-written Spider-Man, there isn't much. From what I could remember and what I could find: Web of Spider-Man #38-39 Spider-Man: The Final Adventure #1-4 Spider-Man: Lifeline #1-3 Some New Warriors issues with Ben Reilly Saviuk was pretty much the main artist on Web of Spider-Man from the late '80s until the Clone Saga started. He also drew issues of Spider-Man Adventures and The Adventures of Spider-Man, which were based on the '90s cartoon.

  9. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Brad Douglas - Thanks! I'm a fan of allowing the artist some individual style, but there needs to be some consistency in how characters are drawn. Saviuk does a great job with all of these side characters in a good clean fashion. McFarlane is an example of how to put our own art style in. It is distinctively his work, yet I still recognize all of the characters. in the '60s, Stan lee used to make (almost) everyone follow Kirby's style for a uniform look. I'm not sure we must have that, but some of the artists we've been getting on Spider-Man just seem to have no guidance on how to draw recognizable characters. I'm not an artist, so maybe it can be attributed to other factors that I'm not aware of. I don't really care. When I see Peter Parker, I'd like to know that it is Peter Parker without some other character having to tell me. So go Saviuk! He's all I want in an artist. @ xonathan - in a normal sentence, you could look for a preposition before it. If there is a preposition before it, use whom (ex. "To whom it may concern:"). Otherwise, use who. The other way would be to substitute he or hm into the sentence. If he works, use who, if him works, use whom. This doesn't always work, though. @ Evan - normally, converting a question to a statement is a good way to figure out these grammar issues, but this is a subject question so "who" is taking the place of the subject, not the object (it's a weird dual thingeejig). You don't have to take my word for it, you can check out this site: and don't concede to my knowledge. I just pretend to be one. :) @ hornacek - Like all good '90s collectors, grabbed up adjectiveless, but I drifted off shortly after McFarlane left. I don't remember this arc. I'll have to look it up.

  10. hornacek

    The only time I came close to liking Macendale as the Hobgoblin was in the "Beware The Rage of a Desperate Man" arc in adjective-less Spider-Man. This was when Peter was pissed off at life and retreating into his "I am the Spider" persona; Macendale was also pissed off about being considered a joke (some meta-commentary by Mackie) and went to Russia to find Kraven's super-potion. Macendale was always a loser and a poor follow-up to the Ned Leeds Hobgoblin (what we thought at the time), but this story was the first time I ever thought the Hobgoblin persona might not be a lost cause. Still, no tears were shed when (SPOILER) Kingsley killed him.

  11. Evan

    I kinda thought the Kingpin was using "whom" correctly -- that is, it <i>is</i> correctly in the objective case -- as in, "You are trying to impress whom?" You (Dumb Macendale) is the subject and "whom" is the object. But I concede to your greater grammar knowledge, Mark. I'm no expert by any means.

  12. Brad Douglas

    I have fond memories of this issue too. It's always good to see praise of Alex Saviuk. He did a great job on a so-so book. I also remember getting this book in the mail from my Marvel subscription. It arrived in a paper bag and beat up by the post office . Great job Mark!

  13. Mark Alford

    @ Evan - Thanks! I read one review of the issue that bemoaned this issue for playing Macendale the fool and that from this point on he was saddled with it and I'm thinking, when has he ever been a winner? I mean, his first appearance was against Machine Man - and e got his butt kicked! @ xonathan - I don't think it ever says it specifically, but I always assumed it was the whole, "I'm always n duty" mindset of his. He would never forgive himself if someone got hurt or killed and he had been drinking before the rescue, even if it wasn't his fault. And yes, whom is an objective case ("To whom it may concern") and here it needs to be the subjective case. However, I think it fits since the Kingpin is, when you come down to it, a street thug pretending to be cultured, so for him to make mistakes like that adds character (but I do not believe that was the author's intent). @ Frontier - Has it ever been established that Spidey's metabolism is faster? The Flash makes sense, Captain America, not as much. But Spidey's been hit with gas and poison before and his metabolism has not been able to work it out of his system fast enough, so I think we can safely say it isn't fast enough to keep him from getting drunk, especially when he drinks 6 drinks in fifteen minutes! @ Jack - I'm guessing the alcohol wasn't completely out of his system with that kiss! @ Thomas Mets - I believe you're correct, but I'm not sure if there is another appearance in the few issues that he still has the apartment, so I didn't want to say for sure in the article.

  14. Thomas Mets

    If I'm not mistaken this was also the sole appearance of Mr. Muggins, who had been referenced often earlier in the series.

  15. Frontier

    You have to wonder, though, if Peter's metabolism being what it is should allow for him to even get drunk. I know Kryptonians can't get drunk, and Captain America: The First Avenger had Steve mull over the fact that he no longer could feel the effects of alcohol after becoming a Super Soldier (even though I once read an issue of Cap where he became inebriated during a night on the town with Sam), There was even an episode of The Flash with a sub-plot dealing with the fact that Barry can't get drunk. Peter's powers and abilities being what they are, and not entirely dissimilar to the examples I just mentioned, you'd think he'd be able to process and deal with the effect of alcohol better then most. Granted, he was drinking quite a bit here...

  16. xonathan

    Did we find out why Peter doesn't drink? Because he seemed to like it judging by the fun he had... And what was Kingpin's grammar mistake? The who/whom conundrum?

  17. Evan

    Love the article! And I laughed out loud when I read, "...but Macendale has always been a loser and will continue to be."

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