Web of Spider-Man #84-89 (1992): The Name of the Rose

The writer best known for creating Danny Ketch starts a run on Web of Spider-Man with a 6-issue story that recalls Tom DeFalco’s hay days on Amazing Spider-Man, where he took over Roger Stern’s Hobgoblin storyline and created the villainous gangster The Rose, a.k.a. Kingpin’s son, Richard Fisk.  (DeFalco is the editor of this series.)

It also loosely ties into the Last Rights story in Daredevil #297-300, “Last Rites.”

It starts with a fantastic splash page (above).

This book hasn’t been better-than-average in a long time.  This is a promising start.

Kingpin, in front of (and perhaps for the benefit of) his son Richard, beats up a bunch of armed ninjas who are there to train him, and after winning, tells his son that he needs to also be strong because he’s built like a “girl.”

Meanwhile, Richard Fisk is developing clandestine plans to unseat his father—and believes that news photographer Peter Parker has information that could expose him.  And he’s using Deathwatch’s goons to do it.  So, Spider-Man is brought into the fray.

I note that, thus far, Deathwatch has exclusively been a Ghost Rider foe.  Mackie seems to be expanding the reach of the original characters he’s using in his very good Ghost Rider series.  Well done.

And ALSO, Hobgoblin is in police custody after Spider-Man and Ghost Rider took him down, and Hobgoblin is going crazy—fast.  Or crazier.

No, the cops didn’t lock him up in his costume.  This version of Hobgoblin is actually possessed by a demon, and he regularly changes form with his human self.  Richard Fisk learns of Hobby’s imprisonment, and decides to use the villain in support of his master plan.

So multiple threads, multiple subplots, all being brought together.  It’s cool to see Kingpin’s son acting as devious as his father.

Over the course of this tale, we see Fisk/Deathwatch’s soldiers get increasingly aggressive against Peter and Mary Jane Parker.

Eventually, the demon and human forms separate.

The demon takes on the name “Demogoblin” (but I’m still using the Hobgoblin tag).  The now human Macendale independently becomes a bit of a crimelord.  His demonic half is running around doing demon stuff, while Macendale himself is left bossing around the troops he had assembled, and putting on a costume so he can continue to be Hobgoblin (so there are two versions running around—Jason and the demon).  Eventually, Richad Fisk captures Macendale and then the two team up, along with a new Rose character that is NOT Richard Fisk.  (We later learn this version of Rose is a corrupt police Sergeant.)

Macendale/Hobgoblin and Richard Fisk have an uneasy relationship…

…And Richard Fisk looks an awful lot like Donald Trump.

In the meantime, Daredevil’s Last Rights story happens and Kingpin falls—and not at the hand of Richard Fisk.  That does take a little bit of the wind out of this story.  It’s a big tale about the fall of Kingpin, but he doesn’t even fall in this story.  At the same time, though, it’s an interesting way to show what happens to other crime families when the dominant crime leader is taken out.

Obviously, the other criminals rise to take the seat of the fallen, and in this case, Richard Fisk even shaves his head for the part.

Richard Fisk no longer has a Deathwatch army because that character, too, is taken down in another comic (Ghost Rider).  So this story is tying together the falls of two criminal masterminds.  I really like this idea—never seen it done before.

The new Rose, the corrupt cop, is killed and gets replaced by Blood Rose.  His identity is unknown…

But he says he’s an “old friend” (which of course means enemy) of Richard Fisk.  He shoots Fisk, but Fisk escapes.

So, where are we left?  Richard Fisk has a shaved head and is in hiding.  Kingpin and Deathwatch are no longer in power (which happened in other comics).  Spider-Man is back to status quo.  Jason “Hobgoblin” Macendale is still Hobgoblin, but a demon Hobgoblin is also around, loose in the city.  And there’s another villain, Blood Rose, running around shooting at Richard Fisk.

Mackie does something I haven’t seen before in this story—using splash pages as a cool narrative device: The splash pages show the developing conflict between Kingpin and his son.  The first splash is above in this post.  The second is similar.  Then the third has Richard Fisk and his father together, at a desk, but with Richard behind his dad.  And then, by issue #4, Richard has taken over his father’s role fighting the training ninjas…

…And by the last chapter, the Richard Fisk, head-shaven version of Kingpin, is in power.

Very interesting way to tell the story.

And I didn’t’ even mention the old Gauntlet character, who is part of the action.  He’s here, too, and also doesn’t like Richard Fisk.

I will close by noting the irony that this story is called “The Name of the Rose.”  The Rose who begins the story is killed and his name doesn’t really matter much.  Blood Rose escapes at the end. Ultimately, we learn he is Richard Fisk himself–assuming the identity of his own assassin as part of his machinations.

There’s a sequel to this story, in which we learn that Blood Rose is actually Richard Fisk and the Richard Fisk in this story is a different crime lord.  I think.  It’s very confusing.  But as a standalone, I liked this arc.

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