Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Story: Bill Mantlo
Pencils: Keith Giffen

An uncomfortable tale of constructive eviction.

Old man Dominic Castellano has lived with his wife in his flat for years. One day his landlord decides to convert the place into a luxury co-operative, so all the tenants are asked to move out. Some refuse to leave their long-term homes, including Dominic and his wife. The landlord counters this by inviting gangs to move in and scare them away. Some go, but Dominic and his wife are made of sterner stuff.

Well, not that stern. Dominic's wife gets killed.

Now should he stay or go?

He stays.

Peter Parker and new colleague Blaine Browne try to build the whole thing into a human-interest story for the Daily Bugle. That seems like a positive step, but Peter has a nagging feeling that he's taking on the responsibility of watching an old man's back 24 hours a day.

Sure enough, despite the impossibility of the task, that night finds Spider-Man staking-out the building. It's a long night, briefly interrupted by a purse-snatching in nearby Chelsea Park.

Spidey's brief momentary absence is the only chance the gang needs.

This one-off story is a change of tone for Spider-Man for several reasons.

It's from a different production team to usual, opens with a page of handwritten poetry, and features Spider-Man's red-and-blue costume, which was recently destroyed in Web Of Spider-Man #17. This story is therefore out-of-sequence. An odd choice for Marvel's 25th anniversary month.

It's also darker, more visual, addresses a social issue in a poor community, and is thoroughly depressing. After Dominic's murder, the whole building gets torched, though the perpetrators are brought to justice, and the gang leader learns the nature of the fear he's been so callously dealing in.

Aside from the odd bit of banter with Blaine, the only glimmer of hope here comes on the final page. Peter attends his own tenants meeting, and the final panel has him signing a petition.

It sounds pretty feeble, but it represents his resolve to, from now on, take some responsibility for his own neighbours' rights.


2 comment(s):

At 1:56 pm, Blogger KlownKrusty said...

"it represents his resolve to, from now on, take some responsibility for his own neighbours' rights."

... Well, he is your friendly neigbourhood Spider-Man!

(unlikely word verification: Shotdef. That mag needs an assistant)

At 2:04 pm, Blogger Steve Goble said...

So he is. You don't get personal service like that from Captain America!

Are you sure that didn't actually read "Stef... doh!"


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