The Prophecy of Madame Web!
Story: Denny O’Neil
Art-Team: John Romita, Jr., Joe Sinnott
Letters: J. Novak
Colors: B. Sharen
Originally published: November 1980
Here’s what I said when I saw the cover: “Ooooh, Madame Web! Awesome.” That cover and character design are seriously great.
The issue starts with Rupert Dockery, scumbag, instructing some goons to kidnap a lady and kill anybody that gets in the way. This is a new low, even for Dockery.
We then cut to Pete Parker, who is hanging with Deb Whitman as she heads to meet with a psychic, one Madame Web. Pete dismisses Web as “a garden-variety fraud” and leaves Deb to go to a meeting at the Globe. When he gets there he finds the Globe under lock down — nobody allowed into the editorial department before 5PM. Being the dastardly rule-breaker he is, Peter scoffs at this, changes into his Spidey duds, and heads on up anyways.
Up in editorial, Dockery is meeting with some bigwigs and introduces KJ Clayton, reclusive publisher of the Globe. She claims that she has finally come out of hiding in order to turn the paper over to Dockery. Just then, the masked goons we saw Dockery chatting with earlier burst into the meeting room. They move to grab Clayton, as Dockery had previously instructed them, but are interrupted by Spider-Man crashing through the window.
Spidey is able to beat the heck out of most of the gunmen, but one manages to get away with Clayton. Luckily, someone drops a clue — a flyer for Madame Web, the same psychic Deb Whitman was going to see! Hmmm….
Spidey naturally heads straight over to Web’s apartment, and discovers that Madame Web is fucking cool:
Anyway, Madame Web wasn’t kidding about the psychic bit. Though blind, Web is able to identify the flyer Spidey has as belonging to a student of hers, Belinda Bell, who is a model and actress. She also says that Bell was in danger, and complicit in deceit involving a powerful woman named Katrinka Janice Clayton. Aha!
So, as I’m sure you can guess, Dockery hired Bell to pretend to be the mysterious KJ Clayton, who he knew nobody had seen before. Pretending to be Clayton, she would turn the newspaper over to Dockery. Dockery then also orchestrated Bell’s kidnapping (and eventual murder) to hide the evidence. Dockery’s last bit of nastery, we learn, is to wipe out the real KJ Clayton. When all is said and done, he will be in control of the Globe.
Luckily, though, Web also points Spidey in the right direction for finding everybody he’s after. He manages to save both Bell and Clayton and capture Dockery.
In the aftermath, KJ Clayton retires and shuts down the Globe and, as a consequence, Peter is out of a job. As he considers his options, Peter receives a phone call from Madame Web, who congratulates Spider-Man on his success! Yes, her psychic powers have informed her of Spider-Man’s secret identity and Peter’s phone number. She also tells him, though, that his money troubles will soon be over — and we cut to J Jonah Jameson attempting to call Pete and offer him a job, only to receive a busy signal!
This issue was great, dude. Good, fun story, excellent pacing and I really, really love Madame Web. The art is such a drastic step up from that Marvel Team-Up 101 issue I read, that it’s sort of shocking. And finally, I’m glad Dockery is finally out of the picture; I never really enjoyed his character much, and it’s nice to see the books moving forward.
Note: This Madame Web is not the same as the Madam web that appeared in that one Hostess comic.