Killing time as I wait for my flight back to NYC by swiping through some issues of Spider-Man’s Tangled Web I purchased on Comixology last night. Just finished Issue #14, a real hidden gem co-written by Brian Azzarello, creator of the cult hit 100 Bullets. The story, “The Last Shoot”, explores the events leading up to Spidey’s iconic pro-wrestling debut from the point-of-view of his unfortunate opponent, “Crusher” Hogan. Turns out the “open challenge” is one last, desperate effort to keep a struggling, small-time federation afloat; should the gimmick fail, Hogan–who loyally stood by his coworkers, despite being offered more lucrative contracts–faces unemployment, divorce, and the wrath of the mobsters who loaned him the prize money. And since the Wall Crawler’s origin is more or less set in stone, the narrative races towards its soul-crushing conclusion with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy. It’s a horribly depressing tale about decent people suffering misfortunes they don’t deserve, all while our so-called “hero” remains utterly oblivious–and I loved every page of it.
[Originally written April 21, 2017.]