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A Classic Spider-Man Villain Just Lived Up To The Web-Slinger’s Motto

By ensuring that his criminal affairs couldn’t interfere with his daughter’s future, Tombstone has lived up to Spider-Man’s famous mantra.

The following contains spoilers for the Amazing Spider-Man #4, now on sale from Marvel Comics

“With great power, there must also come great responsibility” are the words that define Peter Parker’s life. As both himself and Spider-Man, Peter has always strived to live up to this mantra, no matter what it might cost him. The self-destructive nature of Peter’s vow has defined Zeb Well’s run on The Amazing Spider-Man, which has seen Peter’s relationship with almost everyone in his life deteriorate as he wages a brutal war against Lonnie Thompson Lincoln, aka Tombstone.

In Amazing Spider-Man #4 (by Wells, John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna, Marcio Menyz and VC’s Joe Carmagna), however, Tombstone proved that one can be responsible and still get everything that they want. After tricking the Web-Slinger into taking down his rival gangster Richard Fisk, Tombstone seized the opportunity to bury the hatchet with his former friend Robbie Robertson so that Robbie’s son Randy and his daughter Janice can get married in peace. In doing so, Tombstone has done what Peter never could — achieved his mission without sacrificing his relationships.

RELATED: Tombstone Just Turned Spider-Man into the Bad Guy

Like many other villains in Spider-Man’s expansive rogues’ gallery, Tombstone has often been portrayed as a foil to Peter and his iconic motto. Having experienced the same harsh bullying that Peter endured as a child without the stabilizing influence of a positive parental figure, Tombstone grew into a bitter and selfish person who used the power he wielded as a crime lord to exert dominance over everyone around him. Tombstone had power, yet he refused to use it to serve the greater good.

However, Tombstone’s recent appearances have seen him move away from his original characterization as a one-dimensional gangster who’s only looking out for himself. His failed friendship with Robbie had already established that Tombstone could care about other people, but his more affectionate and humane side became much more prominent after the introduction of his daughter, Janice, in Captain America #607 (by Ed Brubaker, Mitch Breitweiser, Butch Guice, Dean White, Elizabeth Dismang and Caramagna).

Unlike many other supervillain parents, Tombstone has gone out of his way to maintain a healthy relationship with his daughter and he was able to do so without endangering his criminal enterprise. While Janice’s willingness to embrace villainy as the sixth Beetle initially made balancing his domestic and criminal lives easy, it became much more difficult after she began dating Randy. Initially outraged, Tombstone eventually calmed down and compromised to ensure his daughter’s happiness. He agreed to a non-aggression pact with Robbie after he worked with him to save Janice when she was kidnapped by Crime-Master.

RELATED: Tombstone Just Proved the Ultimate Way to Beat Spider-Man

When Randy formally asked him for Janice’s hand in marriage while he was in the middle of a full-on gang war with the Rose, it seemed as if Tombstone would finally have to choose between his daughter and his empire. But rather than choose one or the other, Tombstone found a third option. He fooled Spider-Man into taking down Richard for him by concocting a fake scheme to have his men massacre innocent civilians while dressed like Richard’s henchmen. Having secured his dominance without spilling blood, Tombstone could make peace with Randy without having to worry about anything getting in his way.

By ensuring that his criminal affairs couldn’t interfere with his daughter’s future, Tombstone has achieved something that Spider-Man never had. From the moment he decided to put on a mask and fight crime, Peter’s life became a balancing act. No matter how hard he tries, the infamous “Parker Luck” usually forces him to choose between upholding his self-sworn oath or respecting his obligations to his employers, friends and loved ones. While this is often presented as a difficult choice, Peter’s borderline obsession with helping others has always driven him to choose heroics.

With the rest of the superhero community upset with him and Mary Jane with another man, Tombstone’s victory is a bitter reminder that Peter is responsible for most of the misery in his life. By finding a way to keep both his enterprise and his relationship with his daughter, Tombstone has exposed the flaws in Peter’s strategy and scored a decisive victory over his longtime foe.

Drew Kopp is a Comics Features Writer for CBR who holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. As a die-hard fan of comic books, fantasy/sci-fi literature, and video games, he loves nothing more than injecting his love of storytelling into his writing, and he also loves nothing more than writing about all things nerdy. When he isn’t busy obsessively theorizing over comic book plots or drooling over the next big indie game, he can be found writing about those topics.

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