One of Spider-Man’s most iconic villains just got the Wall-Crawler to do his dirty work for him, and it might be just what they both needed.
The following contains major spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #4, available now from Marvel.
The past few months have easily been among the worst of Peter Parker’s life, though it hasn’t prevented him from returning to action as the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Unfortunately, doing so has landed him in a world of hurt. After nearly losing his life to longtime enemy Tombstone, Peter is now locked in a race against time to prevent a gut-wrenching attack from unfolding. While the hero is ultimately successful in his mission, it isn’t actually the one he had originally thought. And, as the big picture comes into focus it becomes clear that Spider-Man was always going to be the bad guy.
Despite being put through the beating of a lifetime courtesy of Tombstone, Spider-Man has still managed to find a way out with some unexpected help. As seen in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #4 (by Zeb Wells, John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna, Marcio Menyz, and VC’s Joe Carmagna), it is one of Tombstone’s own men who aids the Wall-Crawler in his escape. While Tombstone prepares his next move, Peter begins tearing his way through what he believes to be Tombstone’s gang dressed as The Roses. While the hero is undeniably effective in his endeavors, it quickly becomes clear that was always Tombstone’s plan, especially since The Rose that Spider-Man has just brought down was none other than the real deal.
Rather than following through with his plan to frame The Rose for a gruesome massacre, Tombstone simply pointed Spider-Man in their direction. Tombstone could have dealt with his enemies as he had promised. Of course, that would only drag him back into the life he has worked so hard to leave behind. He might still be one of the city’s top crime lords, but Lonnie Lincoln is far more content to enjoy the fortune he has amassed than he is fighting to maintain it.
Compared to Tombstone’s former, more violent methodology, getting Spider-Man to deal with The Rose is on another level entirely. It isn’t just that he has kept his own hands clean, but that he has gotten Spider-Man’s dirty, as well. By weaponizing the hero’s innate, often blind desire to do the right thing, he has made an impression that won’t soon be forgotten. Not only has Tombstone made it clear that he is genuinely embarking on another path in life, he has shown Spider-Man just how broken his own sense of duty is.
If Peter had taken the time to think about why his Spider-Sense wasn’t going off at key moments during the confrontation, he could have avoided a world of hurt. Even just to take in his surroundings, Tombstone’s plan likely would have fallen apart. Yet Peter didn’t do either of those things because he was too focused on saving lives. That zealous dedication to bearing great responsibility was the easiest thing Tombstone could have exploited, and now Spider-Man has to seriously worry about it happening again.
On the other hand, it is just as likely that if Peter finally decides to leave Tombstone alone both of their lives will be better for it. There’s no doubt that Tombstone is going to continue lording over his criminal empire, even if from the shadows, and Spider-Man may just have to get over it. By staying out of the fray, Tombstone is doing everything he can to ensure his and his family’s longevity in the face of both his villainous competition and the superheroes that would try to stop him. With any luck, that’s something Spider-Man will recognize as a good thing, and maybe even decide to leave Tombstone alone.
John Dodge has been an avid consumer of comic books and nerd culture for as long as he can remember. An expert on competitive gaming and obscure kids shows from the 80’s and 90’s, John has far too many opinions about Beetleborgs for someone in their thirties. You can find him occasionally discussing them over on Twitter at @JohnJDodge.