I said today's post would relate to yesterday's, and it does, because today we're talking about Spider-Man versus Wolverine #1, and that book is riddled with death. I'm going to spoil a lot of the book, so if that's a problem, you might want to take your leave.
I will admit I'm not sure how much I like this comic (it was part of that box of comics my dad's friend gave me, so not complaining too much), as Spidey looks like kind of like a chump, when he isn't looking kind of creepy. The book kicks off with Pete feeling bad because he uses his exploits as Spidey to make money (by taking photos), moves to Pete freaking out because he couldn't stop a sniper, which leads MJ to try and calm him down, which leads to Peter grabbing her kissing her (they were just friends at this point), then freaking out again and bailing. Given MJ was a little spooked by it as well, probably the right idea. Oh, and it ends with him killing someone (accidentally). Not his finest issue.
There's a lot of unnamed spies killed in this thing, mostly done off-panel (as the title characters storm the location, only to find everyone already dead). Given the only thing we know about them is they tried to kill Logan's friend, and she's looking for revenge, I'm not going to worry too much about them. They are (for better or worse) nameless cannon fodder. The two I'm most interested in are Charlie (that'd be Logan's friend), and Ned Leeds.
To my knowledge, Charlie did not exist prior to this comic. She's a friend and partner retconned into Wolverine's past as an agent. She took a job for the KGB, they tried to eliminate her after, Logan bailed her out, now some time later (it's been long enough that Wolverine went from the yellow-and-blue outfit to the orange-and-brown look) she's going to get all the people that came after her. It's oft stated throughout the book that she's gonna die, with Charlie being the one saying it most often, while Logan keeps protesting that he's going to protect her. At the end though, Charlie asks him to put her down, because he'll do it quickly.
Except Logan flinches. About that time, Spidey - who has spent his entire time in Germany being scared out of his wits because of all the professional killers - shows up to stop Wolverine. He can't understand why Logan would try to kill someone he cares about, and swore to protect. Wolvie's explanation is he can kill her quick and painless, but the KGB will make her suffer. Things start to get real ugly, when someone comes up behind Spidey and he turns and unloads a fist in their face. Oops, sorry Charlie. Spider-Fist winds up being the instrument of her demise.
So, let's look at this. The death involves a character created (I think) specifically for this story, apparently to introduce Peter to the world of international espionage, mostly so he can keep freezing up in the face of men with guns trying to kill him (yeah, I don't buy it either). We get to know Charlie a little, and see that's she's fairly accepting of her fate, moreso than the two costumed guys trying to protect her. She dies quickly as she wanted, and Spidey is left with the angst over the fact he did it. I guess my major question here would be, did her death have a lasting effect on Spidey, reflected by words and events in her titles? Spider-Man has never killed someone (OK, fine Gwen, but he was acting to save her, it just backfired), not even his worst enemies. Now he has. Did that affect him? I remember a story in Spectacular Spider-Man, where he couldn't bring himself to fight his enemies, but that was because he saw what his full strength did to the Sin Eater, so it's kind of similar, but not dealing with the death directly. So, it's kind of cheap in that respect, mitigated by the fact Owsley (that's Christopher Priest right?) took the time to give Charlie some character, and made us understand her motives.
Then there's Ned Leeds. Ned, for those not in the know, was the character long tapped as the original Hobgoblin (until Roger Stern came back and told us it was Roderick Kingsley all along, brainwashing Ned into being his puppet). But as far as this issue goes, there's no Hobgoblin. Ned's in West Berlin with Peter, tracking down Charlie. Ned got a list that confirms that the dead people popping up a KGB, and that Charlie was behind it. Ned provides a hint at how dangerous this info is, when he tells Jonah he sold his soul to get this list. So it probably shouldn't be a huge surprise he winds up deceased. As far as this comic goes (because Amazing Spider-Man #289 apparently fills in several details) Peter enters Ned's room to tell Ned he's leaving, and finds Ned tied to a chair, throat slit. Pete's also surrounded by KGB guys, and we get the first instance of Peter freezing up in the face of men with guns. After that, Ned doesn't get much mention the rest of the issue. Jonah does ask about him when Pete gets back to the states, but Peter just hangs up.
Ned's death is a little trickier for me. He's an established character, killed essentially to make room for a new version of Hobgoblin (namely, that tool Macendale). And maybe to drive Betty nuts (and into a weird cult). And to make Peter feel great rage, which ought to mix oddly with his feelings of guilt over Charlie. All joking aside, Ned's death did have repercussions for the people around him, it wasn't graphically depicted, though it was a little abrupt (Ned had been acting oddly, but not in a way that suggested imminent demise). I'm just not sure whether it was a "good" death or not.