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(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

As of November 29’s Amazing Spider-Man: Gang War First Strike #1, the Marvel Universe has erupted in a massive turf war among the many criminal factions of New York City, and all comes down to a single brutal moment that kicks it all off.

And while we’re not sure exactly where things will end up when the dust clears, what’s very apparent from the moment Marvel’s Gang War crossover kicks off is that New York City is about to become a powder keg of violence that’s been waiting to explode for some time.

The bulk of Amazing Spider-Man Gang War: First Strike #1 by writers Al Ewing and Cody Ziglar, artists Joey Vasquez and Julian Shaw, color artist Bryan Valenza, and letterer Joe Caramagna, deals with the follow up of the recent hit on Tombstone which took place at his daughter Janice Lincoln’s wedding to Randy Robertson, son of Peter Parker’s longtime friend and ally Robbie Robertson. 

As Tombstone lays dying in a hospital bed, Hammerhead, New York’s boss of bosses, calls a meeting of the city’s many crime lords to discuss what’s going to happen to Tombstone’s Harlem territory. While the gangsters negotiate, Janice shows up in her costume as the Beetle, the latest incarnation of the classic Spider-Man villain, demanding to be given her father’s seat. 

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Hammerhead agrees to give her her father’s territory – if she’s willing to kill her ex-fiance Randy Robertson, who is leading the charge to repeal current laws on the books in the Marvel Universe which make it illegal for vigilante superheroes to operate in New York City.

Janice, as the Beetle, attacks Randy just as he’s about to give a speech calling for the repeal of the laws that make superheroes illegal, telling him that she was ordered to kill him and that he has to run. But it’s too late – Hammerhead’s goons have followed her, and gun Randy down, putting him in the hospital alongside Tombstone.

Meanwhile, back at Hammerhead’s apartment, he gleefully explains his diabolical plans to his somewhat anonymous girlfriend, who he treats as merely arm candy, barely seeming to even know her name. But this turns out to be a mistake on his part, as Hammerhead’s girlfriend is not at all what she seems.

In fact, she’s actually Madame Masque, having foregone her usual golden face mask after faking her death at the same wedding where Tombstone was shot. Now, having been privy to all of Hammerhead’s dealings and aware of many of his dirty secrets, she pulls out a literal human femur which is coated in adamantium (like Wolverine’s skeleton) and enchanted with magic, using it to crush Hammerhead’s adamantium skull – and promising she’ll reveal where she got the bone later.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Just as Madame Masque apparently kills Hammerhead, Janice arrives, witnessing the aftermath as Madame Masque picks up her mask, which Hammerhead has been displaying as a trophy of her death. She promises Janice that all-out war between the gangs is on the horizon, and indeed, as word of Hammerhead’s apparent death quickly spreads among the various gangs in the city, they all literally rush out into the streets to immediately begin a brutal brawl that soon encompasses all of New York. 

As the city erupts in violence, Mayor Luke Cage promises Spider-Man that the police won’t get in his way as he tries to quell the brewing Gang War. But Spidey says that’s not enough – he needs a whole team to take on the challenge. And that’s where things will presumably pick up as the crossover rolls on, taking up the Amazing Spider-Man and Miles Morales: Spider-Man ongoing titles as well as a whole host of tie-in titles.

Stay on top of all the new Spider-Man comics Marvel has planned for release.

 The Marvel Universe’s Gang War has officially started, and Spider-Man is caught in the middle  Read More