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Look Back: Spider-Man Loses a Cast Member in a Still Unsolved Mystery

This is "Look Back," a brand-new feature that I plan to do for at least all of 2019 and possibly beyond that (and possibly forget about in a week, who knows?). The concept is that every week (I'll probably be skipping the four fifth weeks in the year, but maybe not) of a month, I will spotlight a single issue of a comic book that came out in the past and talk about that issue in terms of a larger scale (like the series overall, etc.). Each week will be a look at a comic book from a different year that came out the same month X amount of years ago. The first week of the month looks at a book that came out this month ten years ago. The second week looks at a book that came out this month 25 years ago. The third week looks at a book that came out this month 50 years ago. The fourth week looks at a book that came out this month 75 years ago.

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Today, we "celebrate" the 25-year anniversary of the still unresolved mystery of F.A.C.A.D.E. with a particular spot on the second part of the four-part story (May 1994's Web of Spider-Man #114, featuring the death of a long-running Spider-Man cast member!).

The storyline, dubbed "Live and Let Die," began in Web of Spider-Man #113. Alex Saviuk did breakdowns for all four parts of the story, with finishes and inks by different artists (#113 saw Stephen Baskerville and Al Milgrom finish Saviuk, #114 saw Don Hudson and Fred Fredericks and then Hudson finished off the last two issues by himself). Terry Kavanagh wrote all four issues, although Joey Cavalieri stepped in to help him script #114.

In 1980, during Denny O'Neil's run on Amazing Spider-Man, we met a rival photographer to Peter Parker named Lance Bannon...

Lance was meant to fill in the role of the sort of Steve Lombard or Reggie Mantle role in the life of our hero. You know, the jerk who Spider-Man had to get around in his private life. Sort of like a modern day Flash Thompson. He was introduced when Peter was working for a different newspaper, but he soon carried over to the Daily Bugle later on.

He was a relatively minor presence in the Spider-Man titles, but he was still a somewhat common character, as well (roughly 60 appearances over 14 years, which doesn't sound like a lot, but for minor supporting characters, that's actually a ton. Glory Grant was introduced years before Lance, is still alive over 40 years later, had a whole big arc in the late 1980s and even she has had less than 200 total appearances - there's not a ton of room for minor characters, honestly).

Now we introduce the FACADE armor...

Lance Bannon proposes to his girlfriend. She accepts. He might as well have said that he was one day from retirement. So he gets a photo of whoever killed the scientist and stole the armor...

The next issue opens with establishing that all of our key suspects, John Jameson, Cole Cooper and Archer Bryce are all still in the building when Lance goes to find the shots he took from his camera before he was zapped. Uh oh, Lance, you're in trouble!

There's a key moment where Lance gets rid of his assistant because of his greed...

This obviously comes back to haunt him very soon...

That's a key point of dialogue, that he called Lance "boy." It seems unlikely that Cooper would call him "boy," right? I think that pretty much narrows it down to Bryce and Jameson.

Meanwhile, throughout all of this, there are hints dropped about the Spider-Clone (still yet unrevealed!)...

Betty Brant is interested in Bryce, but after he last husband turned out to be the Hobgoblin (he was not yet cleared at this point in time), she is wary. The next issue, she continues to dig into Bryce (who she oddly now calls ARTHUR Bryce)...

Spider-Man tracks FACADE down and shows up to fight him to save Betty.

Anyhow, at the funeral for Lance, all the suspects show up again, and J. Jonah Jameson agrees to collaborate on the case with the homicide detective Chase. So someone at the funeral must be FACADE, as FACADE shows up at the Bugle to take Jameson and Chase both out. Spidey luckily stops FACADE and destroys the armor, but in the process, knocks himself out...

In the end, we see FACADE bemoaning what happened to him...

But the Clone Saga picked up at the end of #116 and this mystery was never resolved (Kavanagh left the Spidey books a year later).

The two real suspects are Bryce and Jameson. Bryce would be the easiest one for it to be, as he was a new character and certainly had motive (helping his company by stealing the new tech) but that last page...hmmm...it almost seems like Kavanagh is hinting that it is someone who is otherwise a nice person, like Jameson.

Maybe someone will solve it in honor of the 25th anniversary! Probably not.

If you have any suggestions for May (or any other later months) 2009, 1994, 1969 and 1944 comic books for me to spotlight, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com! Here is the guide, though, for the cover dates of books so that you can make suggestions for books that actually came out in the correct month. For the 75 and 50 year old comics, the cover date is three months ahead of the actual release date (so August for a book that came out in May) while the 25 and 10 year old comics have a cover date that is two months ahead of the actual release date (so July for a book that came out in May). Obviously, it is easier to tell when a book from 10 years ago was released, since there was internet coverage of books back then.

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