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Monday, September 11, 2017

The Sin Eater Special

Welcome to Total Comic Mayhem. We have several chefs this evening who would like to thank you for joining them this fine evening. Some call me Mayhem, and I'll be your server this sinful dining experience.

We have two specials of the day, the "Sin Eater Original" and the "Sin Eater Nosh", and both are meals best served cold. The Sin Eater Original is a maniacal creation by chefs Peter David and Rich Buchler, but it does incorporate the appetizer of Marvel Team-Up #48, known to most as the debut of Jean DeWolff.

After all, what is The Death of Jean DeWolff without Jean DeWolff, right? The character was an addition to help hold together the Marvel Team-Up series and establish a sense of continuity.

Furthermore, Jean DeWolff was to be one of the few supporting characters that would be an ally of Peter Parker as Spider-Man and have a genuine relationship and friendship with the costumed side of him. She went against the grain of female stereo-types of the time as well and was brash and hard-edged.  

As most connoisseurs know, this appetizer dish is the creation of chefs Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema back in 1976. The savory spices in this starter prepares you for the maniacal main entry of this meal.

The main course of this wicked special is made up of two parts and the first is none other than Spectacular Spider-Man #107 created by chefs Peter David and Rich Buckler. The ingredient that makes the first part of this dish truly delish is the debut of the original Sin Eater, Stanley Carter. The Death of Jean DeWolff story line also begins here, and this is one of my favorite Spider-Man story lines and helped to hook me in as a Spidey fan.

Once again, connoisseurs are well aware that Stanley Carter was a detective within the New York Police Department and eventually revealed to be the lover of Jean DeWolff. In his first appearance in Spectacular Spider-Man #107, Carter is the detective assigned to investigate his lover's death (not revealed until the 2nd arc) and ends up working closely with Spider-Man.

As Spidey begins digging around on his own, he does cross paths with Sin Eater, who admits to be behind the death of Jean DeWolff. The hero and the vigilante, who is intent on punishing those who abuse their position of power, have a showdown and one Judge Horrace Rosenthal ends up becoming the villain's 2nd unfortunate victim. Did I mention that Daredevil adds a generous amount of sinful flavor to die for?

This dish comes with the side of Spectacular Spider-Man #109 and the juices truly bubble up in this delicacy. This succulent part of the meal helps to make the Sin Eater really pop, since it reveals the crucial ingredient behind the bitter taste and that is in fact Stanley Carter.

Yes, when a certain Mr. Gregg (tied to Eddie Brock's origin in Amazing Spider-Man #300) is caught as the Sin Eater, believes him to be a copycat and convinces Spidey to investigate the suspect's dwelling. The two find that Carter's apartment is adjacent to Gregg's apartment and that Carter is in fact the real Sin Eater.

This betrayal would set up the last course of the Sin Eater Original, and that is, of course, a dessert topped with creamy, rich temptation. After Spidey and Daredevil discover that Sin Eater's next target is Betty Brant, they both confront the villain before he can harm Peter Parker's former love.

Feeling betrayed and mocked, this is one of the few stories where Spider-Man's morality is tested. He flies off into a rage so blind that Daredevil has to intervene and battle the wall crawler in order to save Carter from the hero's merciless beating.

But that is not all that's served with this glutinous treat. A long with a sweet battle between the Web-Head and the Man Without Fear, Spectacular Spider-Man #110 also contains the first ever origin of Stanley Carter and why and how he became the maniacal villain.

Mix one part S.H.I.E.L.D. and one part research and development experimental program involving PCP and you got a side-effect waiting to happen. That side-effect is Sin-Eater.

Spidey's morality was further tested when a crowd intended to dispense mob justice on Carter as he is attempted to be transported. Daredevil tries to chastise Spidey into doing the hero-thing, but only does so when Daredevil falls victim to the mob too.

To top off this sinful delight, both Daredevil and Spider-Man learn of each other's secret identities for the first time. Not the first time I've brought up that extra tid-bit on why Spectacular Spider-Man #110 is a great comic to have in the Death of Jean DeWolff story line, but actually, it is revealed that Daredevil knew of Spidey's secret identity and Spidey learns Daredevil is Matt Murdock.

The 2nd special of the day is the Sin-Eater Nosh, a more no-nonsense meal created by Larry Hama and Greg Luzniak. This meal does not have an appetizer but immediately starts off with the main course of Venom: Sinner Takes All #1, the debut of the 2nd Sin-Eater.

Based off the original classic, the Sin-Eater Nosh does have smaller portions if you're not in the mood for something quite as heavy like the Sin Eater Original. Michael Engelschwert is the 2nd to take up the mantle of Sin-Eater, and this is revealed in the 2nd issue of the series.

He is a Gulf war veteran who winds up homeless and bunking next to the Sin-Eater copycat, Emil Gregg in a homeless shelter. We also learn in issue #2 of Venom Sinner Takes All that Engelschwert ends up emulating Gregg's delusions as Sin-Eater.

No dessert is provided for the Sin-Eater Nosh, but an origin of him as a soldier of the Gulf War is depicted in issue #3 of the comic series.


We know that some may come with a bigger appetite and for that we offer this add on to help fill you up good and proper. This extra side is Axis: Carnage #1.

The select spicy morsels in Axis: Carnage #1 contains the debut of the 3rd Sin-Eater, also known as the super-natural Sin-Eater. Yes, this version definitely has more than a dash of Ghost Rider.

This 3rd version of Sin-Eater claims to be the dead ghost of Emil Gregg and that Stanley Carter was the imposter. He does not appear all that much in comics and apparently dies in the last and 3rd issue of the Axis: Carnage comic series. 


This "Sin-Eater Special" was suggested and clearly inspired by Ace's comment in the Modern Age Spider-Man Key Comics Part 2 post. Requesting a "Sin-Eater Special" and then referencing how it reminded him of some dish on a menu, I ran with it.

Of course, I ran with it. What a way to break up the monotony, and it was a concept that I could work with.

Wouldn't be easy, might even be corny but it might be a bit of fun as well. Why not?

When it comes to speculation for what I call the Sin-Eater Saga in Spectacular Spider-Man #107 to #110 and then in Spectacular Spider-Man #134 to #136, I could really care less. I'd have the original Sin-Eater story line and those issues in my collection regardless of whether they were valuable or not, and I recommend the entire classic story.

Venom: Sinner Takes All and Axis: Carnage? Not big on those versions of Sin-Eater or even those comics. Might be some pretty hard specs if you're into that, but I do believe that the character of Engelschwert does deal with PTSD, though I do not think it is specifically named or identified. 

I don't know about how others feel about the original Sin-Eater saga or villain, but I've always felt like it was a classic and have my reasons why. First off and before I get into that, I believe Spectacular Spider-Man #134 was the very comic that first introduced me to Stanley Carter and the villain of Sin-Eater.

I did pick it up back in 1988 because of the cover. It intrigued me, and, hell, anything with the words Sin-Eater on it would've caught my attention back then. Yes, I did have to work my way back to Spectacular Spider-Man #107 to #110 also.

So why do I consider this a classic Spidey story? I've mentioned this in a post or a comment prior and the story is one of the few that really saw Spidey's moral convictions tested.

I felt that the story not only questioned Spider-Man's moral character, but also revealed something about the reader at the same time. What would you have done or how would you have handled things in this story?

In Spectacular Spider-Man #134, we learn that Spidey's still a human with a wide range of emotions. He could still feel rage and it could be taken to a certain extreme.

In Stanley Carter's return from the institution, it's revealed that he is crippled and impaired from the beating he received from Spidey. Refusing to feel guilty, Spidey leaves.

This is the beating that Stanley as Sin-Eater received from Spidey in Spectacular Spider-Man #110, in which Spidey almost crossed into Punisher territory and had to be stopped by Daredevil. Did you agree with Daredevil or did you side with Spidey?

What about the part where our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man almost let the crowd dispense mob justice on Stan Carter? Allowed it to happen even if Daredevil might've gotten killed as well?

In the 2nd arc to the original Sin-Eater saga, did you feel any empathy toward Stan Carter and his struggle with his inner demon called Sin-Eater, a demon that developed through no real fault of his own? Perhaps you did or perhaps you didn't.

It was comic stories like these that helped to reveal quite a bit about myself to myself. Who did I side with in that issue when it came to Daredevil stopping Spider-Man's beating of Stan Carter? Who did you side with?

Ever struggle with inner demons like the ones portrayed in the panels below and to that extreme? 

Ever feel like Carter in the next few panels below from Spectacular Spider-Man #134? What about constantly feeling that way?

Even more torment for Stan in Spectacular Spider-Man #136

And when you think the inner demon of Sin-Eater has finally won. The scene below had an eerie connection to me personally, especially what Stan says in the last panel shown.

The death of Stanley Carter as Sin-Eater in Spectacular Spider-Man #136 has always left an impression on me, back at the age of 13 and unfortunately still to this day. So far it is one of the deaths in comics that I relate to or understand the most.

This is one of the first comic stories that I ever read that dealt with some kind of mental illness and what I think is still an act of suicide. It's quite clear that Carter was tired of the torment and only saw one way out.

So, once again, stories like these actually mean something to me and helped me to understand myself for better or worse. I wouldn't have stopped Spidey's beating of Stan Carter, and I would've allowed both Daredevil and Stanley Carter to have been taken by mob justice during that comic book moment.

I did relate to Stanley Carter's struggle and torment with his inner demon, Sin-Eater, more than I probably should admit, and realized that I'm a Punisher fan for a reason and probably not a good one either.

Then again, if I were a mutant, I'd join Magneto's cause without hesitation. Moreover and more importantly, this comic story and stories like the original Sin-Eater Saga also brought up issues of mental illness and suicide to an extent.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 25 American adults suffer from functional impairment due to a mental illness, such as a psychotic or serious mood or anxiety disorder. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is generally a new "recognized or diagnosed" mental disorder that is afflicting many of our soldiers and veterans.

The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of PTSD among active duty members to be 15 times higher than civilians and the rate of depression to be five times higher than civilians. PTSD is a mental illness often contributing to the growing problem of veterans becoming homeless or committing suicide.

20% of children in the U.S., or 1 in 5, ages 13-18 have or have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC), in 2015: Suicide was the 10th leading cause of deaths in the U.S. It's the 3RD leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 14, and the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 and 34!

As of 2017, suicides are not only on the rise in the U.S. but globally. Hope all of you are well and safe!


  1. Hey Mayhem,

    just wanted to say thanks. You deserve
    all the credit. One of you best pieces.
    That's what most people will never learn -
    that comics are so much more to us than
    just fun and entertainment. I also had a few
    comics that gave me powerful messages
    in the childhood. Gonna try and name a
    few in the future.


    1. Ace, thanks for the suggestion, and your suggestion even inspired yet another post I'll pluck at in the near future. I'd love to hear some of the comic stories that touched you or made you think or gave you a powerful message that helped to shape you as a person. You're right, comics do do this and maybe we don't always realize it.

      Glad you enjoyed it, brutha Ace. I enjoyed writing it.

  2. Good job on being creative with Ace's request. Not a character I will ever be interested in but some people might be. To minor for my collecting taste.


    1. I figured, Nate. Definitely not a character or story arc for everyone and he is pretty minor currently.

    2. I have a more definitive answer for you on what's next for my collection. Just won a Wonder Woman #159 CGC 8.5 (Silver Age) on Ebay.


  3. Wow a truly great piece written and i concur with the ending. I suffer from a condition called Pure "O" and it is debilitating to say the least. Those that have it constantly have intrusive thoughts of hurting loved ones and it is very difficult at times to function. Thank you for making other people aware of how mental illness is no joke. I also loved the Sin Eater arc 1 and 2 when they came out, and really felt for Stan in the end. Everybody has personal demons, but some of us have them 24 hours a day.

    1. Hiya Zack, thanks for commenting. Mental illness is no joke, never has been, and a shame that it wasn't an issue that was taken more seriously before. Like Ace mentioned before, comics are for fun and entertainment but a lot of times there are themes and issues addressed in them stories that are meant to bring awareness to those reading them.

      Like you, the Stanley Carter Sin Eater story arcs was one of those. I feel like you and that others should be more aware of this growing concern. Being aware could be a big step in helping to save a loved one.