Comics
Published January 24, 2024

The Many Connections of ‘Gang War’

Learn more about the who’s who—and how they know each other—in Marvel Comics crossover event ‘Gang War.’

Want to read all these issues and gain instant access to a library of 30,000+ others? Join Marvel Unlimited to read Marvel’s catalog of digital comics, including ongoing series and new issues as early as three months after they’re in stores.

Long ago, in the distant year of 1987, a “Gang War” arc occurred in the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #284-289. Kingpin departed from New York City, causing various bosses to fight each other to replace him. Some of those bosses included The Rose, Hobgoblin (Ned Leeds), Hammerhead, and Silvermane. Representing the good side was Spider-Man and Daredevil (Matt Murdock).

Simple, right?

Now, many decades later, a new GANG WAR has begun, and this time there are more crime bosses than ever! But there are more super heroes involved as well. With more than forty characters present in this event, you’re bound to get a little confused. Lucky for you, we have a handy guide! Let’s look at the connections that create the complex web that is GANG WAR (2023).

[RELATEDMarvel Announces Its Next Major Crossover Event—'Gang War']

THE MAIN PLAYERS

Spider-People are bound to meet each other at some point (there are whole comic events based around it, i.e. SPIDER-VERSE), and Peter Parker and Miles Morales are no exception. Although from separate universes, the two would finally meet in SPIDER-MEN (2012) #1, thanks to a device created by Mysterio. When their universes were merged after the events of SECRET WARS (2015), Miles gained a mentor in Peter but both gained a friend in each other. Unfortunately for Miles, being an ally to Peter Parker, or any super hero in general, tends to bring super-powered enemies.

Tombstone, the hardened crime boss from Harlem, has caused nothing but problems for the Spider-Men. Kingpin has tried on more than one occasion to get rid of Peter Parker and/or his loved ones. Although Kingpin didn’t directly combat Miles, he backed Earth-616 Miles Morales, known as Ultimatum, who did indeed fight Miles. Then there’s Madame Masque, a cunning woman and Maggia leader whom Peter Parker recently faced in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) #64. When Kingpin was Mayor of New York City, both Tombstone and Madame Masque, among other crime bosses, were tasked with finding the Tablet of Life and Destiny. Although these super villains have fought one or both Spider-Men, they are not all allies. Tombstone was once Kingpin’s top hitman before breaking out on his own. He absolutely despises Madame Masque after she and Crime Master V kidnapped his daughter as leverage take over his territory.

Madame Masque versus Spider-Man in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) #64.
Madame Masque versus Spider-Man in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) #64.

THE GENERATIONS OF GANG WAR

Amongst the gangs present in GANG WAR, there are four actual families involved too! The Fisks are composed of Kingpin, who remarried to the multifaceted mutant, Typhoid Mary. This union makes her the stepmom to Kingpin’s son, The Rose. Hailing from Harlem are the Lincolns, the father-daughter duo Tombstone and Beetle. The latter was engaged to marry Randy Robertson, the son of Robbie Robertson, Daily Bugle editor and former(?) enemy to Tombstone. Last but not least is the extended family of Spider-Man: Miles Morales and his uncle, Aaron Davis, the Prowler.

[RELATEDInside the Two Generations of ‘Gang War’]

The return of The Rose in GIANT-SIZE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: KING’S RANSOM (2021) #1.
The return of The Rose in GIANT-SIZE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: KING’S RANSOM (2021) #1.

LOVE MATCHES

Kingpin and Typhoid Mary: How did they meet? Well, Typhoid Mary was hired by Kingpin as an assassin. Her objective? To kill Daredevil, AKA Matt Murdock. She had an extended love-hate relationship with Kingpin until she left his employ, causing havoc in other ways throughout the Marvel Universe. However, she would return to work for him and this time, they fell in love. The super villains married in DAREDEVIL (2019) #36 and left New York for the mutant island haven of Krakoa.

Randy Robertson and Beetle, Janice Lincoln: Randy and Janice met each other in the most unusual way—after she broke into his apartment! While she was searching for Boomerang, she instead found Randy, and it was love at first sight. The star-crossed lovers dated until he learned that she and her Syndicate destroyed F.E.A.S.T. (where he worked) and kidnapped Boomerang in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) #28. Although she would make amends to restore F.E.A.S.T., they separated for a time. They would reunite, but their fathers, who hated each other, noticed who their children were dating in issue #63. Both fathers tried to convince their respective child to end the relationship, but neither would concede. After being kidnapped and saved by their fathers, and Spider-Man: Peter Parker, Janice and Randy moved in together and became engaged. But unlike Kingpin and Typhoid Mary, their wedding was interrupted and became the catalyst for GANG WAR (2023)!

Partners in crime (and love) from DAREDEVIL (2019) #36.
Partners in crime (and love) from DAREDEVIL (2019) #36.

THE KINGPIN CONNECT

When you’ve been in organized crime as long as Kingpin has, you make little to no genuine allies (unless you count Tombstone, Typhoid Mary, and Diamondback) but many, many enemies.

Elektra, the current Daredevil, was once employed by Kingpin (who wasn’t?!) as his head assassin and tasked to, well, assassinate Ben Urich and Foggy Nelson. However, following a resurrection and a Skrull replacement, she’s since been against Kingpin, most recently in opposition of him and his Powers Act during the event DEVIL’S REIGN (2021).

Spider-Man: Peter Parker has been an on-off annoyance for Kingpin since AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #50. Although Kingpin is considered a primary villain of Daredevil’s, Kingpin still has the capacity to destroy Peter Parker’s life (even while in prison!), as seen in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1999) #538-542.

And Leland Owlsley, known as The Owl, wanted to become the new Kingpin of New York City as far back as PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN (1976) #73. He’s tried assassinating Kingpin on at least one occasion but later managed to get him arrested in DAREDEVIL (1998) #81. Jailing Kingpin was not enough, though; he wants his throne.

Finally, Silvermane. The Maggia crime boss has a bone to pick with Kingpin, as the latter usurped most of his territories when Silvermane was incarcerated years ago. The hate is one-sided because Kingpin never considered Silvermane a threat, which, ouch. Kingpin proved as much when he forced Silvermane, who was revived from the dead, to be his new assassin in PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN (1976) #94-96.

Oh, and who could forget The Rose, who’s wanted his own father dead by any means necessary…

Daredevil: Elektra confronts her former boss in DAREDEVIL: WOMAN WITHOUT FEAR (2022) #1.
Daredevil: Elektra confronts her former boss in DAREDEVIL: WOMAN WITHOUT FEAR (2022) #1.

THE MAGGIA, EXPLAINED

Introduced in AVENGERS (1963) #13, the Maggia is a centuries-old crime syndicate. Although they have origins in southern Europe, the organization has international reach. The Maggia have a hand in almost everything, ranging from illegal gambling to politics. They are composed of “families,” three of which are headed by prominent characters in GANG WAR.

Silvermane took a traditional approach to running the Manfredi Family. Hammerhead (last name still unknown) also ran his “family” similar to Silvermane but had no qualms about using modern tech when necessary. He was the leader of the Maggia until he was, to put it nicely, replaced by Madame Masque. Daughter of Count Nefaria, the former head of the Nefaria Family, she was originally given to a non-crime family by her father in an attempt to give her a normal life. Like Beetle: Janice Lincoln, she delved into crime anyway. To get her former position back, Madame Masque played the long game, disguising herself as Hammerhead’s girlfriend. Wild, huh? All’s fair in a gang war.

But there’s also a couple former Maggia members involved as well. You know him, you either love him or hate him—the Kingpin. He began his organized crime resume under Don Rigoletto, a Maggia boss he eventually killed. From there, Kingpin rose through the ranks and became the head of the Maggia. At some point, he would leave the Maggia and establish his own organization, which became more formidable and powerful than his former syndicate. Speaking of Rigoletto, Diamondback worked under him as well! It was during the same time that Kingpin left after Rigoletto’s untimely demise. Diamondback: Willis Stryker would later join the Syndicate but sometime after died. When he was revived, and aided by Kingpin behind the scenes, he began to build his reputation as a crime boss.

Madame Masque sets her next plan in motion in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: GANG WAR FIRST STRIKE (2023) #1.
Madame Masque sets her next plan in motion in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: GANG WAR FIRST STRIKE (2023) #1.

STREET-LEVEL HEROES

As the gangs go to war, who will defend those who have nothing to do with it? That’s where heroes like Misty Knight, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and more come into play. Spider-Man: Peter Parker makes it his duty to gather as many New York City heroes as possible to stop every criminal involved in 48 hours. But there’s a bit of a problem. Former Mayor Fisk’s Powers Act, which benefits criminals by outlawing super heroes and vigilantes, remains enacted. It helps to have the new mayor—Luke Cage—as an ally, but it’ll take more than paperwork to combat these villains. They need to be put back in their place, and who better to force them back into the shadows like Spider-Man and his team.

The Spider-Men protect New York in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: GANG WAR FIRST STRIKE (2023) #1.
The Spider-Men protect New York in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: GANG WAR FIRST STRIKE (2023) #1.

Want to read all the issues leading up to the epic GANG WAR crossover? Join Marvel Unlimited to read all issues mentioned above, plus gain access to 30,000+ digital comics spanning all of Marvel Comics history.

Related

The Spider-Society Arrives on 'MARVEL Strike Force' to Save the Multiverse

Games

The Spider-Society Arrives on 'MARVEL Strike Force' to Save the Multiverse

Recruit Peter B. Parker & Mayday, Spider-Man (Pavitr), Peni Parker & Spy-Der from the film 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse'!

SPIDER-MAN: REIGN II #1 cover by Kaare Andrews

Comics

'Spider-Man Reign II' Returns to Kaare Andrews' Heartbreaking Vision of Peter Parker's Future

On sale in July, 'Spider-Man: Reign II' will further explore Peter Parker’s future while introducing new takes on Black Cat and Miles Morales.

DAREDEVIL: WOMAN WITHOUT FEAR #1 cover by Mahmud Asrar

Comics

Elektra Dishes Out Vengeance in Madripoor for 'Daredevil: Woman Without Fear'

This July, Elektra headlines as Daredevil once again in an all-new series by Erica Schultz and Michael Dowling.

VIZ Manga Adds Marvel Comics to Digital Subscription Service

Comics

VIZ Manga Adds Marvel Comics to Digital Subscription Service

Fans can now check out acclaimed manga including 'Deadpool: Samurai', 'Spider-Man: Fake Red', and more! And starting today, VIZ Manga and Marvel Unlimited subscribers will receive a special offer!