Monday, August 11, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man #37

Hello, Josiah here.  I'm going to talk about this issue:

"Once Upon A Time, There Was A Robot...!"

By:  Lee, Ditko, and Simek

The issue opens outside of the New York State Prison where a Professor Stromm is released from prison after a ten year sentence.  We are only at the second panel in on page two and he’s already plotting his revenge, the prison cell still looming over his shoulder.

It’s been pointed out before, but Lee and Ditko really don’t think much of the restorative abilities of the prison system in the 1960’s.  Every month one of Spider-Man's rogues escapes prison or is set free after claiming to be rehabilitated.  Either that, or Lee was plotting and editing a million books each month and it’s an easy way to set up an antagonist.

We move onto a pretty fun scene where we see Foswell spying on his former cellmate Stromm, hoping to get the scoop on his release.  Behind Foswell is one of Stromm’s thugs, poised to shoot the reporter. Behind the thug is Spider-Man who is spying on Foswell, because who trusts Foswell?  

Spidey punches the thug, webs him to his car and tells him to follow Professor Stromm.  As they tail Stromm, Spider-Man puts on the thug's fedora for no apparent reason.  It's a great bit of unexplained humor, and my favorite moment in the book.

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Parker
The cops show up and Spidey ditches the car and the thug.  He does leave the hat behind in the car for the thug.  So outside of punching the guy, Peter is nicer to a guy that attempted murder on page two than he is to Gwen Stacy in the issue.  Peter stops back at the Bugle to learn more about what Foswell is up to, and he heads back school where he runs into Gwen, wondering if he’s still mad at her.  Instead of describing it, lets just take a look:

I grew up reading Peter in the late 80’s and early 90’s and he was a pretty well-adjusted guy at that point (married to Mary Jane and living relatively comfortably).  It’s really hard to watch Peter potentially break Gwen’s hand because of his nasty demeanor and/or total carelessness.

I wanted Uncle Ben’s ghost to reappear and crack his nephew in the face.  Instead we get Flash Thompson, and I can honestly say it’s the first time I’ve ever wanted to see Flash kick Peter’s ass.  I'm not sure if that speaks to my preconceptions about Peter Parker's early years (at least seen through the lens of reading these issues as a kid, or seeing his origin retold dozens of times in different comics, movies, and cartoons) or to Lee and Ditko taking Peter too far in one direction.  Peter mouths off one last time and walks away.

We get back to Professor Stromm, who is planning his revenge on the man who landed him in jail, Norman Osborn.  To exact his revenge, the Professor has developed a robot that is mentally controlled by him, is goofy-looking as hell and is awesome.  There is something really simple and silly and glorious about the little guy.  We know that Peter eventually is going to defeat this robot, so lets take a look and enjoy the fleeting moments we have with him:

And here's the fight scene that eventually leads to the robot's demise thanks to that no-good, rotten, dirty wall-crawler.


After senselessly murdering Steve Ditko's greatest creation.  Spider-Man decides to start following Foswell again, who puts on an eye-patch and goes by the fantastic name of “Patch, The Underworld Stoolie.”

Like I mentioned earlier, I started getting into Marvel in the late 80’s and early 90’s and there was only one guy I knew of who used an eye-patch as a silly disguise and called himself “Patch.”

Tangent warning:

Here’s something a I love about comics, Foswell was Patch when these comics were published in the 1960’s. Wolverine first appeared in 1974 (making him the Patch No. 2, publishing-wise) but according to a Marvel comics story published  in 2007 (Wolverine Origins Annual  #1, decent story with a confusing ending if you weren't reading the whole series, but it has incredbile art by Kaare Andrews) Wolverine has been pretending to be Patch since 1932 (making him Patch No. 1, Marvel Universe-continuity wise).

Here’s my potential no-prize winning explanation.  Foswell is a shady guy with numerous underworld connections and at some point he found himself in the corrupt fictional country of Madripoor where he saw Wolverine’s Patch routine and decided to take it to the states.  Or Chris Claremont never read this issue of Spider-Man.

Anyways, Stromm deploys another (much lamer) robot, this time to destroy Osborn’s possessions and then murder him.  Peter follows Foswell to Osborn’s home in time to save Osborn.  Osborn is pretty ticked, he was planning on killing Stromm during the fight, and he doesn’t want to settle for Spider-Man sending Stromm back to jail.  So Norman Osborn sneaks up behind Spider-Man and knocks him out in the hope of getting to Stromm himself.  

Spider-Man defeats the robot and confronts Stromm,  but his Spider-sense picks up that someone  (Osborn) is about to shoot Stromm.  Spidey pushes Stromm out of the way, but Stromm still dies instantly from a heart attack.   

Instead of meditating on the tragic irony of saving someone from certain death only for that person to die moments later from something completely unrelated, Spider-Man leaves about 15 seconds after Stromm dies and tells Foswell to look after things. 

It’s another callous moment from Peter in an issue filled to the brim with them.  In one final scene, some of Peter’s fellow students invite him bowling, but he’s too lost in thought to acknowledge them.  They all think he’s a jerk.  They aren’t wrong.  Dude almost broke Gwen Stacy's hand.

Despite Peter’s behavior throughout the issue, we get a really tight story with fun, cartoony art by Ditko.  I really loved the cat and mouse game played throughout the issue between Spider-Man, Foswell, Stromm and Osborn.  

Oh I almost forgot, we learn that Norman Osborn and J. Jonah Jameson are members of the same social club.

And see you next time for Steve Ditko's final issue!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man #36

When Falls the Meteor

Script and Editing by Stan Lee
Plot and Art by Steve Ditko
Lettering by Andy Simek

This issue opens up with part-time scientist Newton B. Fester. In the third panel Fester finds a meteor, just the type he’s been looking for, he notes, and says that it will be perfect to prove his theory that “meteors contain microscopic living matter” (Page 1) that are responsible for first bringing life to Earth. The comic makes it seem like this is an original idea, but this concept has been around since the fifth century. It’s regularly referred to as Panspermia, and it’s still considered a viable theory about the beginnings of life on Earth. I know this because it was on Stephen Hawking’s excellent show—one that Peter Parker would surely love—“Into the Universe withStephen Hawking.”

Fester tries to get funding for his science project but is rejected all over town. He starts messing around with the meteor in his basement lab and is hit in the face by a green gas. The gas causes him to have superhuman strength and the vain Fester decides, “I’m much too clever to waste such a golden opportunity.” (Page 2) And by “not wasting a golden opportunity,” he means he’s going to rob banks.

Peter Parker, meanwhile, is trying to get back to his classes. He notes that he’s missed a lot of school since he’s been fighting Kraven and the Molten Man. In true Peter fashion, he enters college life ready for all of his peers to hate him. Peter thinks that since he hasn’t been around his new college much lately that all of the other students have already made tight-knit groups and he won’t be able to join (Page 4). 

A hot little number named Sally Green walks up to Peter and invites him to a get-together after school. At first Peter is all about it. Then, Sally says, “I was hoping you’d come because I’m so anxious to have at least one boy with brains instead of all those brawny athletic types.” (Page 5) Sure, it’s a bit of a back-handed compliment, but Peter doesn’t need to be insecure about his athleticism. Regardless, Peter jumps on the slight and embraces it like a long lost friend. He turns down the invitation. Poor little Peter.

Back to Fester, who has now christened himself “The Looter.” A moment to examine this name. Maybe it’s the times I live in, but to me, “looter” means that you’re taking advantage of a public crisis and stealing from stores because chaos is reining and the police are too busy to stop you. Really, the lowest form of crime. This is not what Fester is doing—he’s just rushing in, punching a bunch of people in the face and rushing back out again—but the losery name fits him well. He’s a cookie-cutter criminal that doesn’t deserve much better. 

I figure this is what would become of Fester had Spider-Man stopped his evil schemes in 2014.

And, as with all thinly characterized criminals, his spree is interrupted by terrible planning. If The Looter’s crime spree were a business plan, no one would back it. Everything depends on finding more green gas inside meteors so that he can sustain his superhuman strength. When his stash is running out, he tries to rob a museum where a meteor is kept. Spider-Man finally catches up with this bozo and puts an end to his crime career. 

A perfect issue? Certainly not. An important issue in the cannon of Spider-Man? Nope. But it had that spark that it seems like Stan Lee can’t help but add. The stakes were low, the villain was corny, even the Parker drama was childish to a certain degree, but everything was fun. And that's what counts, right? This issue made me happy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man #35

"The Molten Man Regrets...!"

By Lee, Ditko, and Simek

Josiah here.  In the last edition of It's Amazing #566, I wished everyone a Happy New Year.  Then we (we being Sean and I, but really it was 100% me who caused the delay), went over a year without a new installment.  

I'm sorry, my bad.

Anyways, the last issue had ended with Peter straight-up depressed about the state of his relationship with Betty.  So Stan Lee starts out #35 with a splash page of Spider-Man webbing up The Molten Man and the declaration "IT'S CHANGE-OF-PACE TIME AGAIN, SO CLIMB ABOARD FOR THE ACTION...!"

Which was a welcome sight after how the last issue ended on such a downer note for Peter and this issue's story is entitled "The Molten Man Regrets!" so there was the fear that we were going to get more more navel-gazing in this issue.

Oddly, Molten Man has absolutely no regrets throughout the entire issue, even when he inevitably gets caught.  It takes all of one page for Molten Man to go from being in jail awaiting his hearing, to getting pardoned at his hearing, to bending steel beems in his apartment and planning his next heist.

Molten Man would like to come and meet
 us, but he thinks he'd blow our minds
Molten Man is one of those characters that Stan Lee really excels at writing.  Like Ben Grimm and Sandman, he's a great rough-and-tumble-street-level character that could have only come out of the New York City of 1960’s Marvel Comics. Plus, he is also a street-smart, super-powered heavy that also happens to be drawn in the likeness of androgynous rock and roll icon David Bowie in one panel on page two.  

But whatever, a character like Mark Raxton isn’t necessarily an evil guy.  Like a lot of Spidey’s antagonists, he’s just looking for the next score. The stakes aren’t always high when it comes to showdowns with a character like this, but nonetheless it’s a fun read.

Molten Man disguises himself as your run-of-the-mill Spider-Man bank robber, which brings Spider-Man to the robbery right on cue.  It’s a quick fight as Spider-Man gets caught by surprise by a nasty right hook (and the first of many great sound effects in this issue, but more on that later).

Molten Man gets away, but it’s not long before Peter deduces that no normal man with non-molten fists could punch like that.  So Peter—without due process—sneaks into Molten Man’s apartment and attaches a Spider-Tracer the size of a toddler’s fist onto the inside of the collar of Molten Man’s duster while he sleeps. Molten Man, unaware that he is carrying a hunk of metal giving off radio waves on his shoulder decides to move onto the next heist.  Spidey shows up and we get a really fun seven page fight/chase scene between the two.  The first of two highlights are when Molten Man decides to ditch the disguise and comes running directly at the reader.  The second is a great sequence on page eleven with a pretty dynamic six panel fist fight with fantastic sound effects (which we even get a shout-out to letterer Artie Simek in the fight’s introduction):

Eventually Spider-Man hog ties Molten Man with extra-thick webs (though it’s hard to tell because this plot device just comes out of nowhere, the just sees bunch of purple rope that Peter grabs off a chair during the fight, maybe he made this up in his lab, I'm not sure).  Peter leaves the Molten Man strung up for the authorities, then a few minutes later he stops by the police station to drop off photos of the robberies to help implicate Molten Man.  

This issue was a nice synthesis of how Peter Parker and Spider-Man’s lives complement one another.  Peter’s photos and scientific planning have just as much impact on all the proportional strength of a spider what-have-yous.  The biggest criticism I could think of in this issue is the business with the mystery rope, but it’s a small quibble.

In an issue filled with lots of solid action, the best part might actually be the penultimate page when Peter realizes that Betty has quit the Bugle and split town with Ned Leeds.  In six panels, Lee and Ditko take the reader through Peter’s following reactions in the follwoing order: anxiousness, nervous optimism, shock, resentment, sadness and resignation.  It almost looks like Peter's eyes are welling up in the sixth panel.

As a bonus in panel seven, we get to see Peter take his
frustrations out on the wrong person in typical Parker fashion.

Peter takes one last look at the photo, throws it in the trash and goes home.  It’s all pretty melodramatic, but effective.  Sometimes it sucks seeing an ex’s picture when you least expect it, right Peter?

Anyways, next issue features:  THIS GUY!  

Let's meet him together, shall we?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man #34

"The Thrill of the Hunt"

By Lee, Ditko and Rosen.

I’m a little jealous of Sean for getting the opportunity to review ASM #33, widely regarded as one of the  iconic moments in Spider-Man’s publishing history, right up there with Amazing Fantasy #15, Mary Jane’s first appearance and Gwen Stacy’s fateful excursion to the Brooklyn Bridge.

So iconic in fact, it’s been converted to an animated gif. Pretty neat.

But onto the issue #34. The issue continues with several ongoing sub-plots including Gwen Stacy’s                integration into the main cast and as a potential love interest for Peter. But since this is a Spider-Man comic, Peter assumes Gwen’s out of his league, and Gwen thinks Peter hates her. And everyone at Empire State hates Peter.

The Empire stuff leads to some far-out slang in this issue, dig?  Harry Osborn tells Peter he’s “as popular as Mao Tse Tung.”  Because of this, Peter realizes that everyone at Empire thinks he’s “high-hating on them,” and in turn this makes him feel like the “the prize crumb of the year.”

Betty’s increasingly toxic relationship with Peter begins to seep into her subconscious as she dreams about Peter revealing that he is Spider-Man. The sequence has a nice creepy feel to it, especially when Peter hits the ceiling and the reader sees look on his face in the final panel.  

That gum you like is going to come back in style, Betty.
Betty comes to her senses though, and realizes that “Whatever Peter’s secret is…whatever he is hiding from me…it can’t be..that!”  And then she decides to quit the Bugle. 

Finally rounding out our subplots for the month, Aunt May is on the mend after nearly dying of Spider-Blood Poisoning.  If Aunt May  knew  the hellish cycle of senility, sickness, death, rebirth, more sickness and more death she has ahead of her for the next 666 issues (yep, thats the number as of December 2012) the shock of realization would kill her like the guy outside of Winkies in Muholland Drive.  Only to return three issues later, of course.

The main plot revolves around Kraven the Hunter returning once again the claim the most dangerous game of all: (Spider)Man.   

Kraven might be my favorite Spider-Man rogue for a couple simple reasons:
  • His costume
  • His insane code of honor that allows him to beat animals to death with his bare hands, but not shoot them with guns or bows
  • He’s Russian
  • And in this issue, he suplexes a damn lion as a warm up for Spider-Man:

So, Kraven hits New York City and dresses up as Spider-Man and begins harassing JJJ.  This leads to JJJ publishing all manner of anti-Spider-Man stories in The Bugle, which in turn draws out Peter.  All of New York City is fooled as well, which is pretty funny since it’s a heavily accented, muscular, three hundred pound Russian man impersonating Spider-Man.  I was chuckling for a couple minutes thinking about that.

Eventually, Spider-Man defeats Kraven, and because Kraven is honor-bound he owns up to the impersonation and Spider-Man’s reputation gets cleared up, or as good as our wall-crawler's rep ever gets in NYC.  Peter goes home to think about what to do with Betty Brant and he decides that as long as he's Spider-Man, then Betty is pretty much dead to him.

Overall, a fun issue, but not perfect by any stretch.  There are so many subplots that start off the book (so much so that Lee apologizes for it in a panel where Aunt May is serving him snacks on page seven), that it slows things down a lot. 
Something about Ditko’s art felt off in most of this issue, I think some of it has to do with the pacing of the fight scenes which didn't feel like his usual kinetic style.  They felt kind of awkward and flat. The facial expressions didn't seem right as well (which I think is usually one of Ditko's stronger suits).  For instance, on page nine where it appears that Peter Parker has taken an entire strip of acid while he watches television with Aunt May. 

In contrast, I thought some of the better scenes in the book were when the color palette was limited to only two or three shades for when Peter is alone studying or in his lab.  Ditko uses this moody feel to finish strong as Peter is conflicted about whether or not to reveal his secret life to Betty.

The pencils, shading and the color perfectly convey Peter’s isolation.  One of my favorite things about Spider-Man is when Lee and Ditko (and later on Roger Stern and John Romita) channel that street level melancholy where you can almost hear some really sad jazz song in the background, (like this or something like this if you're more of traditionalist I guess) and it just clicks. 

In fact, I feel like one of the final panels of the last page really shows how well the "Stan Lee Style" of comic script writing can work. In my mind, Stan Lee saw the art that Ditko was turning in for the final pages of Spider-Man and he realized that he would have to churn out some really good heartfelt prose to accompany the art here. I love the way the silhouette's are placed on his back and it accents his tired posture. Its this combination of pictures and art that really sincerely shows Peter is a "complex, sensitive, and anguished youth."

But before we can get too downtrodden, the last panel lets us know that HOLY SHIT! THE MOLTEN MAN RETURNS!

Molten Men don't cry!

Finally, a couple non-ASM #34 related things:  If you're interested in what's happening in Spider-Man's world in the current Marvel Universe, then go read issues #698-700 (which incidentally is the final issue of Amazing Spider-Man, until they start up the numbering a year or two later).  Without getting into too much detail, the story involves Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus and it is bat-shit insane and fun (and I bet my left pinky finger that its temporary) thing to do with the Spider-Man franchise. Go check it out and let your heart be consumed with rage, or maybe delight.

This isn't Spider-Man related, but it's comics related. A guy sent this as an art submission to Marvel in the hopes of scoring a penciling job. He didn't get the gig, but he probably should have been made their lead writer for all of their X-Men, Avengers, and Spider-Man comics based on just this page as well as Editor In Chief for life:
It has nothing to do with Spider-Man, but its still pretty freaking great.  Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man #32 and #33


Written by Stan Lee

Art by Steve Ditko

So, as is often the case, the slow issue is followed by two issues of almost pure action. The Peter Parker drama from Empire State University is thrown aside for the next forty pages and is replaced by the type of classic plot that defines what a good Spider-Man comic can be.

As stated in the last entry, Aunt May is sick with some rare blood disease. In issue 32 Peter overhears the doctors saying that there is a strange radiation in Aunt May’s blood and it is killing her. Peter instantly remembers that the last time Aunt May was sick (probably the last time, but she’s been sick so often that I’ve lost count) he gave her a blood transfusion to save her. Now, that very blood transfusion could mean her death.

Also, the identity of the Master Planner is revealed: Dr. Octopus. He is trying to steal enough pieces of radioactive mumbo jumbo so that he can make his own warhead.
While Doc Ock is brooding on how he hates Spider-Man and wants so bad to jack up the world, Spider-Man goes to the one person he thinks will know enough about radioactivity and blood to save his Aunt May: Curt “The Lizard” Connors.

And here are all the elements of a good Spider-Man story: A loved one is ill and only Spider-Man can save them. An iconic villain is wreaking havoc on the city. The only person he can depend upon is a loose cannon. And all action occurs under the mysterious umbrella of radioactivity, the very source that granted Peter Parker the powers that changed his life.

The different plot lines are linked together by ISO 36, an element recommended by Doc Connors to save Aunt May. Connors is having it flown across the country in order to use it, but tragedy butts in. It turns out that ISO 36 is also the last element that Dr. Octopus needs to complete his warhead. Ohhhhhh Snap!

The ISO 36 is stolen and Dr. Octopus has poked the bear. Spider-Man goes nuts. He fights all of the purple henchmen from the last issue over and over again, has a deadly battle with Dr. Octopus which he wins handily, and then is trapped at the bottom of the ocean, under tons of wreckage while the leaking ceiling threatens to bring down the brine on him. 

At this moment of pure exhaustion, Spider-Man recalls why he is what he is. As he is trapped under the wreckage and struggles to summon the strength to escape, visions of Uncle Ben haunt him. He thinks something curious in these frames, and I found it rather moving. He thinks, “I’ll get the serum to Aunt May and maybe then I will no longer be haunted by the memory of my Uncle Ben” (Page 2).

I often think of the visions of Uncle Ben as moments of inspiration—moments where Ben appears and imparts some piece of wisdom—but here we see that that is not entirely true. The Ben moments are actually torturous and Spider-Man would do anything—any heroic feat he could manage—to be rid of them.
Spider-Man pulls himself up from the wreckage, defeats an army of Dr. Octopus’s henchmen, and gets the ISO 36 to Dr. Connors, thus saving his Aunt May. It’s a good, solid story.

One thing bugs me, though. And it’s a small thing, but it makes me wonder about the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s environment at the time of writing these issues. As I understand it, the two of them were writing something like 15 million different comic books at the time. In the second issue while Dr. Connors is waiting for Spider-Man to get back with the ISO 36 he says, “There’s no way of knowing if it will assimilate with my own potion until we try it.” (Page 12, Issue #32). I read this and instantly thought, “Geez! Connors is going to try his own potion again. Do these goofball scientists never learn?”

But then the story ended sans The Lizard tearing New York City apart. I wonder if the issue went to print and then Stan Lee slapped his forehead realizing that he forgot that thread of the plot.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man #31

If this be my Destiny

Written by Stan Lee

Art by Steve Ditko

The title page to issue 31 is filled with Spider-Man fighting a group of soldiers in purple uniforms spraying deadly gas and springing nets at him in a desperate attempt to stop the one-man wrecking machine. The narration bubble proclaims “A new era in the life of Spider-Man. And you shall live it with him!” (Page 1). Exciting stuff, right?

Actually, ninety percent of the issue is about Peter Parker’s first day at Empire state University. Aside from issue #18 where Spider-Man didn’t even through a punch, this is the most actionless episode we’ve seen.
The villains, during their scarce appearance, are aquatic henchmen to an arch fiend who lives at the bottom of the ocean. They refer to him as “The Master Planner,” a title that might be better suited for local government than world domination. The Master Planner has his men stealing a nuclear reactor and then dumping it into the water where a rescue team nabs it and brings it to his under-the-sea lair. Think Sea Lab 2020 at the mouth of the Hudson.

The only interesting thing about the henchmen is their amazement at how well their capers are organized. They say things like, “There are the units…exactly as described!” (Page 3) and “It went like clockwork! We still have 30 seconds to spare!” (Page 2). They seem to almost expect some blunder to occur. It’s like when you start working at a new job and during the first days the working environment seems so common-sense-driven and efficient that it’s hard to believe. Then, a month later it becomes obvious that the efficiencies are just on the surface and everyone is really phoning it in. I expect one of the henchmen to walk in on the Master Planner in his underwater lair and see him quickly click away from Facebook and onto some floor plans of a bank vault.

The Master Planner storyline is not resolved in this issue and, like I said, most of the pages are spent on Peter Parker drama. Some hugely important characters are introduced in this issue: Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn.

Some of the same story-lines that occurred in Peter’s high school career will be revived in college. Ole’ Flash Thompson is still around and he still thinks Parker is a bookworm. He immediately strikes up a friendship with Harry Osborn and they bond over hating Peter. “If there’s one thing Harry Osborn doesn’t dig, it’s a swell-head who thinks he’s better than anybody else” (Page 10). And this from a guy wearing a little red bow tie. Sheesh. They begin pulling pranks on Peter, just like in high school.

Also, just like in high school, the girl that Flash is into has the hots for Peter. Gwen Stacy, though she runs with the popular crowd, is into the brainy outcast. She thinks “He’s not as husky as Flash, but he’s brighter and very attractive” (Page 9).

All in all, it’s an introductory issue. Lee is transferring Peter Parker from high school into college and defining his new friends and new preoccupations. He does this without a major villain and without any major plot lines. It was probably for the best, but the issue has an unsatisfying aftertaste.

Oh yeah, and Aunt May is sick again.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"The Claws of The Cat"

By Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Artie Simek

So this issue’s villain is The Cat. He’s a cat burglar. I couldn’t find anything on Wikipedia about him, but I get the feeling that his origin isn’t exactly as full of emotional turmoil as Victor Von Doom’s origin.

So I’ve decided to make up one for him.  He’s Rorschach’s dad.

Things that make you go hurm.  Sorry.
I’ll be brief, Rorschach never met his father. The Cat looks like Rorschach, and of course he’d be a cat thief.   It made me enjoy this issue much more when I thought of it that way.

So The Cat rob’s JJJ, and around the time that Jameson finds out, there is an attempted robbery on an armored Stark Industries truck, which Spidey breaks up. I always enjoy those tiny crossovers in the early Marvel Universe, they are norm nowadays, but it’s neat to watch the first stages of world-building.

JJJ puts out a reward to get back the stock papers and other important goods that the Cat stole from his safe. Spider-Man decides to try and get the money from JJJ himself, not so much to help his ailing aunt, but to be a complete dick to his boss. So Spider-Man swings into JJJ’s office to inform of this, which pretty much gives JJJ a panic attack, which in turn gives us the best expressions of JJJ in this issue by far.

As an aside, the visual of Spider-Man with teeth over his mask is remarkably creepy.   I wonder ifTodd McFarlane took visual cues for this when creating Venom?

Spider-Man eventually captures the cat, but not before the police can get there first so the reward is void, and Jameson breathes a sigh of relief.  I was relieved too, I actually felt bad for him in this issue, the way Parker was treating him, and to make matters worse he ends up giving Peter a bit of the reward money for his photos.  Pete looks pretty guilty about the whole thing, although he never says it aloud or in a thought balloon.

Not much to say about the big fight itself, but we do get an incredibly awesome Ditko panel that could have easily been much larger.  I wish I had a poster of this single panel (which was crammed in with six other panels):

The b-story consists of Peter’s usual girl troubles. Betty has PTSD from The Scorpion's attack last issue, and she tells Peter she can’t hang with someone who lives such a dangerous life like Spider-Man, which is a pretty reasonable statement to say for most people, but Peter acts insufferable to her most of the time, and mopes about his behavior in word balloons the rest of the time.  

Also in this issue, Peter ran into Liz Allen.  Liz told him that she was scared that Flash Thompson was stalking her, so Peter prevented him from following her by knocking him. Not a good issue for the male characters.  Then he jumps up to save a guy from being killed by a disgruntled employee and he voices his disappointment with the fact that the guy wasn’t the cat burglar.

There were a pair of pop-cultural references that jumped out at me. Peter remarked that Aunt May’s apple pie was “the most!”  and he tells the guy he saved from the workplace rampage “Don’t waste that story on me!  Send it to a confession magazine!”

A lot of stuff happened, but the story was scattershot, the subplots intersected in really nonsensical ways.  The art was great as usual, but the story didn't do much for me overall.  Peter being a jerk didn't help much either.


If Spider-Man took on Bruno instead of that jobber Crusher Hogan, he'd still be eating food out of a straw!

Okay, I have to go drop this disc off with Sean now.