AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. “Once More With…”
There are some interesting threads on this forum, already, covering issues of Marvel’s early series – ‘re-reading’’ of the Avengers and Journey into Mystery/Thor and so on and there was quite a good issue by issue thread on the Invaders around too, until it caught up with the present.
What is more rarely discussed are the later periods when these series were in full flow and while perhaps less iconic still number among them some classics… The examination of the Avengers from #101 onwards gets a credit here.
I therefore present to you an issue by issue critique/discussion forum for one of these mainstay Marvel titles.
Not beginning at the very debut – as others have that covered well – but (and I hope I don’t step on anyone’s creative toes here!) – I would like to pick up the Amazing Spider-Man title after a watershed/bookend issue provided an opportune point at which to begin …
Issue #50 featured that classic moment in Peter Parker’s life when he first thought he couldn’t go on and yet eventually realised he just couldn’t possibly give up being Spidey.
“Spider-Man No More!” draws breath for the title before it races on into it’s next phase – less discussed than the Ditko issues and the early Romita ‘End of the Green Goblin’ stuff the next issue builds on those early foundations and catapults our hero and the title to the second half of it’s first century of publishing and its next phase of greatness…
So, after “Spider-Man No-More!”
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With feeling…!”
Or…
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility…!”
Or…
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With in-depth discussion and critique…..
Or…
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With #51 (08/67)…..

Come back soon……

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The Grizzly does seem a bit too much like the Rhino, although it's hard to imagine him becoming powerful enough to be a serious contender to join the Hulk's rogues gallery.  As it was, to my knowledge he didn't show up again during the next 10 years or so that I continued to collect Marvel Comics regularly.  Likely due to him being more brawn than brain and not particularly unique.

Not only like the Rhino, but the Grizzly's costume is similar to the Gibbon's and Man-Ape's.

He might have been an interesting addition to the Ani-Men.

The Jackal may have formed his own set of Ani-Men with the Grizzly, Hammerhead, Tarantula and maybe even the Mindworm just for laughs.  

Richard Mantle said:

It's not a bad attempt at a traditional fight cover but the Grizzly really is a poor example of a Spider-Rogue, all this type of guy have been done to death haven't they?

This era of Spider-Man, in my mind, was the Gibbon/Kangaroo/Grizzly period. I’m glad that as we read the issues there is more good stuff than I remembered.

Mrs Muggins being called 'Mammie' never takes does it?- and do we ever actually get to see her named husband?

She’s Mamie, not Mammie. Mamie was the name of President Eisenhower’s wife.

I agree that the surprise on the last page is effective. Was the entire reason for the Grizzly’s attack to lure either Spidey or Peter into the Jackal’s clutches?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #140 (01/75)
Writer – Gerry Conway                Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Frank Giacoia                   background inks - David Hunt
Cover art – Gil Kane & Mike Esposito
  

  “...And One Will Fall!"


It's not a favourite cover, the split scenes could have been given a webbing motif couldn't they? and the scenes depicted are a tad dull other than the wrist-harness one and for a Gil Kane cover this feels basic and rushed. Perhaps it is down to his inker - the Spidey mask especially looks dull.


Inside starts much better, the Grizzly bear-hugging Peter through the mystery mansion we left him in last issue, following the manic Jackal - quality splash page equally matched by the quality full-page recap we get on page-3 reminding us how we got here and how Peter got knocked out.
That flashback comes as Peter again loses consciousness once he is strapped to a medical table while our bad guys perform -- "--the Operation!"
"And then -- Peter Parker will be ours to control Forever!"
Actually that's quite scary, our hero's about to suffer surgery!


Mystified, Peter wakes as Ned and Betty Leeds apparently discover him unconscious in the lobby of the Daily Bugle.
Peter covers his secret identity but during coffee discovers what has really been done to him..."The Jackal put some sort of harness on my arm!"

"If you try to force it open, unlock it, or jimmy it in any way at all ---The harness will vibrate itself to powder instantly -- Destroying both itself -- And Your ARM!"
This is all an elaborate attempt to follow Peter - 'friend to Spider-Man' to by association learn the still-secret identity of Spidey!
Convoluted.

The shock and terror on Peter's face here really drives the threat home and the tension is palpable - my young self reading this first-time around was terrified for poor Peter, even if I'm more jaded these days.


Of course the strangest thing here is the thought that the Jackal/Miles Warren does not know Peter's secret at this point - later Clone-related stories will claim he had been growing Peter and Gwen duplicates for a long time hadn't he - but his fascination here is with Spider-Man NOT Peter or Gwen....allegedly.


Rather than rush to the various scientist experts he knows to free him of this threat....Peter shows his friend Flash Thompson his new apartment ...and they both meet neighbour/model Gloria Grant.
"I take it back, Parker. This is the Greatest Apartment I've ever Seen!"
Expanding the support cast is a good move and Glory seemed a joy but I don't remember much ever being done with her - did I miss anything?


Later, alone, Peter gets his own toolkit out to attempt to remove the arm harness...which he finally, after much worry and sweat, manages to do!
"whew!"


With that threat gone we return to familiar Spider-Man searches the city for the bad-guy territory. Stopping by font-of-all-knowledge Jonah Jameson Spider-Man gets the lowdown and the background on newest heavy - the Grizzly.
Failed wrestler that Jameson used his paper to disgrace in a 'crusading' campaign - explaining why the Grizzly was wrecking the Bugle building before.
I am reminded of the Kangaroo here - isn't everyone?


Spider-Man returns to the Jackal's hideout/house only to find ever piece of equipment has been moved out. (the dust reminded me of Spidey tasting soap/dust when looking for Harry/Goblin- more familiarity!)


Remembering the wrestling background Spidey finds someone who knew the Grizzly as Maxwell Markham (did Stan come up with that name?) and catches up with the costumed bad-guy at the old gym he used to frequent.
Their fight this time is not very long as Spider-Man rips away the Grizzly costume revealing an exoskeleton providing the strength boost and removing it to leave...
"I'm the GRIZZLY--"
"Sorry, pal. You're not even that anymore. You're just a flabby Has-Been......"
It's a soft fade-out but we are reminded that the Grizzly was not the real threat here.."But don't Worry-- Someday I'll get the Jackal Too."


The lack of any reaction from the Jackal to his harness being bypassed by Peter Parker is a gaping hole in the plot - and it highlights the flimsy motivation here which is far more interesting than the story of the Grizzly which would never have been very original but feels remarkably familiar at this point.

Off-page we're later told it was during this story that the Jackal watched Peter change into Spider-costume and discovered the truth.

Sloppy.


Surely it is about time the Spider-Mobile returned...?
Come Back...

Richard Mantle said:

- quality splash page equally matched by the quality full-page recap we get on page-3 reminding us how we got here and how Peter got knocked out.

The splash page called my attention to the way the Jackal is walking. Unless it’s an artistic error, it doesn’t seem possible for a man wearing a costume to walk like that. I think we find out later that he took some kind of trans-formative potion, IIRC.

This is all an elaborate attempt to follow Peter - 'friend to Spider-Man' to by association learn the still-secret identity of Spidey!
Convoluted.

Some characters had already formed the opinion that Peter and Spider-Man had a money-sharing deal that gave him the opportunity to take all of those pictures. He wouldn’t have to know Spidey’s identity to have a deal like that, but I guess it was a shot in the dark on the Jackal’s part.

Rather than rush to the various scientist experts he knows to free him of this threat....Peter shows his friend Flash Thompson his new apartment

That doesn’t seem like something he would do. His tendency has been to let his personal life slide downhill while dealing with the immediate crises.

Expanding the support cast is a good move and Glory seemed a joy but I don't remember much ever being done with her - did I miss anything?

I think she later works as a secretary at the Bugle after Betty becomes a reporter.

Later, alone, Peter gets his own toolkit out to attempt to remove the arm harness...which he finally, after much worry and sweat, manages to do!

It’s a nice wrinkle that the Jackal’s arm-destroying harness is just a harness that he was able to remove without danger, except to his blood pressure.

Remembering the wrestling background Spidey finds someone who knew the Grizzly as Maxwell Markham

The guy he questions says “Spider-Man! Cripes! I thought you wuz the Masked Marvel!”

I almost missed the reference, if it is a reference. In Amazing Fantasy #15 Peter’s wrestling persona was briefly referred to as a Masked Marvel. Did this guy see Peter wrestle?

Had she been introduced today, Glory Grant would have been a love interest for Pete. She was a lot more together than most of his paramours!

Wasn't Spider-Man's take-down of the Grizzly pretty similar to his take-down of the Rhino in the latter's first appearance?  

Without looking it up, I think taking off Rhino's suit involved a chemical to disintegrate it.

I agree that this two-parter was sloppy and convoluted.  The Grizzly was a dud of a villain (how many animal based foes does Spidey have anyway?) and should have been portrayed more sympathetically.  Jonah ruined his career just to sell papers but Markham beat up his old wrestling buddies because they wouldn't lie for him during his trial/hearing - in other words, Jonah was right!  It also should have been more clear that the Grizzly was only being used by the Jackal, and once Warren got what he wanted, the Grizzly was of no use to him.  It came across as a partnership when it really was not.

If Warren doesn't know Peter is Spider-Man during this story - and he clearly does not - how did he know having the Grizzly attack the Bugle would lead Peter to their hideout?  If the answer is Spidey would go looking for them and Peter is not far behind, shouldn't the Jackal be wondering where Spidey is at the end of #139 / beginning of #140?  He doesn't have a Jackal sense warning him of danger!  And shouldn't Warren have known that his top science student would disarm the dud explosive?

Conway was usually pretty good writing Peter's social dramas but rather sloppy in some of his plotting.  But as a kid reading these when they were new they were generally entertaining enough so I didn't really care that the Grizzly was a lame baddy.  Spider-Man was my favorite character at the time, but really that was as much for the soap-opera-ish aspects of Peter Parker's life as for the super-hero do-gooding, maybe even more.  I found the issues which focused exclusively or almost so on Spider-Man taking on the baddies or solving a mystery, which occurred a few times during Len Wein's run, pretty dull, more akin to the sort of stories that turned me off of DC.

 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #141 (02/75)
Writer – Gerry Conway                Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Frank Giacoia                   background inks - David Hunt
Cover art – John Romita
 

  “The Man's Name Appears to be ... Mysterio!"


It's a well constructed if familiar cover by Romita but are we really supposed to believe his allies are REAL and not the Mysterio illusions we know they will be?

I feel like I'm being insulted as an intelligent reader. Shame.


I closed off the discussion of the last issue ( I know it was a while ago - sorry - Real Life interrupted for a while!) - with...
Surely it is about time the Spider-Mobile returned...?
....and who believed we'd open with the Spider-Mobile here? (!)


Spider-Man is being chased by the police while driving (really badly) the Spider-Mobile through town.

It's played for laughs but after a crowd-pleasing reference to a classic Steve McQueen film scene (you all know which - right?) the tone darkens as Spidey drives through understated but ominous mist which confuses him enough to force him to accidentally drive into the sea - building a menacing plot whilst convieniently disposing of the Spider-Mobile which was forced on the writer and (universally?) hated!


Later, we see the toll recent activities are taking on Peter Parker's student life as he falls asleep in Professor Warren's class.
With hindsight there is much to glean from Warren's plea to Peter, "Please don't waste that potential... don't betray my faith in you." but without that insight we notice the arrival of Mary Jane more than Warren, back in action after the apartment bomb of the Harry-Goblin story.


There is a story beat pause as Peter considers whether MJ could replace dead Gwen in his emotions.... "He just... Doesn't know."


In his gentleman's club Jonah Jameson receives a telephone call suggesting he is again plotting against Spidey which is already getting painfully repetative.


Spider-Man nicks a passerby's happy meal and suggests he's about to pay for it before he suddenly notices his Spidey sense warning danger.... and the mist rises.
I can't help but feel sorry for the poor guy who lost his lunch!


After hurting his arm/shoulder Spider-Man is physically attacked by Mysterio (last seen in the classic #67) only for a truck to nearly run him over - on the SIDE of an alley wall!
Of course it's all illusion and a mob of his previous greatest enemies seep at him from the walls - he fights them off but in reality just beats his fists against the wall repeatedly - causing dreadful injuries to his hands.
It is a well rendered scene that Ross Andru excelled at.


Mysterio um... mysteriously (sorry) leaves Spider-Man beaten and we pick up later, with Peter Parker, bearing the scars of battle, at the Bugle  declaring Mysterio is back...only to be told...

"Mysterio Died in prison almost a Year ago!"  - which leads,  rather unecessarilly to an overly dramatic conclusion of Peter's "Then-- it's finally Happened! I'm Cracking Up-- Peter Parker is -- INSANE!"
It's pushing a cliff-hanger a bit too far - the fact that Mysterio should be dead would have been enough of an ending for me.


I have always liked the look of Mysterio and whilst this is not as dramatic as his last storyline it is good to see him back - or is that good to see a new version of him as the Original is dead?


So, a shame Jameson is the guiding force behind the attack on Spider-Man - again and a shame we're going down the Mysterio-tries-to-turn-Spider-Man-crazy road - again as it all feels familiar to the point of tired.


Maybe the ending will surprise next time..?
Come back...

 

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