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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Amazing Spider-Man #160 (09/76)
Writer - Len Wein - Editor Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Mike Esposito Background inks - David Hunt
Cover Art – Gil Kane & John Romita
   "My Killer, The Car!"
Kane and Romita on cover duties again and they're loving this one aren't they? skewed perspective and ominous action with an undeniable touch of humour.
I love the detail on the shadowy villain in the foreground.


The issue opens in typical Ross Andru style, with Spider-Man swinging through the city and coming upon what seems to be a theft of fur coats.


The thieves are pretty hi-tec - the same group we've been seeing for a while and they drop a gas bomb on our hero.
Out of the haze Spidey is attacked... by his own car!

"The Spider-Mobile has Returned--"
So, the fact that Spidey couldn't find his car in the Hudson river (in #157) is kind of solved and clearly someone's trying to mess with his head - "Nobody is driving the Spider-Mobile!"


Spider-Man runs out of web in his shooters and his hands won't stick to walls -- his powers have gone! (It must be that gas?)
He manages to pole-vault away onto a Police car which chases the mobile which... disappears.


Leaving that as a mystery for later we cut to Peter Parker, with Mary Jane, visiting Aunt May in hospital. There they meet Harry Osborn and Liz Allen who join on in ( a definate couple now eh?).
Gotta love the piece of social commentary - May is no longer interested in Tony Orlando and Dawn - she's now "...really much more interested in Donnie and Marie Osmond."


Next cut is to the Bugle where Jonah gets through another temporary secretary - but this one was no push-over - "According to my contract, Mr. Jameson-- you can't fire me! But nevertheless-- I quit!"
It's another regular comedy scene but there is a sting in the tail and a very important one at that -- Jonah opens a special delivery package... "Th-These are the most Incredible Photos I've ever seen! And if what they show is True-- Then Spider-Man is Finished!"

Ominous eh?


Later at home Peter checks his web-shooters and Spider-powers and all is fine again. It is very annoying however that he puts his power-glitch down to "even the best of us can have our off-days." - come on!! Hasn't he battles the likes of Mysterio enough times to have worked out it might have been down to that gas..?
He goes searching the city until he finds some...'mist'... and even references Mysterio... as the Spider-Mobile returns to menace him again.
At least he climbs a wall expecting that to prevent the car being a threat...only for the car to start driving up the wall!!
That's a nice touch - but was spoilt by the cover really.


As Spidey loses his powers again the car leaps between buildings (no, honestly) and even webs Spidey into a captured package of luggage.
Eventually the car arrives at a rooftop where he confronts the villain responsible for this defeat...

"No! After all this time, it couldn't be -- Him!"
"I am indeed-- The Terrible Tinkerer!" (from way back in Amazing Spider-Man #2 - did you remember him..? No, neither did I.)
"But you -- you're an Alien!"
"Not at all, my boy. That mask I left you holding was merely a ruse--"
So, nope, no aliens in early ASM...just early Hulk, Avengers, FF...


This Tinkerer chappie has a big henchman called Toy who, ahem, 'toys' with Spider-Man until he falls for an insult and rips our hero out of his webbing trap,
"thanks for making things easy for me, bright-eyes!"
The Tinkerer and Spidey fight in the mobile until it crashes and until Spider-Man uses the car's web-canon to web up Toy.


The issue ends with the remains of the car being left outside the window of the offices of the creators of the Spider-Mobile and Spidey commenting..."And Good Riddance".
The Tinkerer alluded to him being employed by another (we know it's the Kingpin don't we?) but we do not see Spidey interrogate him for any reason behind his attack and indeed the entire Spider Vs Mobile issue feels a tad plot-light in the motivation department however fun it might have been to see the visuals.


Most interesting of all then in this issue is probably the 'next issue' blurb... can you imagine a world when this was first published when both Nightcrawler and even the Punisher were relatively new characters..?
"The Pulse-Pounding Punisher returns in pursuit of the most astonishing Guest-Star of all! (Or is it the other way around?) Be here for... "...And The Nightcrawler Came Prowling, Prowling...!"


(Ooh Jeff! A Crossover with your Punisher thread..?)


Come Back...

"(Ooh Jeff! A Crossover with your Punisher thread..?)"

There'll be a crossover with my Kingpin thread soon, too.

I don't think we'll duplicate efforts, though, because I write my "villain" posts from the villain's POV and skip over the regular sub-plots, etc.)

Today my "Marvel Fanfare," "Where Do You Draw the Line?" and "Ka-Zar" discussion will all be "crossing over, too.

I'll read Spider-Man #160 tonight and report back here tomorrow.

My recollection is someone questioned in lettercol whether it made sense for Spidey to leave the Spider-Mobile suspended like that given that his webbing dissolves after an hour. The answer was he used a special webbing for the purpose.

I feel that they just wanted to get rid of the Spider-Mobile for good. It was a silly attempt to give Spidey more merchandise to sell but Peter was no millionaire playboy! Where did he park it? How come no one saw him park it? How could he afford to maintain it? It literally caused more problems than it solved!

The Tinkerer, despite the silly name, would play an important role in the Spider-verse after this, designing weapons, armor and vehicles for various Spider-Foes!

Richard Mantle said:

He manages to pole-vault away onto a Police car which chases the mobile which... disappears.

Len Wein make at least two scripting boo-boos this issue. He refers to the police car as a “black-and-white” when we have been educated by Stan Lee (and much later by Law & Order) that New York City police cars are green-and-white. Also, the cops instantly recognize the spider-mobile when I’m pretty sure it disappeared so quickly that very few people saw it. The second jarring scripting error is that he refers to the “penultimate milkshake” when he obviously meant “ultimate.” Editing your own writing never really works.

At least he climbs a wall expecting that to prevent the car being a threat...only for the car to start driving up the wall!!
That's a nice touch - but was spoilt by the cover really.

Yeah. IMO, they also gave away the Terrible Tinkerer on the cover. He had such a distinctive look that the shadows didn’t disguise him. I wasn’t around for ASM #2 (I started with #9) but his first story had been reprinted long before this issue.

"But you -- you're an Alien!"
"Not at all, my boy. That mask I left you holding was merely a ruse--"
So, nope, no aliens in early ASM...just early Hulk, Avengers, FF...

Well, actually the dialogue in these two panels from ASM #2 makes it clear that the Tinkerer is an alien.

Regarding the Tinkerer, I acquired a reprint of Spider-Man #2 fairly early on, and he was the villain in a Hulk story when I was a kid in the ‘70s. I was actually surprised when I acquired Spider-Man #160, several years later as a backissue, that he hadn’t been a recurring villain for years. I never did like the alien angle, though (wasn’t right for Spider-Man) and I’m glad this story overturned it.

“Next cut is to the Bugle where Jonah gets through another…”

Temporary Secretary.

This early short Spidey story, which I believe was originally intended for Amazing Fantasy, shows the transitioning from the Atlas monster/twilight zone to full-blown Marvel superheroes. 

They could have written the original story establishing the Tinkerer as a traitorous earthman and reflected that in the dialogue. Overturning it seems to indicate that Spidey will never deal with aliens even though he eventually does deal with extraterrestrial threats. This revision is an example of EYKIW.

Amazing Spider-Man #161 (10/76)
Writer - Len Wein - Editor Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Mike Esposito Background inks - David Hunt
Cover Art – Gil Kane & John Romita
   "...And The Nightcrawler Came Prowling, Prowling"
Kane and Romita on cover duties, this time a very early appearance of X-Man Nightcrawler - who is very different to later/recent in size and style, he's shown as fairly bulky/athletic and with that (Cockrum-designed) face-always-in-shadow - very much more a monsterous mutation than a cheeky-elf of later years, don't you think? (More 'Igor@ than 'Elric'??)
"It's the Battle you Demanded--" claims the cover...really? Oh and the Punisher gets a cover mention but no brooding-with-gun cameo!


I love the opening splash page where Ross Andru plays with gravity and perspective as the upside-down Nightcrawler reads the upside-down Bugle with a photo of downside-up crawling Spider-Man...very clever.


Chronologically I believe this appearance of the X-Men slots between X-Men #97 and #98 and so this is a very rare early appearance for Colossus and even Wolverine as well as Nightcrawler. Wolverine is shown as he was at that time without hairy arms and I do feel like it's watching another (old friend) character.
The X-Men present bicker and fight in their 'gym' (no danger room?) until annoyed, Nightcrawler leaves the mansion alone...


Elsewhere at a funfair, Mary Jane and Peter are having fun on the rollercoaster where first we see Peter in a rifle's crosshairs and then an unknown man is actually shot out of his seat! (Surely he should have been more safely strapped in (?))


Peter ditches MJ much to her annoyance, to investigate as Spidey - just as Nightcrawler arrives at the fairground. It seems he had seen a photo of an old friend of his 'from my carnival days in Europe--!" and wanted to visit him. The paper had named him as the third victim of a mystery sniper...
Tenuous link established. Got it?


Kurt was underneath the mystery-sniper when he fired the most recent shot and dropped his gun (what a waste?). Kurt can't catch the shooter so retrieves the gun only to be caught holding it by Spider-Man who naturally enough believes Nightcrawler is the bad guy.
Kurt of course, only knows Spidey from his 'killer' label in the Bugle and thus the obvious/prerequisite misunderstanding is complete!
If fairness, it's not an unreasonable set up once the players were all at the fairground.


They fight.
There's a fascinating scene where Spider-Man webs Nightcrawler's tail to the wall only for Kurt to rip part of the wall away - displaying great strength in that there tail!.
Eventually both heroes begin to wonder if they are wrong about the other as Nightcrawler teleports himself away. (And - yes- they do use the sound effect 'BAMF'!)


Spidey collects his camera and leaves but Kurt sees him do this and doesn't want his photo out in public.... so will need to confront our hero again.


Spider-Man visits Joe Robertson to learn that the mysterious-sniper is indeed believed to be - the Punisher! (his name on the cover kind of ruined that 'surprise' didn't it!)
Jonah eavesdrops from outside Joe's office in an uncharacteristically sly manner....intrigued by Spider-Man's comment that he will let Peter Parker take his photos... "Cute... Real Cute!"
Jonah slips into his own office, "I know who he really is......and what he really is..." and we see the contents of that package that was left for Jonah recently...photos of Spider-Man burning what appears to be Peter Parker's body in chimney-stack as at the close of the Clone-Saga!!
So much to love here, one this secretive and serious Jonah is a breath of fresh air, too often he is portrayed as bumbling loudmouth but this is considered and calculating.

I like it.

Also, the fact that the Clone-Saga (as recent as it was at this point and as relatively easy to keep up with) has not been forgotten or is without repercussions was/is really interesting.
I also applaud the photos being actual lifts from panels of the previous issues...inspired.


Now that we know the Punisher is involved we leap straight into his own narrative as he opens another chapter in his 'War Journal'. He battles some mobsters apparently on a quest to identify whoever is trying to ruin his reputation by killing people in his name...so the sniper is not the Punisher!! (Surprsie!)


Later, Spider-Man takes a breather at the 'Newly-constructed Roosevelt Island tram-way' only to be attacked by Nightcrawler who is after his camera.
Spidey pursues Kurt who exposes the film, ruining it and offers to return the camera - his job now done but they continue to fight above the wires of the tram/cable-car.
The cliff-hanger is that the Punisher appears from one of the cable cars threatening to shoot both our heroes...!!
Which we all know sets up that cover for next issue don't we?!


This is such a great issue, storyline progressed, hero vs hero fitting quite well, wonderful early appearances by X-Men and similarly early iconic appearance by the Punisher who still has that widow's-peak original look along with his own moral-compass (would later/recent Punisher really worry about his reputation?)Wonderful art (who remembered that Ross Andru drew Wolverine?) great writing and expert pacing.
Honestly. I just love this issue for itself but also for what you just don't see anymore!.
Oh and the JJ sub-plot! Inspired so far!.


"Next Issue The Cataclysmic Climax to the Wildest Spidey Saga yet! Plus-- The Menace of the man called Jigsaw! Be here for..."Let The Punisher Fit The Crime!"


Come Back...

Chronologically I believe this appearance of the X-Men slots between X-Men #97 and #98 and so this is a very rare early appearance for Colossus and even Wolverine as well as Nightcrawler.

Mike’s Amazing World says that this issue and X-Men #101 both went on sale in July 1976.

Elsewhere at a funfair, Mary Jane and Peter are having fun on the rollercoaster…..

Peter makes a big deal of being afraid and nauseous on the rollercoaster. This doesn’t make sense (with all of his webswinging) unless he was feigning it. If he was feigning it a though balloon would have been helpful.

Kurt was underneath the mystery-sniper when he fired the most recent shot and dropped his gun (what a waste?). Kurt can't catch the shooter so retrieves the gun only to be caught holding it by Spider-Man who naturally enough believes Nightcrawler is the bad guy.
Kurt of course, only knows Spidey from his 'killer' label in the Bugle and thus the obvious/prerequisite misunderstanding is complete!

This is a much clearer motivation for them to fight each other than we usually get. Since he can teleport, Kurt should have been able to instantly get to where the shooter was.

Jonah slips into his own office, "I know who he really is......and what he really is..." and we see the contents of that package that was left for Jonah recently...photos of Spider-Man burning what appears to be Peter Parker's body in chimney-stack as at the close of the Clone-Saga!!

Apparently Jonah thinks the real Peter is dead and that Spider-Man is impersonating him. I wonder why he thinks the dead Peter is wearing a Spider-Man costume?

Spidey pursues Kurt who exposes the film, ruining it and offers to return the camera - his job now done but they continue to fight above the wires of the tram/cable-car.

During this fight Spidey knocks Nightcrawler off the tramway. The caption box says “The Nightcrawler topples savagely….” How do you topple savagely?

This is such a great issue, storyline progressed, hero vs hero fitting quite well….

I agree that it’s a great issue.

On the letters page this issue they explained that in ASM #157 (when Spidey crashed through the window into the apartment with the woman and the doberman) the printer omitted the blue ink on the bottom of his costume, making it look like he wasn’t wearing pants. Apparently a lot of readers questioned this.

Richard Willis said:

Peter makes a big deal of being afraid and nauseous on the rollercoaster. This doesn’t make sense (with all of his webswinging) unless he was feigning it. If he was feigning it a though balloon would have been helpful.

Perhaps his webslinging is the reason. He's used to this kind of thing, but usually, he's in control! So to him the experience is like being in the driver's seat of an out-of-control car, or finding yourself in the wrong trousers.

“…this is a very rare early appearance for Colossus and even Wolverine as well as Nightcrawler.”

I read another one over the weekend: Marvel Team-Up Annual #1.

“Peter ditches MJ much to her annoyance…”

Continuity implants (in this case, that MJ always knew Peter Parker’s secret) never work.

“Kurt was underneath the mystery-sniper when he fired the most recent shot and dropped his gun (what a waste?).”

Better not to be caught with the murder weapon in one’s possession. (Presumably, the rifle was untraceable.)

Here's Ross Andru's Wolverine! You can see he just oozes "Future Superstar and Sex Symbol" here!

I'm fond of Andru's work but he missed it with Wolverine! Nightcrawler, as befits his featured role, comes off as more the star, or at least a more nuanced one.

 

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