Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #110

Staff Only
Edit Review
Edit Title

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Over the last few issues, Flash Thompson has brought back some trouble from his tour of duty in Vietnam. He reaches out to Gwen Stacy for some support and is seen by Peter (as Spider-Man) and fears the worst.

In Detail...

"The Birth Of... The Gibbon!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #110
Jul 1972 : SMURF 110.500 : SM Title
Summary: First Gibbon
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  John Romita, Sr.
Inker:  John Romita, Sr.
Cover Art:  John Romita, Sr.
Staff Only
Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Marvel Apes #0
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #89
 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #5
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Flash Thompson, Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Gwen Stacy, Kraven The Hunter

Peter is sitting atop a large building fearing that his girlfriend Gwen Stacy is going behind his back with Flash Thompson. Therefore he starts to obsess over this and gets very angry.

When he realizes that he didn't set his camera to take any pictures, he loses his temper and throws the camera off the building. He instantly realizes what a poor choice that was and goes after the camera. Thankfully a kind stranger overhears his complaining, catches it, and promptly returns it to him. He identifies himself as Martin Blank, an ape-like man with incredible agility – enough to climb up the side of the building and returns this camera. Spidey thanks him for his help and tries in vain to give Martin a pep talk when he begins to put himself down.

Martin returns to his homeless shelter and begins to reflect on his life. He remembers his early life as an unwanted orphan. How he was finally released when he turned 18 into a world that he could neither understand nor fit into. He travels around and eventually lands his first job as a performer in the circus, where he made use of his ape-like features and natural agility. The circus owner is concerned when Martin may show up their headlining act and relegates him to a clown in a monkey costume. Unable to stand people laughing at him, he leaves after only a week, but takes his monkey costume. After his chance meeting with Spider-Man, he has an idea that may at long last give him purpose.

Meanwhile Peter retrieves his web dummy and clothes from its hiding spot (last issue, he created a web duplicate and had Spider-Man "kidnap" him to create a plausible exit when Gwen wouldn't let him leave her side). He returns to his apartment where Gwen and Aunt May are waiting for him. When May begins to obsess on Peter's bruises and to treat him like a child, Gwen reminds her that she agreed to stop doing that. A saddened May shakes her head and walks away. Gwen admits that they had a minor argument over her constantly coddling him. At this point the fatigue from being on the go for days finally catches up to Peter and he collapses.

At that point Harry Osborn and Flash return to the apartment. Harry insists that all he needs is rest and that Gwen should let Flash walk her home. Peter regains consciousness long enough to misinterpret the interaction between Gwen and Flash. This only adds to his paranoia and then passes out again.

Twelve hours later Peter finally awakens and tries to call Aunt May but there is no answer. Unknown to him, she has a letter for him near her phone. Changing to Spider-Man, he begins searching for her when he encounters Martin once again – this time in his costume. He offers to be his crime-fighting partner. Spider-Man can't control himself and begins to laugh at Martin.

Martin tries to convince Spider-Man he'd make a good partner but Spider-Man isn't interested. This makes Martin increasingly angry. He tries to give Martin a dose of reality but Martin isn't interested in any response outside of "yes".

Martin has a minor breakdown and attempts to prove how strong he is by strangling Spider-Man, but his grip is easily broken. Fully enraged Martin grabs Spider-Man and attempts to throw him off the building. Spider-Man once again saves himself and swings away ignoring Martin's pleas to work together.

From a safe distance, and unidentified observer watches the entire exchange between Spider-Man and Martin. He decides to use Martin in his next scheme to kill Spider-Man.

In General...

Peter's misinterpretation of Gwen and Flash's interaction comes across as an ineffective and random subplot. The only purpose it serves it to show off Peter's paranoid tendency which has already been established.

Gwen's disagreement with May's overly-protective behavior comes across as petty. After all this time, one would think that Gwen would understand that this is just May's personality and come up with a better approach. Understandably, Gwen wants May to see Peter for the man he is, not the "fragile boy" that has become her mantra over the years. Snapping at her does not show her in the best light.

The introduction of Martin Blank does little to advance the story. He falls into the dreaded "villain of the month" category. I just can't see him as a credible threat to Spider-Man. Monkeys make people laugh, not strike fear.

Overall Rating...

Many rather weak plotlines converge in this issue to give it some relevance, but nothing that couldn't be summarized in a few caption boxes next issue.

Footnote...

In Amazing Spider-Man #109 Gwen accidentally blurted out to May that Peter was kidnapped by Spider-Man. This sent her into an understandable fit of worry, but her referring to Peter as her "dear boy" upset Gwen. She began to criticize May for her over-protective nature of Peter and treating him like a child. Gwen sincerely apologized for her outburst, but May began to think she was right.

This is Stan's last regular contribution as a writer for Amazing Spider-Man. The second part of this story will be completed by the then-new writer, nineteen-year old Gerry Conway.