Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #123

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

Overcome with the stress from his collapsing empire and his son's return to drug use, Norman Osborn cracks. He regains the knowledge that he's the Green Goblin and that Spider-Man is Peter Parker. He kidnaps Gwen Stacy, Peter's girlfriend, bringing her to the top of the George Washington Bridge with Spider- Man close behind.

After a brief fight, the Goblin throws the unconscious Gwen off the bridge. Spider-Man's efforts to save her ultimately result in her death. Peter swears to kill him and almost succeeds until he realizes what he's doing. As he prepares to deliver the Goblin to the authorities, a deathtrap backfires and Osborn inadvertently kills himself. Spider-Man leaves the Goblin in the back alley and tries to pick up the pieces of his life.

In Detail...

"...Just A Man Called Cage!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #123
Aug 1973 : SMURF 123.500 : SMURF 123.600 : SM Title
Summary: Luke Cage
Editor:  Roy Thomas
Writer:  Gerry Conway
Pencils:  Gil Kane, John Romita, Sr.
Inker:  John Romita, Sr., Tony Mortellaro
Cover Art:  John Romita, Sr.
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Issue
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 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #100
 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #6
Articles: Watson, Anna, Aunt May Parker, Betty Brant, Flash Thompson, Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Jameson, J. Jonah, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

Jonah and Robbie stand in the alley watching Norman Osborn's body placed on a stretcher and finally into the coroner's wagon. Robbie wonders aloud who would kill Norman Osborn. Jonah - as always - insists that Spider-Man is to blame.

The police officer in charge of the investigation warns Jameson not to jump to conclusions; there is lots of evidence to sort through before formally charging anyone. While there is webbing at the crime scene, there are also pumpkin bomb shells, indicating the Green Goblin may have been involved. Jonah won't hear any of this and leaves, planning to bring Spider-Man to justice for the murder of his friend.

Amazed at Jonah's behavior, the cop begins to discuss the facts behind this case with Robbie. He mentions that Osborn's body was moved and until the rest of the evidence is reviewed, they won't be able to proceed.

From a nearby rooftop, the mysterious individual that witnessed the final Green Goblin/Spider-Man battle looks down at the confusion (s)he has caused and is pleased. By removing the Green Goblin costume from Osborn's body, (s)he has set specific wheels in motion. The "murder" of a public figure such as Norman Osborn will lead to an investigation that the stranger expects to result in the death of Spider-Man

As Jameson is driven away from the crime scene, he notices an article in the paper (the Bugle, of course) about Luke Cage. Cage refers to himself a "Hero For Hire", offering his superhuman services to anyone willing to pay. Jameson likes the idea and sets out to locate him.

Three days later, Gwen Stacy is buried in a Long Island cemetery. Family and friends gather to bid a final farewell to someone that was taken much too early. One by one those in attendance express their condolences to both Peter and Gwen's family. Peter notices that Aunt May is accompanied by Dr. Octopus' guards to the funeral, making the situation even worse.

As they leave, Robbie passes along a message to Peter from Jonah, apologizing for not attending Gwen's funeral due to other business. Peter blurts out that he's not really surprised since Jonah never showed much concern for her while she was alive. Robbie insists that Jonah does care, he's just "tactless some times". Jonah's "other business" involves paying Luke Cage $5,000 to bring in Spider-Man - dead or alive.

Later on Peter web-swings around the city to try and lift his spirits, but finds this doesn't help. As he gives serious thought to quitting the super- hero business, Cage tackles him in mid-air, bringing him crashing down to the nearest rooftop. He immediately begins punching him, explaining that based on his research he is usually spotted in this neighborhood, around the Daily Bugle, or at ESU. By process of elimination (it's Saturday - odds are he's not at ESU; Jameson hired him, so he's nowhere near the Bugle) he had to be around here somewhere. It was just a matter of time.

Spider-Man flips Cage to the other side of the roof. Finally able to see his opponent, he recognizes him from the paper and calls him out for being a mercenary. At this point Cage loses his professional detachment, welcoming the grudge fight that this has now become. The two of them exchange punches with Spider-Man eventually knocking Cage through a skylight into an empty apartment. Down but not defeated, Cage promises a rematch.

Peter returns home surprised to find Harry has returned from settling his father's estate. He attempts to talk to Harry, but receives the silent treatment from his roommate. Peter storms out of the apartment.

At Mary Jane's request, he meets her at ESU for a concert. While getting some refreshments, she encourages Peter to pull himself out of his depressed state. They no sooner arrive then Cage breaks down the door of the concert hall, calling out Spider-Man. Thought balloons inform the audience that Cage is gambling that Spider-Man is here now; he has no real reason to believe he is. His gamble pays off as Peter changes to Spider-Man and punches him through the outside door.

During their fight, Peter realizes that they're too evenly matched to end the fight quickly. One of them will be killed at the rate they're going and he's had enough death in his life lately. He webs Cage to the concrete steps and instead of fighting, decides to talk his way out this situation. Unable to quickly free himself, Cage agrees to listen.

Several hours later, Cage arrives at the Daily Bugle to tell Jameson that he's not taking the job. He returns his fee, cramming most of it in Jonah's mouth, and leaves.

In General...

Good follow-up to the death of Gwen Stacy/Green Goblin story. Peter is understandably miserable given recent events. With Aunt May's role as the housekeeper for Dr. Octopus, Gwen's death, and Harry acting hostile, Peter's personal life is going downhill quickly.

A few minor problems with the issue. Cage says - at first - that since its Saturday, Spider-Man wouldn't be at ESU then he goes looking for him on a whim? Sounds a little odd, but there's no telling where else he checked before arriving at ESU.

Mary Jane is trying to help Peter cope with Gwen's death by encouraging him to simple get out to shake off his depression. Good idea, bad timing. In a heavy depression, drastic actions may be taken, but he doesn't appear to be exhibiting suicidal behavior. It's only been three days since his girlfriend was killed by a maniac. I think he deserves a *little* more time before trying to bring him to social functions like a concert.

Overall Rating...

3.5 webs Good solid story. Having Jameson hire someone to capture Spider-Man is nothing new, but this had a nice twist to it.

The creative team didn't lose any momentum in this issue. There's someone that wants Norman Osborn's reputation preserved at Spider-Man's expense. Peter is struggling with Gwen's death and finds an unexpected source of strength in MJ. Harry's ticked at him for some reason: is he overcome by the death of his father or does he remember Peter abandoned him while he was coming down off his acid trip? We'll have to wait and see.

After the roller coaster ride of the previous two issues, anything is going to pale in comparison. They do an admirable job setting the stage for the next several months.

Footnote...

For those that didn't already know: