Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #200

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Peter's aunt May has died (well not really), he's been beaten up by the Kingpin and he's lost his powers thanks to Mysterio. The cause of Peter's grief is the same man who killed his uncle Ben years ago and Peter is about to have one final confrontation with him.

In Detail...

"The Spider and The Burglar"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #200
Jan 1980 : SMURF 200.500 : SM Title
Summary: Death of The Burgular
Editor:  Marv Wolfman
Writer:  Marv Wolfman, Stan Lee
Pencils:  Keith Pollard
Inker:  Jim Mooney
Cover Art:  John Romita, Sr.
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 Reprinted In: Amazing Spider-Man Family #3 (Story 5)
 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #9
Articles: Watson, Anna, Aunt May Parker (FB), Aunt May Parker, Ben Parker (FB), The Burglar

A powerless Spider-Man gets on his feet, asking the residents of the nursing home if they know anything about the murder of May Parker. All they can tell him is that May died of a heart attack, which Spidey doesn't buy. Angered, he walks home.

Uncle Ben's killer finally gets free from the ropes Mysterio tied him with and knows just the person to help him find what he's looking for.

Peter is at the Parker house and whoever rented it tore the place apart looking for something. Pete begins to think that it wasn't Mysterio the one who did it so he goes to the rental agency to get a name. The revelation that it was uncle Ben's killer who killed aunt May and tore up her home fills Peter with rage. He dawns his Spider-Man costume and vows that the killer "will never return again!"

Chapter Two

Needing info that he can't get as Peter Parker, he changes into Spidey and prepares for his usual rounds of breaking and entering. Except this time it isn't nearly as easy since he doesn't have his spider-powers. After spending far more time than usual scaling a building, he makes it inside and finds the video tape he's looking for. Having watched the tape and gotten what he needs, he changes back to Peter when he hears a call, "Stop! Thief!" Peter knocks him down with a single punch and the guard thanks him for helping out. When Peter looks at his face, he's stunned to see that the guard is the same one who's plea for help he ignored years ago.

When Peter arrives home, he finds that the door to his apartment has been jimmied open. He's got an unwanted guest, uncle Ben's killer. The bugler says Peter is gonna help him or he's going to "do to you what I did to your interferein' uncle!"

Chapter Three

Peter jumps the burglar, disarming him and knocking him across the room with one punch. When he starts to strangle him, the bugler reaches for his gun and whacks Peter on the head.

Peter comes to and he finds that he's in a warehouse that looks all too familiar. The burglar is looking for a treasure that's supposed to be buried in aunt May's house. Dutch Mallone used to live in the Parker home in the '30s and he had a fortune stashed away there. Since Mallone wasn't a law abiding citizen, it eventually caught up with him and he was arrested. Before he died, Mallone was placed in a cell along with the bugler. So he wants Peter to tell him where the goods are. Peter refuses to talk but the bugler knows of another way to get the info he wants from Peter. The burglar leaves and Peter breaks free from his bonds and he is not happy.

Chapter Four

Spidey is tailing the burglar and once again, he finds himself missing his spider-powers. Spider-Man announces himself to the burglar and the burglar freaks, shooting wildly. After losing Spider-Man, the burglar goes down to the basement to get someone. Spidey busts the door down but the burglar grazes him (at least that's the only reason I can see Spidey getting up again) in his side. The pain doesn't keep the web-head down. He gets to his feet, determined to make uncle Ben's killer pay for everything he's done.

Chapter Five

The burglar goes back to the warehouse to get Peter but he hasn't come alone. He's got aunt May with him. Spider-Man appears and knocks the burglar off his feet. Aunt May thinks Spider-Man is going to hurt her but he says Peter called him to help her. The burglar, shoots but he can't land a hit on the wall-crawler. He fakes having a bad heart, which momentarily gives him the upper hand on Spidey, but then he goes and does something stupid, dropping a reference to the dead Ben Parker. At this point, Spidey really starts kicking the crap out of the burglar. The burglar wonders why Spider-Man would even care about Ben Parker. Spider-Man pulls of his mask. "I care because Ben Parker was my uncle!" The burglar turns white as a ghost, running for his life. He believes that Peter will kill him because he killed his uncle. He wasn't lying before when he said he had a bad heart. He suffers a heart attack and dies. Spidey thinks that he should feel relieved but he doesn't because his death won't bring uncle Ben back.

Spider-Man gets back to aunt May, who is still spooked by Spider-Man. He says that he knows she's always thought of him as a monster but he only wants to help her and be a friend. She takes Spidey's hand.

At the hospital Peter makes sure aunt May is OK. She tells Peter that the treasure the burglar wanted had been eaten away by silverfish. Peter says that they went through that whole ordeal for nothing but aunt May says they are stronger and closer because of it.

Epilogue

Spidey's powers are back in full and he's swinging through the city. He thinks that he really is the luckiest guy in the world. Most people wish they could make a difference. Peter actually has the power to do so. Swinging off into the sunset, he says that Spidey is hero to stay.

In General...

Most of this issue, Peter does not have his powers, yet he's still Spider-Man. I think that says a lot about the character. For all the times Peter has wished he could lead a normal life, Spider-Man is a large part of who he is. He functioned as Spider-Man even though he didn't have his powers. To me, it seemed like Peter was unknowingly accepting who he is and the powers he's been given.

No super villains in this issue. Just a personal conflict with the first crook that ever crossed Peter's path. Peter unmasking and showing the burglar just why things were so personal for him was a powerful moment.

Aunt May actually taking Spider-Man's hand and accepting his help! Roger Stern even followed up on this by having aunt May view Spidey in a good light on his run in Spectacular Spider-Man.

Peter encountering the guard who asked him to stop uncle Ben's killer years ago. That was a short but very sweet moment. Personally, I'd love for a writer to do a story where Spider-Man and this guard meet again. It could be something short where the guard asks Spider-Man why he helps people now, yet he wouldn't help him when he asked years ago.

Overall Rating...

The words "punk" and "creep" get tossed around too much in this issue and that's my only knock against it. This is arguably the crown jewel on Marv Wolfman's run on Amazing Spider-Man. The issues that lead up to this one were well worth the pay off.