Comics : Spider-Man Newspaper Strip 18 July 2016 - 20 November 2016

Staff Only
Edit Review
Edit Title

This review was first published on: 21 Nov 2016.

Background...

Why am I doing this to myself again? Well, I have all the faith in the world that this story is going to be shorter and better. Yeah, yeah, that's it. It's going to be shorter and better!

As we left off in panel #6 of July 17, 2016, JJJ was in his office, looking at a piece of paper in his right hand with a cigar in his left hand and proclaiming, "No! It can't be!" (As you can see in the image.) So what's up with that?

In Detail...

"Change Comes to the Daily Bugle!"
Spider-Man Newspaper Strip 18 July 2016 - 20 November 2016
Jul 2016 : SM Title
Summary: With Ant-Man and Egghead
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  Alex Saviuk (Sunday Strip), Larry Leiber (Daily Strips)
Inker:  Joe Sinnott
Staff Only
Issue
Review

July 18, 2016

Jonah Jameson sits in his office looking at that piece of paper that we saw yesterday. (Only now the cigar is in his right hand and the paper is in his left hand.) “I can’t believe it!” he says. Joe “Robbie” Robertson sticks his head in the door (well, actually about half of his body). “Bad news, Jonah?” he asks. In panel #2, Jonah looks up at Robbie and says, “The worst, Robbie! As of today – the Daily Bugle has a new owner!” And Joe says, “?” as in, “Aren’t you the owner?”

I can’t tell you how happy I am to see these two after five months of sorcerers. (We haven’t seen Jonah since February 17 and we haven’t seen Robbie since February 12.) Let’s have an entire story with just these two guys!

July 19, 2016

Now, Robbie says exactly what I said his “?” meant yesterday. “A new owner for the Bugle? But – you own this paper!” Jonah, walking away from Joe, says, “Well, actually – our family trust does.” Panel #2 is another in Larry’s wonderful “characters turning their back on us” moments. Joe is only shown from the shoulders up. His hand is on the back of his neck, which we can see perfectly well because what we mostly see is the back of his head. (If you look closely at the hint of a face, it actually looks like his face is on the side of his head; a very creepy image). Jonah, who is half cut off by the right edge of the panel, is slightly turned back toward Robbie. At least we can see his profile as he says, “And none of my family is left except my reclusive cousin Ruth and me.” “Does she want to get more involved?” asks the back of Robbie’s head. And panel #3 is a close-up of a shaken JJJ who replies, “No! Her attorney’s written me – to tell me she died!”

So, in other words, “And none of my family is left except my reclusive cousin Ruth and me” is actually “And none of my family is left.” Doesn’t that mean that Jonah owns the Bugle outright?

July 20, 2016

My last question gets answered today. Joe and Jonah are actually shown from the front! Robbie puts his hand on JJJ’s shoulder and says, “I’m truly sorry to hear about your cousin’s passing, Jonah.” Jameson, looking sad, replies, “She and I were never…close.” Oops, panel #2 moves the camera around so we’re looking at their backs again! (What is up with that?) “All Ruth wanted was the income the Bugle provided her,” says the back of Jonah’s brush cut. Robbie, turned enough to see his face, says, “If you two had no other family, does that mean you’re her heir?” And, suddenly, in panel #3, Robbie no longer has his arm around Jonah. Instead he is backing off as an angry JJJ shoves the letter, still in his hand, toward Robbie’s face. “No,” bellows Jonah, “according to this letter – her husband is!”

I’m not much on legal affairs but, if the Bugle was in a trust, shouldn’t that prevent Ruth from pulling a fast one on Jonah? At the very least, shouldn’t he know that her share of the Bugle goes to her husband?

July 21, 2016

Okay, I’m going to stop worrying about the legalities of this story and just roll with it. In panel #1, Peter shows up at the Daily Bugle. There are three people behind him. One of them is, apparently, working. He’s at his computer. The other two are just chatting. Peter heads toward JJJ’s office, thinking, “MJ needed to rest…so I’ll see what’s up with everybody’s least favorite newspaper magnate.” In panel #2, he stands outside Jonah’s closed office door. Peter is in profile, his head filling the left side of the panel, in Easter Island style. Off-panel, from inside the door labeled “Jameson Publisher,” (actually all we see is “Jameso Publishe”) Jonah says, “51% and controlling interest, Robbie!” In panel #3, Peter (now Easter Island styling from the right side) pushes the door open. Inside are Jonah and Joe, their backs to Peter (and us). Jonah says, “My late cousin’s husband now owns 51% of the Bugle! We’re all going to be working for him!”

July 22, 2016

So, Peter enters the office. Behind him the door says “meso sher,” part of “Jameson Publisher” but it’s not viewed backwards which means that Peter left the door all the way open so that it can be read from inside the office. But it looks like the door is closed, since there is no doorway…only wall. So, in other words, the letterer made a little bit of an error. Anyway, Peter approaches Robbie and a very sad-looking JJJ. “Did I hear you right, Mr. J?” he asks, “The Bugle has a new majority owner?” In a Loony Tunes spotlight, Jonah waves the letter in Peter’s face. “Yes!” he says, “My cousin died – and I just found out she recently got married!” Panel #3 is only Pete (and his shadow) as an off-panel JJJ says, “According to her attorney, his name is Elihas Starr.” Peter puts his hand to his chin and thinks, “Why does that name ring a bell?”

That name does ring a bell! But I can’t quite recall just which villain that is.

July 23, 2016

From left to right, Robbie looks at JJJ, JJJ looks at Robbie, and Peter (his hand behind his head) looks at both of them. “Why didn’t you know that your cousin had gotten married, Jonah?” asks Robbie. “Ruth and I had been…estranged in recent years,” says Jonah. “And now her husband will inherit a controlling interest in the Bugle?” asks Pete. In panel #2, Jonah looks to the heavens as he waves that letter around and asks, “What did I ever do to deserve this?” Peter, sort of breaking the fourth wall (looking towards us but not at us) thinks, “Should I tell him?” Hah. Rather like that one.

July 24, 2016

Ah, Sunday! Where all will be revealed! (But, first, repeated for the Sunday-only reader.)

We begin with a caption reading, “Lamentations in the Daily Bugle offices…” JJJ stands in the middle between Robbie and Pete, waving that letter around, saying, “My cousin Ruth had the bad sense to get secretly married…and now she’s died – leaving her husband 51% of the Bugle.” (I think cousin Ruth not only secretly married but she secretly existed. And she secretly had 51% of the Bugle. We’ve never heard of her before!) In panel #2, JJJ again looks to the heavens and says, “Why did this happen to me?” with Robbie and Pete looking on. Pete thinks, “Sounds like a book title: ‘When Bad Things Happen to Worse People’!” (I liked yesterdays’ thought balloon putdown better.) Now it’s just Pete and JJJ in the panel as Peter says, “Well, actually Mr. J…something bad happened to your Cousin Ruth as well. I mean – she’s the one who died!”

Down we drop to panel #4 even as Jonah looks down in sadness (Robbie watches him.) “Yes, and I’m very sorry that she did!” he says, “I mean that.” But then, in panel #5, he starts raging again, waving his arms and the letter (sort of a complement rage panel to panel #2 above). “But why did she have to do it after she married…” he says, but no one is listening to him. Robbie and Pete are both looking stage right as an off-panel voice finishes his sentence by saying, “Elihas Starr…” And on we go to panel #6 as Jonah and Pete look at the door to see a large bald man with an egg-shaped head enter the office. He is in the center of the panel between the other two and he wears a pinstripe suit and glasses. “At your service, Jonah Jameson!” And Peter thinks “Now I know why that name sounded so familiar!”

Why, Pete? The “Next” caption answers that for us. “Elihas Starr – A.K.A. Egghead!” it reads. (Last week’s was our title for this story… “Change comes to the Daily Bugle!” and it has.)

Oh, right! Egghead! I couldn’t quite place the Elihas Starr name. Depending on your comic book trivia knowledge, you may have had one of these three reactions.

1. Egghead? Who? Yeah, if you had that reaction, you’re forgiven. Not the best known villain around even though he first appeared battling Ant-Man in Tales to Astonish #38 way back in 1962.

2. Egghead? Isn’t he played by Vincent Price on the Batman ’66 TV show? Actually, it’s two different Eggheads and this one appeared first. But the Vincent Price one is much better known and, truthfully, much more fun. Probably no comments of “Egg-sactly!” coming up in this storyline.

3. Egghead? Isn’t he dead, as of Avengers #230, April 1983? Well, yeah, but this is the strip-verse, remember? (Which is a good excuse. There is no excuse for Egghead’s subsequent re-appearance in Marvel comics with no explanation of his resurrection, which apparently happened in some comic(s) that I didn’t read.)

July 25, 2016

“The Daily Bugle has a surprise visitor…” says the caption. The man with the bald egg-shaped head (it looks more bullet-shaped, really) smiles and says, for those who didn’t read Sunday, “Jonah Jameson – I am Elihas Starr.” Jonah and Robbie do the Easter Island profile on the right side of the panel as three silhouettes work and chat behind Egghead in the outer offices. “You’re the man who married my late Cousin Ruth?!” says Jonah and Egghead replies, “Well, I married her when she was alive.” I wish he said that! But he doesn’t. In panel #2, he replies, “And the proud owner of 51% of this esteemed newspaper!” (With the fate of newspapers these days, it’s hard to believe that he’s “proud.”) Jonah cocks an angry eye at him. Peter observes from behind and thinks, “And a guy known to cops and superheroes alike as – Egghead!” (I love the dashed pause in Peter’s thoughts. “…alike as…dah dah dah!...Egghead!” Doesn’t everybody think this way?)

July 26, 2016

Jonah shakes hands with Egghead in a panel with a strange perspective. It either looks like Jameson is about a foot shorter than Elihas or Jonah is lying on the floor and somehow reaching up to shake hands in a sort of MC Escher warped-perspective kind of thing. “Good to meet you, Mr. Starr,” says JJJ, “Despite the sad occasion.” Egghead replies, “Yes, my wife’s unanticipated demise was a devastating blow. Even so, one must persevere.” Panel #2 peers over Egghead’s left shoulder (showing only his ear, glasses, and baldness) as it highlights Jameson with Peter behind him. “Do you always use those $100 words?” asks Mr. J. (Does he mean words like “Yes,” “wife,” and “blow?” That’s my little joke but, sadly, the reality is that he means words like “demise,” “devastating,” and “persevere,” as if no regular Joe would ever say them.) Peter pops in with, “They go with his nickname, Mr. J…” And he finishes off-panel in panel #3, saying, “Namely, Egghead!” JJJ and Robbie, both in frame, say, “?” which means, I think, “What?! Is that Vincent Price?” and Egghead, off in the lower right corner, smiles as if to say, “Yeah, that’s right! You heard him!” As if being Egghead is any sort of big deal.

July 27, 2016

Here are our players, all lined up for you. From left to right, it’s J. Jonah Jameson talking to Peter Parker; Peter Parker, with his back to us, talking to J. Jonah Jameson; Joe “Robbie” Robertson, looking straight ahead at Egghead; and Elihas “Egghead” Starr, doing the Easter Island thing on the right side of the panel. Jonah says, “Parker – did you just call Mr. Starr ‘Egghead’?” “Of course! I recognize him now, Jonah…” says Robbie. On to panel #2 with only Robbie’s head and Egghead taking a bow (but shown only from the waist up). “Elihas Starr, alias Egghead – the atomic scientist who was dismissed for espionage – and became a criminal mastermind!” says Joe “Mr. Exposition” Robertson. “At your service,” says the bowing Egghead. (Darn! The perfect time for him to say, “Egg-sactly!”)

July 28, 2016

Wow. All sorts of references and exposition today. In panel #1, Jameson (the New York skyline seen in the window behind him) points at Egghead and says, “You’re the super-brainy hoodlum they call Egghead? I thought he was a ‘Batman’ bad guy!” (Me too, Jonah!) Egghead replies, “That Egghead was just an insignificant figment of television.” He continues in panel #2. “I am the genuine article, and of considerably greater stature.” Peter standing behind him says, “Or so you thought – till Ant-Man cut you down to size!”

Okay, we’ve established that he is super-brainy, that he’s a hoodlum, that he’s not the Batman bad guy and that Ant-Man cut him down to size. Can we now just get on with it? I hope so, but I’m afraid that tomorrow’s strip will be Egghead arguing that Ant-Man’s victory was a fluke. And the stagnation will continue.

July 29, 2016

Fortunately, I was wrong about the Ant-Man thing. Unfortunately, I was right about the stagnation. Panel #1 has Joe Robertson doing the Easter Island profile filling the left side of the panel thing, JJJ is next, still pointing a finger at Egghead (while looking back at Robbie), Egghead, on the right, looking smug, and a picture on the wall behind with 6 figures in silhouette. Jonah says, “Call the cops, Robbie! Tell ‘em we’ve got that crook Egghead cornered!” But Eggy replies, “You’ll merely embarrass yourself, dear ‘Cousin’.” Panel #2 features Egghead alone in full Loony Tunes spotlight, as he says, “You’ll find I was granted a pardon in exchange for transferring valuable patents to the government…And now I mean to turn over a new leaf – as the Daily Bugle’s publisher!” This so stuns the room that a word balloon saying, “!?” has three stems pointing off panel meaning that JJJ, Robbie, and Peter (who isn’t even shown today) are saying the same thing. Something like…”Wha…huh?”

Now, wouldn’t it be great if Egghead was telling the truth about the new leaf instead of planning some lame crime, as you just know he is actually doing? He could be like Fred Foswell who went straight and joined the Bugle (Amazing Spider-Man #23, April 1965) after being the Big Man (Amazing Spider-Man #10, March 1964). JJJ and Egghead could have a friendly-yet-adversarial relationship like Lou Grant had with Mrs. Pynchon in the old Lou Grant Show. Well, I can dream, can’t I?

July 30, 2016

It’s head-to-head as J. Jonah Jameson and Egghead show us their profiles, as they look each other in the eye. “You want to become publisher of this paper?” asks Jonah. “Indeed,” says Egghead, “And as the new majority stockholder…” And Egghead gets so wordy that he forces himself out of the panel. Panel #2 only shows us JJJ and Robbie as the off-panel Eggy says, “…I would say I’m in a distinctly advantageous position to assuage my desires.” Jonah looks at Robbie, put his hand up to his face so we know he is whispering and speaks in a dotted line word balloon so we really know he’s whispering. He says, “Does that last part mean what I think it does?” Robbie, whispering back (he’s got a dotted line word balloon too), replies, “I’m afraid so.”

July 31, 2016

It has been two weeks since this story started and we’re still hanging around in Jameson’s office. Our friendly opening caption says, “J. Jonah Jameson has received shocking news from a visitor…” Peter and Robbie gaze at Egghead as JJJ points a finger at him and says, “Think you can just waltz in here and take over my paper?” Panel #2 belongs to Egghead alone as he says, “I’ve no need for tepsichore in order to take possession of the Bugle.” No need of what? I know Egghead uses some big words but I think he just made this one up! I can’t find it anywhere. (Perhaps it is as Samuel Beckett said when asked what Pozzo means by “knook” in Waiting for Godot when he says, “So I took a knook.” It is, he said, a word invented by me. Don’t ever say you don’t get culture in these Spider-Man newspaper reviews!)

Panel #3 pulls the camera back to show Egghead from the front and Robbie, JJJ, and Peter from behind (in profiles). There are two Bugle employees behind Egghead, in the doorway, talking. Very few people at the Bugle appear to do any work…and that includes JJJ, Robbie, and Peter. “Your dear cousin Ruthie – my late wife – left me her 51% ownership share,” says Eggy. He continues in panel #4 but off-panel because he shoves the “Last Will and Testament of Ruth Jameson” in Jonah’s shaken face. “Peruse her last will and testament if you disbelieve me,” Eggy says. (Okay, I’m going to say this one last time. I’m no expert on such things and I may have this wrong but, if the Bugle is in trust, as JJJ said back on July 19, shouldn’t that prevent Ruth from changing her will so that Eggy can inherit? Or, at least, shouldn’t Eggy be listed as a beneficiary so that Jonah would already know about this?) In panel #5, the camera swings around behind Egghead so we see the scene from panel #4 from a distance. Egghead (his head in shadow) is holding the Will up in front of Jonah’s face while Peter and Robbie look on. “And one needn’t be a nuclear scientist – although I am – to realize that 51% is more than half,” finishes Egghead. Peter thinks, “Boy, Elihas Starr must really be some kind of no-goodnik…” He finishes his thought in panel #6 where the camera has now swung around to the side so Peter, JJJ, and Egghead are in profile. “…To make me feel sorry for Jameson!” thinks Peter.

The “Next” caption is “Under New Management?” The “?” makes me suspect that it won’t happen that quickly. Last week’s was “Elihas Starr – A.K.A. Egghead!” and, yes, we had plenty of him this week.

August 1, 2016

JJJ yanks the Will out of Eggy’s hands. “You won’t take over the Bugle, Starr!” he says, “I’ll have my attorneys crawling all over this so-called will like bugs on a bagel.” (And Spidey appears! On a framed Bugle front page on JJJ’s wall. I don’t think that same page was up on his wall previously.) In panel #2, Jonah looks at the “Last Will and Testament of Ruth Jameson.” “Still, I’ve got to admit – it looks genuine,” he says. (Jonah can tell if a document is genuine in just seconds.) “It is,” says an off-panel Eggy. Panel #3 has all four of our players because we need to see the stunned reactions of JJJ, Peter, and Robbie as Egghead says, “Now, if you don’t mind vacating the premises – I have a newspaper to commence publishing!” He needs to get right to it…before the newspaper industry collapses.

August 2, 2016

A crane shot above and behind Egghead as Jonah holds cousin Ruth’s Will loosely in his hand, with shaken motion lines by his head. “You’re ordering me out of my own newspaper?” he asks Eggy, who replies, “Considering your paltry 49% ownership share, Jameson, it’s hardly ‘yours’ any longer.” In panel #2, JJJ gets feisty. He scrunches the Will in his hand as he heads for the door, saying, “All right I’ll go – but I’ll see you in court, mister! Come on, Robbie – Parker – we’re outta here!” But in panel #3, he looks back and says, “Robbie? Parker?” Robbie and Parker look back at him expressionless. They don’t seem to be going anywhere.

August 3, 2016

JJJ cocks a thumb at Eggy as he talks to Robbie and Peter. “Are you two going to stay here with this – this pirate?” he asks them. “Sounds like Mr. Starr has a controlling interest in the Bugle, Jonah,” says Robbie. Panel #2 focuses on Robbie and Peter. Egghead is between them, right behind, as if he moved up from his position in panel #1 in order to gloat at Jonah. “And I’m afraid I’m in no position to quit this job,” says Robbie. “Me either, Mr. J.,” says Peter, “Sorry.” And in a silent third panel, J. Jonah Jameson, downcast, walks away.

August 4, 2016

Meanwhile, back in the office, Egghead, sticking his head into the panel from the left side, talks to Peter, who turns back, with motion lines around his head. “Now that Jameson has withdrawn,” says Eggy, “I’ve an assignment for you, Peter Parker.” “You…know who I am, Mr. Starr?” says Pete. Panel #2 is a strange one, with Egghead facing away from us and bending over for no reason that I can see. It makes him look like a missile ready to be launched or…if you have that sort of mind…it makes him look like…something else. “I did due diligence,” he says, “and I’m cognizant that your Spider-Man photographs are circulation-enhancers. So keep taking them. But now…” He turns back to point at Peter in panel #3. “I require an equivalent quantity of images of Ant-Man!” Eggy says. Peter, ever eloquent, says, “Huh?”

August 5, 2016

Peter shrugs at Egghead, whose head is tilted diagonally and situated in the lower right of the panel as if someone rolled him over there. “Why d’you want Ant-Man photos?” asks Pete. “He won’t sell half the papers Spider-Man will!” “The Bugle’s policies are my concern now, Parker,” says the tilted egg. Panel #2 is another of those show-people’s-backs deals. Egghead is walking away from us. Robbie looks at Egghead. Only Peter is turned toward us so we can see his face. “Depart!” says Egghead, “My city editor and I have a newspaper to put out!” “Yessir!” says Peter. In panel #3, Robbie turns just enough so that we can see his profile. He whispers to Pete, “Peter, you know I’m just sticking around to learn what Starr’s up to.” “Never doubted it, Robbie,” Peter whispers back.

August 6, 2016

A solo-turn for Peter as he leaves Jameson’s office and, let’s face it, just a place-holder, a space-filler, since we have to have something in the paper each day. In panel #1, Peter walks away with his left hand behind his head and his right hand in his pants pocket. Looking down at the ground, he thinks, “This whole situation doesn’t make any sense! Elihas Starr a.k.a. Egghead in charge of the Bugle?” (Let me fill you in on a little writing secret. Anytime you have concocted a scenario that doesn’t make any sense, have one of your characters tell the audience that it doesn’t make any sense. It allows your audience to identify with the confusion of the scenario and you can still use it…even though it doesn’t make any sense!) In panel #2, Pete looks out at us, with a smirk on his face, and thinks, “’Course now that I think of it – it never made much sense for Jameson to be in charge of a big metropolitan daily, either!” Yeah, or Mayor of New York City!

August 7, 2016

And you thought yesterday was a place-holder! We are at “The Mammon Theatre, Manhattan…” according to the opening caption. Mary Jane Parker and her co-star (Vince) are taking a bow in front of the curtain. They appear to be the only two people in the cast. We can see bits and pieces of about 9 members of the audience. They are all clapping with a “Klap Klap Klap Klap Klap Klap K…” (Why the “K?” Don’t ask me.) One audience member is so fired up that she yells, “Bravo, MJ!” There are still three tiny “Klaps” as MJ and Vince walk backstage in panel #2. (Some guy watches them…a third cast member?) “You really wowed the customers tonight, MJ,” says Vince. (You know, I’ve been involved in a lot of theatre over the years…though, granted, not Broadway theatre…and I have never heard anyone refer to the audience as “the customers.”) “It took the whole cast to put the show over, Vince…” says MJ. (Meaning…the both of them?) In panel #3, MJ heads into her dressing room. “Want to grab a bite with me and some of the cast, MJ?” asks Vince. (It reminds me of that old joke with the punch line, “Don’t much matter. It’s just going to be you and me.”) “Another time, okay?” says MJ. I had kind of a rough morning.”

Panel #4 takes us into MJ’s dressing room. There is a picture of someone on the wall but it is too sketchy to identify. MJ herself is behind a screen, changing out of her costume. She thinks, “Yeah…being hauled off to the Nightmare dimension.” (That whole thing that took us five months only took place in one morning?) “Can’t wait to get home!” From off-panel, on the ceiling, someone says, “May I have your autograph, Ms. Parker?” Panel #5 reveals that the speaker is Spidey, clinging to the ceiling, while MJ looks up at him from below. “You!” she says, “I might’ve known!” “Hey, is it a crime to drop in to see my beautiful wife?” (Good thing there’s no one else in the cast or someone might hear you, Spidey!) In panel #6, Spidey leaps down. He says, “Besides, I’ve got something to tell you. Something weird!” “So what else is new?” asks MJ.

Well, if you go by this strip, nothing is new. Not a thing in these six panels is worth the time. Except maybe learning that MJ’s co-star is named Vince. The “Next” caption reads, “Ant-Man – or Ant-Men?” which is bad news for anyone tired of the Sub-Mariner and Dr. Strange and were hoping for a regular Spidey adventure without a guest-star.

Last week’s “Next” read, “Under New Management!” and you can’t argue with that.

August 8, 2016

The caption reads, “In MJ’s dressing room after her final bow…” (which might be a little confusing to anyone who didn’t read the Sunday strip). MJ is just emerging from behind the screen where she got dressed. “Peter? What if somebody saw you coming in here?” she says. “Crawling down headfirst from a back-ally roof? Not likely…” replies the web-slinger. In panel #2 (which is pretty much the same as panel #1 only closer), Spidey continues, “But I took a chance, because I needed to talk with you about Ant-Man!” “Ant-Man?” replies MJ, “HA HA HA HA.”

August 9, 2016

This strip takes place one second after the last one. “What’s so hilarious?” asks Spidey. “The idea of a Spider-Man wanting to talk to me about an Ant-Man,” says MJ, peeking around the screen. Panel #2 shows MJ with Spidey off-panel. (Has she emerged from behind the screen or are we behind the screen with her?) “What’s next?” says MJ, zipping up the back of her dress. (At least, I think that’s what’s going on.) “You gonna tell me the Beetles are starring in a Bee movie?” “It’s no laughing matter, honey,” says the off-panel Spidey. He moves on-panel in panel #3, saying, “Jameson’s been kicked off his own newspaper by a guy called Egghead and…” But MJ laughs, cutting him off. “Ha Ha Ha!” she says, “Did I forget to check the calendar - and it’s April Fools’ Day?” (Sorry, MJ, if it was April Fools’ Day, you’d still be stuck hanging around with Xandu.)

August 10, 2016

Again, just seconds later, with a “Nok Nok Nok” on the door that cuts Spidey off as he says to MJ, “If you’re finished guffawing, I wanna talk to you about…” In panel #2, a maid walks in carrying a costume. MJ is there but Spidey is now off-panel. “Sorry, Ms. Parker,” says the costumer, “I thought I heard you calling me.” “No, Ellie, I’ll see you tomorrow,” says MJ. Ellie leaves the room in panel #3. MJ watches her go. And Spidey is perched on the ceiling, just out of Ellie’s sight. “All right,” says the departing Ellie, “But I could’ve sworn I heard you talking to someone.”

August 11, 2016

Finally, some time passes between strips. MJ and Peter are walking on the street past a CVS store. There are bystanders on the street as well. “Now,” says MJ, “What’s all this about an Egghead and an Ant-Man?” “When you put it like that, it does sound ridiculous,” replies Peter. In panel #2, Peter and MJ get shoved down in the lower left corner. All the bystanders and the CVS disappear, replaced by word balloons and a thought balloon with a close-up of Egghead. “But Egghead, Elihas Starr – is a dangerous criminal super-scientist…” begins Peter. MJ cuts him off, saying, “I thought you said he’d taken over the Daily Bugle.” And in panel #3, the camera moves around to show Peter and MJ in profile. Now, a thought balloon shows Ant-Man. “He has!” Peter replies to MJ, “But Ant-Man used to be his nemesis…now he wants Peter Parker to spy on him!”

I suspect our week-long recap continues tomorrow.

August 12, 2016

Back on the street, Peter and MJ continue to “tell” rather than “show.” There are a couple of bystanders in the distant background and one in a starring role in the left front. He has sunglasses and a Frank Zappa mustache-goatee combination. He doesn’t get a name or a line but you can’t help but notice him.

MJ asks, “This ‘Ant-Man’ you mentioned – does he have the proportionate strength of an ant?” “No,” replies Peter, “but he retains the strength of a grown man when he shrinks down to ant size!” (Fortunate that Peter knows so much and MJ so little about Ant-Man so he can tell her…and us.) In panel #2 (with only MJ and Pete), she asks, “Why doesn’t he just stay normal size – and not risk being stepped on?” Pete puts his hand behind his head (his universal sign for “you got me!”) and says, “Y’know, I’m not sure I know the answer to that!”

August 13, 2016

MJ and Peter continue their walk. (There are two guys behind them, apparently having a conversation.) MJ asks, “Have you ever met this ‘Ant-Man’?” and Pete replies, “His path and Spider-Man’s crossed once…but we never really had a chance to talk.” Panel #2 moves to a close-up of their faces as MJ replies, “No wonder! How could you have heard him – when you say he’s the size of an insect?” Peter looks out at us, as if to say, “What am I doing in this silly comic strip?”

August 14, 2016

Peter and MJ enter their apartment. Turns out MJ is wearing a mini-skirt which is not what she put on in panel #4 of last Sunday’s (August 7) strip. But, then again, she changed again on August 8 into what appears to be the mini-skirt only we didn’t know it was a mini-skirt because we didn’t see her from below the waist all week long. The Parkers have a desk with a PC tower and monitor so close to their front door that Peter nearly bangs into it with the door. Still on this week’s topic, MJ says, “So, what if your new boss, Mr. Starr, wants you to take photos of Ant-Man? You’ve been taking pics of Spider-Man for years!” Note the absence of an opening caption; a rarity for a Sunday strip.

Panel #2 has a caption but it is in place of a word balloon for Peter because the bulk of the panel is a flashback to an Egghead/Ant-Man battle in which Ant-Man is stuck on flypaper and Egghead reaches down to grab him. (In fact, it looks very much like Jack Kirby’s cover to Tales to Astonish #38, December 1962. In further fact, Egghead’s words are pretty much the same. On the TTA cover, Eggy says, “You’re hopelessly stuck to that flypaper, Ant-Man! Your own ants have led you into my trap!” In panel #2, Eggy says, “You’re hopelessly stuck to that flypaper – and totally at my mercy.” There are a couple of ants in the panel as well. And Peter’s head sticks in from the upper left since he is telling the story, saying (in the caption), “But I know that Elihas Starr, alias Egghead, tried several times to kill Ant-Man…” By the way, one of the ants is sticking his head in right below Peter so it looks like he and Peter are having a joint flashback rather than that the ant is in the action with Ant-Man.

We’ve spent far too much time in panels #1 and #2. MJ will speed it up for us. In panel #3, she is sitting on a couch, her legs splayed up in the air as if she toppled over. She hugs a blue throw pillow to her chest. “Wait!” she says, “You told me Ant-Man keeps his full-size strength when he shrinks!” Taking his jacket off (it’s August and hot everywhere in the USA, Pete! Dress appropriately!), Peter replies, “He does.”

Now, in panel #4, the camera moves behind MJ so that we see her leaning back on the couch with her hair dangling behind…except the couch was right up against the wall in panel #3. “Then how was flypaper ever going to hold him?” asks MJ. Peter, holding his jacket in a bunch up near the top (I have never seen anyone hold their jacket this way) says, “Hey, I said Starr was an evil genius…” In panel #5, it looks like he’s putting the jacket back on as he says, “…not that he had any common sense!” MJ throws the blue pillow at him.

(You know, Stan and Larry are credited as the writers of TTA #38 so it is fun to see one of them…some say Stan is no longer writing this strip but that Larry is…making fun of a story he had a hand in over 50 years ago. It appears that this story took place in the strip-verse as well, since Peter seems to know about it. In the comic, it is Egghead’s first appearance. Perhaps in the strip-verse as well.)

Peter (and Stan and/or Larry) is willing to make jokes up to a point but now the half-Spidey mask covers the left side of his face and spider-sense bolts shoot off his head. “But seriously, MJ,” he says, “I’ve got to find Ant-Man – to warn him that Egghead is on his trail again!”

The “Next Issue” caption is “Finding Ant-Man isn’t gonna be a Picnic!” which, I must admit, cracks me up. Last week’s was, “Ant-Man…or Ant-Men?” which means absolutely nothing in terms of what we witnessed in the past week. Do you think a week of padding was added after that caption was created? Will it make sense somewhere down the line? I suppose we’ll find out.

August 15, 2016

MJ and Peter sit side by side on the couch. MJ props her head up with her right hand. Peter crosses his arms in front of him. MJ asks, “Why have you spent the past hour telling me about Ant-Man?” (Last hour?! I hate to break it to you, MJ, but it’s been the past week!) Peter says, “I’ve just been thinking out loud, honey. To warn him about Elihas Starr, I have to find him…” Panel #2 moves in closer as MJ looks at Peter and Peter cups his chin in his left hand. “But how do you find a guy who’s roughly the size of a bug – and a very small bug, at that?” Uh, Pete, you do know Ant-Man isn’t always the size of a bug, don’t you?

August 16, 2016

Peter pours himself a glass of milk (the carton says MILK in big letters from top to bottom) in the kitchen while MJ sits on the couch in the adjoining room. “Once Ant-Man was a famous scientist,” he says, “Hank Pym, the biochemist who discovered the Pym particle.” Panel #2 is a wretched thing. It shows MJ looking off-panel as Peter’s word balloon fills most of the space. Wouldn’t it have been better to show Peter, since he’s the one who’s talking? Maybe Larry prefers to draw MJ. “That’s what enabled him to shrink – and enlarge again,” says the off-panel Peter. “But he gave up that identity and a successor took over.” (So, is the strip-verse like the movie-verse? Or is Scott Lang currently Ant-Man in the comics so the strip-verse is like the Marvel-verse? Or is the strip-verse a combination of the two?) In panel #3, Peter brings the glass of milk to MJ, except he is now walking on the ceiling. “So, who is the second Ant-Man?” asks MJ as she reaches for the glass. “That’s just it,” says Peter, “I don’t know.” You know what I’d like to know? I’d like to know how he went from standing on the floor to standing on the ceiling without spilling that glass.

August 17, 2016

So, now we got to three panels of MJ and Peter sitting together and (mostly) only shown from the neck up. “Somebody must know who the new Ant-Man is,” says MJ, cupping her chin in her right hand. “You’re right! The answer was staring me right in the face,” says Peter, slapping his forehead. MJ looks over at him in panel #2. “Which is a lot easier when you’re not wearing a mask,” she says. Peter, his left forefinger up on his left cheek, says, “If anyone knows who succeeded Hank Pym – it’s Pym!” And in panel #3, Pete starts to put on his Spidey suit, saying, “He might not tell Peter Parker…” MJ finishes his sentence for him. “But I’ll bet you know who he might share his secret with!” MJ ungrammatically says.

So, this has got me wondering. Does Egghead know that Hank Pym isn’t Ant-Man anymore? Does it make a difference? Is Egghead planning revenge against Pym or will any old Ant-Man do?

August 18, 2016

We look in a window from the outside to see MJ as well as Peter changing into his Spidey suit. (Hey! Look in that window! Some guy changing into Spider-Man!) “Can I come with you to look for Ant-Man?” MJ asks. Pete, putting his mask on, says, “Honey, the last two guys I tangled with tried to take you away from me.” So, even, Peter has figured out that the same plot device was used twice. And does this mean he’s planning to tangle with Ant-Man?

In panel #2, we’ve moved back into the apartment and Peter has his costume completely on. “If I lost you to an Ant-Man, what would that do to Spider-Man’s self-esteem?” he asks. “I know you’re just joking,” says MJ. (Only I don’t think he’s joking.) In panel #3, we are inside looking out the window, as MJ calls after Spidey who is swinging away. “I need to get my beauty sleep, anyway…but take care, hear?” “Don’t I always?” says Spidey. (Hey! Look! Mary Jane Parker is calling to Spider-Man to “take care” and Spidey is swinging out of her window! These guys know how to keep a secret!)

August 19, 2016

Spidey goes swinging over the city, talking to himself. “These days, Hank Pym works in his lab out on Long Island,” he says, “But there are no skyscrapers to web-swing from out there…” In panel #2, he leaps down into an alley. We know it’s an alley because it has a trashcan, a dumpster and a drainpipe. “And I’d have to borrow against my life insurance to afford a taxicab….” he says. So, in panel #3, we find Peter Parker standing in a subway car, holding an overhead railing. There are three other people visible in the car. “…So I’ll take the subway as far as I can!” he thinks.

So, let’s recap. We saw Peter putting on his Spidey suit over the last two days before he left the apartment. When he web-swings over the city, he has no web-backpack or anything else that would carry his clothes. And yet, after landing in that alley, he is now on the subway dressed as Peter Parker including wearing a brown jacket and carrying his camera around his neck. Did he find all that stuff in the dumpster?

August 20, 2016

Peter fills up the left side of the panel. As he looks at four other passengers, he thinks, “Boy oh boy! If these strap-hangers knew Spider-Man was sharing a subway with them - !” (Are there still straps to hang onto in the subway? Is Peter living in the 80s?) In panel #2, a woman emerges from the left side of the panel, yelling, “Help! My purse -!” A purse-snatcher runs away from her with her purse in hand. (Not sure where he’s going since he’s on a moving subway car.) Seven bystanders look on with shock. Peter, the only one standing (except the woman and the purse-snatcher) turns to look and thinks, “Well, could be they’re about to find out!”

A purse-snatcher on the subway! That should be good for about a week’s worth of strips.

August 21, 2016

Well, since that first moment that the woman yelled “Help!” it looks like Peter has moved way down the train car and that a whole bunch more people got on. It also looks like the purse snatcher went from white to black but this may just be the fault of whoever colors the black-and-white daily strips for online consumption. Let’s start with that Sunday opening caption: “Peter is riding the subway through Queens, when…” There are now seven other passengers seated and standing as the purse-snatcher starts running down the aisle. Peter, still standing, looks back at him. The victim yells, “Help! That man grabbed my purse!” while the purse-snatcher yells, “Geddouddamyway!” (Again, where is he going?) Panel #2 is a close-up right behind the snatcher as he pushes and shoves, knocking two bystanders out of the way. (A third looks on from the depths of the panel.) Peter, facing the snatcher head on, thinks, “I could lay that guy out with my little finger! But somebody might realize I’m really Spider-Man – unless maybe they thought I was the Hulk!” Panel #3 moves the camera to floor level as Peter (shown only from the chest down) shoots some webbing onto the floor. The snatcher trips over it. (There is one bystander shown. He is not even looking at the snatcher. He’s waiting for the doors to open.) “So I’ll do it this way,” Peter thinks as he shoots that webbing. “Yyiikes!” yells the snatcher, “What’d I stumble over – a steel cable?”

Over and down to panel #4 where a police officer has the snatcher by the hood of his sweatshirt. (Where did this cop come from? Was he on the train car? And this guy snatched a purse with a cop in plain sight? To make matters worse, it’s a cop who knows him, since the cop uses his name.) Two bystanders look on, as does Peter who now holds the lady’s purse. “You just stumbled over your own clumsy feet, Wilkerson!” says the cop, “C’mon! I think your old cell is still vacant!” (I’ll bet! Worse purse snatcher ever!) In panel #5, the woman retrieves her purse from Peter. (There are two bystanders in the scene, one of whom is a second cop! This guy snatched a purse in a crowded subway car with two cops and nowhere to run! Beautiful!) “Thank you, young man,” says the woman to Peter. “I didn’t really do anything, ma’am,” says Peter (half-faced with his Spidey mask and spider-sense lines radiating off of it) as he hands over the purse and thinks, “But my webbing did!” (Only I bet the two cops could have caught this guy without any webbing assist.) In panel #6, Peter still has the half-Spidey look but he’s thinking about Ant-Man riding on an ant. “I just hope finding Ant-Man proves half as easy as stopping that purse snatcher!” he thinks.

And the good news is that the purse-snatching episode only lasted one day!

The “Next” caption reads, “Go to the Ant!” whatever that means. Last week’s was “Finding Ant-Man isn’t gonna be a Picnic!” Especially when you spend the week getting milk for MJ, walking on the ceiling, climbing into your Spidey suit, swinging out the window in full view of neighbors, landing in an alley to get into clothes you don’t have with you, and stopping a purse snatcher as you ride in the subway.

August 22, 2016

The subway comes to a half with a “SKREETCH.” Peter thinks, “Well, this is my stop” and prepares to disembark. (Wait a minute, Pete! Those two bystanders sitting nearby… Isn’t one of them the Kingpin?) Panel #2 shows Peter wandering the streets of suburban Long Island. No one else is around. “This place I’m looking for is a little off the beaten track…” he thinks. In panel #3, he finds a building with a sign reading “Pym Annex.” “I guess even an ex-Ant-Man needs his privacy!” Yeah, privacy. That’s why Pym’s car parked out front has a personalized license plate that reads, “ANTPYM.”

August 23, 2016

Apparently, it took Peter all day to get out to Nassau, or wherever the heck he is. It is dark as he approaches the Pym Annex. (His camera is now looped around his shoulder rather than around his neck.) “No lights on in the lab,” he thinks, “but his car’s in the drive. So, unless Dr. Hank Pym’s sleeping amid his test tubes these days…” In panel #2, the camera is inside the building looking out the window at Peter peering into the window. “Whoa!” he thinks, “Either he’s one real messy scientist…” And in panel #3, we’re outside with Peter looking in as he thinks, “…or else somebody’s trashed his place!” Inside we see file cabinets lying about in ways that defy gravity. So, I’m betting on “trashed his place” over “real messy scientist.”

By the way, with this day’s strip, I have now been reviewing this series for one year. Which brings up the question…Why????

August 24, 2016

Beginning year two of my Spidey Newspaper Strip journey.

Outside the Pym Annex, behind some bushes but still probably in sight of anyone bothering to look, Peter changes into his Spidey duds. “Peter Parker isn’t the type to break into Pym’s lab,” he thinks, “but that kind of thing’s definitely in Spider-Man’s job description.” In panel #2, he takes a direct route by opening a window with a SNAPT! “Got to make sure Pym’s okay,” he thinks. In panel #3, he starts to climb through the window but spider-sense lines emanate from his head. “Doesn’t seem to be anybody here,” he thinks, “so why is the old spider-sense tingling?”

As a fan of thought balloons, something that almost never appears anymore in comics, I would like to point out that Spidey/Peter has been thinking, not speaking, since panel #5 of August 21st. Much as I appreciate the cinematic/theatrical presentation of comics these days, rejecting the thought balloon restricts the breadth of things that comics do well. Bring back the thought balloon! Newspaper Spidey is doing it!

August 25, 2016

It is very dark in the offices of the Pym Annex and file cabinets and stuff are tumbled all over the place. With his spider-sense lines still emanating from his head, Spidey reaches for the light switch. “Yeah, my spider sense is definitely reacting to something here,” he thinks, “Maybe if I shed some light on the subject…” Yes, that’s right, he is still using thought balloons but, in panel #2, that changes when he lets out an “UNNHH” in a word balloon. And why does he say this? Because he is just hit in the jaw with a THWAKK from an arm that looks like it is clothed in an Ant-Man costume. So, yeah, probably hit by Ant-Man. This smack in the jaw closes up Spidey’s right eye lens like he’s got a black eye…which is kinda cool. Less cool is the fact that his spider-sense enabled him to find the light switch but didn’t do a thing for him when an arm came from off-panel to clobber him.

August 26, 2016

More thinking. Spidey stands in the dark, holding his chin in his right hand, and thinks, “Somebody slugged me – hard! But I could have sworn there was nobody…” Panel #2 and a fist interrupt his thought. This time he is struck on the left side with a KWAKK. (His left eye lens closes up.) “Oooph!” says Spidey. In panel #3, he thinks, “Now I’m getting’ mad! If there’s anyone here, my webbing’ll make sure he sticks around!” With spider-sense spikes coming off his head and his quick hands creating four other phantom hands, he sprays webbing all over the room.

Now, Spidey, think this out, will you? You’re at the Pym Annex. Hank Pym used to be Ant-Man. Ant-Man can shrink to the size of an ant. Did you stop to think that that’s what your assailant is doing after each punch and that your webbing probably won’t do the trick? No, I didn’t think so.

August 27, 2016

So, there he stands…clueless. The entire room is covered in webbing. He puts his fists on his hips and thinks, “I’ve blanketed this place in webbing. Whoever hit me must’ve split before…” But in panel #2, a fist smacks him on the right side of his head with a FWAKK. (First, THWAKK, then KWAKK, now FWAKK.) “Not again!?” thinks Spidey.

Spidey! You’re supposed to be a genius! This is not very hard! Figure it out! You’re embarrassing me!

August 28, 2016

Our panel #1 caption is particularly wordy this week. “In a darkened lab in Queens, Spider-Man’s taken three hits from an unseen assailant…” it says. Spidey, standing amidst the debris of the office (his webbing seems to have disappeared), scratches his head and remains clueless. “Who am I fighting here – the Invisible Man?” he wonders. A rare panel #2 caption than makes an appearance. “Uh…make that four!” it says as the camera moves in for a close-up of yet another punch to Spidey’s jaw. This one sounds like the first one. “THWAAK.” Spidey, recoiling, says, “Hnnnh!” (First “UNNHH,” then “Oooph!” then “Hnnnh!”) The camera pulls back in panel #3 to show Spidey rubbing his jaw. “Good thing my spider strength gives me plenty of stamina – or I’d be out cold,” he thinks, “But – just realized – there’s kind of a rhythm to those blows.” In panel #4, the camera pulls back just a little bit more as Spidey stretches out his arms, with his fingers cocked over the web-shooters. “They seem to be coming at five-second intervals,” he thinks, “So I might catch my attacker if I let loose…” And in panel #5, he turns to his right and fires webbing with a “Fwippp” as he thinks, “…Now!” The webbing from his left hand catches the fist in mid-punch. The webbing from his right hand apparently catches his assailant in the face because a word balloon pointing off-panel says, “Yechh!” Finally, Spidey turns the lights on (with a “Klik”) in panel #6. “Ant-Man! You!?” he says when he sees his opponent. (So, he figured out the rhythm of the attacks but he never did figure out that Ant-Man was his attacker. At the Pym Annex. Pathetic.) Ant-Man stands in the center of the panel, his hands connected by webbing, his helmet coated with webbing as well. “Spider-Man!” he says, “What’re you doing here?” (So, not only was Spidey clueless about his opponent but so was Ant-Man. Pathetic.)

Our “Next” panel reads, “When Spider Meets Ant!” which I believe is happening right now. Last week’s was “Go to the Ant!” and I still don’t know what that means.

August 29, 2016

And we pick up just seconds before panel #6 from yesterday’s strip, in an alternate world where Spidey and Ant-Man say different things than they said yesterday. First there’s a caption that says, “Spidey’s webbing has snared none other than…” “Ant-Man!?” says Spidey as he turns the light on with a “Klik.” (At least the “Klik” is still a “Klik.”) Ant-Man, no longer caught in Spidey’s webbing, says, “Guilty as charged – and I don’t have to ask who you are.” (So, Spidey sprayed webbing all over the room, which disappeared, then he snared Ant-Man with webbing, which mostly disappeared.) Flinging away bits of webbing in panel #2, Ant-Man faces Spidey and says, “But I didn’t think Spider-Man would be breaking and entering Hank Pym’s lab!” Ah, yes, the misunderstanding and hamheaded thinking continues!

August 30, 2016

So, Spidey talks to Ant-Man, who has his back to us. (More of Larry’s “back-to-us” art.) “I didn’t turn Hank Pym’s lab into a war zone,” Spidey says, “I just got here.” (Evidence of the “war zone” appears in panel #1…a broken mirror or monitor?...a little piece of something else….that’s it.) “Me too,” replies the back of Ant-Man’s head, “When I saw somebody crawling in the window, I figured I’d check him out.” Panel #2 is a close-up of the two heroes’ heads, in profile, as they face each other. (Ant-Man on the left, Spidey on the right even though Spidey speaks first.) “So you didn’t turn invisible in between slugging me?” asks Spidey. (The poor dope still doesn’t get it.) “No,” replies Ant-Man, “I just shrank real small…you poor dope.” (I added those last three words.) “It’s what I do,” he finishes. And panel #3 demonstrates by showing some motion lines where Ant-Man used to be and Spidey looking down with some motion lines around his head. An unmoored word balloon says, “Like so!” Spidey says, “Stop doing that! It freaks me out”

August 31, 2016

Ant-Man is back to full size and we actually see more of the wrecked lab this panel. Spidey rubs the back of his head. Ant-Man crosses his arms. “If neither of us trashed Pym’s lab, Ant-Man – who did?” asks Spidey. “I’ve no idea,” replies Ant-Man, “and make it Scott, okay?” “Och, if ye say so, mon!” says Spidey. (Just kidding. Bad joke. But, really, Ant-Man is asking for it.) Panel #2 is Ant-Man’s alone as he cocks a thumb at his head and says, “I figure we both belong to some honorary fraternity of superheroes or something.” (If Ant-Man is fishing for Spidey’s ID, it doesn’t work.) “So why’re you looking for me?” he continues. Panel #3 gives us Spidey in one of those Easter Island profiles as Ant-Man turns to look at him. “To tell you Egghead’s out of prison,” says Spidey. “’Egghead?’ You mean Elihas Starr?” asks Ant-Man. (No, Vincent Price! How many Eggheads are there in your strip universe anyway, Ant-Man?)

September 1, 2016

Spidey picks up something that looks like an old ViewMaster and says, “I figured you’d want to know Egghead’s out of stir. I hoped Dr. Pym might know how to find you.” Ant-Man scratches the back of his helmet and says, “And now neither of us knows where he is.”

And now welcome to panel #2, otherwise known as “Jump to Conclusion Theatre.” Amidst the rubble, Spidey says, “Whoever totaled this place probably kidnapped him.” Ant-Man says, “Yeah…and I’m betting Starr was behind it!”

September 2, 2016

Spidey stands in a Loony Tunes spotlight with Ant-Man just outside of it. “Any idea where Egghead might’ve taken Dr. Pym?” he asks, jumping to more conclusions. Ant-Man, holding a finger in the air, says, “Well, I know where I’d look first. I – oh! Hold on a second!” In panel #2, Spidey stands alone. He still haven’t gotten the hang of this shrinking business. He stretches out his hands, his head wiggles, and he says, “Hey! Now where’d you go?” And panel #3 shows us Ant-Man, now small, standing on a table. (Larry even gave him a shadow!) Spidey’s huge head looms over him, as Ant-Man says, “Sorry. Just had to ‘go ant’ to retrieve my watch. It slipped off last time I shrank. Now as I was saying…”

So, Ant-Man’s watch shrinks with him but not completely? It’s too small to retrieve without shrinking but too large to fit snugly on his shrunken wrist? Best to not think too long about it.

September 3, 2016

You may recall that Ant-Man was starting to answer Spidey yesterday about where Egghead may have taken Dr. Pym. Ant-Man said, “Well, I know where I’d look first.” Then he stopped to retrieve his tiny watch and continued with “Now as I was saying…” which ended yesterday’s strip. Today, he continues but not with yesterday’s topic. Where would Ant-Man look first? Who knows? Instead, still tiny and standing on the table, he tells Spidey, “So Starr inherited majority ownership of the Bugle from his late wife? Why’s it bother you if Jonah Jameson’s lost control of his paper?” Spidey, standing next to the table with his hand on it must be thinking, “Who said it bothered me? Weren’t we talking about where you think Egghead might have taken Dr. Pym? And why are you still standing on the table shouting up at me when you could grow back to normal and we could have a regular conversation?” Panel #2 is nothing but a close-up of the side of Spidey’s mask as Ant-Man, off-panel, continues, “To judge by a few hundred headlines, he wasn’t your biggest fan.” “But at least he’s not a super-villain!” says Spidey’s head. (Unless you count the Spider-Slayer stuff, I guess.) And he thinks, “Hard to get used to talking to a guy the size of an ant.” Spidey, have you ever seen an ant? The guy on the table may be tiny but he’s looking a lot bigger than an ant.

If I was grading individual strips, I’d give this one a half of a web.

September 4, 2016

I don’t know where Ant-Man is standing now but it isn’t the table he was on before and now he has a glow around his entire body. He seems to have a monitor behind him but that’s the best I can do. Spidey looks down on him, probably still wondering why he doesn’t just get back to normal size. “If Elihas Starr did kidnap Dr. Pym, he wouldn’t take him to his own current digs.” “No…” says Ant-Man, leading us to panel #2, a close-up of Ant-Man looking up. “But he might drag him to where he and his late wife used to live. Not that I’ve got a clue where that is,” he says. Now the camera moves behind Spidey looking down at Ant-Man. Spidey cocks a thumb at himself and says, “Me either but Jonah Jameson will! We’ll go see him in your car…’cause I came by subway.” Now, for panel #4, the camera moves behind Ant-Man’s shoulder, looking up at Spidey who recoils when Ant-Man says, “Well, actually, I came here on the back of a flying ant.” And panel #5 is silent as Spidey’s huge head looks down at the tiny Ant-Man, who shrugs at him. Leading us to panel #6, another silent one, with Peter Parker and Scott Lang standing together in a crowded subway (7 bystanders can be seen), glowering angrily at each other.

You gotta love the two silent panels after all the excessive dialogue. The facial expressions in panel #6 say it all.

Our “Next” caption is “Bugging JJJ!” which will probably happen. Last week’s was “When Spider Meets Ant!” which had already happened before the caption.

September 5, 2016

Hope you all enjoyed the two panels of silence because the excessive chat begins again. First a caption. “On the train back to Manhattan…” With 4 bystanders behind them, Scott and Peter stand in the subway, hanging onto the railings. Scott whispers, “Spider-Man, you really think Jonah Jameson can tell us where Egghead and his late wife lived?” “If we’re lucky,” Pete whispers back, “But don’t call me Spider-Man! Somebody might…” But Scott interrupts him in panel #2, yelling out loud, “Hey! I realized who you really are!” Peter says, “!” which means, “Yikes!” There are three partially-seen bystanders in the background. One’s face is obscured, another is buried in his newspaper, but the third seems very interested in “who you really are!”

September 6, 2016

Back to the whispering with only one bystander seen behind them. Scott whispers to Pete, “I knew you looked familiar when you took off your spider-mask!” Pete whispers to Scott, “Remember, Scott – you agreed not to try to figure out who I am.” (This apparently happened between panel #5 and panel #6 last Sunday.) Panel #2 focuses on Scott with Peter’s face tilted up in the lower right corner. His left eye looks out of the panel at us as if to ally us with his discomfort and unhappiness. (Larry gives up on bystanders for the rest of the strip, by the way.) Scott whispers to Pete, “Can I help it if I recognized you from the papers? You’re married to that Broadway star, Mary Jane Parker – and that makes you…” In panel #3, Scott rubs his chin as Peter’s face becomes more vertical and his expression loses its discomfort. Scott says, “Well, actually – I don’t have the slightest idea what your name is!”

September 7, 2016

Larry gives us two bystanders in panel #1. One is busy reading. The other has his back to us. (Whatever happened to the guy who was interested in who Pete really was?) More whispering goes on. Scott whispers to Pete, “If you’re Mary Jane Parker’s husband, does that mean your last name’s Parker?” Pete whispers to Scott, “Yes, and, to spare you racking your ant-brain any further – the first name’s Peter. Now, much as I hate to change the subject from my so-called secret identity…” And in panel #2, Peter points to the subway platform with a sign reading, “86 Street.” “This is our stop!” he says aloud. Meaning they have been riding the Lexington Avenue line and have arrived on the Upper East Side.

September 8, 2016

The two men wind up outside of a building. Peter points up at it and says, “Jameson’s penthouse is atop this apartment building.” “Ritzy!” says Scott, “Do we drop in as Scott Lang and Peter Parker – or the other guys?” (We’ll have to take Scott’s word for it on the “ritzy!” It looks like a big ugly building with lots of window.) In panel #2, Peter gets confused by Ant-Man’s powers again. “The other g…” he starts to say, then swivels his head around and yells, “Hey! Where…?” In panel #3, Ant-Man perches on Pete’s shoulder. Pete looks at him. “Next time, warn me before you shrink to Ant-Man size,” he says. “Sorry,” whispers Ant-Man, “I guess you need to go find a phonebooth, huh?”

September 9, 2016

In an alley, Ant-Man stands on a garbage can (the silver metal kind I’m not sure anyone has anymore) as Pete dons his Spidey suit. “Do you always have to find a back alley when you change to the webster?” asks Scott. “If I changed my clothes on the sidewalk, I’d get arrested,” answers Pete. Panel #2 is a close-up of Ant-Man astride a flying ant. “Hop on, and I’ll carry you up to Jameson’s penthouse,” says the ant. No, no, just kidding. Spidey speaks those words, off-panel. “No need. I’ve got my own personal Uber,” says Scott. (So, Stan and Larry are up-to-date enough to know what Uber is but not up-to-date enough to know what trash containers now look like.) Panel #3 focuses on Ant-Man and his ant flying away, with Spidey in the background. Scott looks back at Spidey and yells, “Race ya!”

September 10, 2016

The camera perches on the top of the building looking down at Spidey and Ant-Man, who is riding his flying ant. “How come Jameson hates you so much?” asks Ant-Man. “Only his psychiatrist knows for sure,” replies Spidey, “Myself, I’ve always thought it was because…” But, apparently, Ant-Man’s question was only a ruse to distract Spidey because in panel #2, Ant-Man interrupts Spidey’s answer to yell out, Beat ya, web-man!” Very classy, Ant-man.

September 11, 2016

“Spider-Man and Ant-Man have reached J. Jonah Jameson’s penthouse…” says the opening caption. Spidey is perched on a balcony wall while Ant-Man rides his flying ant. From this angle, it looks like JJJ’s building is right on the East River. “I thought we were supposed to feel sorry for Jameson,” says Ant-Man, “because Elihas Starr aced him out of being publisher of the Daily Bugle.” He continues in panel #2 with Spidey squatting on the wall behind him. “But if a place like this is what you get as a consolation prize,” he says, then changes the subject asking Spidey, “Hey, how come you’re hanging back?” Panel #3 is a close-up of Ant-Man and his ant from behind Ant-Man’s right shoulder and yet the only speaker is the off-panel Spidey. “I figure it’s better if you confront Jameson without me!” he says, “He and I don’t exactly exchange Christmas cards.” In panel #4, Spidey and Ant-Man are in the same relative positions they are in in panel #1 above but zoomed in so Spidey’s mask fills the left half of the panel and Ant-Man and his ant are more than a smudge. “I get your drift,” says Ant-Man, “I’ll do my best…even though I’ve never met the guy before.” In panel #5, he leaps off his ant and heads for a crack in the windowsill. “I should be able to squeeze through this sliding glass without setting off his security system,” he says, then continues in a caption in panel #6 that reads, “…And I’ll just have to hope he’s not the kind of guy who sleeps with a shotgun!” But of course he is as panel #6 shows. JJJ is flat-out asleep, snoring with “ZZZZZZ” above his head and a shotgun leaning up against his bed so that it is sure to shoot him if he rolls over.

The “Next” caption is, “The Ant in the Man-Hill!” a take-off on the title of the very first Ant-Man story in Tales to Astonish #27, January 1962. Last week’s was “Bugging JJJ!” but, in the great tradition of slowness that this strip maintains, that hasn’t happened yet.

September 12, 2016

A recap of Sunday’s strip, essentially. We begin with a caption: “Spider-Man waits outside J. Jonah Jameson’s 18th-floor penthouse…” And, yeah, there’s Spidey, still squatting on the balcony wall. “Wonder what the monthly tariff is on a place like this?” he thinks. Panel #2 shows Ant-Man leaping up on JJJ’s bedside table. Jonah is still sleeping with the same “ZZZZZZ” over his head. The shotgun is propped up on the side of his bed. “Now all I’ve gotta do is wake him up without being shot for my trouble!” Ant-Man thinks.

So what time is it anyway? MJ did say, “I need to get my beauty sleep” before Spidey left their apartment on August 18th. Does that mean it was already late when he left? Or are MJ and JJJ both early-to-bed types? Also, why is JJJ sleeping with a gun next to his bed? Does he always do this? Or is he just upset by his firing? Surely, he doesn’t expect Egghead to sneak into his penthouse after firing him, does he? (Yeah, I know. Don’t call me “Shirley.”) I’m no gun expert but there’s got to be a better way to position that gun so that he could actually reach it without shooting himself, right?

September 13, 2016

A close-up of J. Jonah Jameson’s slumbering face as the “ZZZZZZ” dances across his nose and cheek. Down by his right ear, Ant-Man stands, yelling, “Mr. Jameson…wake up!” Panel #2 is even more of a close-up as Ant-Man’s profile and Jonah’s ear fill up the space. “No response,” Ant-Man thinks, “Better try it a bit louder.” So, louder, he yells, “Mr. Jameson – wake…” Leading us to panel #3, in which a still sleeping Jonah slaps Ant-Man with a “SWAT.”

In the one year plus that I’ve been reviewing this series, this has to be my all-time favorite daily strip. The whole story may not get a great rating but this one earns a solid five webs!

September 14, 2016

JJJ wakes up, holding his right ear with his left hand. “What a crazy dream I just had,” he says, “I dreamed there was an ant yelling into my ear!” Panel #2 moves in for a close-up of JJJ’s right eye and his hand covering his left ear. From beneath his hand, a voice says, “If you’ll look under your hand, Mr. Jameson…” (JJJ says, “?” which means, “Huh? A voice under my left hand?”) And panel #3 shows…well, I’m not entirely sure what it shows. It’s Ant-Man, JJJ’s ear, and JJJ’s hand, but is Ant-Man pushing JJJ’s hand away? We’ll go with that. “I’ll explain why I need to talk to you,” says Ant-Man. “Spider-Man? Is that you shrunk down to the size of a real spider?” asks the off-panel mouth of JJJ.

September 15, 2016

Ant-Man stands on the bedside table as JJJ looks down at him. “No, Mr. Jameson, I’m not Spider-Man. I’m Ant-Man,” Ant-Man says, answering JJJ’s question from yesterday. “’Ant-Man?’ You’re joking, right?” says Jonah. (It’s a cute bit but, seriously, Jameson must have heard of Ant-Man.) Jonah’s face fills most of panel #2 with Ant-Man in the lower right corner. “Is there really such a thing as an ‘Ant-Man’?” says JJJ, even as he’s looking right at Ant-Man. “I can see I’d better hire a press agent,” says Ant-Man, “but I came to talk to you…” In panel #3, he grows to normal height and finishes his sentence, “…about Elihas Starr.” Taken aback by the rapid growth, Jonah says, “Hey! How’d you do that?”

September 16, 2016

Now the camera moves up near the ceiling, looking down at Ant-Man and JJJ, who is sitting on his bed. (Ant-Man has a piece of wood in his hand. What the heck is it? Oh, hang on. That must be JJJ's shotgun.) “Trust me, Mr. Jameson,” says Ant-Man, “I’m here to help you against Elihas Starr, a.k.a. Egghead.” “What can anybody do?” replies Jonah, “He married my cousin Ruth…” Panel #2 is all Jameson’s as he mops his forehead with his right hand, looking sad-eyed and forlorn. “In her will, she left him control of the Bugle!” he says. Off-panel, Ant-Man says, “I need to know where those two lived as man and wife…” Panel #3 is a two-shot of their heads as Ant-Man finishes by saying, “…because I suspect Starr may have captured the original Ant-Man.” And wide-eyed Jonah says “?” which means, “I didn’t even believe there was such a thing as ‘an Ant-Man’ and now you’re telling me there’s two of them?”

September 17, 2016

Two panels in two Loony Tunes spotlights as JJJ spreads his hands and reveals what the “?” from yesterday really means. “The Original Ant-Man?” he says, “What is this – some kind of insect franchise?” “Hank Pym, the first Ant-Man, helped put Elihas Starr in prison,” says Ant-Man. (J. Jonah Jameson is a newspaper editor and publisher. How is it that he doesn’t know this?) Ant-Man continues in panel #2, cocking a thumb at himself. “Later, Starr returned to a life of crime and I put him away the second time,” he says. “Too bad he didn’t stay locked up – so he couldn’t marry my cousin!” says Jameson.

Meanwhile, Spidey’s been perched on the balcony wall since Monday. And at what point did JJJ unbutton his pajama top to put on a t-shirt underneath?

September 18, 2016

“Spider-Man waits impatiently…” according to the panel #1 caption. As do we. Spidey is still perched on the balcony wall and he says to himself, “How long can it take Scott Lang to explain the situation to Jameson? All he has to do is find out…” Scott picks up the sentence in panel #2. “…Where Elihas Starr lived when he was married to your cousin Ruth?” he asks JJJ. “Why do you need to know?” asks JJJ. The camera is high up on a wall looking down at them as Scott stands over Jonah, who is sitting on his bed. Scott has set Jonah’s shotgun down, which proves to be a mistake. In panel #3, the camera moves to Jonah’s left shoulder. Ant-Man looks down at Jonah, whose face fills the lower right of the panel. “Hank Pym – my predecessor as Ant-Man – has vanished, and we think Starr’s behind it.” (Is Hank’s identity as Ant-Man supposed to be a secret? If it was, it sure isn’t now!) In panel #4, JJJ stands up. Motion lines surround his head to show how shaken he is. “We think?” he repeats, “Who’s we?” Scott panics at this question and gets small again, hanging in the air as an ant flies up to help him. “Uh, I don’t…I meant…” Scott mutters. In panel #5, Scott rides the flying ant as two other ants also join him. He tries his best lie, saying, “…My ants and me! Mr. Jameson, I’d like you to meet Huey, Dewey, and Louie!” (The names of Donald Duck’s nephews, as I’m sure you all know.) This turns out to be a mistake as Jonah, off-panel and his word balloon pointing to a different spot than the direction in which Scott is looking, bellows, “Ants – in my bedroom?” In panel #6, Jameson grabs the shotgun. Anger lines radiate off his head. Ant-Man and his ant fly by Jonah’s field of vision as Jameson says, “Get out of here – and take those six-legged pests with you!”

Our “Next” caption is “Questions and Antswers!” Cute. Last time’s was “The Ant in the Man-Hill!” which is as good a description as any for what we got for the last week.

September 19, 2016

Now, Jonah points the shotgun right at Ant-Man and his flying ant. The opening caption says, “J. Jonah Jameson reacts to Ant-Man’s midnight visit…” which is putting it mildly. (At least we now know what time it is.) “Get out of here – you and your blasted bugs!” says Jonah. “If you’d just listen to reason!” says Ant-Man, flying away. In panel #2, Spidey sneaks in, climbing on the wall behind Jameson. He thinks, “I’ve kept out of sight to avoid arousing Jameson’s wrath – but it looks like Scott Lang’s stirred up a hornet’s nest all by himself!” Well, it’s nice to know he did something! I’d hate to think I read all of last week’s strips for nothing!

September 20, 2016

Jonah prepares to fire his shotgun at the fleeing Ant-Man, whose flying ant makes a jet trail behind him. “You may be the size of an insect – but I’ve got you in my sights!” says Jonah. Looking back, Ant-Man says, “Are you crazy, Jameson? I’m only here to…” The rest of that sentence is interrupted by webbing that, with a FWIPP, yanks the shotgun out of JJJ’s hands. “Huh?” he says, “What happened to my gun?” In panel #3, he swivels his head back and forth so fast that he is presented with two faces, looking both left and right, like Janus. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think – Nah! I’m dealing with an Ant-Man – not a Spider-Man!” he says.

September 21, 2016

A rare four-panel event with the second panel an insert of the third panel. But first panel first. Ant-Man flies on his ant in front of Jonah’s face. “Now, tell me where your late cousin lived,” he says. “Because you think her husband’s kidnapped the first Ant-Man – Hank Pym?” asks Jonah, now all in on this. In the panel #2 inset (a close-up of Ant-Man’s head), Scott says, “I’m surprised you know Doc’s name!” (Scott! Haven’t you been listening to yourself? You told him Doc’s name!) In panel #3 (a close-up of Jonah’s head, wedged comically into the side of the panel away from the inset), Jameson says, “I publish a newspaper, remember?” (Suddenly, he’s all knowledgeable. A few days ago, he didn’t even believe Ant-Man existed.) In panel #4, Jonah gets all sad and looks down at the ground. “Or at least I did – till Starr took it away from me!” he mopes.

September 22, 2016

Ant-Man is still drifting in front of JJJ’s face, riding on his ant. “If you tell me his old address it might help me get the goods on Elihas Starr,” he says. “Sure,” replies Jonah, “What’ve I got to lose – besides my sanity…” The camera moves behind JJJ in panel #2 so that we can see that Spidey is clinging to a wall behind him. It’s another classic Larry Leiber “show-us-their-backs” panel with JJJ and Spidey from behind and with Ant-Man and his ant in silhouette. “…Standing here in my PJs, talking to a guy the size of a gnat!” finishes Jonah, transitioning back from a guy who knows Hank Pym was Ant-Man to a guy who is doubting his sanity. Behind, Spidey thinks, “If he knew I was behind it, Jameson’d go ballistic!” Which is why you’re now on the wall behind him rather than up on the balcony, eh, Spidey?

September 23, 2016

The scene moves out on the balcony. Ant-Man and his ant perch on the balcony wall. Jonah stands on the balcony, hands on hips, looking perturbed. “Bye Mr. Jameson,” says Ant-Man with a wave of his hand, “and thanks for the info!” “Let me know if you learn anything I can use against Elihas Starr!” replies Jameson. “Don’t worry, we will!” yells Spidey as he dives over the balcony in panel #2, startling Jonah who bellows, “YOU!?” Panel #3 is Spidey in a classic pose along with parts of Ant-Man’s head and his ant’s head. “Thought you weren’t gonna let him know you’re part of the deal,” says Ant-Man. “I couldn’t resist. So sue me!” replies Spidey.

September 24, 2016

Ant-Man leaps onto Spidey’s shoulder, letting his ant fly away. “Starr and his late wife’s place is upstate, huh?” says Spidey. (Information that Jonah gave to Ant-Man between the 22nd and the 23rd, apparently.) “Yeah. Farther than my ants can fly,” says Ant-Man. In panel #2, Spidey says, “I can’t exactly web-swing above the countryside, either. So it’s high time we rented some transportation,” as he and Ant-Man head down to “Quest Rent-A-Car.” This should be good for another week of unnecessary strips.

September 25, 2016

And so, “Peter Parker and Ant-Man enter a car rental…” It sounds like the beginning of a joke. Ant-Man is perched on Peter’s shoulder (as he helpfully tells us when he says, “Hope the agent doesn’t notice me perched on your shoulder.”). The agent is a paunchy gray-haired guy wearing granny glasses and dressed in what looks like a custodian’s uniform. He stands behind a counter that is in front of a big “Quest Rent-A-Car” sign. “’Evening!” he says, “May I see your license, please?” Ulp! I’m not sure Peter even has a license. In panel #2, he digs in his coat pocket. “Oh great!” he says, “I just realized I left my billfold at home!” Ant-Man starts to grow on Pete’s shoulder. “Let me pay for this, old buddy!” he says. In panel #3, Ant-Man is fully grown and standing right behind Peter. The agent is taken aback as Ant-Man salutes him. “Oh…I didn’t see you there behind your friend!” says the agent, “But – we don’t rent cars to masked people.” (Which seems like a sound policy.) In panel #4, Scott removes his Ant-Man helmet (he and Pete are shown in profile) and says, “This isn’t a mask – it’s a helmet.” In panel #5, he holds his billfold up in front of the agent as Peter looks on. “And my picture’s right there on my license!” Scott says. The agent, adjusting his granny glasses, says, “Welcome to Quest Rent-A-Car, Mr. Lang!” (Sort of like the Guardian of the Gate in “The Wizard of Oz.) And panel #6 takes us out to the rental car. Scott climbs into the driver’s seat, his Ant-Man helmet on the back seat. “I guess I’ll be doing the driving,” he tells Pete, who replies, “Unless you want us to wind up in jail instead of Elihas Starr!”

The “Next” caption is “The Showdown!” Sounds good to me. Last week’s was “Questions and Antswers!” and we got a few of each of those, I guess.

How about that? The renting of the car was completed in one Sunday strip! I’m as astonished as you are!

September 26, 2016

And here are Scott and Peter in the car. Scott says, “Jameson’s cousin Ruth sure lived way out in the country!” (You can tell because of the wooden fence, and the boulders, and the trees they drive by.) “If he was your relative, wouldn’t you live as far away as possible?” says Pete. In panel #2, they arrive. The car pulls up to a very large house with a circular drive and one tree. “There it is!” says Scott. “No light on,” says Pete, “but it’s still an hour before dawn.” An hour before dawn? Did they drive all night? Or was that agent at the rental car actually the custodian? In panel #3, the two heroes exit the car. Ant-Man has put his helmet on and Pete has already changed to his Spidey duds. “Wow! You must’ve used spider-speed to change!” says Ant-Man. “I get a lot of practice. Let’s roll!” replies Spidey.

September 27, 2016

Now there’s a whole lot of whispering as the heroes near the house. Spidey stops to web his camera to a tree. “What’re you doing? The house is this way,” whispers Ant-Man, pointing in a different direction. “Just taking a sec…to set up a camera,” whispers Spidey. Panel #2 is all Ant-Man as he whispers at length, “Sure – now I remember! Peter Parker takes pictures for the Daily Bugle. Always wondered how that rag got such great shots of Spider-Man!” (But maybe he should ask why Spidey has set up his camera in that tree when the house is in the other direction.) Panel #3 is another of Larry’s “show-people’s-backs” drawings as we stand behind the heroes while they approach the house. “I’ll take that as a compliment,” whispers Spidey, “Now, let’s go get Elihas Starr – a.k.a. Egghead!”

September 28, 2016

More whispering as the duo enter the house. It is dark but we can see a mantelpiece with pictures on it, a couch covered by a sheet, and what looks like a piano bench. “See anything with your spider-vision?” whispers Ant-Man. With those familiar spikes coming off his head, Spidey whispers, “I’ve got a spider-sense – but it’s not the same as seeing in the dark. But it’s tingling like mad right now – which means…” Panel #2 shows a big cloud forming in the room with a SHOOOSSH. The whispering is done. “Gas!” cries Spidey. “We must’ve set off some kind of alarm!” yells Ant-Man.

So, they just walked right in? To some country mansion? And never considered an alarm? Good thinking, guys.

September 29, 2016

With both men coughing from the gas, Ant-Man notes, “That gas – koff koff – it’s shrinking me!” (We can tell because he has two squiggly lines in the shape of his body surrounding him, showing how big he was previously.) Spidey puts his hand to his mouth. “Big deal! That’s your main super-power! Koff,” he says. But, in panel #2, the squiggly lines surround Spidey and a leg of the piano bench is as big as a pillar. “But hey – so am I!” he says. Panel #3 shows that both heroes are so small the carpet fiber surrounds them like a grassland. “We’re both – koff – reduced to ant-size!” says Spidey. “This proves Egghead captured Pym – and got his hands on his shrinking formula!” says Ant-Man. Well. It doesn’t really prove it but it’s a pretty good guess.

September 30, 2016

Down in the carpet “grassland,” Spidey varies his coughing sound (it was two “fs” and now it’s both one “f” and three “fs” which I guess averages out to the two “fs”) as he says, “Concentrate, Scott! Kof kofff. Can you reverse our shrinking?” “Nope,” replies Scott, “Starr must’ve modified Pym’s formula, and here he comes…” There is also a KLIK sound effect in panel #1. This turns out to be Egghead turning on the light as we see in panel #2. He also has a customized vacuum cleaner. (We see the vacuum with lines going into it so we know it is sucking things up like crazy. But we know it’s customized because Scott finishes by saying, “…With a customized vacuum cleaner!”) Egghead says, “Don’t you just hate having to vacuum up unwelcome insects?”

October 1, 2016

In the “grassland,” Ant-Man grabs onto a chair leg. “I’ll hurl this chair at Starr before he can – HNNNH!” he says, “No good! I don’t have my normal strength like I usually do at this size.” Spidey is back to two “fs” as he bends down in the carpeting, his hand over his mouth and says, “Koff.” Panel #2 shows Ant-Man looking up at the “giant” mouth of the vacuum cleaner. It sucks things up with a SHROOOM. “That gas made me just one more ant to be vacuumed up!” he says.

October 2, 2016

We begin with a caption. “Elihas Starr, alias Egghead, wields a mean vacuum cleaner…” The panel shows us Egghead holding his vacuum about a foot over Ant-Man. (Even if he’s customized the vacuum, why doesn’t he put it directly on the rug?) “Can’t have bugs scuttling all over the floor,” says Egghead. Panel #2 finishes the caption: “…and his targets are a shrunken Spider-Man and Ant-Man!” The camera moves above the vacuum hovering over Ant-Man. There is a circular inset in the center of the panel with an arrow pointing at Ant-Man. The inset shows a close-up of Ant-Man’s face. “Starr’s altered Pym’s formula!” says the expositional Ant-Man, “So I didn’t retain my man-sized strength this time!” Fending off the vacuum in panel #3, Ant-Man says, “You’re our only hope, Spidey!” He looks down. “Spidey?” he says. The camera swings around in panel #4 above Ant-Man’s shoulder. He sees Spidey passed out in the carpet fibers. “Uh-oh! He wasn’t used to shrinking, like I am,” says Ant-Man, “The sensation must have knocked him for a loop!” In panel #5, Ant-Man picks up Spidey who hangs limply, muttering, “Uhnnn…” “Hang on, web-head!” says Ant-Man, “I’ll get y…” He doesn’t finish his sentence because the vacuum tracks him from behind with a SHROOOSH that spans both panels #5 and #6. Ant-Man yells “YAAAAA!” as he and Spidey are sucked up into the vacuum.

Stan gets cute in the “Next” caption again. “Can a man exist in a vacuum?” it asks and I suspect we’re going to find out. Last week’s was “The Showdown” but who expected the showdown would be between Ant-Man and a vacuum cleaner?

Yes, it’s dopey. But this is the most fun I’ve had with this strip in over a year. Keep it coming, guys!

October 3, 2016

Monday is a recap day. (Including recapping for the umpteenth time that our villain is “Elihas Starr A.K.A. Egghead.”) So, we get a caption reading, “Elihas Starr A.K.A. Egghead, decides to do a bit of vacuuming…” The camera is above Egghead at an odd angle so that it looks like he is holding the vacuum up at head level. “I do like to keep a tidy house!” he says. The SHROOOOOOSHH of the vacuum spans both panels. So does the caption, which continues in panel #2 with “…in the direction of Ant-Man and a semi-conscious Spider-Man!” Panel #2 shows them being sucked up into the vacuum. “Can’t resist – its pull - !” says Ant-Man. Spidey says, “Koff.”

October 4, 2016

“Life inside a vacuum-cleaner bag,” according to the opening caption, features Ant-Man and an unconscious Spidey. Ant-Man shakes Spidey and yells, “Spidey – wake up! Koff You’re our only hope for getting out of this thing! Starr took away my normal strength but – koff – maybe your spider powers weren’t…” He stops, in panel #2, and clutches his throat. “N-no use!” he says, “C-can’t b-breathe in here…!” Off-panel, Egghead apparently hears that, even though it is coming from the mouth of a man about an inch high, and replies, “Of course not, Lang.” (He knows Ant-Man’s secret ID, too.) Panel #3 is all Eggy’s as he holds the vacuum cleaner high and quips, “Why do you think they call it a vacuum?” That Egghead! What a card!

October 5, 2016

Some time later, Ant-Man recovers consciousness. His head (filling up the panel) wobbles and he shakily says, “Where – where am I…?” Panel #2 shows that he and Spidey are no longer in the vacuum cleaner but instead in some sort of lab. Spidey is still unconscious. “Spidey!” calls out Ant-Man, “Now I remember! Egghead vacuumed us up! You’ve gotta get us out of here!” But the only reply comes from off-panel as Egghead says, “He can’t hear you, fool.” (Doing his Mr. T. impression?) “And even if he could…” Cue panel #3 with Egghead’s face filling it up as he looks down on Ant-Man and Spidey who are both encased in some sort of glass. (They now look to be about 6 inches high. Can we please get a consistent size for these tiny heroes?) “He is as helplessly encased as you are!” declares Eggy.

October 6, 2016

Spidey finally starts to wake up. He lets out an “Uhnnnn…” Ant-Man looks at him and says, “Glad you’re finally awake, man!” (“Awake Man?” I thought he was Spider-Man.) In panel #2, the web-slinger takes in his predicament. “We’re trapped – in some kind of plastic,” he says. “You can’t break free either, huh?” says Ant-Man. From off-panel, Egghead chimes in with “I had to render the two of you immobile.” And panel #3 pulls back to show just how small Spidey and Ant-Man are on the table with Egghead looming above them. It even has a circular inset pointing at tiny Ant-Man with a close-up of his face. “Even with magnifying goggles, I can barely see you,” says Eggy. “And boy, do I wish we couldn’t see you!” replies Scott.

October 7, 2016

Egghead’s head fills up the right half of the panel. The tiny Spidey and Ant-Man are down in the lower left corner. “What’ve you done with Hank Pym – the first Ant-Man?” asks Scott. “Your concern for your mentor is most touching, so…” says Egghead. “Here he is,” he finishes in panel #2, gesturing behind him to a goateed gray-haired man unconscious and tied up in a chair. (Looking like Michael Douglas in the Ant-Man movie rather than the younger Hank Pym seen in the comics.) “Hank!” yells out Scott, in a font bigger than Egghead’s dialogue. But I’m not wondering how a tiny man can yell so loud. I’m wondering how they couldn’t see Hank Pym in that chair when he was in plain sight behind Egghead.

October 8, 2016

This is a strange angle. The camera is down below tabletop level and over to the side so we see the tiny heroes in the plastic, Egghead standing aside, and Hank Pym in the chair. There is again a circular inset with an arrow so we can get a close-up of Scott’s face. “Hank! Can you hear me?” he yells. “I’ve sedated him, Lang,” says Egghead. (Plus you’re a few inches tall. No one should be able to hear you.) Panel #2 is a close-up of Egghead’s face as he says, “After all, I couldn’t have him warning you two about my little trap, could I?” Well, Eggy, you could have kept him in another room, maybe.

October 9, 2016

Is pretty much a recap of the week. Stan starts us out with a caption, “Egghead has immobilized both Spider-Man and Ant-Man…” as Egghead peers down at Spidey and Scott. (Check out the big fingernails Alex drew for Egghead!) “If you’ve hurt Doc Pym…” says Scott. Panel #2 is Egghead turning back to look at the Michael Douglas-influenced Pym. “…As well as the original Ant-Man!” says the caption. “He’ll go on living as long as he’s useful to me!” says Eggy. (Not sure how he’s useful while unconscious but…fine.) Panel #3 is one of those over-the-shoulder shots with Egghead looking down at the heroes who are so tiny we need one of those circular insets with an arrow. This time the inset highlights Spidey. “As you may have surmised,” says Eggo, “I wanted his legendary shrinking formula.” Spidey (or, rather, the inset of Spidey) says, “And it looks like you got it, man.” Panel #4 zooms way in to a close-up of the heads of Ant-Man and Spidey. Scott says, “Yeah. You shrunk us both down to insect stature – even altered the formula so we didn’t retain normal strength.” Panel #5 gives us Egghead surrounded by all sorts of test tubes and beakers and such. “Can’t have you shattering all my test tubes…” he tells our heroes (who are in the panel but so small that they are represented by two little rectangles encased in a green glow. Panel #6 is Egghead surrounded by his equipment…but from a different angle. “…Or all this precious equipment I brought from Pym’s lab,” he says. (Without any assistance, it appears. When did he find the time to do all this?) And panel #7 (Yes! Panel 7!) shows Spidey and a shocked Ant-Man, who says, “Good grief! You really looted the place!”

Our “Next” caption is “My Cunning Plan…!” and it’s about time! Last week’s was “Can a man exist in a vacuum??” which, for two days, turned out to be “yes,” then Egghead somehow transferred tiny Spidey and tiny Ant-Man into tiny plastic prisons with those big clumsy fingers and fingernails of his and the whole vacuum thing was forgotten.

October 10, 2016

Is a recap of Sunday, which was pretty much a recap of the last week. Well, there is one new bit of information here. We’re back to that shot of Egghead looking down at the heroes with one of them in the circular arrowed inset. This time it’s Ant-Man who says, “You kidnapped Hank Pym and stole his lab equipment?” “Certain organizations will pay handsomely for his shrinking formula,” says Eggy. Panel #2 is Egghead alone in a Loony Tunes spotlight. And he has plenty to say. “When you two arrived, I was experimenting on a sample I’d found,” he says, “I’m pleased that my adjustments to it deprived you of man-sized strength at reduced size.” In panel #3, he puts his hand to his chin and adds, “Unfortunately, I’m not quite sure which ingredient that I added caused that.” Good one, Egghead! You not only lost track of the ingredient but you blabbed it to your enemies! What a genius!

October 11, 2016

Another shot of Egghead’s big face filling half the panel with Spidey and Ant-Man down in the lower-left corner. “Okay, so you were after Hank Pym’s Ant-Man formula,” says Spidey, “But why’d you scheme to get control of the Daily Bugle?” Panel #2 puts Egghead back in the Loony Tunes spotlight as he looks down at them and says, “I’ll need to launder all the money I’ll be paid for that formula…and who would suspect that a newspaper was being utilized for that purpose?” Panel #3 brings us back (approximately) to the over-the-shoulder shot as Egghead rubs his chin and looks up, saying, “Too bad Jonah Jameson’s cousin Ruth had to get in the way!” On the table, the two tiny heroes both say, “!?” which means, I think, “are you saying you murdered her?!”

October 12, 2016

Again with the shot of Egghead filling half the panel and the heroes down at the lower left. Ant-Man says, “Then you admit you murdered your wife to gain control of the Bugle?” “Once I won Ruth’s affections,” says Egghead (and how long did it take him to do that? How long has he had this plan?), “I’d have been content to simply dominate her…but it turned out stubbornness runs in the Jameson family…” Panel #2 is another with Eggy filling the right half, now smiling and extending his hand, while only Spidey is seen way down in the lower left. “So I had to become her heir instead!” finishes Eggy. “You cold-blooded murderer!” says Spidey.

October 13, 2016

In case you didn’t know, Stan tells us in a caption that “Elihas Starr relishes revealing his fiendish plan…” And, yes, it’s another big head of Egghead looking down at two tiny heroes. “I needed to expend all my energies on the original Ant-Man,” says Eggo and he continues off-panel in panel #2 (which is only Spidey with spider-sense spikes coming off his head). “…So I ordered a Bugle photographer to keep tabs on you, Lang,” he says, “That way I could eliminate you when the need arose.” (And he did order Peter Parker to get photos of Ant-Man back on August 4th. Remember?) Panel #3 is also a familiar sight of Eggy on the right looking down at the two heroes with a circular arrowed inset, this time of Ant-Man, who says, “But I came looking for you first!” “So you did,” says Egghead, “and see where it landed you!”

October 14, 2106

Spidey is a tiny addition in the lower left corner of the panel. Ant-Man, next to him, is, at least, completely in the panel. Egghead, on the right side, is holding Thor’s hammer. (Or, at least, it looks like Thor’s hammer.) “I’ve enjoyed sparring with you two,” says Eggy, “but it’s time you departed this life.” “If only I had my normal strength,” moans Ant-Man. Panel #2 is an odd one with the two tiny heroes menaced by the hammer. Egghead, off-panel except for a piece of his hand holding the hammer, says, “Yes, depriving you of that when you shrank was a happy byproduct.” Spidey, in one of those circular arrowed insets, says, “Not that you’re asking, but I’ve lost some of my spider strength, too…” “Though,” he continues in panel #3, “far from all of it!” And, with Egghead’s nose and mouth “looking on,” Spidey starts to break out of the plastic with a KRAAAKK.

October 15, 2016

Egghead’s nose and mouth fill up the left side of the panel as he says, “You’re cracking the plastic in which I encased you?” Spidey, nearly center panel, continues to crack the plastic with a KRAAAAKK that spans both panels. Ant-Man is an after-thought in the back. “It’s not nearly as easy as it’d ordinarily be,” says Spidey in panel #1, “But yeah!” he says in panel #2, a close-up of Spidey as he does his thing.

October 16, 2016

“It would seem Spider-Man has retained much of his arachnid strength even at insect size…” says the opening caption. Spidey bursts out of the plastic. Ant-Man, still imprisoned next to him, calls out, “Way to go, Spidey!” Egghead, towering above, at an odd angle so that his head looks tiny and his hand looks huge, yells, “No!” With panel #2, we’re back to an over-the-shoulder shot but this time over Eggy’s right shoulder so that he fills up the left side of the panel. (Spidey and Ant-Man are tiny below him.) “You were supposed to lose your powers when you shrank,” says Egghead, “just as Lang did.” Panel #3 focuses down on Spidey and Ant-Man (who seems to be struggling to break the plastic but to no avail). “All he lost was the strength of a normal-size guy,” says Spidey, “If you’d read all the scurrilous articles Jameson’s printed about me…” “…You’d know that, when I lost a normal man’s strength…” he continues in panel #4 as he winds up to punch the plastic surrounding Ant-Man. “I still had plenty of spider power to fall back on!” he finishes in panel #5, as he shatters the plastic with a karate chop (and a TRHAKK). (This all seems far too complicated to me. Can’t we just say, “he’s stronger than Ant-Man so he stays stronger?) Off-panel, Egghead says, “In that case, I fear I’ve no recourse…” “But to resort to violence of a more standard variety!” he finishes in panel #6 as he pulls a gun on the two tiny heroes. (I love this panel with the anger lines coming off of Egghead’s head, and the motion line behind the gun, which fills up the middle of the panel (the gun, not the motion line), and the glow over Spidey and Ant-Man.)

The “Next” caption reads, “Bullets & Bug-Sized Men!” which, perhaps, means that gun is going to be fired. Last week’s was “My Cunning Plan…!” which we certainly got from Egghead all week, although I don’t know how cunning it is.

October 17, 2016

A caption: “Even at Ant-Man size, Spider-Man still wields considerable strength…” And then we have a time warp as panel #1 goes back to Spidey breaking out of the plastic with a KRAAAAKK while the second panel moves past what happened yesterday. (Who needs that stuff in between?) “Just think of me as a super-spider!” says Spidey as he breaks out of the plastic. “You show ‘im, webster!” says the still-imprisoned Ant-Man. (No, Spidey is not Emmanuel Lewis. The “w” in “webster” is not capitalized, even though my auto-correct keeps changing it.) In panel #2, the caption says, “…forcing Egghead to bring out the heavy artillery!” Egghead’s gun fills much of the panel (with Egghead’s fingers in view) and it is firing with a RAKKA and a RAKKA and a RAKKA. Spidey stands there defiantly while Ant-Man is still in the plastic which means we’ve just travelled over into an alternate reality.

October 18, 2016

The RAKA RAKKA fills the top of the panel as the gun continues to fire. Spidey finally smashes the plastic to free Ant-Man (again). Off-panel, Egghead says, “When a bullet strikes one of you, you’ll be obliterated.” “But no matter how many rounds you fire, Starr…” says Spidey. “…There’s still lots of room between shells!” he finishes in panel #2. A bullet looking as big as a scud strikes the table with a RAKKA as Spidey and Ant-Man run away from it.

This all looks good from table level but let’s stop and think for a moment about what Egghead is doing. He’s firing away at close range at a table! Where are all those bullets going? Where are all those pieces of table going?

October 19, 2016

With a RAKKA RAKKA on top of the panel, Egghead fires wildly (with his gun drawn as three guns firing in three different directions). “Stand still, you two,” he says, “So I can annihilate you!” (Oh, okay, Egghead, since you asked so politely.) In panel #2, a scud-bullet passes overhead as Spidey and Ant-Man avoid it. “Thanks but I’d rather keep in motion,” says Spidey. “Like so!” he finishes in panel #3 as he leaps up and knocks the gun out of Egghead’s hand with a THRAKK. “Owwww,” says Egghead.

October 20, 2016

Reaching into his inside coat pocket, Egghead says, “You shattered my weapon!” Tiny Spidey stands on a chair and replies, “Wait’ll you see what I do to your jaw!” In panel #2, Egghead pulls out another gun and points it at Hank Pym. But this one is a gas gun and he fires it with a SSSSSSS. The gas envelops Pym. “I’d prefer that you see what this gas can do – to the captive Dr. Pym!” he says. Down in the lower right corner, both Ant-Man and Spidey say, “?” which probably means, “So, why didn’t you do that to begin with?”

October 21, 2016

Surrounded by gas, still shooting out with a SSSSSS, Hank Pym starts shrinking. Either Spidey or Ant-Man says, off-panel, “That gas Starr’s shooting at Pym – it’s shrinking him to ant-size.” That same off-panel person (or maybe the other one) says, “No! Even smaller!” as panel #2 shows Pym shrinking so much that the ropes that bound him now look like tree trunks. (So, why don’t the ropes and chair shrink?) In panel #3, we can finally see who’s speaking. Ant-Man says, “Then I’ve gotta shrink with him!” and Spidey says, “And whither thou goest…” And they both leap into the shrink smoke.

October 22, 2016

Ant-Man tumbles in a swirl of smoke. “Hank Pym’s my mentor – and my friend,” he says, “I had to plunge into this shrinking mist to rescue him.” In panel #2, we see Spidey tumbling along with Ant-Man. “What’s your excuse?” Ant-Man asks Spidey. “Guess I’ve just got an impulsive nature!” Spidey replies.

October 23, 2016

“A powerful shrinking gas is reducing Hank Pym, Ant-Man and Spider-Man…” says the caption. All three of them are engulfed in a dark blue squiggle surrounded by a light blue squiggle. They somehow shrink off the chair Hank sat on and head for the floor. “Hold steady, Scott…” says Spidey. He continues in panel #2, shooting webbing at Hank with a FWIP and a FWIP. “…While I try to catch Pym,” he says, “before he becomes just a blotch on Egghead’s floor!” “Got ‘im!” he says, off-panel, as panel #3 shows us Hank Pym (looking very old) suspended by webbing, right over the tree-like fibers of the carpet. “Th-thanks!” says Hank. Looking up from the carpet “forest” in panel #4, Hank sees Ant-Man and Spidey leaping in. “Scott? Scott Lang? And Spider-Man?” asks Hank. In panel #5, Hank holds his head and asks Spidey and Ant-Man, “Where are we – and how did we get here?” (Hank was unconscious before this. Did the gas wake him up as well as shrink him?) Scott replies, “Right now, Doc, we’re deep in Elihas Starr’s shag carpet…” “…And it looks like that’s the least of our problems!” finishes Scott in panel #6 as the three look up and see a giant (to them) spider bearing down on them.

So, why did Hank Pym need Spidey to keep him from becoming “a blotch on Egghead’s floor” and Ant-Man didn’t? Scott doesn’t have his “normal human strength,” remember?

The “Next” caption is “Spider vs. Spider!” So I guess that’s going to happen. Last week’s was “Bullets & Bug-Sized Men!” which definitely happened!

October 24, 2016

It’s recap time again, starting with a recap caption: “Spidey, Ant-Man and Hank Pym have all been shrunk down way beyond ant-size…” The three of them stand in the tall “grass” of the carpet. Ant-Man looks over to his left (and over to panel #2) and says, “Look out, guys…” The camera moves behind the trio in panel #2 to see the “giant” spider approaching. “Incoming!” says Ant-Man.

October 25, 2016

The camera moves into a “drone shot,” high above (and note how the carpet is bald right where the trio is standing so that it looks like a clearing in a jungle) as Spidey leaps toward the spider. “I’m the only one of us three who can handle that arachnid,” he says, “because I’ve got the proportionate strength of a spider.” Panel #2 is a close-up of Hank Pym as he plays the wet blanket by saying, “Yes, but so does it! And it’s way bigger than you…” He finishes off-panel in panel #3 as Spidey gets caught in the spider’s pincers. “So it’s got a lot more of it!” Hank says. “Yeah,” replies Spidey, “guess I should’ve figured that out – for myself!”

October 26, 2016

Spidey yells out, “Run, you two! Save yourselves!” as the spider’s pincers close on him. “We’re not about to do that, webster,” says Ant-Man as he and Hank Pym look up at Spidey. Panel #2 is a close-up of Ant-Man and Hank. “How can we help him against that spider, Hank?” says Scott. “We could reach him – if we had something to ride,” replies Hank, looking over at panel #3 where a wasp is caught in the spider’s web. With Ant-Man and Hank tiny in the lower left corner, Hank points up at the wasp and says, “Like that wasp tangled up in its web!” Ant-Man and the Wasp! I get it!

October 27, 2016

Somehow Ant-Man gets a hold of a lasso and he swings up to the spider’s web. Hank Pym somehow gets up in the web, too. They approach the wasp. “Can’t believe I’m lassoing a wasp – while you’re trying to free it from a spiderweb!” says Ant-Man to Hank. “It’s Spider-Man’s best chance of survival,” says Hank to Ant-Man. (Spidey is in that much danger??) In panel #2, Ant-Man swings through the air, with one hand holding the lasso and the other holding Hank Pym. (So, he must be stronger than we thought even at tiny size without retaining his normal strength.) “Okay, I’ve sliced the main strands,” says Hank. (Don’t ask me how he did this. In fact, this whole strip is filled with stuff that is not explained.) “Now all we’ve gotta do is hop aboard,” says Scott. They land on the wasp’s back in panel #3. “For an aerial buckin’ bronco ride!” finishes Scott.

October 28, 2016

Somehow, Ant-Man has now lassoed the wasp around its neck. He hangs on for dear life as Hank Pym hangs on to him. “Hang on!” says Scott, “The wasp’s going wild trying to rid itself of web-strands.” “Can you see the spider that’s attacking Spider-Man?” asks Hank. (Are you kidding? How can you miss it?) Panel #2 is a close-up of Ant-Man. “See it?” he asks. “I just steered the wasp into it!” finishes Scott, as he and Hank jump off the wasp. The spider drops Spidey, who says, “Looks like the cavalry arrived!”

October 29, 2016

The threesome gets together in the carpet “grassland.” “How’d you manage to guide that wasp into the spider I was fighting?” asks Spidey. “Well… ‘guide’ might be too strong a word…” says Ant-Man. He continues, off-panel, in panel #2, saying, “At least they’d rather fight each other than come after us!” The panel shows the wasp going for the spider’s throat.

October 30, 2016

It’s time for our Sunday panel #1 caption. “Spider-Man, Ant-Man and Hank Pym are front-row for a struggle between a wasp and a spider…” The three heroes look up and watch the battle. “Guess we’ve got no dog in this fight,” says Spidey. Panel #2 moves in on a Spidey/Ant-Man close-up. “Thanks, Scott,” says Spidey, “for steering that wasp into ol’ eight-legs and getting me off the hook!” “It was as much luck as it was steering,” says Ant-Man. Now, if you’re wondering who wins the wasp/spider battle, forget it. The panel #3 camera pulls way back to show Egghead. (Remember Egghead?) He looms over a patch of carpet with three tiny glowing blips, shown in a circular inset with an arrow. The inset shows Spidey, Ant-Man, and Hank. From the inset, Hank says, “The bad news is: Elihas Starr is still looking for us.” And, now, the camera moves in on a close-up of Egghead in panel #4. “I know you’re down there somewhere, my three mosquito-teers,” he says. The camera pulls back even further to show Egghead reaching into a closet. “Since I’ve learned enough about Dr. Pym’s shrinking formula,” he says, “I no longer need any of you alive…” Panel #6 moves back toward the three heroes as Egghead’s hand fills the left side of the panel. It holds a bug spray and he shoots it at our heroes. “This modified bug-bomb will soon rid the entire house of all life!” says the off-panel Egghead. (Wow! All life? It must be powerful stuff!)

Our “Next” panel is “Pest Control Works Both Ways!” which seems to imply a comeback by the good guys. Last week’s was “Spider vs. Spider!” which happened, I guess, but we really didn’t get a chance to see.

October 31, 2016

“Talk about a ground-level POV!” proclaims the caption as Hank, Ant-Man, and Spidey look up at the wasp/spider battle. “That wasp and spider are finishing each other off!” says Scott. “Yeah…” says Spidey, as we move to panel #2 and see Egghead’s hand spraying the carpet with a HSSSS. (The tiny threesome is again standing in that bare patch of carpet, making their location rather obvious.) “But us pre-shrunk types still have to worry about Egghead!” says Spidey. Off-panel, Egghead says, “This modified insect-bomb will rid me of all pests!” Note that it is Egghead’s left hand doing the spraying and his word balloon points way off stage left so he is either a contortionist or a ventriloquist.

November 1, 2016

There’s that hand again, spraying that bug-bomb stuff. The sound effect goes across the top of all three panels. HSSSSS SSSSSSSSSSS SSSSSSSSS. (Yes, I counted the “S”s. Sad, I know.) From their bald patch of carpeting, Ant-Man says, “We’ve no defense against Starr’s bug-bomb.” Hank turns his back on the others and reaches into his pocket. He says, “With all due respect to the second Ant-Man…” Panel #2 has a smiling Hank in the foreground with Spidey and Ant-Man behind. He holds a canister in his hand and says, “The original never goes anywhere without a spare supply of enlarging potion!” Wha?????? Why didn’t he use that right away! No, let’s lasso a wasp to rescue Spidey from that spider rather than enlarge immediately. Sure, why not?

Panel #3 has only Spidey, looking up at the bug spray. “You’d better hurry up with that stuff,” he says. Yeah, like last week!

November 2, 2016

HSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS over the two panels as the cloud of bug spray starts to settle on them. A smaller SSSSSS emerges from Hank’s enlarging potion. He tells the others, “This potion will make us human size – but it’ll take a few seconds to take effect!” “That delay could be fatal…” says Spidey. In panel #2, he leaps into the cloud, saying, “…Unless Spider-Man starts pulling his weight!” and thinking, “Which, right now is less than one milligram! Just hope I can hold by breath long enough…” Me too, Spidey!

November 3, 2016

The HSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS SSSSSSSS goes through a panel and a half and then stops. Why? Well, panel #1 shows Egghead happily spraying away, saying, “Even if I can’t visually discern you, my little friends – I can still exterminate you!” But in panel #2, the spray can isn’t spraying anymore. A puzzled Eggy says, “Eh? What’s happened to my spray nozzle?” Panel #3 is a close-up of the top of the spray can with Egghead’s thumb and finger still in view. A tiny figure stands on the can. A circular inset with an arrow reveals this tiny figure to be Spidey, who says, “Kof Koff I happened, Egghead! Koff.” From off-panel, Egghead says, “!” which may mean, “Look! Another circular inset with an arrow pointing!”

November 4, 2016

So, between the last panel yesterday and the first panel today, Egghead has dropped the spray can and tries to step on Spidey, who tries to leap out of the way of Eggy’s big foot. From off-panel, Eggy says, “You may have decommissioned my insect-bomb, Spider-Man – but I can still stomp you like the vermin you are!” “Koff koff,” says Spider-Man. But in panel #2, somebody (only their arms shown) clonks Eggy on the back of the head with the base of a table lamp with a KTHAK. “You’re not stomping anybody, Starr!” says the off-panel voice behind the arms. “AWRRR,” says Egghead. Panel #3 reveals the person holding the lamp. A blip in the air (presumably Spidey?) says, “J-Jameson…!?” And, yes, panel #3 reveals J. Jonah Jameson who says, I hear a voice – just barely –but I can’t see anybody!”

November 5, 2016

And so Egghead is laid out on the floor. His head looks like it has multiple wounds, as if Jonah banged away several times. “Ohhh…” says Egghead. Jonah, still holding the lamp, looks down at him and says, “All right, Starr – where’s Dr. Pym?” In panel #2, Jonah’s question is answered as Hank, Scott, and Spidey all grow back to normal size with a FWOOOSH. “We’re…koff…all here, Jameson!” says Spidey. Jonah looks at him. “Huhn!” he says, “You I could do without!”

November 6, 2016

The villain is defeated. “Spider-Man, Ant-Man and Dr. Hank Pym have regained their human stature…” according to the opening caption. What else is left except some self-congratulations? Panel #1 shows Ant-Man supporting a weakened Spidey with Hank in the background and Jonah, still holding that lamp, in the foreground. “Wow!” says Scott, “We got way too small that time – even for me!” Egghead’s unconscious body fills the bottom half of panel #2 with Ant-Man, Spidey, and Hank behind. “Good thing Elihas Starr hadn’t found that enlarging potion you had in your belt, Hank,” says Ant-Man. Panel #3 is Spidey and Hank, who holds the damaged spray can. “We’d still have been gassed before it could work – if Spider-Man hadn’t found the strength to crush the spray nozzle!” says…Spidey, which is either a mistake of the word balloon creator (Hank is probably the speaker here) or an attempt by Spidey to really toot his own horn. Panel #4 is all Spidey as he says, “And Egghead, koff, might still have managed, koff, to stomp us all to death…” (Why is Spidey the only one still coughing?) Panel #5 is back to Spidey, Ant-Man, Hank, JJJ, and the lamp as Spidey continues with, “…except that Jameson arrived in time to brain him!” “I couldn’t let a trio of so-called ‘super-heroes’ past and present, hog all the glory, could I?” says Jonah. In panel #6, Jonah strikes a pose, with the lamp in his right hand and his left forefinger pointing in the air. “I can see the headline in the Daily Bugle now…” he says. This sets off Spidey’s spider-sense, apparently, as spikes fly off his head. He whispers to Hank, “Can you shrink me again, Doc?” “I doubt it would help…,” Hank whispers back.

And that’s it, right? The wrap-up, in less than four months! Right? Not so fast! The “Next” caption reads, “Elihas Starr at Bay!” which sure doesn’t sound like we’re finished with Egghead. Last week’s was “Pest Control Works Both Ways!” which isn’t quite what happened, unless we’re counting Jonah’s lamp as “pest control.”

November 7, 2016

Egghead is now sitting up in a chair with little Tinkerbelles dancing around his head. (Who put him in a chair? And why?) The opening caption reads, “Elihas Starr a.k.a. Egghead, returns to consciousness…” “I – I can’t believe it,” says Eggy. Panel #2 gives us the back of Eggy’s head as he looks at Spidey, Ant-Man, and Hank Pym. “What?” says Spidey, “That Ant-Man, Dr. Pym and I are back to normal size?” In panel #3, Egghead points at JJJ, who still has that lamp in his hand. “That J. Jonah Jameson is the one who laid me low,” says Egghead. “Guilty as charged, cousin-in-law,” says Jonah.

November 8, 2016

We begin with Egghead filling the lower left part of the panel. He looks up and back at JJJ who fills the upper right part, though only part of his head and all of his right hand are shown. “You murdered your wife, Ruth – my cousin!” says Jonah. “Of course I did!” replies Egghead. Panel #2 belongs to Egghead’s head, though his word balloon fills up half of it. “Why else would I have married her – except to gain control of the Daily Bugle?” he says, “You simpletons can’t prove a thing!” In panel #3, Egghead continues gloating as Spidey and the back of Ant-Man’s head look on. “I’ll walk out of the courtroom a free man – and still in control of the newspaper!” he says.

November 9, 2016

J. Jonah Jameson gets furious and loses his cool. (Kind of how I feel after yesterday’s election.) He balls his fists and says, “He just admitted he murdered my cousin! I’ll throttle him with my bare hands!” Spidey holds him back as Egghead leans back and leers. (His head is in the lower left corner while his knee sticks up on the lower right side. Is he reclining?) “Tempting as that prospect is, Jameson…” says Spidey, then continues in panel #2 as he and JJJ bask in a Loony Tunes spotlight. “…I think you’d prefer to be on the outside of a prison cell, looking in…not sharing one with Egghead!”

November 10, 2016

Egghead goes into full gloat mode. With Ant-Man watching sternly from behind, Eggy says, “You fools will never get me convicted of murder!” “Maybe not, Starr…” says Spidey from off-panel. And panel #2 shows Spidey standing on the ceiling, gesturing at a camera webbed up in the corner. “But the delayed-action camera I set up over there – probably took some good shots of you trying to kill us.” Forget about whether Spidey had time to set that camera up in the first place. The real question is, “Didn’t he just blow his secret identity?” Especially with JJJ in the room. Isn’t Jonah going to think, “I’ve always wondered how Parker got all those close-up but badly-framed photos. Now I know!”

And, while we’re at it, let’s not forget about whether Spidey had time to set up that camera. Let’s see. On September 27th, Spidey set up his camera on a tree outside! On September 28th, he and Ant-Man entered the house and were enveloped by the shrink gas. On September 29th, they were shrunk down to ant-size. So, no, sorry guys, there was no time for Spidey to set up his camera in the corner to take pictures of Egghead “trying to kill us.”

But Egghead doesn’t know that so he looks quite sad in panel #3, which is sort of a mirror image bookend with panel #1, only Hank Pym joins Eggy in the panel instead of Ant-Man. (With the open space of ceiling in panel #2, it’s really quite a nifty effect.) And Hank says, “And that, added to four witnesses who heard you confess to murder – should get you sent away for the rest of your natural life!” And why was Eggy so stupid as to confess to murder in front of witnesses? Because he figured he was in a comic and confessions in comics never count.

November 11, 2016

And so… “The police have arrived to take Elihas Starr away…” according to the caption. And, yes, there are two cops leading Eggy to their car; the red lights flashing on the roof. JJJ stands behind them and says, “That’s justice - J. Jonah Jameson style!” In panel #2, his eyes grow wide and he smiles as he says, “When he’s sent up the river, I’ll get my newspaper back!” (Even with witnesses to Eggy’s confession, I suspect the route to “up the river” is a long and slow one. It should be some time before Jonah gets his paper back but it will probably all be forgotten here and assumed that it happened in one day.) Standing behind him, Spidey says, “The prison yard’s gain…will be journalism’s loss!” In panel #3, Jonah turns to Spidey and says, “Shut up, Parker! Do you think I’m so stupid that I didn’t figure out that your stunt with the webbed camera must be how Peter gets his pictures?! I’m plastering your secret ID all over the front page of my paper!”

Actually, no, that doesn’t happen. In panel #3, JJJ gets one of those “Janus” images. You know, those two-faced things to demonstrate a swiveling of the head and a change of emotion. In this case, one face is gleeful as he says, “Right! Uh – I mean…” and the other is shocked as it looks at Spidey and says, “What did you say again?” Spidey looks off into the distance, playing it cool.

November 12, 2016

Today’s strip features two characters and two panels, both characters appearing in both panels. In panel #1, JJJ glowers at Spidey and says, “Frankly, wall-crawler, I strongly suspect you were in cahoots with Starr!” Spidey glowers at JJJ (under his mask, we assume) and replies, “What? You saw him trying to kill me with that bug-bomb!” In panel #2, Jonah responds, “All I saw was him spraying away. I never saw what he was spraying at!” Spidey stretches his hands out and looks heavenward as he thinks, “Give me strength!”

November 13, 2016

Okay, I apologize for all of the gripes I’ve had with this storyline. (Well, not all of them.) Turns out Stan has them covered. No time for Spidey to web a camera up inside? Check. JJJ getting suspicious of Spidey webbing the camera? Check. Let’s go through it panel by panel.

We begin with an opening caption. “As the police cart Elihas (Egghead) Starr off to jail…” (I’ve been amused at the insistence in this storyline of using Egghead’s real name over and over and over. We don’t say “Dr. Otto (Dr. Octopus) Octavius” when Doc Ock is the villain. Maybe this is the “Wilson Fisk” influence from Netflix’s “Daredevil.”) As the police car moves off into the distance, its flashing lights still on, Ant-Man, Spidey, JJJ, and Hank Pym (left to right) watch it go. (You can see tiny silhouettes of the heads of the two cops in the front seat but where is Eggy’s head? Did they stick him in the trunk?)

No one speaks until panel #2, which is reserved for Ant-Man and Spidey. “Earlier, I saw you position a camera in a tree outside the house,” says Scott to Spidey, “but I never saw you place a second camera inside, like you said.” Panel #3 is Spidey and Scott with Jonah eavesdropping from behind. “I brought that camera inside while he was out cold,” replies Spidey, “hoping to get enough incriminating pictures to rattle him!” Aha! Very clever.

Panel #4 features (left to right) Ant-Man, Spidey, and Hank, who says, “Since he was convinced you had the goods on him – I overheard him spilling his guts to the cops even after they Mirandized him!” Now the camera pulls back to a drone shot in panel #5 showing all four men, as JJJ says, “Poor Cousin Ruth will be avenged – and I’ll have the Bugle back! But – one thing I don’t get, wall-crawler…” And panel #6 becomes a Spidey-Jonah two-shot. “Why were you setting up a camera to get a shot of the action? I thought it was Peter Parker who takes all the pictures of you!” “Uh-oh!” thinks Spidey.

Yes! My favorite strip in the whole storyline! Spidey faked the camera bit and Jonah wondered about Peter Parker! Nicely done, guys!

The “Next” caption is, “When You Find Yourself in a Hole…Start Digging!” which doesn’t sound good. Last week’s was “Elihas Starr at Bay!” Well, I guess he was “at bay.” He did, momentarily, while “cornered,” stand up to his accusers.

November 14, 2016

“The cops have hauled off Elihas Starr…” says the caption, as JJJ confronts Spidey. “You set up the camera that incriminated Starr and got photos of you and Ant-Man?” says Jonah, leaning in, “Usually it’s Peter Parker who shoots pics of you!” “I, uh, decided it’s time I got paid instead of him,” says Spidey, leaning back. Then, in panel #2, Spidey waves the camera in the air and says, “How much am I bid for…” Jameson puts a hand to his face (like Jack Benny used to do) and says, “I don’t believe it! I’m surrounded by traitors!” Ant-Man and Hank Pym laugh. And…that’s probably it for that. Disappointing, I know. But at least Stan and Larry addressed it! That’s more than I thought they would do.

November 15, 2016

Spidey and Ant-Man watch JJJ and Hank Pym drive off together in the back seat of a black sedan. “For a second, I was afraid Jameson’d guess your real identity,” says Ant-Man. “You and me both, Scott,” replies Spidey. And, let’s face it, if JJJ wasn’t a character in a comic strip, he’d have figured it out long ago. Panel #2 is a two-shot of Ant-Man and Spidey. Ant-Man’s head looks a bit too round but maybe it’s because part of his mandibles are cut off by the edge of the panel. “Lucky you asked him to pay for those photos, which distracted him,” says Scott. “You really think that was an accident?” says Spidey. Panel #3 is Ant-Man’s head alone. It doesn’t look quite as odd as it does in the previous panel. “Web-man, you’re more than just a pretty face,” he says, “Course, with that mask on, you don’t have a face!”

November 16, 2016

Spidey and Ant-Man continue to stand around together. “We got Jameson his newspaper back…and helped solve a murder,” says Spidey, “If only all life’s problems could be solved so easily.” “What problems?” asks Ant-Man. Panel #2 is a close up of Ant-Man’s head even though it is Spidey, off-panel, who does the talking. A strange choice. “Well…Jameson offered Doc Pym a ride home,” says Spidey, “But you and I still have to get back to Manhattan.” And panel #3 is a silent panel as Scott and Peter (with a bystander behind) ride the subway. Scott is reading the Daily Bugle, with the headline “The City is Safe,” while Peter looks very unhappy. I love this silent panel, a perfect wrap-up to the story (except it’s not quite the wrap-up) only why would the Bugle have that headline? No one outside of a select few knew anything about Egghead or any of his plans.

November 17, 2016

Scott and Peter emerge from the subway but Larry’s illustration makes it look more like they are in a Punch and Judy outdoor stage getting ready to perform. “Well,” says Scott, “it’s been fun working with you, Spider-Man.” “Likewise, Ant-Man,” says Pete, “We’ll have to do it again sometime.” Panel #2 is a silent panel (that’s two in two days!) with Peter and Scott starting to part ways but looking back at each other, clearly reluctant to go. And, in panel #3, they are in a diner sipping coffee (with a cook in the background). “Hey, when two crime-crushers have as much in common as we do,” says Scott. “…There’s gotta be time for a fast cup o’ coffee,” finishes Peter. And that is the perfect wrap-up to the story.

November 18, 2016

Yesterday was the real end of this story but I am taking it on through Sunday before I reset. So it is that Peter arrives at home, discovering MJ in bed when he enters. “That you, Tiger?” she asks. “Sorry, honey, I didn’t mean to wake you up,” says Pete as he removes his jacket. In panel #2, MJ sits up in bed. Peter holds his jacket in his left hand. “I haven’t really been able to sleep anyway,” says MJ, “I’ve got some good news.” “Oh?” says Peter. Panel #3 is all Pete as MJ, off-panel, says, “My Broadway play is shutting down!” Pete gets some of those wiggle lines by the side of his head and says “?” which is short-hand for “Huh?”

November 19, 2016

A two-shot of Peter looking down on MJ in bed. “Your hit play is folding – and you’re smiling about it?” says Pete. “Oh, the show’s not really closing,” says MJ. She explains in panel #2, an extreme close-up of her face. (Apparently, MJ sleeps in full makeup and those big hoop earrings.) “It’s just going on hiatus for a couple of weeks…They need to do a few more repairs on the theater.” “A few more?” you say. Yes, because a previous repair and hiatus allowed MJ to star in “Marvella 2” sometime before I started reviewing these strips in 2015 and to take that cruise the Sub-Mariner interrupted in the story that debuted on August 24, 2015. Hey, if it works…!

November 20, 2016

We’re actually three days into the new story but let’s wrap it up here on Sunday before proceeding anew. Our caption reads, “MJ has informed Peter that her Broadway hit play is closing…” Peter has put his jacket back on. The camera is behind him as he stands at the foot of the bed with his arms crossed as MJ sits up in bed. “Just for a couple of weeks,” says MJ, “so the theater can do a few repairs that they missed before.” Panel #2 is all Pete as he raises a finger in the air and says, “Hey, that’s great, honey! Any chance we can shoe-horn in a fast vacation?” Panel #3 is all MJ as she replies, “Actually, when I called my agent about the news…he said he’d been just about to call me.” Panel #4 is back to the two of them but now the camera is behind MJ. “It seems the studio’s decided to release ‘Marvella 2’ to actual movie theaters,” she says, “instead of going direct-to-video like the first one did.” In panel #5, the camera moves back behind Peter again as MJ spread her arms to hug him. “They really need me to do some promotion for it,” she says, “in L.A.!” And panel #6 puts the two of them in a Loony Tunes spotlight as they hold each other. Peter says, “Wow! A Hollywood vacation! Just what a poor Spider-Man needs, after chasing around after two Ant-Men and an Egghead!” But that party-pooper of a captionist, adds a final caption that reads, “Don’t thank your lucky stars too soon, Peter!”

The “Next” caption is “Westward Ho, the Parkers!” which will serve as the title of the next story. Last week’s was “When You Find Yourself in a Hole…Start Digging!” which didn’t amount to much. It should have been “Awkwardly ending this story midweek…Sorry about that.”

In General...

Okay, so it's not perfect. There are little gaps here and there that Stan and Larry probably hope you don't notice because you only read a few panels every day over a period of four months. (And let's point out that this story was "only" four months which is preferred over some of these five or six month monstrosities.) Egghead's plan doesn't seem to make much sense, for instance. If he's bothered to marry and then kill Jonah's cousin, why does he blow that all up immediately by kidnapping Hank Pym? But you're not supposed to remember much about that. And, yes, there were some slow patches like the first two weeks of the story and Peter hanging out with MJ.

On the plus side, we had Egghead's beatdown of Jameson, Peter having to use public transportation to get to Long Island, Spidey's fun friendship with Ant-Man, the scene in Jonah's bedroom, the scene at Quest Rent-a-Car, the dopey but entertaining moments when Scott, Spidey, and Hank have all been shrunk, those cool silent panels at the end, and the final moment of Scott and Peter having coffee together. It sure beats Xandu falling for MJ or all that time with Pharus dying, then not dying.

Overall Rating...

It's a pretty low bar, I admit, but this is the best Spidey newspaper story in a while. Let's give it three webs!