Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #73
This story is part of a Lookback Series: Spectacular Beginnings
This review was first published on: 2006.
Peter Parker's final exams are drawing nearer. Debra Whitman is convinced Peter is really Spider-Man, and is worried sick the man she thinks she loves is going to die. And to top it off, there's a major gang war brewing which threatens all of New York. Worst of all is that one of Spider-Man's deadliest enemies is at the centre of it.
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #73
Dec 1982 : SM Title
Arc: Part 1 of "Octopus and Owl"
|Reprinted In: Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #3|
|Articles: Boomerang, Deborah Whitman, Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius), Owl, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"|
A man bursts into Peter's apartment declaring "Peter Parker-You are the Spectacular SPIDER-MAN!". It's Debra Whitman's psychiatrist Dr Bailey Kulkin, who explains to Peter that this is what Debra believes to be true, and she's in serious trouble. She is suffering from fantasty/reality confusion. Quite simply she's schizophrenic. Dr Kulkin wants Peter to to pretend to be Spider-Man in order to shock Debra back to her senses and help her realize the absurdity of her fantasies. Peter fears that might give his identity away and refuses to do it. Dr Kulkin chastises Peter for not helping his friend, but leaves his card in case Peter changes his mind.
Peter frets to himself over Debra's situation, and the fact that his final exams are close and he has not yet studied for them. Suddenly he get's a phone call from Robbie Robertson who wants Peter to go on a photo assignement with Ben Urich to cover Boomerang's appearance before the grand Jury after his capture by Spider-Man several weeks ago. Peter gladly agrees as he badly needs the cash.
Meanwhile we see a secret meeting between the crime lord known as the Owl, and his minions. He orders them to bring him Boomerang. Peter arrives at the courthouse, where he meets Ben Urich. However Peter's spider sense goes off at the presence of three men in the court house. Inside the court room, Boomerang refuses to answer the District Attorney's questions. The Judge decides to indict Boomerang for murder. The D. A. points out that Boomerang was under orders from the Kingpin of crime. Boomerang declares they'll never pin anything on the Kingpin. He then uses a pen to strike at the D. A. and the guards. He then takes the Judge hostage. Peter slips out in the confusion to change into Spider-Man. He then web zips the Judge from Boomerang's grasp and takes out Boomerang himself. However the bystanders are less than greatful to him, saying he's as bad as Boomerang.
Changing back to Peter Parker, he meets back up with Ben Urich. However the three men who triggered his Spidey sense earlier are nearby, and he overhears them say how they intended to spring Boomerang from custody. Peter slips a Spidey tracer on one of them. That night Spider-Man follows the signal to the natural history museum, where he finds the guard unconcious and hears voices coming from the bird room. There he finds the Owl and his minions. The Owl is less than pleased that Boomerang was not freed, as he had useful information about the Kingpin's criminal empire. Suddenly another criminal party enters the room. Their leader reveals himself to be Doctor Octopus, who declares that he does not need Owl's help and is rejecting his offer of a partnership. The Owl is furious at Ock's betrayl after he made him privy to his plans, and lunges himself towards Ock in attack.
Spider-Man intervenes before the two villains can begin to fight. Spider- Man's presence causes Ock and Owl to temporarily put their differences aside to take down a common enemy. Their minions attack Spider-Man, who gallantly fights as many of them off as he can as he retreats into the dark room of the planeterium. Using the darkness to his advantage, Spider-Man takes down more of the villainous thugs. Outside the planeterium Ock notices how stiffly the Owl walks. The reason is that the Owl's legs are almost totally useless, and that he only stands with the aid of steel braces. However inside the dark planeterium, the Owl lunges at Spider-Man with his steel talons. They battle ferociously above the minature planets hanging from the ceiling. Outside the planeterium Ock decides that his plans have changed, and he and his minions shall go, leaving his two enemies to pummel eachother. Spider-Man fights off the Owl, as he swings into the dinosaur exhibit, and hides in the large skeletal structure of a dinosaur. The Owl enters the exhibit and cannot see Spider-Man hidden inside the dinosaur's bones. Spidey uses a web attack to bring the Owl down from the air and lands him a punch in the face. The Owl tosses Spider-Man off him and escapes thru a window.
Spidey returns home and reflects on the events of the day. He didn't study, he didn't develop his photos for the Bugle, and got into another useless super villain fight. Meanwhile he's completely turned his back on his good friend Debra Whitman. He picks up her psychiatrist's card and rings him telling him that he would like to help Debra.
This was a solid start to the Owl/Octopus gang war arc. The best kind of Spidey stories are those which manage to weave several elements into them. In this case we have Peter's problems like his final exams, Debra Whitman believing he's Spider-Man, and the extreme measures Peter must take to help her.
Then we have Spidey's life, which is filled with villainous activity. Boomerang, the Owl, and best of all Doctor Octopus. Ock is back, and is already running true to form by betraying the Owl and planning to take on this mysterious scheme they've got planned alone.
What are they planning?? Will the Owl seek revenge against Ock?? Will Peter help Debra Whitman??
Four webs. In part one I was already hooked by this story. Perfect balance of action, mystery and drama.