Comics : Untold Tales of Spider-Man #25

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Filling Gaps

This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

The Untold Tales Of Spider-Man was a series that tried to have its issues fit between the issues of the original, early Amazing Spider-Man books. This one happens to take place between issue 23 when Spider-Man battles the Green Goblin and Lucky Lobo and issue 24 when Mysterio tries to convince Spider-Man that he's insane.

In Detail...

"Bad Men On Campus"
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #25
Sep 1997 : SMURF 023.600 : SM Title
Summary: Spidey vs. Crime-Master and Green Goblin
Editor:  Tom Brevoort
Co-Plot:  Roger Stern
Writer:  Kurt Busiek
Pencils:  Ron Frenz
Inker:  Bob McLeod
Cover Art:  Pat Olliffe
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Articles: Watson, Anna, Aunt May Parker, Crime-Master, Flash Thompson, Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Gwen Stacy, Jameson, J. Jonah, Elizabeth (Allan) Osborn, Raymond Warren

In a darkened waterfront warehouse we find the Green Goblin and the Crime-Master negotiating the terms for their new partnership. The Crime-Master wants his prospects to grow while the Green Goblin wants to get in on some Mob related work. With the rise of new super powered heroes the Crime-Master finds that he is in need of someone like the Goblin, but the only way he'll work with him is if the Goblin reveals his true identity. The Goblin pulls back his mask to proclaim his identity as non-other than the Daily Bugle publisher, J. Jonah Jameson. Fooling the Crime-Master into believing he now knows the Goblin's true identity, they agree to work together.

It appears there's a Midtown High Reunion taking place on the Empire State University campus, with all the main characters looking to enroll there. Flash Thompson is thinking about EUS because he thinks Liz is going but Liz isn't so sure about college at all. As Flash and Liz talk Flash notices Peter Parker walk by on a tour of the university, not believing his luck that he'll never be rid of Puny Parker. Peter is, meanwhile, taking a tour of the school with a Mr. Warren as they discuss Peter's academic plans. Mr. Warren happens to be the brother of Professor Miles Warren who is a teacher at ESU and he introduces Peter to him after telling Miles so much about Peter's scientific achievements. As they talk one Gwen Stacy walks by the window causing Miles to lose his train of thought. Outside, Harry Osborn runs into Gwen and decides, since he's practically a part of the university already, that he'll give her a tour of the place.

Continuing their tour, Mr Warren takes Peter to see, firsthand, the Seismic Ray Device, a nifty device that can "check Mineral Composition under the Earth's crust, detect tectonic shifts and find oil deposits and more." Just then Peter recognizes a voice of someone giving a speech in front of a large crowd to be none other then jolly Jonah himself, with a smug Norman Osborne standing just behind on stage. At the back of the audience Peter, not believing that he has to listen to this loud-mouth, notices some men wearing orange jumpsuits as a bunch of gangster's he fought with before. Knowing that they can't be up to any good, he ducks into a bathroom to quickly change into his "work clothes".

The crocks, with the help of the Crime-Master, who is tuning in from a safe distance, are there to steal the Seismic Ray Gun believing that it's powers will help Crime-Master expand his territories. Spider-Man bursts into the scene like only he classically can, with a quick quip and his fists flying, only to have the Seismic Ray Device turned up to full power and aimed right at him. Apparently the Device can emit localized vibrations and with the power turned up can cause some serious damage.

The fight spills over into the room here Jonah is giving a speech and before Osborn can put on his costume and help Crime-Master's men, Norman realizes that he can't be seen in costume with Jonah standing right there or Crime-Master will know that they are not one and the same. Grabbing Jonah with one of his power gloves he knocks him cold and drags his unconscious body away from where it can be seen. Using his remote control to summon his glider, already equipped with his costume in tow, Osborn quickly changes into the Green Goblin and confronts Spider-Man just as Spidey is finishing up with Crime-Master's men.

Using the S.R.D. the Green Goblin now yields way too much power, so Spider-Man lures him away from all the pedestrians with good old fashion taunts into an enclosure, shutting them in using a well aimed web ball. The only problem now is that Spider-Man is trapped inside an enclosed area with the Goblin who is shooting at him for the Ray gun.

Outside of the room we see a security guard panic because the room the supers entered was a weather duplicating chamber that was powered on to give a demo at Jonah's speech. Crime-Master bursts into the security monitoring room just as the guard is about to deactivate it and threatens him to turn on the weather conditions to full power to not only destroy Spider-Man inside but the Green Goblin as well for not doing his job and getting the Device and leaving.

Inside the chamber Spider-Man and the Green Goblin start working together to try to get out of the room and at one point Spidey actually pulls the Goblin out of the line of fire. Crime-Master manages to shoot up the control panel and flees leaving the guard who can now make an announcement to everyone in the building that the power is getting too great and that it'll explode.

Inside Spider-Man knows what he must do to save the lives of everyone right outside the room. He takes the Seismic Ray Device and uses it to destroy the power feeds so that they focus the explosion into the room causing an implosion instead of an explosion. After the dust has settled we have the Green Goblin push out of the rubble and fly away only to have Spider-Man crawl out a moment later.

While the fight was going on we get small glimpses of Jonah waking up confused about how he got where he was only to be knocked unconscious again by someone running through the door he keeps standing in front of. Jonah, stumbling out of what's left of the building, sees Spider-Man and the destruction of the facility, and immediately starts threatening to have him thrown in prison. Crime-Master watching these events taking place on the news believes that the Goblin got away and changed back into Jonah but the Goblin, of course, is Norman and as he's flying away rethinks his decision to disguise his true identity as Jonah, believing it to be too easy to get back to him.

Spider-Man's first day on a college campus has been nothing if not dull.

In General...

While taking a tour of Empire State University Peter Parker discovers a gang of mobsters who are planning on stealing the Seismic Ray Device for their boss, Crime-Master. Putting a stop to them, the Green Goblin, who is now working with the Crime-Master shows up and they both fight. Luring the Goblin into an experimental weather duplicating chamber, the two must work together to get out because the Crime-Master turned the powers up in the chamber. Fearing that the explosion of the chamber would hurt all the bystanders outside, Spider-Man uses the Seismic Ray Device to cause the room to implode instead. Spider-Man makes it out alive but not before the Green Goblin can escape.

There was a nice little view of things to come in the Amazing Spider-Man series when Gwen walks by and completely distracts Miles Warren. As you all know it is Mile who later becomes the Jackal and clones Gwen and Peter, which results in the entire Clone Saga that most people wish would not have happened.

Overall Rating...

I really liked the idea behind the Untold Tales series. Yeah, they were trying to fill the gaps they saw between some of the early issues of the Amazing Spider-Man but I believe having Kurt Busiek at the helm writing these books, it was pulled off without any serious repercussions and without the back-lash from the fans.

I loved seeing a new story with the classic Green Goblin , instead of the dead, not dead, dead, "never was dead but I pulled all the strings of everything that happened to Spider-Man since I was gone" Goblin. This issue reminded me of the good days when Spider-Man stumbled on a super villains plans and put a stop to them while still making wise-cracks. Plus the banter between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin really felt like this story belonged to the time frame it was aiming at.

Plus, the fact that the issues were only 99 cents a piece in the age of variant die-cut, prism, hologram covers, really shows that a great story is all you need for a great book. These were simple books with simple classic stories that were seriously needed at the time they came out.