With Doc Ock becoming the Superior Spider-Man, it seems like a good time to revisit my ASM #53 review from 15 years ago! (Seeing as it’s next in the From the Beginning sequence anyway.) Especially when one of the storyline’s issues is entitled “Doc Ock Wins!” This title seems appropriate too. Join me for “Enter: Dr. Octopus.”
|Pencils:||John Romita, Sr.|
|Cover Art:||John Romita, Sr.|
|Part Reprint In:||John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man Artifact Edition (IDW)|
|Reprinted In:||Marvel Tales #38|
|Reprinted In:||Essential Spider-Man #3|
Usually, I like to start with a detailed look at Johnny’s deceptively simple cover illustrations but this one is not one of his best. Still, it’s got its powerful moments, such as the tentacle that has ricocheted off a wall with a powerful impact and now seems to be popping off the page. The other three tentacles grab Spidey by his left ankle, his right arm, and his waist, forming a partial frame around the action. But the scene is so dominated by an upside-down Spidey and those arms that Ock himself seems pushed into the background, consigned to a corner. Perhaps Stan thought so too. He put a big arrow below the logo, pointing at Ock and touting, “Look Who’s Back!”
It is the day after the battle with the Kingpin, in which Frederick Foswell lost his life, and Spidey is sitting in a web-hammock reading the newspaper outside the Daily Bugle building. The paper touts publisher J. Jonah Jameson and Foswell as the heroes in the gang war affair, painting Spidey as “the heavy.” JJJ leans out his window and shakes his fist at the wall-crawler. "Get outta there, you web-swinging weasel!" yells Jonah, "All my employees are so busy gawkin' at you that they're not getting any work done." (And there are two people in the window above and two people in the window below staring and pointing at Spidey but…does the Bugle take up more than one floor? There’s a point at which it doesn’t seem that it does but I guess it does now. It is the Daily Bugle building, after all.) Quickly, Spidey swings down at a startled Jameson, tosses his newspaper at him and says, “Who’s been writing your stuff these days, the Brothers Grimm?!!” (As in, the whole story is a fairy tale.) (This is a great panel, by the way, with the angle tilted just a bit so that Jonah looks off-balance as the newspaper comes at him. Spidey is heading right for us and the paper almost leaps off the page.) "Anyone who pays a dime for that scandal sheet oughtta get eleven cents change," says Spidey. (I love that line.) "You fouled-up freak!!" JJJ replies, "I'll see you behind bars yet!!" "Yeah", Spidey says swinging away, “When I come to visit you at feeding time in the monkey house!"
Spidey perches on a clock tower, trying to cool down. He gets so preoccupied that he forgets where he is and the "Bong!" of the clock's bell surprises him so much, he topples right off. It is a simple matter to shoot a web to stop his fall but the striking of the clock also reminds him that he is "due in class soon.” "Lucky I'm carrying my civvies in my web-sling,” he says, and he swiftly makes his way to Empire State University.
As he web-slings on campus, Spidey spots Flash Thompson and Gwen Stacy. (Even though they are very tiny in the panel, you can tell who they are because Flash is in his blue Army uniform and is pointing up at Spidey while Gwen is in the green dress and chartreuse hat she wears in the rest of the scene. I think you can credit the anonymous colorist for their recognizability.) They spot Spidey, too. Flash tells Gwen that he is the webhead's biggest fan. She asks him how he knows Spidey isn't someone he'd dislike under that mask. "Not a chance, doll-face," he says. Just then, Harry Osborn walks up. He asks Flash and Gwen if they've seen Peter. "I'm sick of being his social secretary. All I do is take messages for him because he's never around!" Flash says, "He'll never change! Once an itch, always an itch! Right, Gwen?" and Gwendy cryptically replies, "Don't ask me, gents. I'd rather itch than switch!" (Everybody recognize the inspiration of Gwen's statement to be the Tareyton cigarette slogan, "Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch?" Everyone know there used to be cigarette advertising on TV?)
Meanwhile, Spidey has lifted a section of the gymnasium roof so he can sneak in and change into his civvies. (What the heck is that roof made out of, anyway? And why is it so easy to lift out a panel to sneak in?) He is just putting his shirt on over his costume (while standing on a walkway high off the gym floor) when he hears footsteps. Quickly, he manages to change clothes and leaps to a climbing rope that is attached to the ceiling. (I know, I know, this is all pretty convenient. Just roll with it.) He doesn't realize that his Spidey mask is sticking out of the back of his pants. As he scoots down, Professor Warren pokes his head into the gym. Now down on the floor, Peter tells the Prof that he was "just taking a little workout." Warren is impressed. "I never realized you were so agile, son!" Then, noticing Pete's exposed Spidey mask, he says, "Better tuck in your undershirt, though." Peter nervously complies, thinking, "Lucky he's so near-sighted. He didn't see the web pattern." (Aren’t those glasses he’s wearing supposed to compensate for his near-sightedness?) Before leaving, the Professor tells Pete he has two "extra tickets to tonight's science exposition." He invites Peter and a friend to join him.
Out in the hallways, Pete meets up with Gwen. ("Say!" she says, "Aren't you the one who picked a peck of pickled peppers?" I think it is lines like this that made some people very happy to see Gwen go.)
Whoops! Let’s interrupt this scene for a moment to look at the “More Triumphs for Marvel..!” page. This time two annuals are spotlighted, each with lots of villains. The Avengers King-Size Special #1 features the Mandarin, Power Man (not Luke Cage but the guy who becomes Atlas), the Living Laser, the Swordsman, the Enchantress and the Executioner. Daredevil King-Size Special #1 features Electro and his Emissaries of Evil (who are Frog-Man, Stilt-Man, the Matador, and the Gladiator). These are both great double-length stories with Stan at the height of his writing powers. If I could review them, I’d give them both five webs.
Pete starts to ask Gwen to join him at the science expo but Harry walks by and gives Pete "the big freeze." Gwen explains that, "your unexplained comings and goings seem to be shaking him up, laddie." When Pete finally gets around to inviting Gwen, he is a little nervous about asking her to join him for something as dry as a science expo but Gwen says, "In case you've forgotten, your little blonde buddy is a sci major, too!" (How many of you out there remembered that!)
After class, Professor Warren tells Pete and Gwen that he will get his car and meet them out front. (He also says, "You're bringing Miss Stacy? I certainly admire your choice, Parker!" And with what happens with the Jackal and the Gwen clone almost ten years later, it almost looks like the world's earliest clue, doesn't it?) Outside, Flash is waiting for Gwen so they can go dancing at the "disko." When Gwen tells him she is going out with Peter, it is just like old High School times. Flash and Pete go nose-to-nose with the former asking "Listen Civilian. Are you tryin' to beat my time with Gwen?" and the latter replying, "You never had any time to beat! And what’s with the civilian bit? What were you before the draft?!!" Gwen breaks up the spat by suggesting, "Let's all meet later at the Coffee Bean and puff a purple peace pipe!" (Meaning WHAT exactly, Stan?) As the two men continue to carp at each other, Peter thinks, "Spidey's biggest fan! Oh, bro-ther!" As Pete and Gwen go join Professor Warren at his car, even Harry gets into the act. "I never could understand why he bugged you, Flash," he says, "but now... I can't explain it, but he acts like he's in his own private world and everyone else better keep out!" (Harry’s memory is faulty. From the time of his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #31, December 1965, he found Peter annoying. He only loosened up later.)
In Warren's car, the threesome discusses the exhibit at the science expo. It is a "new type of missile defense called a nullifier" and it is Gwen who surmises (correctly) that "it nullifies the homing devices of enemy missiles." At the exhibit, with Army MPs stationed around the building, the Prof explains that today's demonstration is of the "nullifier's stabilizer control" and that "for maximum security, the two parts of the stabilizer will be delivered separately." (Gwen says, “Somehow it all seems like the start of a James Bond movie.” And just think. They are still making James Bond movies.)
They head for their seats. Pete can't believe he is actually out with Gwen. But his infatuation is pushed away by a violent tingle of his spider-sense. Gwen immediately notices that Peter is acting strangely. He tries to deflect her concern by saying, "I just thought I recognized someone." "From the look on your face," Gwen replies, "He must have been a ghost." (At least she doesn’t see the spider-sense lines radiating out of three Peter faces that the reader sees.) Peter realizes that there must be “some danger to the nullifier” but he cannot slip away and become Spider-Man.
They take their seats in the hall. On stage, the two parts of the stabilizer have been put together. A bearded, balding scientist announces that, “we have taken every precaution for maximum security with this vital device!” (And yet Doc Ock is able to walk right in just hiding his tentacles under a cloak. But I’m getting a head of myself.) The scientist begins his lecture by showing “a simulated missile attack upon the screen behind me” but a man in a green cape stands up and interrupts him. The man declares himself "the only one on earth powerful enough to seize your nullifier, despite anything you can do." (So, wait…is it the nullifier? Or the nullifier’s stabilizer? As this storyline proceeds through the next few issues, this becomes increasingly unclear.) Pete stands, recognizing the voice. Seconds later, everyone else recognizes the man as well, as Doctor Octopus extends his metal arms. He seizes the nullifier with one arm, while lifting the bearded scientist away with another and attacking the guards with the other two. One guard calls for tear gas since there are “too many innocent people clustered around” to use their guns. Peter is outraged that Ock is “after our greatest weapon!” (Really? The nullifier is our greatest weapon?)
The audience panics. Everyone rushes for the exits. Professor Warren yells to Gwen, "You and Peter follow me!" but a worried Gwen replies, "Peter? I... I thought he was with you!" In the confusion, our hero has slipped away. Finding a Men's room, he enters and changes to Spider-Man.
Out in the lecture hall, four guards enter, firing tear gas. (There is no one else in the room but Doctor Octopus, carrying the apparently-not-so-heavy nullifier in his flesh and blood arms, and all of the wooden chairs have been smashed into kindling. Did the bolting audience do that?) The attackers figure they have the upper hand because Otto isn't wearing a gas mask but the good Doctor demonstrates yet another use of his tentacles. He whirls them around, faster and faster, "like four unstoppable living propellers". This movement not only blows the gas away but also knocks the guards to the ground (one of the guards looks like he's got "Norman Osborn hair"). Ock declares himself "the world's most unbeatable human" but a taunting voice cries out, "You're lying in your teeth, grapefruit head!" and Spidey swings into action, giving Otto a swift kick in the chops (and calling him “pie-face.” First “grapefruit head” and then “pie-face.” Do you think Spidey is hungry?) Using his tentacles to brace himself from the impact, Doc Ock goes on the offensive. Elongating two arms, he follows Spidey to the ceiling and knocks the wall-crawler through a nearby window.
Now, things get a trifle confusing. From one angle, the broken window appears to be dozens of stories from the ground, towering over nearby buildings. In other angles it appears to only be three or four stories up. (Still, I had the impression the whole lecture was taking place on the ground floor.) Then, as Spidey clings to the wall, Ock announces that he is coming in for the kill... "I will reach you long before you can make it to the ground!"... but he says this as he climbs in the opposite direction... up to the roof! It takes Spidey to chase after Ock. (Otto also tosses his cloak out the window and into the street because, “I have no further use for concealment.” Is that a reason to get rid of a perfectly good cloak?) As Otto makes it to the rooftop, Spidey grabs ahold of his upper right tentacle and hangs on for dear life! “And now awaaaaaay we go,” yells Spidey, using Jackie Gleason’s tagline from when he would start his TV show. “You still don’t realize that I hold all the aces,” says Otto. I don’t realize it either. What are those aces, Doc?
On the ground, a worried Gwen looks all over for Peter and can't find him. As Spider-Man fights Octopus above her she "can't help feeling that [Peter's] in some sort of danger!" (Good call, Gwen!)
On the roof, Spidey fires a big white blob of web fluid in Otto's eyes. Doc is forced to switch the nullifier to one of his tentacles while he pulls at the sticky gunk with his flesh and blood hands. To prevent Spider-Man from pressing his advantage, he dangles the nullifier over the street. "If I drop it, dozens will be crushed," he says (which seems sort of unlikely since it’s not all that big and light enough for Ock to hold it in his flesh and blood hands). Spidey puts a spider-tracer below Ock's lower left tentacle, then dashes over the side of the building as Otto follows through with his threat of dropping the stolen device.
Spidey can't get to the nullifier in time but he manages to snag it with his webbing. (And now the building looks immense. The people below are just dots on the sidewalk...and spilling into the street.) Octopus can't get the webbing off his face so, using his "tentacles as feelers" and traveling blind, he makes his escape. Spidey hands over the nullifier to the crowd below then returns to the scene of the battle, only to discover Ock is gone. (So he traveled blind fast.) Spidey knows he can follow his tracer any time. For now, he decides, "I'd better change again and cut back to Gwen and the Prof!"
And, on the rooftops, as he slowly makes his way back to his hidden lab (with the spidey-tracer having migrated to his back), Dr. Octopus recalls his last battle with the web-slinger in which both he and Spidey seemed "destined for a watery grave." Stan reminds us that this was in “your now-priceless copy of Spidey #33 or Amazing Spider-Man #33 as I call it in order to create a nice link to the review. We now learn that, as Spider-Man battled back from being trapped under an immense piece of machinery in Ock's undersea hideout (a coloring error makes it look like he’s lost half his costume), with the water leaking in threatening to drown everyone, Otto was not trapped under the rubble. Instead, he used his arms to raise himself up over the rising water level. Then, groping with his tentacles, he found an oxygen tank with scuba mask and, donning them, made his escape through "the same tunnel as the one which Spider-Man had escaped thru, just seconds earlier." (Ah, the good old days, when a villain was always certain to reveal how he had survived his apparent death in his previous appearance.)
Now back at his lab, Ock fumes over Spider-Man's continued interference. The webbing dissolves enough for him to remove it from his glasses. When he pulls the webbing, his tentacles shift just enough to dislodge the hidden spider tracer. Octopus realizes what the miniature spider is and he also realizes that "there still may be time for me to turn the tables." (You know, in retrospect, maybe it’s not such a good idea to have these tracers in the form of a spider.)
At the Science Expo, Peter rejoins Gwen and the Professor. He starts to spin a tale to explain his disappearance but Gwen puts her arms around him and says, "It doesn't matter where you were, Pete, as long as you're back!" (“I didn’t realize you were so habit-forming, man-child,” she tells Pete, “like being hooked on pistachio nuts!” Man-child? Pistachio nuts?) The Professor takes a look at the youthful affection and quips, "We'd better be leaving now! You're making me feel old!" (Hey, I read this story when it first came out in 1967, Prof! How do you think I feel?)
Professor Warren drives Gwen and Pete to the Coffee Bean. Pete marvels that Gwen is "the only girl who's never asked me for any explanations.” (But who else is there at this point? Just Betty? Liz?) The Prof muses over Spidey, saying, “If only his identity could be exposed! What a subject he’d be for a psychological study!” More interesting comments in the wake of Warren’s later career as the Jackal. (Two panels later, Gwen says, “He’s about the greatest Prof that ever…” which is also intriguing in retrospect.) Inside the Bean, Flash, Harry, and Mary Jane sit at a table. Gwen and Pete join them and the sparring begins, with Flash asking Gwen why she has chosen to hang out with "Puny Parker." "Didja lose a bet or something?" Gwen replies that, "You've got your guru, I've got mine." (Huh?) MJ tells Gwen, "I only loaned him to you, lady," while Harry remains silent and stone-faced. "Is he jealous of Gwen and me?" Peter wonders.
The tension is short-circuited by the arrival of Aunt May and Anna Watson. They are so excited about their new idea that they just had to stop by the Coffee Bean and tell everyone. They have put an ad in the newspaper looking for an extra boarder for Anna's home. They think they have found a perfect way to "make some extra pin money.” They show Pete their ad, torn from the newspaper. “Room for rent,” it reads, “Comfortably furnished. Light, and pleasant. Suitable for retired lady or gentleman. Call after 5 P.M. weekdays.” Peter thinks it's a fine idea but warns, "Be careful whom you accept, hear?" “I wonder if Conrad Hilton started this way,” says Gwen referring to the man behind the Hilton hotels. “From where I sit, it sounds real groovy,” says MJ. (Where MJ “sits” is 1967, as you can tell by her lingo.)
Peter decides to escort May and Anna home, giving him an excuse to get away and "back to the trail of Doc Ock." Harry and Flash are happy to see Pete go. “Now we don’t have one fella too many,” says Harry. “Even when no one’s around, he’s one fella too many,” says Flash. MJ says, “Aw, one tiger’s as good as another, so long as he’s a real live male!” and Gwen replies, “Methinks the lady doth protest too much!” which I guess means that she thinks MJ would like to have Peter and is acting like any man will do in order to cover up her feelings. Or something.
And, in a shack by the docks, Otto Octavius is setting up a trap. He has constructed "a makeshift replica" of himself sitting at "a dummy control panel" and placed Spidey's tracer on the arm of the chair in which the replica is sitting. Ock somehow thinks that, “the sheer simplicity of this trap will make it virtually escape-proof,” but doesn’t have the sense to put the spider-tracer on the dummy’s body where he found it on his own. (This after setting up elaborate complicated-looking machinery and creating an Ock facsimile complete with metal tentacles.) On his patrol, Spider-Man picks up the emanations from his tracer almost immediately. He dives down at the shack, intending to crash right in, when his spider-sense tingles, warning him of danger. "The closer I get, the more it tingles! It can only mean, a trap!" Pulling aside the metal blinds on the shack’s window, Spidey peeps into the room. "It doesn't look like a trap," he thinks, "But my spidey-sense still won't buy it." It looks like an unsuspecting Doc Ock at his control panel. Spidey can even see his spider-tracer. But then he realizes, "Hey, wait a minute! How did it get onto the chair? That little gizmo hasn't yet learned to crawl!" Taking no chances, Peter creates a ball out of webbing and slingshots it into the room, taking cover just after he does so. With the impact of the web ball, the whole shack goes up in a fierce explosion.
Back at his real hideout, Doc Ock gloats over the seeming death of Spider-Man. Now, he decides, "I've got to find a safer hiding place. After my abortive attempt to steal the nullifier, every federal agent in the country will be searching for me. Thus, I must find a place of sanctuary, so innocent-appearing, so much above suspicion, that no one would ever think that Doctor Octopus might be hidden there!" Donning a hat and overcoat, and carrying a suitcase, Otto Octavius exits for this issue.
At the docks, Spidey is alive and well, thanks to his spider-sense. He looks out over the city. Wherever Doc Ock is, he vows, "Sooner or later, I'll find him!" But does he expect to find him at May and Anna's house... answering their classified ad?
In the Bullpen Bulletins (“A Sagacious Smattering of Scuttlebutt, Scoops, and Space-Wasting Small-Talk!”), Stan announces that the Fantastic Four is about to come to ABC TV. He even suggests that you write to “the president of ABC at 1330 Ave. of the Americas, New York City, and bug him for the info.” I wonder how the president of ABC felt about that? He also officially changes the name of “Brand Echh” to “Not Brand Echh,” saying using the former name was “Another earth shattering MISTAKE of a magnitude which only your batty Bullpen could achieve!” In the last item, Stan asks us to, “Step right up and meet Raymond Marais who’s now scripting Dr. Strange and will soon be trying his hand at Sub-Mariner as well. Not only is talented Ray as nice a guy as you’d wanna meet, but he’s got more hair in his beard than the rest of the Bullpen have on their pointy heads! –And he’s just a young sprite, too! One of these days we’ll find out what he’s hiding under there, but till then – welcome aboard, Bushy – and remember your most important duty is – THINK MARVEL!” A pretty nice intro for a guy who ended up writing very few issues and then disappeared from sight. Anybody know anything about Raymond Marais?
In “Stan’s Soapbox,” Stan says, “Many Keepers of the Faith have demanded that we take a more definite stand on current problems such as Viet Nam, civil rights, and the increase in crime, to name a few. We’ve a hunch that most Marvel madmen pretty well know where we stand on such matters – and we’ve long believed that our first duty is to entertain, rather than editorialize.” So, where does all this lead? To “another impassioned poll!” When Stan announces the result, we will too.
Didn’t think I’d forget the “26 more M.M.M.S. members,” did you? They are, “Peter Iasillo of Port Chester, New York; Donald McKenny of Baltimore, Maryland; Wayne Metcalf of Houston, Texas; Daniel Callahan of Yeadon, Pennsylvania; Robert Magee of New York, New York; Jim Reich of Rhineland, Wisconsin; Bernard Fauntleroy of Brooklyn, New York; Martin Ariner of Jersey City, New Jersey; Ricky Rockwell of Cookeville, Tennessee; David Jevas of Houston, Texas; Jay Kier of North Hollywood, California; Danny Lewis of Columbus, Ohio; Butch Miller of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Stephen Fallon of Canandaigua, New York; Mike Robinson of Falls Church, Virginia; Steve Montgomery of Eugene, Oregon; Paul Glaze of Houston, Texas (Jeez, that’s three from Houston. Looks like Kaine isn’t the only one who lives there!); Mike Geren of Dalton, Georgia; Jon Morarty of Rochester, New York; Larry Libby of Eugene, Oregon; David Rigney of Texarkana, Arkansas; Mark Bettis of Portland, Oregon; Kimmy Godfrey of Arlington, Virginia; John Curry of Logan, West Virginia; Thomas Cody of New York, New York; and Dwight Rolf of Brantford, Ontario. As always, if you read this and you’re on the list, I’d love to hear from you!
In The Spider’s Web, Mike Fenimore of South Charleston, West Virginia, complains that the Vulture, in Amazing Spider-Man #49 ordered a helicopter to “Stop Your Engines!” “Now what would a helicopter do if it stopped its engines?” Mike asks, “It would fall, naturally! So, the Vulture wouldn’t get the diamonds he was after if the copter crashed.” I caught that too, Mike! (Granted about 40 years later.) As I said in my ASM #49 review, “Oh, and Vulch calls out, "Ahoy the ship! Stop your engines!" to the crew before he attacks. I love this. "Ahoy the ship!" Priceless. But not as priceless as ordering, "Stop your engines!" to a helicopter. Yeah, they'll do that right away.” Stan replies to Mike, “We make one teensy little mistake, like almost crashing that whirlybird, and you act as though we did something serious, like forgetting to dot an i!”
Kim Grinder of Blasdell, New York complains that Stan isn’t using enough old villains. “Compare dolts such as the Shocker and the Looter with Doc Ock and Mysterio and you will see how you have declined,” Kim says. “Look at the Sandman who will be the one for whom I will intercede. I have seldom seen such a magnificently original evil guy. But now what did you do?? You gave him to the FF!...I could go on and on – the Enforcers, Electro, Ringmaster! And the Green Goblin! You killed him!” Well, Kim, Stan didn’t really kill the Goblin. Gerry Conway did that. And he’s alive again anyway. But, yes, you did have to wait until Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #2, November 1968 for his return. That’s as good as it got for you, I’m afraid. (Well, that and Mysterio showing up around this same time in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #4.) Electro didn’t return to Spidey until Amazing Spider-Man #82, March 1970, the Sandman until Amazing Spider-Man #154, March 1976 (though he did appear in Marvel Team-Up) and, as for the Ringmaster? And the Enforcers? Who knows?
Janet Schleicher of New York, New York says, “I am a Honda owner and want to warn Peter that the no-helmet thing may be more fun, but triples his chances of death in an accident” and that “as of January in New York state, all riders, including Gwen, must wear helmets by law.” Janet is also a “caseworker for the NYC Department of Welfare” for which Stan gives her “a complimentary subscription!” Sweet deal!
Finally, there’s a very touching letter from India Company fighting in the Vietnam War. "Dear Stan, Since all of us in the headquarters section of India Company are Spider-Man fans, we regret to inform you that Corporal St. Clair, whose letter will be printed in Spider-Man #50, was killed in action on 28 February, 1967. He was a squad leader in our 3rd Platoon when his patrol was ambushed southwest of Da Nang. Your comic, Spider-Man, is the most sought after piece of literature and art work in this company. Keep up the good work; you're a real morale booster."
Kara Wright (and the Spider-Oracle) filled me in when I wondered about Corporal St. Clair after commenting on his letter in my Amazing Spider-Man #50 review. Thanks again for that! Are you still reading, Kara?
"As a mark of respect for Corporal St. Clair", Stan bypassed the usual "Next Issue" blurb "to express the fervent hope that the day will soon come when men in every land will walk together in peace - and brotherhood."
Milestones (Landmark events that take place in this story.)
The 1969 Marvelmania International Spider-Man Portfolio checklist entry for this story. Warts and all:
"Enter Doctor Octopus" - Peter takes Gwen to a science exhibit just as Doc. Ock robs it of the nullifier.
There’s just been a great three-issue story; a classic run of five-web issues beginning with the unbelievably good “Spider-Man No More” and ending with the death of Foswell. Forget about topping that. How do you even restart a new storyline? Well, first you reset the scene and re-introduce the supporting characters. There’s JJJ, of course. Then on to ESU to meet Flash and Gwen and Harry and even Professor Warren. Eventually even Mary Jane and Aunt May and Anna Watson show up. And there are bystanders everywhere from the Bugle offices to the ESU campus to the nullifier demonstration to the Coffee Bean to make the issue feel chock full of characters. (You gotta love all the bystanders.) Then you bring back an old favorite; the villain many think of as Spidey’s greatest foe (though I still prefer the Green Goblin). You remind the reader of what went on before (Foswell’s death) so the story feels like a continuation of that great tale rather than an entirely new one. Then you set the stage for another multi-issue blockbuster with the introduction of the nullifier. And while it’s going to be a great story as a whole, this issue can’t completely disguise the fact that it is a set-up issue for what follows. It’s great to see all the characters, it’s great to see Pete out with Gwen, it’s great to see Spidey tussle with Ock. But it’s only an appetite-whetter. And what’s the deal with Ock putting that spider-tracer on the arm of the chair?
I sense some five-web issues in this storyline but this one only gets three webs.