Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #274

Background

This story continues, sort of, from Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #111. It's a Secret Wars II tie-in and, surprisingly, quite good as well as having no ads and 32 pages the cover is a beautiful Romita Sr. image!

Story 'Lo, There Shall Come A Champion!'

In Hartsdale, New Mexico Thomas Fireheart returns to his shaman uncle. He explains that even the power of his alter ego the Puma could not kill the Beyonder!

The Beyonder is attacked in another galaxy by a group of marauding cosmic fighters. He wipes them and everyone and everything they ever encountered from existence.

Mephisto is understandably miffed that he was cheated out of all those dead alien souls and wants to prevent the Beyonder from trying the same treatment on all of creation. The two cosmic entities agree to a challenge. The Beyonder will allow creation 24 more hours of existence if Mephisto's champion can beat his champion without sacrificing his principles. The catch? Mephisto's champion is Spider-Man while Beyonder's is Zarathos the spirit of vengeance.

After visiting Nathan Lubensky in the hospital Peter turns down a tempting offer from Mary Jane and Aunt May for some fun at Radio City Music Hall. Instead, knowing he'll need to earn money for Nathan's hospital bills and Christmas presents, he swings away as Spider-Man for his next Daily Bugle assignment. He stops by a police bust to get some photos when he hears word that the Kingpin is to be assassinated at a certain point that day.

He is attacked by a Zarathos induced hallucination of the first Green Goblin. The imagined Goblin commits suicide by slamming himself into a building and Spider-Man returns home to recover. There he is admonished for dropping out of grad school by his long dead parents.

He awakens from his dream with his face covered in boils. When he attempts to leave the apartment he collaspes in the street and is helped into a car by an elderly police captain. Guess who?

After a frightening experience with a Zarathos-Captain Stacy he's confronted by Gwen Stacy who transfroms into a harpy after blaming Peter for failing to save her. Peter is crushed with remorse.

Peter is finally attacked by a masked Zarathos who he gladly battles. He tears off the mask to find the final destination on his guilt trip: Uncle Ben. Zarathos attacks Spider-Man physically and mentally but Spider-Man overcomes and defeats the spirit. He arrives just in time to save the Kingpin.

And in Mephisto's dimension? Beyonder reluctantly allows the universe the next 24 hours.

General Comments

This issue really surprised me.

Secret Wars II is not held in any high regard so when I picked this issue up I didn't expect to be blown away by a tie in to that aforementioned event. However, this issue said things about Spider-Man that make perfect sense and have never occured to me in my years of collecting. My many years of collecting.

Defalco really loves penning tales where Spidey overcomes crazy odds as his great Firelord two-parter (Amazing Spider-Man #269 and #270) had a similar theme. Despite the fact he thinks he's losing his mind and the rampaging spirit of vengeance attacking him he keeps on fighting. And why does he keep on fighting? To save the Kingpin. A man who he holds in no high regard.

That's Spider-Man.

However, as with almost all stories where Spider-Man fights cosmic or incredibly powerful foes he does feel like he's just being pulled along and toyed with this issue. But that's a minor problem.

Overall Rating

I applaud DeFalco for taking what was a not so great crossover assignment and making a great issue. Bravo.