Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #320

Background

Peter and Mary Jane's life has taken an unexpected turn for the worse. Millionaire Jonathon Caesar had them evicted them from their condo and put Mary Jane's modeling career on indefinite hold as payback rejecting his advances. The young couple has difficulty finding work, they're broke, and currently living with Aunt May.

Story 'License Invoked'

Instead of working on the neutron observation procedure Dr. Swann assigned him, Peter decides to engage in a side project. He tinkers with a new web formula that is stronger and much more heat resistant than the previous version. When Swann catches him working on a "syntheic polymer", he kindly reminds him that he needs to do the work he's being paid to do. Peter agrees and promises to start on it first thing tomorrow since his shift is now over. When he is away from prying eyes, he changes to Spider-Man. Before swinging away, he intentionally snaps the cartrige of new webbing ahead of the others on his wristband.

While swinging around Manhattan, Spider-Man notices unconscious guards in front of Eatwell Caterers. After determining that the guards are still alive, he discovers that Paladin is behind this break-in. He is rifling through a series of filing cabinets with his back to the doorway. Sensing danger (not explained how) Paladin quickly turns and opens fire on his unidentified opponent. When he realizes it's Spider-Man, he stops firing and bids welcome to his "old friend". Spider-Man's demand to know what's going on is cut short when the next shift of guards arrive, guns blazing.

Spider-Man decides to test his new webbing, rolling the new cartridge into place. While pulling over a stack of heavy crates and knocking out the guards, he notices that the formula took the additional weight without stretching. Paladin thanks him for covering his exit and leaves. When Spider-Man attempts to follow Paladin, his shoulder is nearly pulled out of socket as he quickly realizes he is still tethered to the crates by his webbing. The new formula is too strong for the pinch valves on his webshooter and has to snap his web to free himself.

After snooping around a little, he discovers that this company has been contracted to cater an event at the Waldorf Astoria tonight. He gets MJ to call her high society friends to acquire an invitation for them. After they arrive, Peter quickly identifies Paladin (out of costume) and follows him when he leaves abruptly to follow some other questionable attendees.

Changing to Spider-Man, he continues to follow Paladin, who's follwing the other attendees to an import car dealership in Brooklyn. Paladin appears in costume and renders all but one man - identified as Chakane - unconscious. He intends to turn him over to an unidentified party when Spider-Man interferes. For his efforts, Chakane opens fire on him, quickly followed by an attack by a private army. They make short work of both the soldiers and the experimental mini tanks.

When Paladin calls his employer for an immediate evacuation due to incoming sirens, Spider-Man tags along. He soon discovers that Paladin's employer is Silver Sable. She informs him that Chakane works for the Life Foundation, a group of survivalists that cater to the wealthy. Her intelligence sources have found evidence that links him with a plot against Symkaria. She had hired Paladin to capture him and determine what the plot is as well as his involvement, until he (Spider-Man) allowed Chakane to escape.

Realizing the repercussions of his actions, he volunteers to help her capture Chakane - without pay. She agrees and instructs him to contact her at the embassy later. They drop him off in the Queens area at his request.

The next morning, when Peter tries to place a call to the Symkarian embassy he accidentally overhears a conversation between Aunt May and her physician. It seems her heart disease has reached an advance state; they give her six months to live

General Comments

Overall a great beginning to this arc. The best way to involve Spider-Man in anything is to guilt him into it, which is what happened here. The idea that his mistake (done with the best intentions) could have international repercussions is a great catalyst.

Some scenes came across as rushed, but the vast majority of them were done properly. The sequence involve the test of the extra-strength web fluid is very funny. However I have a minor complaint. The next panel shows him snapping his webbing, which is slightly confusing. If it's stronger wouldn't it be more difficult to break? Considering this was shown in one panel (which in modern story composition would have taken 2 pages), we'll assume it was with considerable time and effort that he broke the strand.

Overall Rating

4 webs. Great start to this 6 parter. Keep in mind this was before everything was a 6 part story.

Footnote

Spider-Man saw Paladin's true face in Marvel Team-Up #109

Drake and Chakane were last mentioned in Amazing Spider-Man #298