Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #69

Background

We have had six ASM issues in a row that have earned five webs. The longest streak so far. Can we make it seven?

Story 'Mission: Crush the Kingpin!'

As with the three other Kingpin trilogies in the first 100 issues, this second act features a Kingpin cover and, as with those other second act issues, it’s the best cover of the three as he dominates the scene. Here, John Romita’s “camera” is placed low so that we are looking up at the crime lord. Spider-Man is more on our level, stooped and cowed, literally in the clutches of the Kingpin whose hands look huge. His tie pin, pinky ring, and the burning cigarette in his holder draw our attention much more than does the web-spinner. You can almost feel the strength in the hand that grabs Spidey’s wrist as it protrudes from the cover in an almost 3D fashion. The cover blurb says, “Mission: Crush the Kingpin!” but it sure looks like the other way around.

The splash page is quite mundane in comparison, just showing Spider-Man sticking to a wall as the city stretches out below him. “The Kingpin’s hiding somewhere in this area!” he says, “And, with my spider-sense, it won’t take long to find him!” This is a bit odd as Spidey was right on the tail of the Kingpin’s car in the last panel of last issue. I don’t know how he could have lost him seeing as the Kingpin’s car was the only car on the road. But here he is, swinging around aimlessly until his “spidey sense is starting to tingle” and he decides, “I’m getting close!”

And he sure is because Stan says the Kingpin is “just a few yards away.” (So, is Spidey right outside?) As the garage door closes (though the car is nowhere in sight because, we find out later, they parked it outside!), the Kingpin carries the petrified tablet to a conveniently-placed tableclothed table. A sunbeam seems to shine down on him (except it should be night) as he looks down at the tablet, which now seems to have its own pillowcase, something it didn’t have last ish. “Whoever deciphers it will learn the greatest secrets of all time!” says the Kingpin, which is exactly what his underling Wilson said last time. (Wilson: “The man who can decipher it may learn the greatest secrets of all time!” in ASM #68, page 2 panel 1.) “Hey! That’s what I said!” exclaims Wilson. No, he doesn’t. He knows not to rile the Kingpin unless he wants the powerful back-handed slap that the henchman gets on the very next page. And what does that guy do to deserve such a beating? When one goon says, “Spider-Man wouldn’t have a chance against the boss,” this poor guy says, “Right! He’ll make mincemeat outta him! The Kingpin ain’t scared’a nobody! Except his missus!” The Kingpin slaps his big paw onto the guy’s shoulder, yelling, “I heard that! You mentioned my wife!” And he gives him that back-handed slap which, strangely enough, has the sound effect of ZAP! As the guy sags to the ground, the Kingpin hangs onto his jacket and yells, “Nobody mentions her…ever…do you hear?? Nobody!” He then leaves with the tablet, jerking a thumb at the guy and telling his other hoods to “Get rid of him! He’s washed up here! He’s lucky I let him live!”

So, the Kingpin has a wife? This is the first mention of her in the series. And she must be one tough cookie if the Kingpin is afraid of her. Except she turns out to be not what we expect at all. She’ll make her first appearance as a shadowy blob in a car next issue but we won’t even learn it is her until her next appearance, all the way along in ASM #83, April 1970. By then, Stan has probably forgotten all about the “Kingpin ain’t scared’a nobody! Except his missus” line from this issue. But I still think it fits very well.

Wilson is concerned about the Kingpin just sashaying away with Spidey on his trail. But the Kingpin has already told him he wants Spidey to find them, otherwise “how else can I destroy him?” He tells Wilson to “Stop cringing, you spineless worm!” and promises to be back before Spidey arrives. (I thought the web-slinger was “just a few yards away.”) In the meantime, Kingy is taking the tablet to his vault. His diamond tiepin seems to glow on its own as he walks through a shadowy vestibule. (The tablet no longer has its own pillowcase.) He pulls on a thick heavy door, saying, “The door to my vault requires no lock which some petty thief can one day open! Only the Kingpin’s naked strength can accomplish such a feat!” This seems a bit cocky to me, seeing as the Marvel New York is filled with super-strong characters.

Our scene shifts to the police station where J. Jonah Jameson is jawing at George Stacy. George calls the ESU students “youthful demonstrators” but JJJ calls them, “young anarchists.” (Hmmm, sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) “They helped the Kingpin steal that tablet and you know it!” he says. But George tells him, “I’m afraid I haven’t your insight or perception!” Meanwhile, four students are being interrogated by the police in the, er, interrogation room. They are Randy Robertson, Josh, and two other guys whose names I don’t know because I don’t think we get any student names except Randy and Josh in this whole storyline. The cops are asking why the students were at the Exhibition Hall at the same time as the Kingpin if they weren’t working with him. Randy says, “We were fighting for students’ rights…and that’s all!” Randy’s Dad, Joe, is also in the room and he tells his son to calm down which sparks a father-son dispute, nicely written by Stan. Nice enough that I think I’ll quote the whole thing.

Joe: What about Spider-Man, Randy? Where does he fit into all of this?
Randy: I told you, Dad! He fought the Kingpin! He saved my life!
Joe: Okay, then! Let’s get back to you…How’d you get mixed-up in this whole thing?
Randy: I did what I thought was right, Dad…like you always said I should! We want the hall converted to a low-rent dorm…for needy students! But the Dean wouldn’t listen to us!
Joe (his hand to his forehead): A protest is one thing! But the damage you caused…! But don’t worry, son! Your Mom and I will stand behind you! We won’t let you down…when you need us! I just have to figure out…how to break it to her!
Randy (making a fist):You’re talking…as though I did something awful! Don’t you see? Can’t you even understand? I have to be tougher…I have to be more militant…because of you! You’ve become part of the establishment…the white man’s establishment! I’ve gotta live that down!
Joe (his hands out, supplicating): but isn’t this what we all want…what we’re all fighting for, boy? To make it on our own? To prove we’re as good…or better…than anyone??
Randy (turning away): I dunno! I dunno what to think!
Josh: Look, man…maybe you’re an okay cat…but we gotta do things our way! We ain’t never gonna get nowhere…until we kinda shake Whitey up a little!
Randy: How’s a man to know…what’s right?
Joe: I wish…I could answer that son!

Outside, the other protesters are chanting at the police station, “Cook an egg…cook your goose! Turn the demonstrators loose!” Gwen Stacy shows up and, hands on hips with her glasses riding on top of her head, she tells the others, “Getting ourselves arrested won’t give us the low-rent dorm we need!” One guy recognizes her and, pointing at her, asks, “Where’s your chicken boyfriend, lady? He hasn’t the guts to take a stand with us!” This gets Gwen so mad that she slaps the guy so hard in the face, it turns his brown jacket green. “You crummy, dimwitted loudmouth!” she says, “He could be half the man he is and still make ten of you!” A cop comes down to intercede and then recognizes her. He allows her in to see her father who notices that she’s “all steamed up.” She tells him some “feather-brained lunkhead…said some rotten things about Peter.” George asks if she’s upset “because you think they may be true?” Gwen doesn’t answer but thinks, “I wish I knew.”

Remember how Spidey was only yards away from the Kingpin? Well, he still hasn’t found him, until he gets a tingle from his spider-sense. Oh, and also, he finds a window covered with steel shutters. (Sort of a tip off.) He starts to force the shutters open but his “spidey sense is tingling too violently.” (Should I be calling the “spider sense” the “spidey sense” the way Spidey does?) He starts to wonder why the Kingpin left “such an easy trail to follow” (except weren’t you following the car?) and decides it must be a trap.

Inside, the Kingpin sits in a big armchair with three of his gunmen. Suddenly, the shutters open and Spidey seems to swing in. The three gunmen panic and fire away at the figure, ignoring the Kingpin’s orders to stop, since he “wanted to down him myself.” But it isn’t Spider-Man hanging loosely in his webbing. It’s a web dummy with Spidey’s shirt on. Just then, some webbing “thwipps” in and takes away two of the guns. The web-slinger follows, still wearing his mask, gloves and pants, but no shirt. (And, surprise! Spidey has no nipples.)

Spidey quickly takes out the three hoods but the Kingpin is faster than he thinks and grabs him by the arms. (And, hey, look! Wilson is cringing behind him. Where’d he come from?) “During all our previous encounters…you’ve always managed to escape thru some lucky accident,” says Kingy. Shall we check him on that? In ASM #51, August 1967, the Kingpin defeats Spidey with the old “gas in the tie pin” trick. In ASM #52, September 1967, the Kingpin runs from the fight and uses the old “booby-trapped escape tube” trick. In ASM #60, May 1968, the Kingpin tosses Spidey into an “electrical power source” that knocks Spidey for a loop but also creates enough smoke for the web-slinger to escape. In ASM #61, June 1968, Spidey is knocking the stuffing out of Kingy but must leave him to rescue Gwen and George, allowing the Kingpin to escape. And last issue (ASM #68, January 1969, Spidey defeated the Kingpin but Kingy uses his cane blaster to knock down a wall forcing Spidey to protect Randy and, again, allowing the Kingpin to escape. So, I would say, all in all, that the Kingpin is sort of full of it here.

The fight continues with the Kingpin tossing Spidey at his dangling web-dummy. “The gooey substance is sticking to my bare skin!” thinks Spidey. (Wouldn’t it stick anyway?) He gets entangled in the web but he’s not helpless. He manages to dodge when the Kingpin swings a big fist at him. (The fist hits something on the floor with a THOOOM! taking the Kingpin down to one knee.) Spidey gets himself right-side up in the web and he gets back to his weight-shaming, calling Kingy “fats” and saying, “I always thought fat fellas were supposed to be jolly! They outghtta toss you out of the union!” When the Kingpin moves in for the kill, Spidey kicks him in the head with a FAK! (Hey, where’s Wilson in all this? He seems to have disappeared again.) Spidey takes advantage of the moment to put his shirt back on, which seems like a waste of that moment. He’d be much better off taking advantage of the Kingpin’s vulnerability. Kingy is sprawled on the floor, having broken a table in two in his fall. The table looks like it is made out of stone. Does the Kingpin have stone furniture?

“Costuming yourself again, I see,” says Kingy, “Well, it is only fitting that you lose your final battle suitably attired.” (Fitting? I get it!) He gets up and throws a punch that hits the wall and helps to free Spidey completely from the webbing. (The web dummy lies on the floor like a mummified corpse.) Spidey wraps his legs around the Kingpin’s neck and slams him to the ground. (“Shucks! I’ll bet you didn’t even feel that! You only landed on your head!”) He thinks, “Feels like he weighs a ton…but it’s not fat…it’s all muscle!” Proof that Spidey’s “fat” comments are only there to goad the Kingpin.

The Kingpin responds by grabbing Spidey’s hand in his huge paw. “You just made your first fatal mistake!” (Can you have a second fatal mistake?) “By getting close enough for me to grab you!” The pressure on Spidey’s hand and wrist is so great that he falls to a knee. He yells out, “Never been so helpless before!” Then he collapses. The Kingpin lets go and exults, “Spider-Man has finally met his master!” But Wilson (hey, Wilson is back!) is hiding behind a chair and he calls out, “Kingpin, look out! He was only playing possum!” Too late. Spidey punches Kingy right in the gut (“He fell for it like a ton of bricks! Or should I say a bag of blubber?”) The Kingpin goes down. Spidey approaches, rubbing his hand, which is “almost completely numb.” When he gets close, the Kingpin kicks him in the head. “Got you, you blundering fool!” he says, “Two can play your little game!”

Spidey falls back against a curtain that seems to be covering a stone wall. (Is this the same room in which we started?) He rips the curtain down, to buy time for his numbness to pass, and throws it over the Kingpin, who has ended up next to a table on which his blast cane is perched. (We haven’t seen that in the whole battle...neither the table nor the cane.) Kingy picks the cane up but makes the mistake of telegraphing his move. “My cane will pick you off the wall like the human insect you are!” Forewarned, Spidey shoots his webbing into the barrel of the cane just as the Kingpin fires it. The cane backfires, blowing up with a BTOOOM!, breaking into two pieces and knocking the Kingpin out.

Just then, Wilson makes a break for it. Spidey watches him go, realizing that “if he was trying to escape, he’d be going the other way.” The web-slinger guesses that Wilson may be going after the petrified tablet and decides to follow.

Outside, three police officers approach the building. One says, “I spotted the Kingpin’s car over there and then I heard a shot from inside the building. (Wait a minute! The Kingpin left his car outside? Why didn’t Spidey spot that?) The cops enter the building through the garage door to find the Kingpin groggily getting up. (So, the window Spidey entered led to a ground floor room? Where the garage door is? Or did that fight take up several stories and rooms of the building?) They cuff Kingy “while he’s still groggy.” Kingy decides not to resist because, “I’ve something that must be done first.” I’m not sure what he means, unless he’s referring to incriminating Spidey because, when the cops ask him for the tablet, he says, “by now, my web-swinging ally has taken it safely away from here! Just as he will free me from captivity when the time is ripe!” Simple but effective. Right away, one of the cops says, “Then Jameson was right! Spider-Man’s in this as deep as you!”

Meanwhile, Spidey follows Wilson to the vault. Wilson knows he can’t open it but he figures he just needs to “find myself enough explosives.” “Don’t bother, bright boy,” says Spidey, lifting Wilson up and webbing him to the ceiling. Then he checks the door and learns that there is no combination or key. It requires “raw strength” which Spidey has. (What did I tell you, Kingy? “Only the Kingpin’s naked strength can accomplish such a feat!” Bah!) Inside, he finds the tablet, which is again in its pillowcase. He wraps it up, leaving Wilson in his web (“The cops’ll pick him up before he gets too lonely.” Let’s hope! A fall from there would hurt!) Then he goes back to where he left Kingpin to find him gone (or so Stan tells us…we don’t see that part). Outside, he sees three police cars and swings down to give them the tablet. But the Kingpin’s innuendo has already done its work. “He’s out to free the Kingpin! Watch it! He’s gonna toss something at us!” And they start shooting at him.

Spidey swings away, saying, “No matter what I do…nothing evert changes! The more I try to help the law…the more they hunt me…the more they hate me!” And then he gets so mad that a giant negative version of himself shakes a fist as it fills up the sky behind him. “Okay then, if that’s how they want it…I’m thru being a public fall guy! From now on, it’s Spidey against the world! If they call me a menace…and treat me like a menace…I might as well be a menace!” And the next issue blurb tells us that he’s at the “Point of No Return!”

The Bullpen Bulletins Page (“Sensational Scoops to Startle, Stun, and Soothe You!”) has only one column of items, as the other two columns are taken up with Stan’s Soapbox and the Mighty Marvel Checklist (in which Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #2 is still on sale). The main Item for our purposes is, “Everyone’s raving about the new, marvelously mysterious mood that Jim Mooney has brought to the Amazing Spider-Man! Fandom agrees that teaming Madman Mooney with Johnny (Ring-A-Ding) Romita’s sensational storyboard layouts is the smartest move we’ve made since Forbush-Man! And, by the way, did you know that madcap Mooney is one of our Leader’s oldest and closest friends (although you’d never guess it by the way they’re always battling!)? And they’re still arguing about who was the first to grow his batty beard.” I agree. Mooney’s illos over Johnny’s storyboards is an appealing look for Spidey.

And then there’s this: “It had to happen! Smilin’ Stan the Man and Jaunty Jim Steranko have finally teamed up to collaborate on one of Marvel’s top strips – none other than Captain America! As for Jolly Jack Kirby, the only reason the King has abandoned Cap is to give himself time enough to work with Smiley on a new title - one which promises to become the biggest blockbuster of ’69 – and we’ll bet you can guess what it’ll be!” Well, I can’t! The only new Kirby series before he joins DC in 1970 are the Inhumans (for 4 issues) in Amazing Adventures (but Jack both wrote and drew that) and Ka-Zar (for 2 issues) in Astonishing Tales (but Stan only wrote the first issue of that). The cover date for the first issue of both of these series is August 1970. So, they aren’t “the biggest blockbuster of ’69.” Still, can it be Ka-Zar to which Stan is referring? Or was there something else in the works that fell through when Jack left?

And also, this: “We couldn’t sign off without telling you that Fabulous Flo Steinberg, our former Gal Friday, has a great new job at Rockefeller Center, not too far from our own offices here – and wants to thank her many friends out there in Marveldom for their letters and good wishes. She still drops in occasionally to poke thru the mountain of mail that arrives each day, so watch what you say in your letters, hear?” Flo left because, as she later recalled, the fan mail became overwhelming and she couldn’t get a $5 raise. In Comic Book Artist #18, April 2002, Marie Severin says, “I think the stupidest thing Marvel ever did was not give her a raise when she asked for it because she would have been such an asset to have around later because she's so honest and decisive. ... I was thinking, 'What the hell is the problem with these people? She's a personality. She knows what she's doing. She handles the fans right. She's loyal to the company. Why the hell won't they give her a decent raise?’ Dummies.”

Remember how Stan removed the responses to letters and how that only lasts a few issues and how responses will be back next time? Here’s Stan’s Soapbox for this issue: “Wow! Talk about a dilemma! Ever since we discontinued writing answers to the letters on our fan pages, the whole roof caved in on us! We haven’t had so much angry mail since the Human Torch was just a matchstick! One of the letters which really knocked us out was this – ‘Dear Stan, Here’s an amazing coincidence, You aren’t answering your letters, and I’m not buying your comics – Mike Nave, 1711 Virginia St., Joplin, Mo 64801.’ And that’s just one of the milder responses! Well, there’s only one thing to do – we’ve got to bow before the world-wide wrath of Marveldom Assembled! The only problem is we weren’t kidding when we announced that we didn’t really have time to write the answers to all the letters we publish. So, suppose we compromise? Starting next ish, we’ll try to answer those that need answering, and weasel our way out of the others, hoping that nobody will notice! Fair ‘nuff? Okay, till we stumble again and come up with egg on our face, we’ll let it go at that – and, the next time some non-believer tells you that we don’t really listen to our rabid readers, let us know – we’ll sit in a corner and cry a little!”

So, with a promise of bringing back replies next issue, why not publish some letters this issue to which you don’t want to reply? In the Spider’s Web, prolific letterhack Shirley Gorman of Hereford, Texas writes, “The month of August in the year 1968 will go down in history as the month for Spider-Man. First the Spectacular Spider-Man #2 hits the newsstands like a fused bomb. With the opening of the first page begins a series of mind-staggering explosions that seem to go on endlessly even after the end of the mag is reached. Truly the Spectacular was spectacular. Never has Spidey had it so good. Next the Amazing Spider-Man Special #5 (Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #5 (Story 1)) makes its debut. The touching tale of Peter Parker’s parents was superb. And believe it or not I suspected that the dastardly villain would turn out to be the Red Skull. Larry Lieber’s superb artwork rivaled the greatness of John Romita. In fact, Larry could almost be John Romita in disguise. Larry’s Red Skull, was dare I say it, almost better than the King’s rendition of that ever-popular super villain. What can I say? I loved the Special. I detest having to wait another year for another one to hit the stands. Finally, the Amazing Spider-Man #66 falteringly presents its paltry 12-cent size to the every-loyal Spidey fans who can never get enough of that web-slinger. But what #66 lacked in size it made up for it in story and art. It was great. Even though I am not a fan of Mysterio I really liked him in this story. Peter finally got back with Gwen; but why in the name of the FF baby boy did he have to sell his wheels? Please let him get another one and quick. Our Spidey may just wind up with flat feet induced by so much walking. The final page was a true masterpiece. A six-inch Spider-Man no less with the grim visage of hate-distorted Mysterio shaking the proverbial Villain’s Paw at him. Wow! What did we fans ever do to deserve such royal treatment? I do not know, but I sure hope we and you keep it up. I wonder? Hmmm? No such thing could ever happen. Could Spider-Man, our favorite hero be suffering from over-exposure? (Just kidding, of course!)” Okay, so Shirley goes easy on the questions. Even her one about “over-exposure” is minimized when she says she’s just kidding. And, what do you think Shirley’s reaction was when she learned that Amazing Spider-Man Annual #6, the issue for which she detested waiting another year, was all-reprint? Couldn’t have been good.

You want fan questions? Meet Jay Owens of West Monroe, Louisiana. “Lo, what have you done to my favorite hero? Shrinking him to 6 inches was the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone but Henry Pym! Or was he really shrunk? Is this what Mysterio meant by a new psychedelic power on page two, panel two? Is Spidey just imagining that he’s just six inches tall? Say, on page 12, panel 3, you have Norman Osborn dressed in his Green Goblin costume. How come? He didn’t remember he was the Goblin until Spider-Man’s Spectacular #2. And he says that each passing second, his memory becomes clearer, but that still doesn’t give him any reason to be in his Goblin costume. Hey, why don’t you give Spidey someone that he can confide in? I’d recommend Capt. Stacy very much. Well, I could say something tricky like ‘till J. Jonah Jameson shaves his moustache, Make Mine Marvel!’ But all I will say is goodbye.” Well, Jay, Spidey now has a person he can confide in and it’s…J. Jonah Jameson! Who hasn’t shaved his mustache! Are you still with us?

Will Weisert of Jesup, Iowa mentions, “one small change that I have always wanted, namely Peter Parker’s marriage to Gwen” and asks, “Is that asking too much????!!” And you know Stan wanted to dodge that question because the answer turns out to be, “Yes, Will, that is asking too much.”

Future comic pro Kerry Gammill of Ft. Worth, Texas, asks, “What happened to Mrs. Watson between #64 and #66? In #64 she has a beautiful head of light brown hair. Then in #66 she’s turned gray!!! The same thing happened to Mr. Robertson. In #66 his hair turned completely white! What do you have to say about that? I think if anyone’s hair should be turning gray it should be Spidey’s. He’s the one with all the problems. P.S. I’ve just discovered that previously Robertson did have white hair but in #64 he sure didn’t.” Let’s check all that. What do you know? He’s right! The colorist for ASM #64, September 1968 has got a lot of explaining to do!

Finally, James Scott Hicks of Greenville, South Carolina…well, I’ll let you read it for yourself. I may have to annotate this one. “Spider-Man is the only comic I buy. Why? I like to see super-heroes with everyday problems like cranky aunts. Also loving TV, I have this little idea here. Spidey is in Chicago at the Demo Convention, beating the tar out of the hippies, trained by Tim Leary to take over the U.S.

Surprise! He’s not after hippies, but the one-armed man who bumped off the Fugitive’s wife! Kimble is masquerading as Peter Parker in New York, cause he’s afraid the FBI will catch him. Spidey is torn between loyalty to planet and family. Dick Kimble is his long-lost brother!!! To complicate matters,

The Invaders have a regeneration station in Stan Lee’s office!!!! Meanwhile, Hubert Humphrey is revealed as Doc Doom in disguise. While trying to get to HHH, he’s cornered by – Jack Webb and Harry Morgan!!!!

Horrors! Aunt May runs for president! Peter Parker (Kimble) is drafted and shipped to Viet-Nam! Spidey can’t go home! The Daily Bugle goes broke, and JJJ commits hara-kiri as he reveals himself as [actor]… Sessue Hawakye [sic]!!! (It’s only fair to mention that Peter’s college bunch have dropped out to campaign for John Wayne!!!!)

Aunt May is President! Spidey now has to contend with: The Flying Nun! As she tries to bore him to death Meanwhile…”

Whatever you say, James.

Our “Next” blurb on the letter page says, “Spidey Fights Alone!” which I think he was already doing.

And the last page gives us “Two More Triumphs For Marvel.” Jack Kirby’s hectic and powerful Inhumans cover on Fantastic Four #83, February 1969 with only a three-word cover copy…”Shall Man Survive?” and Jim Steranko’s ominous and intimidating Hulk cover on Captain America #110, February 1969 with no cover copy whatsoever. “Now on Sale!” I wish!

General Comments

Milestones (Landmark events that take place in this story.)

  1. Eighth appearance of the Kingpin. His last time was last time. His next time is next time.
  2. Second appearance of Louis “Spineless Worm” Wilson. He’s next in ASM #73, June 1969.
  3. Second appearance of Josh Kittling. He’s back next issue.
  4. Third appearance of Randy Robertson. He, too, is back next issue.
  5. Second appearance of the petrified tablet and, yeah, you know.
  6. Spidey must use his “spidey sense” to find the Kingpin even though he was trailing his car and even though the police easily find the car.
  7. The police easily find the car because the Kingpin’s goons park it outside.
  8. A sunbeam shines down on the Kingpin at night.
  9. First mention of the Kingpin’s wife. We’ll see her, as a blob, next issue.
  10. The Kingpin’s vault has no lock which makes it easy for Spidey to open it.
  11. Gwen slaps a guy who calls Peter her “chicken boyfriend” but then wonders if it’s true.
  12. The Kingpin appears to have stone furniture.
  13. Mike Nave of Joplin, Missouri knocks Stan out.
  14. Fourth and last time the Spider’s Web has no answers to the letters as Stan bows before the world-wide wrath of Marveldom Assembled. (Well, not completely the last time the Spider’s Web has no answers to letters, but the last in this go-round.)
  15. Future pro Kerry Gammill gets a letter published.
  16. I’m not sure what James Scott Hicks is up to except it sounds like he’d like to beat the tar out of some hippies.
  17. Oh, and, Spider-Man has no nipples.

The 1969 Marvelmania International Spider-Man Portfolio checklist entry for this issue:

Romita-Mooney/Lee/Rosen
“Mission: Crush the Kingpin” – Spidey recovers the tablet and defeats Kingpin only to be hunted by the police.

That…you know, that is not bad.

Overall Rating

It’s a cool battle and all. Nine pages of Spidey-Kingpin action. I like action like this as much as the next guy. I also like Gwen’s confrontation with the student and I love Joe and Randy Robertson trying to figure things out. The mention of the Kingpin’s wife is intriguing and you have to admire the simplicity with which the Kingpin turns the police on the web-slinger. But what takes place here that advances the story? The Kingpin’s wife is mentioned. She’ll be important next time. Spidey recovers the tablet and captures Wilson. The Kingpin goes to jail but turns the police against Spider-Man. Significant events but not worth an entire issue of their own. As I said, I like the Robertsons’ scene and the Gwen scene and the nine pages of action but they’re all place-holders, stretching what should probably be a two-issue story into a three-issue story. In “Stan’s Soapbox” in ASM #77, October 1969, Stan announces “by and large, we’ve given up our continued stories till further notice” and tells us on the splash page of ASM #79, December 1969 that “This tale was originally planned as a 3-part epic…but since we’ve promised to eliminate our continued stories, we’ve labored heroically to conclude it in this issue!” I’m not in favor of any of that but, still, this particular “3-part epic” maybe should have been “heroically” concluded in 2 parts. And, need I mention that Spidey doesn't exactly "crush the Kingpin?" Of course, that was just the mission. That doesn't mean he actually fulfilled it.

It’s not a bad issue. It’s a good issue. It’s just not a great issue. I’m sorry, folks. The streak ends at six. I give it three and a half webs.

Footnote

Next: Looks like it’s time for another odd one: Eye Magazine (Vol. 2) #2 (Story 1).