It started in ASM #57, February 1968 when Spidey fought Ka-Zar. From then until the end of Stan’s run, Spidey faces off with a different guest-hero every “decade.” (Well, he didn’t really “face off” with Doc Strange.) The opponent in the 60s was Medusa (ASM #62, July 1968). Here in the 70s, it’s Quicksilver. In the 80s, it’s the Black Widow (ASM #86, July 1970). In the 90s, it’s Iceman (ASM #92, January 1971). And Dr. Strange guest-stars in the “aughts” (ASM #109, June 1972). (Gerry Conway continues this for a bit with the Hulk in ASM #119, May 1973 and Luke Cage in ASM #123, August 1973 but the streak ends there.) The Ka-Zar appearance fits perfectly into the frame of the ongoing story and earned five webs. It seems like Medusa only appeared to promote her issue of Marvel Super-Heroes (#15, July 1968) and limped home with one-and-a-half webs. So, where does this issue fit into the continuum?
|Pencils:||John Romita, Sr.|
|Cover Art:||John Romita, Sr.|
|Reprinted In:||Pocket Book: Spider-Man Greatest Team-Up Battles|
|Reprinted In:||Essential Spider-Man #4|
On the cover, four Quicksilvers run around Spidey, each of them punching him. Well, actually, it’s not supposed to be four Quicksilvers. It’s one Quicksilver, running so fast that it looks like four of him. But each blow lands and they must have some impact because there are five starbursts to account for the four landed punches. Spidey is dead-center on the cover. In fact, if you measure, you’ll find that the exact center is right around Spidey’s right shoulder. The whole scene, with the speed lines around Quicksilver causing a cyclone effect, with the punches manifesting as balls of light, with Spidey clearly reeling, imparts a real feeling of movement and action. And like most of the good covers, it has very little cover copy. “And Now…Quicksilver!” is all it says.
I had an email exchange with Mike Fichera of Marvel Handbook (and SpiderFan) fame because of a coincidence involving this cover (which I will get to a little later) and he pointed out that this “wind generated” cover idea has been used again in
So, who is Quicksilver? Should we know that he’s a speedster when we see this cover, rather than someone with powers akin to Madrox the Multiple Man? Well, we should know if we’ve followed the X-Men and Avengers, where Quicksilver along with his sister, the Scarlet Witch, first appeared as members of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (in X-Men #4, March 1964) and later joined the Avengers (in Avengers #16, May 1965. But, there may be some Spidey readers who are not X-Men or Avengers readers, as Stan clearly worries about, so we get a flashback that tells us everything we need to know. Which isn’t much. We’ll get to that.
The story opens with Peter, sitting on his bed, still clad in his Spidey tights. He has his Spidey shirt in his hands and his mask is on the bed. The petrified tablet is on the floor. Peter is still filled with regret for threatening J. Jonah Jameson (last issue), causing him to have a possible heart attack. He is so consumed by it that a chunk of the splash page is taken up with a pictorial memory of Ned Leeds tending to an unconscious JJJ, which is in black and white. (Does Spidey remember in black and white?) Actually, the black and white provides a nice contrast to Peter on his bed and emphasizes the gloom that has overtaken him. “Maybe Jameson was right!” he says, “Maybe I am a menace! Everything I try…everything I do…seems to end in…disaster!”
I just wrote a review of Spider-Man Newspaper Strip: 30 October 1977 - 28 December 1977 in which a volatile Peter kicked a chair in his apartment to smithereens. He’s not quite as volatile here but he does throw his Spidey shirt into the living room just as Harry comes home from his date with Mary Jane. Peter jumps up to the wall in the hallway and shoots a web at his shirt, which is dangling off the side of an armchair. He yanks it into the shadow of the hall just as Harry turns on the lights. (And, look at that apartment! The fancy furniture! The space! I’ve been in million-dollar apartments in Manhattan that don’t come close to that size.) “Boy, am I bushed!” says Harry, as he enters, “Mary Jane could dance the legs off Astaire.” (That’s Fred, I assume, but it could be Adele.) So, we get another MJ mention. As I said in the ASM #70 review, Peter “returns to the apartment he shares with Harry and puts the tablet in his closet. ‘It’s lucky for me that he’s dating MJ tonight!’ he says.” Now, I think that Stan thinks this is the same night but it’s not. In that same issue, Peter goes to bed and all of the subsequent events take place on the next day.
Still, I suppose Harry could have been out with MJ two nights in a row. Or out two nights straight on a long one-date binge. Nice to know that MJ’s still not yet in Florida, anyway.
Figuring the only way to keep Harry from getting suspicious is to talk to him, Peter throws on a robe and comes out to the living room. He only hopes Harry doesn’t look down to see his feet, still clad in his costume. (But what’s the big deal? I have Spidey socks like that. Doesn’t everybody?) Harry heads for bed and Peter feels like he got away with things by the skin of his teeth. “But I’ve gotta stop feeling sorry for myself,” he thinks, “I have to work things out, somehow.” He’s worried about Aunt May since “her rent is due in a few days” and he, apparently, pays her rent. But doesn’t May live with Anna Watson in May’s house? (Or is it Anna’s house?) Don’t they own those houses?
He remembers the photos he took of the Kingpin back in ASM #68, January 1969 and goes to develop them. (Is that apartment so big, it has a darkroom too?) It turns out the pictures are “sharp and clear” and, better than that, “they may help to show that Spidey’s innocent.” But then he remembers that Jonah is in the hospital. “Wbo’s gonna buy them from me?” he wonders.
Elsewhere in the city, a streaking figure blows a news vender’s papers all over. It is our guest-star/opponent Quicksilver and he has run to Manhattan to contact the Avengers. “I must explain everything that has occurred,” her says, “and hope they will understand! Beginning with the moment Magneto’s island fortress was destroyed…and Wanda and I managed to escape…together with the misshapen Toad!” Stan footnotes this to tell us that it happened in Avengers #53, June 1968. So, maybe we ought to take a look at that. Actually, let’s move a little further back than that. As I said, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were members of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants before joining the Avengers. In Avengers #47, December 1967, Magneto and the Toad capture them and (in Avengers #48, January 1968) try to get them to rejoin the Evil Mutants. In Avengers #49, February 1968, Magneto and the Toad take them to Magneto’s island. In X-Men #43, April 1968, the X-Men attack Magneto at his island fortress but are defeated. However, in X-Men #44, May 1968, the Angel escapes to warn the Avengers. In X-Men #45, June 1968, Cyclops escapes and ends up fighting and defeating Quicksilver. Which is when the Avengers show up.
Now, Magneto uses “devices” on the X-Men that “weaken their powers of mental resistance” so that they consider the Avengers to be their enemies. They fight (in Avengers #53) and the Avengers win, after which they come after Magneto. But the Toad, tired of the constant beatings Magneto gives him, pulls a self-destruct switch (something all good evil fortresses must have) to destroy the fortress and the island. He, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch escape in Magneto’s non-metal airship, which he built just to prove he could do it. (Yes, really!) Unable to use his magnetism on the ship, Magneto falls to his apparent death. (SPOILERS: He’s not dead.) and the Toad, Quicksilver, and the Witch fly into the flashback in our current issue.
The ship crash-lands “atop an isolated peak in the Adirondacks.” (I’m not surprised, since it looked like nobody was flying it in Avengers #53. This may also explain how they went from an island only to end up in the Adirondacks.) Toad declares the ship “wrecked” and says “it may never fly again!”
This is where Stan puts a note in for all of us who didn’t read Avengers and X-Men. “Unless you’re up on our other Marvel mags, these characters are new to you! But don’t worry - - you’ll still be able to follow the story with ease!” That’s because none of this has to do with anything in this issue. Nevertheless, let’s press on. None of the three know what to do. “Are we not still outcasts?” asks Wanda (the Scarlet Witch). “If only we could prove that we are not evil!” says the Toad, “Everything was the fault of Magneto.” “But who would believe us?” asks Wanda. “The Avengers would believe!” declares Pietro (Quicksilver). And telling his sister (oh yeah, Pietro and Wanda are brother and sister) “Remain until I return once more!” he races off for New York. (Since Wanda and the Toad are stuck on “an isolated peak,” I assume they have no choice but to stay put.)
The flashback being over, Quicksilver runs up the wall of Avengers mansion onto the roof. But the “intruder alarm” warns Jarvis, the Avengers’ butler, of an attacker. (He has a monitor but Quicksilver is apparently running so fast that he’s a blur so Jarvis doesn’t recognize him. Except…if he’s still running that fast, wouldn’t he go right off the roof?) Jarvis throws “the repellor-switch” but Pietro is faster than “the deadly current” of the “repellor-screen” and he gets inside. (I’m not sure why Stan bothers with all of this “repellor-switch” business if he’s going to have Quicksilver outrun it in the next panel.) Quickie tells Jarvis he must see the Avengers but Jarvis tells him that the Avengers are in Africa (in Avengers #62, March 1969 but I’m not sure Jarvis should know that). Dispirited, Pietro wanders the Manhattan streets. A newspaper truck drives by and the guy in the back of the truck tosses a bundle of papers out that almost hit Quicksilver. He looks at the Bugle headline, which is the same as it was yesterday (or was it the day before yesterday?) “Spider-Man Wanted!”
Wanting to learn more, Quickie breaks open the bundle and reads the article (without paying for the paper). “In truth, he is a wanted criminal!” he determines of the web-slinger. He decides that “fate has given me the means to redeem myself at last” by capturing Spider-Man. Which may or may not clear his name but what good does it do Wanda and the Toad?
At “an expensive East Side Hospital,” the doctor tells Joe Robertson that Jonah did not have a heart attack but just “a case of shock.” Even so, the doctor recommends “complete rest for the next few weeks!” Robbie realizes that he’ll have to take over at the Bugle. (And to make sure it’s all kosher, Stan has the doctor tell Robbie that JJJ “mumbled something to that effect.”) John Jameson arrives and asks about his dad. (We last saw John in ASM #58, March 1968 when he had “orders to ship out within the hour” and was “headed overseas.” But it turns out he actually had another space flight and his capsule sinks in the ocean so that the Silver Surfer has to save him in Silver Surfer #1, August 1968. John can’t believe Spidey really attacked Jonah and Robbie tells him “I don’t believe he did…it was more of a threat…which accidentally backfired.”
Robbie leaves but doesn’t go to the Bugle. He heads home first and his wife Martha finds him at a desk worrying about Randy who he thinks hasn’t come home yet. (At this point, I’m not even going to guess what time it is.) Martha assures him that Randy is home. “Why have you been so concerned about him lately?” she asks. He tells her “It’s the world he’s growing up in! He’s troubled…rebellious…full of the angry impatience of youth! He wants to take the world in his hands and shape it into something better!” Martha reminds him, “It’s the way we used to feel remember? It’s the dream that belongs to the young…it’s the hope of the world.” And Randy is just outside the room, listening in on the conversation. (This is Martha’s first appearance, not counting the picture of her in ASM #68. We won’t see her again for a long time. In fact, that’s it from Stan. He’s done with her. Randy, on the other hand, was here last issue and will be back in a couple of issues from now.)
Robbie gets some sleep and then goes in to the Bugle. (Wasn’t the morning paper delivered on the street before Robbie even went home? Oh well. I did say I’m not going to guess what time it is.) Betty Brant is at her typewriter (and Ned Leeds is hanging out). She tells Robbie that “Peter Parker has been waiting to see you…with new pix.” Before passing the pix along, Peter asks how Jonah is. “Nothing serious, son. He’s on the mend!” says Robbie, but he doesn’t say anything about Jameson needing three weeks of rest. Robbie takes a look at Peter’s pix and announces, “These are dynamite!” He tells Betty to “drop everything” and “call the press room.” He says, “There may still be time to catch the early edition!” (Wasn’t that the one that already went out with the headline “Spider-Man Wanted?”) The photos get spread out for us to see. They are from the Spidey-Kingpin fight in ASM #68 from pages 17 to 19 and they show the Kingpin making off with the tablet after burying Spidey in rubble. As Robbie says, “These show beyond a shadow of doubt that Spider-Man tried to prevent the tablet’s theft! They also prove conclusively that the young campus protesters had nothing to do with it!” Robbie calls the Composing Room and asks for “rewrite.” He then pays Peter. We don’t see how big the check is but Peter lights up. “It’s the most bread I’ve seen in years!” He runs out of the office, thinking, “Now Aunt May can go down south for the sunshine she needs! And I can finally give Harry my share of the rent!” (We last saw May looking sickly in ASM #68. And what’s all this about rent? First Aunt May and now Peter. Remember ASM #46, March 1967. Here’s what I wrote in my review of that issue: “When Pete tells him he probably can't afford it, Harry informs him that his dad is ‘footing the rent bill’.” When did that change? Or did Stan just forget?
“Things are looking up,” thinks Peter. On top of that, he’s figured out what to do with the tablet. Donning his Spidey suit at home and strapping the tablet to his back, he web-swings to the Stacy home where he shines his spider-signal in on Captain George Stacy. “Who’s there??” asks Stacy, even though the spider image is projected all over his wall. Spidey enters and hands the tablet over to George. “Now maybe the police will believe I only took it to keep it safe from the Kingpin!” he says and then he takes off before Stacy can recognize his “muffled voice…even thru the mask!”
As he swings along, he basks in his good fortune. “Jameson’s alive…so I’m not a murderer! And I finally got the tablet off my back! What’s more…for the first time, I’ve got a web-full of spending money!” So, wouldn’t you know that his spider-sense starts to tingle? He sees something zooming up the wall “moving so fast that it kept my webbing from hitting the wall!” As Spidey falls, he recognizes his attacker as Quicksilver, who apologizes for making him fall since he only wants to “bring you to justice.” As Quickie puts it, Spidey “cleverly broke [his] fall by repeatedly striking the building.” They are at the Park Hotel and Spidey swings under and clings to the ceiling of the marquee. The doorman and some bystanders are shocked by the whole thing but the super-fast Pietro soon finds him. He whirls around “at ultra-high speed” which creates a wind that knocks Spidey off the marquee.
Spidey is down on his hands and knees as the crowd gathers around the two super-heroes. Quicksilver tells Spidey, “I must bring you to justice to prove myself worthy to the Avengers once more.” (I thought he wanted to redeem himself in the eyes of the law.) “There’s gotta be an easier way than that!” says Spidey. Gathering his own speed, Spidey leaps at and grabs Quickie’s feet but Pietro responds with a super-fast punch. “Don’t you realize…to me, you’re moving in slow motion?!!” he says. He further adds, “I can strike you a dozen times before you even feel the first!” and it seems that that is just what he’s doing as the web-slinger staggers and reels from the blows.
Back at the hospital, Ned Leeds has brought the latest edition of the Bugle to JJJ. But when Jonah sees it, he is in danger of a relapse. A headline is “Bugle Photos Seem to Vindicate Spider-Man.” Of course, he goes off on a tantrum. “Better get the doctor, Ned,” says John Jameson. Ned is happy to go. “I sure don’t wanna be around when Old Blood ‘n Guts learns what Robbie paid for those photos!” he thinks. “I don’t care what those photos show!” bellows Jonah, “Spider-Man’s guilty! He’s guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!”
Back at the battle, Spidey tries to fight back but can’t land a punch. Deciding Spidey is too powerful to defeat by normal means, Quickie starts running around the web-slinger, giving us, at last, the cover illustration. His plan it to “create a whirlpool of air…causing a suction updraft…which will leave you breathless!” Spidey is nearly down and out. He has one last chance. “Fast as he is…he can’t run…thru an object…an object such as my arm!!” And he sticks his arm out and catches Pietro right in the solar plexus, knocking him out. Now, Stan knows this is a touch ridiculous, so he has Spidey think, “only [his] spidey strength kept [his arm] from being snapped in two.” Even with the spidey strength, I’m not sure I buy it. But there’s no time to think about it. The police arrive and Spidey escapes, climbing up the wall with Quicksilver in one arm. (Is this still the hotel? There’s a sign on a marquee that says “Dancing” and “Catering.” Plus, there are windows with air conditioning units.)
Quicksilver recovers on the roof and tells Spidey he won’t continue the battle since “you might have slain me but did not.” “Groovy,” says Spidey. (Has he ever said “groovy” before?) And, Spidey web-swings away, saying, “How about that? Maybe my luck’s changing at last! Or, is this just a lull before the storm?”
The “Next Issue” blurb at the bottom of the page sort of answers that. “We’ll find out for sure, next, when we’re suddenly gonna meet: The Most Shocking Foe of All!” Remember last issue when the blurb was “Next: The Most Shockingly Unexpected Super-Foe of Them All!” and I speculated that the next issue was originally intended to feature the Shocker since he was featured in the issue after that? Well, here it is again. Last time, the game was given away at the bottom of the Spider’s Web with the blurb, “The Coming of Quicksilver!” This time…the game is given away at the bottom of the Spider’s Web with the blurb, “The Shocker!” So, was this issue originally supposed to feature the Shocker? Or is Stan having fun with us with two straight issues of “the most shocking foe?” Beats me.
In the Bullpen Bulletins (“Fabulous Facts and Frivolous Fables For Frantic Fans, Faithful Friends, and Fiendish Foes!”), Stan wants to talk about album covers. “Have you noticed how many Marvel characters are appearing on various rollickin’ record albums these days? We got a big kick out of seeing Dr. Strange on the latest Pink Floyd cover – and we’ll shoot a brand-new No-Prize to the first 100 Believers who can mention at least two other albums on which we’ve been recently represented – And how about the way Tiny Tim kept mentioning Captain America in his TV Guide interview a while ago? Could it be because ol’ Tiny met Stan the Man at The Scene awhile back and they had a ball yakkin’ about Marvel madness between the acts?”
There is a lot to unpack from that item. First, the Pink Floyd album is “A Saucerful of Secrets.” Here is the cover.
Can you find Doc Strange? He’s on the far right.
Second, can you name “at least two other albums” with Marvel characters on them? They have to be from 1969 or earlier to apply. I thought I had a couple. “The Marvel World of Icarus” by Icarus and the photo on the back cover of “Hobo’s Lullaby” in which Arlo Guthrie is reading Thor Special #3, January 1971
but neither one applies because they both came out around 1972. I found a website that lists Freddie McCoy’s album “Spider-Man”
but I’ve never heard of that. So…anybody? Can you win Stan’s No-Prize (52 years after the fact)?
Third, can you picture Stan hanging out with Tiny Tim at The Scene? The Scene was a New York nightclub that was around from 1964 to 1970. Among those who played there were B.B. King, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Sammy Davis, Jr., the Young Rascals, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Jeff Beck, Pink Floyd, Traffic, the Velvet Underground, Fleetwood Mac, the Chambers Brothers, the Doors, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. According to Wikipedia, “Other regular attendees included photographer Linda Eastman, who later married Paul McCartney, and Tiny Tim, who often opened the sets.” So, now we know what Tiny was doing there. What was Stan doing there? Who did Stan go to see?
The next item asks “Remember our telling you about Bashful Barry Smith, the pandemonious penciller we imported from Britain, last ish? Well, never let it be said that your blushin’ Bullpen doesn’t go all-out when we move! We also latched onto a buddy of Barry’s, none other than Stupifyin’ Steve Parkhouse, who’s destined to be a Marvel staffer – and writes as smashing a bit of superhero skullduggery as you could wanna read! Steve’s youthful, toothful, and a heckuva writer – so, what with him, Rascally Roy, Groovy Gary, and Archie and Arnie (the typewriter twins), maybe Smiley will get that vacation someday yet!” Steve Parkhouse is mainly known for his Marvel UK and Doctor Who work. He only wrote three bullpen stories, as far as I can tell: the Ka-Zar story “My Father, My Enemy!” (co-written with Arnold Drake) in Marvel Super-Heroes #19, March 1969, “Hell Hath No Fury” in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #12, May 1969 (co-plotted and penciled by Barry Smith), and “There He Is! Here Comes the Outcast!” in Western Gunfighters #4, February 1971 (pencils by Barry Smith).
In another “Item,” Stan says, “Speaking of bombastic Bullpeners, didja catch the name of Stu Schwartzberg in the latest Not Brand Echh? The syncopated Mr. S. is both a comedy writer and gag cartoonist (run for the hills, Marie!), and is also the lord high Punjab of our photostat machine. The machine gives off a spooky green light and, just between us, it takes a lot of courage to drop in on Stu unexpectedly. It’s like visiting the Castle of Frankenstein! (Who says we never gave you a plug, Calvin Beck?)” Stu’s work appeared not in “the latest” NBE, but in the previous issue. I reviewed his story,“It’s a Mad, Mad Ave!” in Not Brand Echh #11 (Story 2) and I quoted Roy Thomas from Alter Ego #95, July 2010 saying that Stu “started out…operating Marvel’s Photostat machine.” His work appears again in Not Brand Echh #13, May 1969 with “Guess What’s Coming to Diner?” and “Rent-a-Super-Hero!” True to his gag-writer inclination, the rest of Stu’s work for Marvel almost entirely appears in Harvey, Spoof, and Crazy Magazine. Oh, and by the way, Calvin Beck was the publisher of the magazine “Castle of Frankenstein,” one of which had Spidey in one corner of the cover and is reviewed at Castle of Frankenstein #12, 1968.
Stan’s Soapbox is still so relevant that I am going to reproduce the whole thing: “One of the things we try to demonstrate in our yarns is that nobody is all good, or all bad. Even a shoddy super-villain can have a redeeming trait, just as any howlin’ hero might have his nutty hangups. One of the greatest barriers to real peace and justice in this troubled world is the feeling that everyone on the other side of the ideological fence is a ‘bad guy.’ We don’t know if you’re a far-out radical, or Mr. Establishment himself – if you’re a black militant or a white liberal – if you’re a pantin’ protest marcher or a jolly John Bircher – but, whatever you are, don’t get bogged down by kindergarten labels! It’s time we learned how fruitless it is to think in terms of us and them - of black and white. Maybe, just maybe, the other side isn’t all bad. Maybe your own point of view isn’t the only one that’s divinely inspired. Maybe we’ll never find true understanding until we listen to the other guy; and until we realize that we can never march across the Rainbow Bridge to true Nirvana – unless we do it side-by-side!”
The Mighty Marvel Checklist has this entry: “Dr. Strange #179: Out of the shrouded mists of the past! Dr. Strange fights side by side with the one and only Spider-Man! Put this one on your must list!” So….”out of the shrouded mists of the past” means it’s a reprint, right? Then, why “put this one on your must list?” I’ll get back to this at the end.
In the Spider’s Web, Jeff Chown of Bay City, Michigan writes, “Your Negroes acted like Negroes instead of whites. The only problem was that I don’t feel that Josh should be represented as a minority because a good percentage of the Negroes I know are proud like him and go for his kind of hair-cut and dark glasses and the rest of it, and probably many would identify with him. Therefore, I feel that more Negroes should be portrayed like this, instead of like the so-called ‘Uncle Toms.’ I can see that civil rights really turn you on as a writer, and I hope you continue to use this as a plot.” Stan, who thought he’d carefully trod the middle of the road last issue, replies, “Frankly, Jeff, we don’t think of civil rights solely – or even primarily – as mere ‘plot material’…but we see what you’re getting at. We try not to categorize humanity into stereotypes, so we think there is room in America for both a Josh and a Joe Robertson. And we think the same thing about our pandemonious plots! There…does that mollify everyone, or have we just stirred up another hornet’s nest?”
Bruce Garner of Havertown, Pennsylvania thinks that ”Captain Stacy should share Pete’s secret” and calls “for a vote from Marveldom Assembled.” Stan demurs with “if one guy has a secret, the responsibility is to himself only. If he shares that secret, he is putting that other guy’s life in danger. So, you see, Spidey’s reasons are not motivated by fear of exposure, but fear for the life of somebody close to him!” So, Bruce doesn’t get his vote and he doesn’t get a scene of Spidey revealing his identity to George but he does sort of get his wish as we find out in ASM #90, November 1970.
David Turkin of Mt. Vernon, New York says, “Except for the webbing against the Amazing Spider-Man [logo] which degrades the issue, #68 was great. Speaking of the webbing, while you get rid of it, also get rid of the word ‘Amazing.’ Have the mag called Spider-Man; forget the ‘Amazing’ jazz.” David, may I introduce you to Todd McFarlane? David goes on to say, “In case you haven’t heard, Stan, Peter Parker is living in Westchester. Now, where in Zeus’ name is his E.S.U. college? I’m a resident of Westchester, and I never heard of it!” Stan dodges this question when he should let David know that Peter does not live in Westchester. He and E.S.U. are in Manhattan.
Mitch Sherman of Skokie, Illinois says, “Peter should stick to Gwen, not M.J. She’s not as emptyheaded. That’s not to say that Mary Jane’s a dope, but she always struck me as being worlds apart from P.P.” Mitch buddy, I hate to break it to you…
In my coverage of the Spider’s Web in ASM #66, November 1968, I said, “And Melvin Payton of Poquason, Virginia wonders ‘why did [Spidey] fall down? ‘Ha!’ you may say, ‘The webbing is not water-proof! So it didn’t stick to the wall he sought to stick it to!!!’ They [sic] why, oh faithful leader, did said super-hero say, in Spidey #29, that he made it water-proof originally? So! Our witty Spider-Man can shoot webbing underwater (ASM #29) but not in the rain! Stan old boy, only Marvel could make webbing like that. Now would you just explain why it shoots underwater but not in the rain?? Huh? Would you?’ None of these writers get answers.” But Robert Sutliff of Richmond Hill, New York steps in here to help. “The explanation is simple: even though his web is waterproof, Spidey couldn’t control his aim. Why? Because the pressure of the falling rain upon the web changes the direction – forcing it down. The reason Spidey fell was because he couldn’t aim well enough to hit anything. Under water, though, his web shoots straight as an arrow because there is no pressure on it. ‘Nuff said?” Stan replies, “You know it! And here we thought the ol’ Web-Spinner was just a lousy shot. But, it just goes to show you – there’s no boner your Bullpen can pull that some faithful one can’t explain away. And, frankly, we wouldn’t have it any other way, Bob!”
Finally, Julian McHale of Oberlin, Ohio says, “You have once more pack-potted with another whammo Spider-Man thriller!” Er, okay. “Pack-potted” means to pack your pipe (or joint) with pot, doesn’t it? I think it’s a drug reference. Hey Stan, I think it’s a drug reference! Right there on the Spider’s Web page!
Our “Another Marvel Masterpiece” final page spotlights Captain America #112, April 1969, labelled on its cover as an “Album Issue,” which doesn’t bode well. Rather than being a “Marvel Masterpiece,” my recollection is that this recap issue is sort of a letdown, although it does have that Kirby/Tuska artwork.
Milestones (Landmark events that take place in this story.)
The 1969 Marvelmania International Spider-Man Portfolio checklist entry for this issue:
“The Speedster and the Spider” – JJJ recovers. – Parker’s photos clear Spidey but not before Quicksilver tries to play hero.
The battle with Quicksilver is not what makes this issue worth reading. It’s all the subplots and side plots that keep this boat afloat. At the beginning, Peter worries that he may have killed Jonah Jameson, wonders what he can do with the petrified tablet and frets over needing rent money for himself and Aunt May. It turns out that threatening JJJ was the best thing he could have done as Jonah did not have a heart attack, suffering “nothing more than a case of shock.” This puts Jonah out of action long enough for Peter to get top dollar for his Kingpin photos from Joe Robertson, who turns around and uses them to declare Spider-Man innocent. (Which gives us that great “guilty, guilty, guilty” scene with JJJ.) The generous paycheck solves the rent problem. Peter figures out what to do with the tablet, giving it to Captain Stacy. By the end of the issue, Spidey has pretty much solved all of his problems, aside from his usual existential ones. He even says, in the last panel, “Maybe my luck’s changing at last!” So, all of that, plus the introduction of Martha Robertson, makes the issue worthwhile; so worthwhile that it doesn’t need anything else.
But, since Spidey needs an opponent, there’s Quicksilver. The whole set-up with Pietro running to Manhattan, with the flashback showing how he and Wanda and the Toad crashed in the Adirondacks, with the scene in Avengers mansion with Jarvis, takes up three-and-a-half pages. The battle at the end takes up about eight pages. That’s eleven-and-a-half pages of a twenty-page comic and none of it accomplishes anything. By the end of the issue, Pietro has not gotten any help or redeemed himself. After the almost two pages of flashback, we never learn what happens to them. Does Pietro run back to the crash-site and tell them, “Sorry, gang! I couldn’t find any help!” He and Wanda and Toad are not seen again until X-Men #59, August 1969 when they are among those captured by the Sentinels. So, how did they get off the mountain and where did they go? Or did they not get off the mountain until the Sentinels scooped them up?
So, some great stuff in this issue…and then all that stuff with Quicksilver. And because it takes up more than half of the issue, it’s not one of my favorites. But, hey, at least it’s still 12¢. Which reminds me of that coincidence I mentioned before. There was a discussion among the Marvel Handbook guys about the continual increase in comic book prices and Mike Fichera put together a mock-cover to illustrate it, of this very issue. I asked Mike if I could include it and he graciously consented. So, here’s Mike’s cover commentary on rising comic book prices and I’m sure we all share in the pain.
Next up is Dr. Strange #179. But isn’t that a reprint? Or is it one you must put on your must list? Let’s find out next time.