Did you think we were done with the Petrified Tablet when Spider-Man dropped it off with Captain Stacy? No such luck, as we’ll find out beginning on the splash page.
Tim Eimiller got to this issue before me…by about 24 years. Here is his review from 1997.
"Forgive my sudden entrance Stacy - but I happen to be in a hurry!" says the Shocker as he blasts through a wall into Captain Stacy's study and knocks the man out with a low-intensity vibro-shock blast. The Shocker is here for a priceless clay tablet, and he finds it when he uses his wrist units for the purpose with which they were invented and knocks the door off of Captain Stacy's safe.
Gwen Stacy hears the commotion and rushes into the room, but the Shocker has what he wants and he leaves while assuring the girl that her father will be fine. Captain Stacy soon revives, "I thought the tablet would be safe here with me! I didn't count on being attacked by someone as powerful as the Shocker!" Gwen asks, "Dad, didn't the Shocker once battle Spider-Man to a standstill? If he's at large again - how can anyone hope to stop him?"
The Shocker's next stop is a pawn shop. The proprietor is just closing up when the Shocker makes a new door. "The Shocker! Wh-what are you doin' here! I'm just small potatoes to a guy like you!" The Shocker replies, "To me, you're nothing! but you know how to reach the big boys! I want you to contact them! Tell 'em I have the stolen tablet! I'm gonna fence it to the highest bidder!"
"You can't!" says the proprietor, "It's too late! Ever since Spider-Man snatched it from the Kingpin himself, no one'll touch it! It's too hot! No one wants to tangle with the wall-crawler again!"
"They don't, huh?" says the Shocker. He then blasts the hapless pawn shop owner and begins trashing the place. "So they're afraid of the web-slinger, are they? I'll give 'em something to really be scared of!" He blasts into the street to make sure everyone gets the message. The police soon cordon off the entire area, but lose the Shocker on the rooftops. But the rooftops are Spidey territory, as the Shocker well knows.
Spider-Man, having heard of the Shocker's rampage on the news, surprises the Shocker with a quip and a kick to the face. "Spider-Man! I thought you'd drop by!" says the Shocker as he recovers. Spidey thinks, "He's still conscious! Must have used his vibrating power again, to deflect my blow! I almost forgot what a deadly opponent the Shocker can be! He doesn't even sound hurt!"
The battle begins in earnest as the Shocker toys with Spidey, hurling blast after blast, bringing a chimney down on the web-swinger and then blasting the roof under Spidey's feet so he falls into the hole. While peering down after Spidey, the Shocker gets two feet in his face as Spider-Man swings back into the open. The Shocker is out or so Spider-Man thinks. As he picks the Shocker up the Shocker grabs him by the head and then punches him off of the rooftop taunting, "It's a pity you can't fly!"
But Spider-Man's webbing saves him again and the Shocker yells after him, "I'll finish you off yet - but it'll be me who picks the time and place!" As the Shocker turns to leave Spider-Man tags him with a Spider-tracer.
Later, Spidey follows his Spider-tracer right to the Shocker. The Shocker has just totaled an armored car and is making off with the loot. Spider-Man swings in and wraps his legs around the Shocker's head from behind. Continuing his swing he carries the Shocker right into a brick wall. "I'll say one thing for you, Shockie - you sure can take your lumps!" says Spidey.
"I let you live the last time we met! But now - I won't be so merciful!" replies the Shocker. He again begins hurling blast after blast at the web-slinger, really pouring it on. Spider-Man thinks to himself, "Lucky he telegraphed that blast! I was able to leap over it! But I can't keep dodging all of them! That one was too close! Think, Spidey - think!"
But Spider-Man doesn't think quickly enough as the Shocker brings down the entire side of a building on the wall-crawler. Spider-Man shoots webbing under himself to help cushion his fall, and shoots webbing above himself to cushion the debris. The Shocker thinks he's won and begins to leave, but Spider-Man shoots a web-strand at him from under the rubble, wrapping the villain’s feet together.
The Shocker quickly vibrates free as Spidey rushes towards him, right into one of the Shocker's jack-hammer punches. "It'll take more than that to down me!" says Spider-Man as he flips away from the Shocker's next jack-hammer blow. Clinging to a wall, he picks the Shocker off his feet. As the Shocker fires up at Spidey, the wall-crawler lets him go. The force of the Shocker's own blast sends him crashing to the ground. Spider-Man then gives the Shocker a face full of webbing and punches him out cold. "You shouldn't have told me how your vibro-power deflects my blows! You convinced me to use my Sunday punch!" says Spider-Man. Spider-Man is then fired upon by the armored car guards and he swings off. The guards find the Shocker, and the money, and realize they were wrong about Spider-Man's motives.
|Pencils:||John Buscema, John Romita, Sr.|
|Cover Art:||John Romita, Sr.|
|Reprinted In:||Origins Of Marvel Comics|
|Reprinted In:||Sinister Tales (UK) #106|
|Reprinted In:||Essential Spider-Man #4|
John Buscema takes over the breakdowns with this issue. He does them off and on until ASM #85, June 1970. Here is what John Romita and Roy Thomas say about this period, from the JR Sr. interview in Alter Ego #9, July 2001.
John: Stan was always trying to speed me up. He had Don Heck penciling over my breakdowns for a while. Stan would have me lay out the story. Then, when Don had finished the pencils, he’d call me in to fix up anything Don had done that he didn’t like. Even after it was inked, he’d have me changing what the inker had done. I told him, “This was supposed to save me time, but it isn’t!” He tried Dick Ayers at it, too. In fact, there’s one splash page that was used, based on what Dick did – it was a splash that was mostly just webbing. But Stan didn’t like the way Dick drew Peter Parker, so we settled on John Buscema.
Roy: Who hated drawing Spider-Man. Yet, he became the third Spidey penciler.
John: Yeah, though he mostly just did layouts. I’d call him up to give him a quick plot outline, and he’d say, “We’re not gonna do another one of those, are we? I hate Spider-Man!” But then he’d do this great job.
The cover, however, is drawn by John Romita. It’s one of those, like ASM #63, August 1968, with no Spidey on it. Instead, like ASM #63, it has the spider-signal. This time, the signal is projected on a wall. It’s the first thing you see when you pick up the comic but then you focus on a star-like blast right between the signal’s eyes. You follow the blast back to its source, which is the Shocker, stepping forward as he blasts away, putting everything he has into it. The blurb in the lower right corner says, “Rocked by the Shocker!” and we see the rocks flying off of the wall, along with cracks that seem to turn the spider-signal into a jigsaw puzzle. Now, you could ask, “Why is the Shocker blasting away at the spider-signal?” or perhaps, “Was the Shocker blasting the wall when Spidey happened along and shined his spider-signal where the Shocker was blasting?” But, really, none of those questions matter. Instead, it’s all about impact. A cover showing the Shocker blasting Spidey would not have the force of this one with the rocks and the cracks and the starburst between the eyes. It’s the most powerful cover since the Vulture socked Spidey in the snoot on the cover of ASM #64, September 1968.
The story starts with a bang, too, as the Shocker blasts his way into the Stacy home, creating a huge hole in the wall. He uses one of is vibro-blasters to knock Captain Stacy out with a ZAK! If we’re wondering, “Who is this guy?” Stan generously informs us that the Shocker previously appeared in ASM #46, March 1967, only a little over two years before… but it was assumed that the readership turnover was about two years back then so he may have been new to a chunk of the readers.
As Stacy lies unconscious, the Shocker notes that “Lucky for him I used my vibro-powers at its weakest setting.” Who knew that the Shocker had settings? In the few minutes that George is unconscious, the Shocker goes over to the fireplace, blasts a picture above it, revealing a now-blasted-open safe, and pulls the petrified tablet out. As he reaches in to grab it, he says, “According to the newspapers, the priceless clay tablet should be here…since Spider-Man was dumb enough not to keep it and sell it for himself!” And, oh, I have questions. First of all, how did the newspapers get a hold of this information? Spidey certainly didn’t tell them. Did George? If so, that wasn’t very smart of him. Second, how did the Shocker know where the tablet was kept? It makes sense that it was in a safe but how did he know where that safe was? Did George tell that to the newspapers too? “The tablet is secure in my safe which is right above my fireplace?” Third, do you really want a safe right over your fireplace? Wouldn’t it get unnecessarily hot? Fourth, how did the Shocker know that his blast would open the safe but not damage the tablet? Did he adjust his settings to “just open the safe?” And fifth, the Shocker has settings? Did he have settings in his first appearance? I’m too lazy to check.
Okay, okay, I did check. No specific mention of “settings” but the Shocker does carry on about a “full-intensity double shock blast” so I guess that implies that there are other “less than full” settings.
Hearing the commotion, Gwen Stacy, wearing a mini-skirt and fishnet stockings (no wonder the Shocker calls her “Gorgeous”), runs in and sees her dad unconscious on the floor. As he flees out the hole in the wall, the Shocker assures her that “Except for a headache, [George will] be as good as new.” And, just then, George regains consciousness. He sits on the floor, holding his head, and laments, “I thought the tablet would be safe here with me! I didn’t count on being attacked by someone as powerful as the Shocker! (Well, you know, if you’re the one who told the newspapers…) Gwen goes to call the police, adding, “Dad, didn’t the Shocker once battle Spider-Man to a standstill? If he’s at large again…how can anyone hope to stop him?”
“Powerful,” fought “Spider-Man to a standstill,” “how can anyone…stop him?” Yes, this is the Shocker they’re talking about. The villain who has been reduced to a joke in recent years. Including, most recently, in ASM #61 (LGY #862), May 2021, where he and some other formerly formidable villains, expected to be easily beaten, are used only as a distraction. I’m sure you’ve all heard my rant about overusing villains before. Here’s the abridged version: If you don’t have a good way for Spidey to defeat the villain, then don’t use him! The more you resort to having Spidey win by punching a villain out, the more of a joke that villain becomes. You could blame Stan for starting that here with the Shocker except, well…let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Our next stop is a “seedy little pawnshop on a seedy little side-street.” There, the proprietor, a stogie in his mouth, is closing up his safe and his business for the night. (His stogie disappears after this one panel appearance.) Only, the Shocker does the same thing he did at the Stacy home; he smashes his way in through a wall. He’s got the tablet in hand and he tells the pawnshop guy, “To me you’re nothing! But you know how to reach the big boys! I want you to contact them! Tell ‘em I have the stolen tablet! I’m gonna fence it to the highest bidder!” But the pawnshop owner tells him it’s too late. “Ever since Spider-Man snatched it from the Kingpin himself, no one’ll touch it! It’s too hot! No one wants to tangle with the wall-crawler again!” In response, the Shocker blasts the guy with a THBAMM! Then he wipes out a couple of the shop’s counters before smashing out through the front window.
It’s page 5 panel 2 and we finally get to Peter Parker. He’s on a bus, standing near a guy wearing sunglasses and sporting a Van Dyke beard who is listening to a transistor radio. (Remember transistor radios?) A report comes on the radio warning people to “avoid the East Forties” because of the presence of the Shocker. (The Van Dyke guy says, “Like, do they haveta break in on the Soul Parade just on accounta some costumed nut?” “Soul Parade” is a fictitious radio program, invented by Stan, presumably along the lines of the TV program “Soul Train” and is not to be confused with the current rock group.)
Hearing this, Peter bolts off the bus at the next stop. The driver says, “Hey! He just got on…a couple of blocks ago!” and a guy reading a newspaper says, “Crazy teenagers!” What? A guy can’t ride a bus for a couple of blocks and not be crazy? Since when?
Now in his Spidey garb, our hero worries that he won’t finish tracking down the Shocker in time to see Aunt May off on her train, which leaves in an hour. He has finally convinced her to “go south for her health” and knows that she won’t go if he doesn’t see her off. (The last time we saw Aunt May, in ASM #68, January 1969, she put up a good front for Peter and Gwen but looked “so pale” after they left. “You should have told them to call the doctor,” said Anna Watson. “I didn’t want to spoil their happiness,” said May.)
The police are at the pawnshop – an Inspector and three uniforms, one of whom is named Harris – and the pawnbroker, a bandage wrapped around his head, declares that “The Shocker ain’t human! No one can take ‘im!” So, more talk about how unstoppable the Shocker is. But, up on a rooftop, Spidey comes upon the Shocker and calls out, “Hold it, big boy!” “Who said that?” asks Shocky. “I’ll give you a hint, man,” says Spidey, “It’s not Aretha Franklin!” (I don’t have to fill you in on Aretha, do I?) Spidey kicks Shocky in the jaw but Shocky uses “his vibrating power…to deflect [the] blow.” “I almost forgot what a deadly opponent the Shocker can be!” says Spidey. (You too, Spidey! Are all you guys the Shocker’s promoters?)
Now, at this point, the Shocker is no longer carrying the tablet. Harris, back at the pawnshop said, “There’s a million places he could have stashed it away by now!” But, we find out next issue that he has given it to his girlfriend for safekeeping and there is no indication next issue that she lives anywhere near the pawnshop. In fact, in that next issue, Captain Stacy tells Spidey, “She lived somewhere on the West Side – near the Theatre District!” Well, that’s the west forties and the pawnshop is in the east forties. So, did Shocker go over to the westside to drop off the tablet then return to the eastside so Spidey could find him?
Anyway, the Shocker retaliates, firing vibro-blasts that shatter a chimney and keep Spidey moving. (He leaps so fast on page 7 panel 3 that part of his costume loses its blue pigment.) Shocker then blasts a hole in the roof, causing Spidey to fall in. The webhead stops his fall with his webbing and as Shocky stands over the hole gloating (“While you’re falling, web-head…just thought I’d let you know…I’ve hidden that blasted tablet in a place where nobody’ll ever find it again! [Except Captain Stacy, Spidey, and Man Mountain Marko next issue] So, your battle with the Kingpin was a total waste of time. And before I forget…happy landings!”), Spidey swings back up and lays a double kick on Shocky, apparently knocking him out. (You’d think the Shocker would have looked down into that hole before standing up there gloating. And, really, how far could Spidey fall, anyway? Just down to the next floor, right?)
The Shocker appears beaten. Spidey hefts him over his right shoulder, wondering what to do with him…”deliver him to the law or hold on to him till I learn where he hid the tablet?” But Shocky is only playing possum. He pulls Spidey to the ground and then punches him right off the roof. The mass of bystanders below don’t know Spidey very well. They all think he’s “toppling to his death” but, of course, he uses his webbing to stop his fall. Above, the Shocker decides to run off but not before Spidey tosses a spider tracer that sticks to the Shocker’s back.
Spidey is just as glad that the Shocker has taken off because he has to get to the train station. There, he meets May and Anna (who is going to Florida with May). May is afraid that Peter can’t afford the train ticket. (And what about the hotel and everything else down in Florida?) Peter assures her that “With the money I got for those news pix I sold to the Bugle, I could send you to the moon…but you wouldn’t like the altitude.” (Remember the big check Peter got from Joe Robertson last issue?) He waves to May and Anna once they are in the train and even though they can’t hear him, he keeps up his patter, “And remember…no discothequing past four A.M…and don’t overdo the jogging and karate!” After the train leaves, Peter buys a copy of the Daily Bugle. It has a headline reading, “Spider-Man Tackles Shocker!” which is pretty impressive, seeing as that battle took place about ten minutes ago. Peter is happy to see that “Spidey finally got a decent write-up!” (The sub-headline reads, “Risks life in valiant effort to to capture…” before it blurs into indecipherability. And yes, it has those two “to”s.) “Things are really looking up since Jolly Jonah’s in the hospital and Joe Robertson is running the paper!” he thinks. (Yeah, Pete, maybe you should terrorize Jameson more often.) Then, Peter spots an article on Dr. Curt Connors. “He’s working on some new, vital, highly-secret experiment at his lab in the Florida Everglades,” he says (except it can’t be all that “highly-secret” if there’s an article about it in the newspaper).
Seeing this article reminds Pete that Curt is the Lizard and he thinks back on the last time they fought. (Stan reminds us that it was in ASM #45, February 1967.) We get a five-panel flashback to that fight…Spidey with an arm in a sling, afraid to injure the Lizard because he would injure Curt Connors, until he “finally tricked him into following me inside a refrigerated car where the sub-zero temperature made him weak enough for me to overcome!” (A prime example of what I’m talking about when I say you should have a good way for Spidey to defeat the villain before using him.) It has started to rain and Peter puts his newspaper over his head as he gets back out on the street. He thinks, “wouldn’t it be a gas if I could get a summer job…working for Dr. Connors?...If I get a chance later on, maybe I’ll drop him a line! But right now…I better start concentrating on the Shocker!” But not so fast! Why did Stan bother with that five-panel flashback to the Lizard? Well, as Anton Chekhov once said, “One must never place a loaded rifle on stage if it isn’t going to go off.” I’m pretty sure the Lizard is going to “go off” somewhere down the line.
Now, didn’t Pete say something about how the Bugle is looking up with JJJ in the hospital? Our next scene takes us there, as Jonah, smoking a stogie in his hospital bed, reads the Bugle and is incensed that “my own newspaper [is] calling Spider-Man a hero.” In panel 2 of the page, he crumbles the paper in his hand as he gets out of bed. “A man can’t even enjoy himself in the hospital anymore!” (Great line.) A nurse calls for help and, in panel 3, two orderlies carry JJJ back to bed. His cigar has disappeared but it’s back again in panel 4 as, back in bed, he uses his bedside phone while the nurse tries to give him an injection. “Hello! Hello! Get me the Bugle! No! I don’t want a ding-busted music store…I meant the Daily Bugle! Not bagel, dummy!! Bugle! How come you didn’t get me a pet shop…where they sell beagles?!! No! I don’t want a dad-blasted pet shop!!” The injection successful, Jonah starts to fall asleep, muttering, “Why did I become a publisher? I’m too sensitive…too gentle…for all this!” “Is he always this excitable, doctor?” asks the nurse. “Only when he’s awake,” replies the doctor.
Peter, still walking in the rain with the newspaper over his head, runs into Gwen, who is using an umbrella. She is preoccupied by what has happened to her father and she tells Peter, adding, “I’ve never seen anyone as menacing as the Shocker!” We get it, we get it. The Shocker is menacing. Peter is relieved that Gwen is “beginning to act like her old yummy self.” (The last time we saw her, in ASM #70, March 1969, she was wondering if Peter was a coward.) But Pete’s not off the hook yet because a new complication is about to enter the picture. They stop someplace for a soda and who should be there but Flash Thompson? (The usual hang-out for the gang these days is the Coffee Bean Barn, first seen in ASM #53, October 1967 which was also Flash’s last appearance. But I don’t think they’d go to the Coffee Bean for a soda so this may be the Silver Spoon, first seen in ASM #44, January 1967. In my review of that issue, I said that the Silver Spoon was a coffee house and that, “The Silver Spoon either changes its name or the kids change their hang-out because the ‘Coffee Bean Barn’ assumes this role.” So, is the Silver Spoon a coffee house? Well, the gang has coffee mugs in front of them in ASM #44 but, in ASM #46, the gang plays some “platters” on the jukebox and Peter offers to buy MJ a soda. In ASM #48, May 1967, Harry tells Aunt May that Peter "probably stopped at the Silver Spoon for a soda!" So, my guess is that this is the Silver Spoon. Could it be a different place altogether? Well, it could, except it has to be a hangout familiar to Flash since he’s there now and tells Gwen, “I hoped you’d be coming by, doll!” So, I’m calling it the Silver Spoon.)
Gwen greets Flash enthusiastically. When he asks her why she didn’t write more often, she tells him that she’s been “seeing a lot of Peter.” “Have things been that bad on the home front?” Flash asks, and this sets Peter off. Calling Flash “John Wayne,” Peter says, “If you think those new stripes give you the right to…” (New stripes? Oh yeah, it looks like Flash is now a sergeant.) Flash cuts him off, saying, “When I need a civilian, I’ll ask for one!” Next thing you know, Peter and Flash are face-to-face, with Gwen in between, trying to stop the impending argument. She tells Peter that “Flash was only kidding…the way he used to,” (I never got the sense in all those previous issues that “Flash was only kidding.”) Flash tells Pete, “Maybe I’m the one who was wrong about you, Parker! Maybe you’re still the same old square I always thought you were!” He decides to leave, telling the others, “Thanks for the warm welcome.” Peter tries to apologize to Gwen but she counters with, “For a boy who’s always missing when there’s any trouble…it’s strange how hostile you can be to a man who’s been in combat!” Gwen’s umbrella has been missing since they entered the shop but it’s in her hands again as she prepares to leave. Later, Peter stands in the rain, realizing that Gwen’s accusation of cowardice hasn’t gone away. “I even caught the way she called me a boy and Flash a man!” he thinks. (Did you catch that?) “It was because…for the first time in my life…I was jealous…I was scared of losing Gwen!” he thinks, “And thanks to my stupid temper…I probably did! Nuts! I’m gonna tackle the Shocker now! I’ve gotta do something to make me forget what a jackass I’ve been. It won’t take long to zero-in on my little spidey tracer!”
I’m going to skip over Peter’s claim that it’s the first time in his life he’s been jealous and move on. It may not have taken him long to zero-in on the spider tracer but the rain has stopped when the Shocker attacks an armored car by blasting a hole in the road right in front of it. There are two guards inside (one of whom is named Marty) and a second blast blows one of them right out of the truck. The Shocker grabs a bag of money and starts to retreat but Spidey swings up behind and wraps his legs around the Shocker’s head. He then kicks him and flings him across the road. (So, wait…how did Spidey find him? The spider-tracer? There is no spider-tracer on the Shocker’s back for this entire final scene.)
Get ready for a four-page battle as the Shocker’s costume “automatically vibrated again when [Spidey] zonked him” and he gets right up. He is, as Spidey puts it, “one tough cookie to beat.” The Shocker attacks with blasts that go ZAK! And ZISK! And PTASK! Spidey evades them all but a fourth one (another ZAK!) brings a wall down (BRRRACKK). He just has time to use his right hand to web the bricks and his left hand to web a cushion beneath himself before he is buried. The Shocker starts to leave with his “well-earned loot” when Spidey’s hand (the left) pokes out of the bricks. He shoots webbing that wraps around Shocker’s ankles, tripping him. But, even as Spidey gets out from under the bricks, the Shocker frees himself “by vibro-shocking your webs loose.” He then punches Spidey in the head with vibro-shock power that “makes it a dozen times more potent than any normal punch.” It is so powerful that it creates an aura of light all around Spidey, even obscuring his face but the web-slinger is unfazed. “Nice try, guy! But since I’m at least a dozen times stronger than any normal cut-up…It’ll take more than that to down me!” He leaps over the Shocker whose next punch puts a hole in a wall. Then, he grabs him and holds him upside down. Angered, the Shocker shoots a blast up toward Spidey that repels him to the ground. Even though Spidey taunts him with “Now wasn’t that a silly thing to do?” he is the one on the ground on the next page and the Shocker stands over him. ”You’ve tried to mock me for the last time!” says Shocky and he’s right, but not the way he thinks. Suddenly in three panels (since we’re on page 19 of a 20-page story), 1. Spidey shoots webbing in Shocker’s face 2. Hits the Shocker so hard (with a BKOP!) that he sends him sprawling and 3. Hangs him up on some webbing. “You shouldn’t have told me how your vibro-power deflects my blows!” he says. (The Shocker first told him this back in ASM #46, page 5 panel 1, “No one can hurt me when I can deflect any blow by vibrating,” so it’s not like this was a secret.) “You convinced me to use my Sunday punch! And here it is not even the weekend!” In the next panel, Spidey holds up one of the Shocker’s “wrist power units.” He has removed them, taking away the Shocker’s power. “They’ll make a swingin’ pair of cuff links,” he says.
All right. Let’s pause a moment and address this “The more you resort to having Spidey win by punching a villain out, the more of a joke that villain becomes” argument of mine. As I said above, “You could blame Stan for starting that here with the Shocker except, well…” That “well” refers to the effort Stan puts in to make sure we know that the Shocker is a formidable opponent. It’s not just Gwen’s “How can anyone hope to stop him?” or Spidey’s “one tough cookie to beat” but the actions of the Shocker himself; shrugging off Spidey’s attacks, smashing through walls, punching hard enough to put a hole in the bricks. Because of all this, Stan succeeds in establishing that, while the Shocker is tough, Spidey is tougher; not that the Shocker is a pushover. This battle’s end proves Spidey’s strength, not the Shocker’s weakness. Plus, Spidey is smart enough to remove the Shocker’s wrist units. Still, having resorted to Spidey punching the Shocker out, Stan is done with him. Shocky doesn’t appear again until ASM #151, December 1975 in a story in which Len Wein comes up with a nifty way to defeat him, which is just the opposite of the way Spidey defeats him in ASM #46.
There’s one more page to go. In it, the web-slinger suddenly has to dodge bullets coming from the armored car driver (Marty) who appears to be wielding a machine gun. He orders Spidey to “hand over that money bag!” Instead, Spidey quickly climbs a wall and gets away. Marty fires at him all the way up the wall. It’s the other guard who finds the Shocker “all gift-wrapped and ready for mailing” with the money bag right next to him. Marty marvels, “How about that? The wall-crawler was on the level…he got it back for us! So how come no one ever trusts ‘im?” (I don’t know, Marty. Didn’t you read the latest Bugle; “Spider-Man Tackles Shocker, Risks Life in Valiant Effort…” etc. etc. etc.?) And sitting on some odd projection on a rooftop, Spidey is downcast. “So, I finally nailed the Shocker…big deal! I’m in the doghouse with Gwen…the tablet is gone again…I just remembered something else…I forgot to take a single picture of the entire battle! So, all I get out of it is some skinned knuckles! In other words, the wonderful Parker luck is still running true to form! Nuts!” Below Spidey’s feet, the caption reads, “Next: Spidey’s Newest Super-Foe!” That sounds intriguing. We haven’t had a new super-villain since, well, since the Kingpin back in ASM #50, July 1967.
In the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins (“Irrelevant Items of Lasting Inconsequence!”), Stan tells us to look out for the “February issue of Eye Magazine!” And we did that…and reviewed it already at Eye Magazine (Vol. 2) #2 (Story 1). He also tells us that “The prestigious publishing house of Geo. A. Pflaum has recently produced a fascinating new book entitled ‘Exploring the Film’ by William Kuhns and Robert Stanley. What has that to do with Marvel, you ask? Well, there’s an entire chapter devoted to pictorial angles – and it features twenty full pages of Spider-Man battling the Rhino as an illustrative example!” And we did… uh, no we didn’t. Thanks a lot, Stan! That’s another item I’ve got to add to the review list.
In “The Spider’s Web,” Gerald Palma of Burnaby, British Columbia asks for “some more of the greats from the past, like the Enforcers, Moltey, and the one-issue great, the Shocker.” Stan replies, “Well, Ger, by the time you read this liltin’ letter, you’ve already had your wish – a return appearance of the Shocker! Now, you doubting Thomases out there, take note. This is living, breathing proof that we do listen to our raucous readers and give ‘em what they want! When enough of you believers ask for a return appearance, you get it!” That’s great, Stan, but what about the Molten Man and the Enforcers? They don’t return until ASM #132, May 1974 and Marvel Team-Up #39, November 1975 respectively. I hope Gerald was still reading to see it.
Brian Madigan of Nedrow, New York is especially helpful. He writes, “Recently you have been attacked for the seeming discrepancy between the Spectacular Spider-Man [Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #2] and the Amazing Spider-Man. These people have not researched the problem enough. By splitting the pages of the mags into groups and changing some of the ‘meanwhiles’ to ‘laters’ and ‘the next days’ and inserting pages where the continuity is best suited, I have arrived at the following order of reading for a smooth story.” And, no, sorry, I’m not going to copy that; it’s too detailed. But Brian isn’t done. He also writes, “In the King-Size Spider-Man #5 [Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #5 (Story 1)], you show the Red Skull in the year 1949 but he was in suspended animation at the time, so I suggest that he had been replaced by one of his underlings after his disappearance.” This is not so far off from what was eventually decided and, as far as I know, Brian was the first one to suggest this. Nicely done, Brian!
Finally, Charles Blackcrow of San Jose, California writes, “I was happy to see that the demonstration at E.S.U. wasn’t a Communist plot as the John Birch Society would have done if it wrote the story. I thought this would happen since Mr. Lee writes ‘patriotic’ stories. Now one more thing, how about having Peter Parker grow up and graduate from college? Why not? He graduated from high school. After this, then what? He could still be Spider-Man when he’s 106 – and still be young – at heart.” Stan objects, “It will be a sad day, indeed, when the word ‘patriotic’ denotes a witch-hunting fervor to crush the crusade for the rights and opportunities of every man!” And, yes, Stan, it was a very sad day, indeed. As for Pete graduating, Stan assures Charles, “One of these days Petey’s gonna earn that sheepskin!” And he did, but not until ASM #185, October 1978 and, even then, his name wasn’t called because he missed a single gym credit. I hope Charles was still reading to see it.
The big “Next” banner at the bottom of the page says, “They Made Him a Monster!” Does that mean a return of “Lo, This Monster” from Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1 (Story 1), July 1968? No, wait, the other “Next” blurb said it would be Spidey’s newest super-foe. I guess we’ll have to wait until ASM #73 to find out.
Milestones (Landmark events that take place in this story.)
The 1969 Marvelmania International Spider-Man Portfolio checklist entry for this issue:
“Rocked by the Shocker” – This time the Shocker returns to have his turn at capturing the mysterious tablet. Capt. Stacy is injured by the Shocker.
It’s nice to go back to a time when the Shocker was a formidable villain and to be reminded of how powerful Spidey can be. There hasn’t been a good beatdown of an intimidating foe since Spidey toppled the Rhino in ASM #41, October 1966. But I still prefer the clever solutions as when Spidey created the webbing that stripped the Rhino of his hide in ASM #43, December 1966. Here, there is no follow-up like that one. The Shocker is beaten, not to be seen for the next 6 years. So, that’s a disappointment as is the quick dismissal of the petrified tablet and the lapses in continuity or timing or judgment (as when Jonah’s stogie and Gwen’s umbrella and Spidey’s spider-tracer disappear, as when the Bugle gets a paper out with a “Spidey-Shocker” headline only minutes after the end of the battle, as when the Shocker says “According to the newspapers, the priceless clay tablet should be here” when the newspapers shouldn’t know).
On the other hand, using Flash’s return to revive Gwen’s fear that Peter is a coward is clever, the JJJ page is JJJ brilliance and the two fights with the Shocker are pretty cool. Plus, I love the cover. So, I’m taking this one right down the middle and calling it two-and-a-half webs.
Next: Remember when Spidey first faced the Spider-Slayer? Well, here it is again. Marvel Tales #20.