This story is the second part of our Komplete Kangaroo - Looking Back which began with Amazing Spider-Man #81.
|Cover Art:||John Romita, Sr.|
Spider-Man is web-slinging to school when two men call out to him from a nearby rooftop. They introduce themselves as Carter and Lombardo (though they look like Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas), two admen representing Corona Motors. The auto company has a new non-polluting engine and the admen want to publicize it by having Spider-Man build a Spider-Mobile with a Corona engine. Spidey refuses..."I think the idea of a Spider-Mobile is first-class dumb."...and webs away. He is watched from the ground by a suspicious figure...the Kangaroo! (Who now has a real name too, thanks to Gerry. "Frank Oliver.") Oliver remembers that Spider-Man beat him SO badly (well, he didn't really, but Gerry didn't have the advantage of the Looking Back section to catch up) that he hasn't dared try steal anything since. Instead, he has lived as a homeless bum, dreaming of more power in order to adaquately challenge Spider-Man and gain his revenge. At that instant, a hand alights on Oliver's shoulder. It is the hand of Jonas Harrow, deranged scientist and creator of Hammerhead. He proposes (since, of course, the rest of Harrow is attached to the hand) to give the Kangaroo exactly what he wants. More power than ever before.
Meanwhile, Peter arrives at Empire State University...late for class. He barely cares since "nothing matters with Gwendy gone". Professor Warren stops and berates Pete for not attending class. MJ and Flash show up and invite Pete to join them. They are "heading out for some coke" and we can only assume they mean the beverage. Parker declines. When MJ says, "we won't take no for an answer", Pete angrily replies, "That's really just too bad, MJ. Because that's the only answer I've got!"
After class, Pete goes back to the apartment he shares with Harry Osborn. Harry has disappeared after the death of his father, Norman (OK, OK, "apparent" death. Happy?) and has not shown up since. What HAS shown up is a note from the landlord saying that the rent has not been paid for two months. If it isn't paid soon, eviction will follow.
While Pete is taking in that bit of news, the phone rings. It is Aunt May. She is currently living in Westchester, working as the housekeeper for Doctor Octopus. (Hey, there was alot of stuff going on back then! Maybe "Looking Back" should present all the issues in sequence!) May is concerned about Peter because Anna Watson has heard from MJ that the poor guy is acting strangely. (And since his girlfriend was just killed by his arch-enemy, hey, who can blame him?) Pete says he's fine. No point in upsetting his Aunt. It's bad enough that she may be a virtual prisoner of the evil Doctor.
Elsewhere in the city, Jonas Harrow begins his power-enhancing operations on Frank Oliver.
Oh, by the way, have I mentioned that Frank's dialogue is now sprinkled with such expressions as "Mate", "Bloody", and "Bleedin'". (He's Australian, remember?) even though the only expression he used in issue #81 that remotely fits in this catagory was when he called Spidey a "Yank"?
Harrow adds air jets that increase Kangy's leaping ability and strength. Oliver bops him for his troubles and takes his leave. After all, the Kangaroo is not going to do Harrow's dirty work for him. He's got ideas of his own.
The following day, Spider-Man shows up at the office of Carter and Lombardo. He agrees to build the Spider-Mobile for one thousand dollars cash in advance in order to pay his rent. (But since it would cost more than a thousand dollars for parts, even back in 1973, I don't know how he plans to budget this.) When he asks the two admen for the design plans, he is told that there aren't any. He must build the car himself...from scratch! (Can you all say, "bum deal"?) Spider-Man takes to the rooftops to think it all over. While preoccupied, he is attacked in mid-air by a kicking Kangaroo. Spidey recovers in a hurry and makes with the insults. "Where have you been lately, Kangy? Took you long enough to get your nerve back...didn't it?" But Peter underestimates the new Kangaroo and Oliver proceeds to give our hero the pounding of his life (back in the good old days when Spidey had a sturdy enough costume so that it didn't start tearing every time he got into a little scuffle...but I digress) until his head explodes in pain. Within that pain is a "tiny voice in my bloody brain!" (Ick! His brain is bleeding? Oh, yeah, that's right. It's an expression. He's Australian.) The voice gives the Kangaroo new instructions and the pain makes him incapable of disobeying. With Spider-Man helpless before him, the Kangaroo bounds away. "Far out!" says a recovering Spidey, "He's gone." Pulling himself together, the Web-Slinger goes to the Baxter Building to see the Human Torch about a partnership in the Spider-Mobile.
Elsewhere, in a hospital, J. Jonah Jameson is enraged over what Spider-Man has done to his critically-injured son. (Who was the Man-Wolf the issue before...see Looking Back in PPP Vol. 2 #5.) Oop! That's all of that! Back we go to the Kangaroo.
Frank Oliver shows up at Harrow's lab in great pain. Harrow tells him that he has a "small metal pacemaker" in his skull, implanted by the doctor to make sure he is obeyed. Now, Oliver has no choice. He must do Harrow's dirty work....which is to steal a radioactive isotope from a special lab by the Hudson River. The Kangaroo breaks in and Spidey hears about it on Reed Richard's "situational alarm" at Fantastic Four headquarters. He joins the villain at the nuclear laboratories and the fight gets underway.
As they battle, the Kangaroo leaps at Spidey and puts a hole in the door of a room that houses concentrated gamma rays. Spidey tells him that the rays are dangerous but the Kangaroo thinks he's just handed a line. He remembers the last time he and Spidey fought when he was handed a line about a virus in the vial he stole. He never believed that story, he doesn't believe this one either.
But Spidey seems pretty serious about webbing up the hole in the door and Frank is just on the verge of believing him...when the cops show up outside. The Kangaroo decides Spidey's spiel was just a delay to get the cops in position, after all. He knocks Spidey aside, opens the door and is immediately turned to dust and atomic particles by the radioactive rays. (What the heck was in that room, anyway? And who gave this lab permission to house it in the middle of Manhattan? Sounds like something the EPA would be interested in. Oh, and I cannot refrain from adding..."tough room". Sorry.)
The cops fire tear gas into the building. Spidey webs up the door to the dangerous room and escapes. Outside, Dr. Jonas Harrow realizes that the Kangaroo has failed. But he isn't too fazed by it. He'll just try again later. "Eventually", he says, "I'll gain... the power." (This sounds like a dangling subplot from 23 years ago, doesn't it?)
Meanwhile, back at Pete's apartment, Mary Jane has seen Harry go in but now he won't answer the door. He is inside, sweating profusely and clutching a certain green costume. As he cries out that, "Harry Osborn IS the Green Goblin!", we take our leave of him. As for Spidey? He swings off into the sunset, thinking about Gwen again and overcome with grief.