Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #19

 Posted: Jun 2013


I'm bad at math so I won't bother figuring it up, but a large percentage of the Spectacular Spider-Man's 263 issues has undoubtedly been drawn by the swift and steady Sal Buscema. Sal drew the first issue of Spec back in '76 and unwaveringly supplied his artistic talents to the book until the summer of '78. After handing the series over to a variety of talented artists (such as Jim Mooney, Ed Hannigan and Rich Buckler), Buscema returned to the book he helped create in 1988 and penciled Spidey's adventures for another eight consecutive years.

This particular issue is the start of the two issue arc that concluded Buscema's original run on the series. Buscema's partner in crime here is Bill Mantlo, who just so happened to write a good percentage of the Spectacular book himself over the years. As far as the story goes, the mastermind behind the very first Spectacular arc makes his grand return in this ish – but first, the Enforcers!

Story 'Again, the Enforcers!'

Montana and Fancy Dan, the two original living members of the Enforcers, are taking out their pent up frustration by beating a life-size dummy of Spider-Man. Suddenly, to the consternation of Dan and Montana, a familiar face walks in. It's the Ox, or at least someone who looks like the Ox. The Enforcers are surprised, exclaiming that the original Ox is dead (being the victim of an Ock/Peter like body swap that eventually led to his demise in the pages of Daredevil). This new Ox denies this fact, apparently slipping into the roll of a dead man without any qualms, and proceeds to tear the Spider-Man dummy in two. During this interesting reunion, a mysterious white silhouette appears and makes it clear that the Ox is in fact a different person.

In case you didn’t read the first three issues of Spectacular Spider-Man, this strange person is Lightmaster - a disgruntled Empire State University professor named Edward Lansky who created a suit that allows him to manipulate light. Lansky hired a couple super villains and eventually became one himself because of his displeasure with state budget cuts. Lansky’s beef is no longer with the state of New York though, he now wants revenge on everybody’s favorite web slinger and he’s using the Enforcers to draw him out.

At the Coffee Bean, Hector Ayala (aka the White Tiger) and his girlfriend Holly Gillis are enjoying a date at the same time as Flash Thompson and Sha Shan. Flash is reading a letter that was sent to him by the Arkansas super hero known as Razorback (whose story was detailed in an awfully embarrassing arc starting with Spectacular Spider-Man #12). Suddenly this placid environment is disrupted by the boisterous Enforcers who burst into the coffee shop and take all of the patrons hostage. Hector contemplates using his White Tiger persona to take down the mobsters, but Holly fears for her beau’s life and so he decides against it.

Peter, on his way to class, stumbles upon the police presence at his favorite coffee shop and stops to ask a cop what exactly is going on. In a panic, Pete quickly changes into his Spidey duds and crashes through the skylight of the Coffee Bean. A battle quickly ensues and, as one might expect, quickly ends. Fancy Dan and Montana collide into one another, knocking each other out, and the Ox is finished off with a love tap to the face that brings down the entire bar, in which he was holding, on top of himself.

Once the Enforcers are defeated, Hector jumps out from behind the shadows to congratulate Spider-Man on his victory. Pete fails to recognize Hector as the White Tiger though and shoves off, asking Hector to tell the police that the Enforcers have been subdued. As Hector rushes out of the Coffee Bean to spread the good news, Lightmaster sees the young Latino come out of the shop unscathed and is sure that he has figured out the identity of Spider-Man!

General Comments

The Lightmaster may very well be the lamest villain Spider-Man has ever faced off against, but his featureless mug doesn’t appear too much in this issue. Instead, we get the return of the Enforcers - a classic bad guy team that first came in contact with a teenaged Peter Parker way back in Amazing Spider-Man #10. Fourteen years after their original appearance, this pedestrian group of hitmen have become a bit of a joke. Spider-Man dispels the trio here without breaking a sweat and it all just sets up the triumphant return of the ridiculous Lightmaster. Incidentally, Buscema, who co-created the Lighmaster with Gerry Conway, will have plenty of opportunities to draw Lansky’s impressive silhouette next issue.

Overall Rating

The fact that Lansky thinks Ayala is Spider-Man sets up an interesting plot line for the next issue. The three webs given here is mostly for the return of the Enforcers though. It's always fun to have these three Silver Aged goofballs around.

 Posted: Jun 2013