|Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #2
Peter tried to grade his students tests but was distracted by personal problems. His new job, taking pictures for the Daily Globe, was over since the Globe ended publication. Also he’d just met Madam Web, who knew his secret. She claimed to be trustworthy but he was uncertain.
Philip Chang arrived and was surprised to see Peter working so late. Peter told him about the Globe and Phil decided to help him unwind by finding some “wild, wild women.” As they headed down the street, Phil recognized another man as Tommy Li, a member of the White Dragon gang. The gang had terrorized Philip’s neighborhood until Spider-Man stopped them. Tommy knew he’d been spotted and took off, and the two men followed him. Tommy escaped into a van and before Phil knew what happened, Peter had climbed the alley wall and changed into Spider-Man.
As Spidey chased the van, a helicopter spotted him. The pilot was in the same crew as Tommy and radioed him that he was being followed. The van sped off and Spidey tried to hit it with a tracer but was blocked by a passing pigeon. He tried to catch up by jumping from car to car, eventually landing on top of the van. He didn’t accomplish much before the helicopter opened fire, forcing Spider-Man to jump away. The van escaped into the Holland Tunnel and he cursed himself for not staying on the roof. The pilot radioed his boss, explaining the situation. The boss ordered him to contact Tommy and tell him to lay low for a few days. The boss told himself that he had the perfect operation set up but the costumed freaks always got in the way.
Spider-Man went back to get his web ball when he saw an older woman and mistook her for his aunt. He decided to call her at the nursing home and she told him she was engaged. This stunned him, as he had no idea that she was seeing anyone. She said she was marrying Nathan Lubensky and were going to celebrate the next day. Peter still couldn’t get over her engagement.
That night, Tommy Li went back to his old hideout in Chinatown, thinking no one would find him in the abandoned building. Spidey was waiting for him. He soon had him webbed up and riding the top of a subway train to Brooklyn. Two transit workers said that they absolutely did not see Spider-Man and some guy on top of the express train. The two of them ended up at JFK airport, at the freight storage unit. Silhouetted in the door, Tommy asked his cohorts what he had missed. They told him to leave, as their boss was afraid that he’d lead Spider-Man to them. Spider shoved Tommy over and jumped through the door, making quick work of the underlings. Going through their papers, he realized that they were drug smugglers and that their boss must be nearby.
That very boss jumped through a skylight and onto Spider-Man, calling himself the Smuggler. He seemed to knock Spidey out easily but he was soon on his feet. When Spider-Man said Smuggler was as resilient as Luke Cage, the Smuggler demanded that he never use that name around him. He had obviously met with Luke Cage previously. In the end, Spidey webbed him up but he only had four feet of webbing left. He had the Smuggler tied up but couldn’t put him down without the fight starting again. He has caught the bad guy but had no idea what to do with him.
The writers must have difficulty in thinking of new villain names. They can be pretty generic (the Hitman, the Prowler, the Looter, the Smuggler, the Hijacker) but that’s kind of entertaining. Imagine Kingpin telling an underling, “Get me…the Smuggler!” “Uh, which one boss?” Then he gets obliterated by the laser cane.
We have a few important moments in this story. The first is the mention of Nathan Lubensky (I had no idea that Peter hadn’t heard of him until May sprung the news of their relationship on him) and Madam Web had just popped into Peter’s life.
I had to smirk when Phil told Peter that they were going to find some “wild, wild women.” Whatever do you mean, Phil?
The stories at the time were very episodic, which feels strange considering how modern comics seem to feature drawn out epics. They always feel so cut and dry. I feel like a broken record, but they’re very simple. That’s not good or bad, just a little different.
The book ends with a short story featuring the White Tiger. It’s not much of a story, more of a recap of what we’ve seen.