Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #78

 Posted: 2007
 Staff: Stephen Wolfram (E-Mail)


Doctor Octopus, in a gang war between himself and the Owl, tried to blow up New York city so he could prove he's the most dangerous man alive. Spider-Man, with the aid of the Black Cat, managed to foil Ock's insane scheme.

However, Black Cat was fatally injured by Ock during the epic battle in the Owl's aerie. Spider-Man rushed the Black Cat to the hospital just in time, where she recieved open heart surgery, and is now in a stable condition.

Meanwhile, Doc Ock, seething with anger over his grand scheme being foiled, has repaired his tentacles, increasing their strength, and sworn revenge on both Spider-Man and the Black Cat. He issued Spider-Man with a death warning at the hospital. He will return in exactly 24 hours to kill both Spider-Man and Black Cat.

Story 'The Long Goodbye'

The story opens with Spider-Man sneaking into the hospital to see the Black Cat, with a bouquet of flowers. He slips past the police guarding the Black Cat's room, and awakens Felicia to give her the flowers. Suddenly the police storm the room in surprise, along with Police Captain Jean Dewolff, who berates her officers for failing to notice Spider-Man entering the room. Spidey asks Jean not to let the Cat know Ock is coming after her, as her condition is still very weak.

The Black Cat tells Spider-Man of a dream she had about meeting her father in death. And how he told her that she still has another chance at life. She also says she saw Spider-Man fighting Doc Ock, trying to keep him from injuring her in the hospital. She realized her father was right, she had to come back to where someone loved her enough to risk his life for her. Felicia tells Spider- Man she's going straight, and is going to start living solely for the man she loves. Felicia's mother enters the room, and is overjoyed to hear of this change in Felicia. Spider-Man leaves them alone, and tells Captain DeWolff to keep Black Cat well guarded until he returns, as Doc Ock is certain to return as he promised.

Peter heads to the Daily Bugle to sell Jonah Jameson his pictures of Spider- Man fighting Doc Ock, the Owl, the Gladiator, and Vermin. Peter demands top dollar for the photos or he'll get rid of them. Jonah begrudgingly accepts Peter's terms, and leaves the office blustering about how ungreatful Peter is after all Jonah's done for him. Peter goes to the bank and deposits the money into his checking account. He intends to give half to Aunt May, and keep the rest for himself. He then takes a taxi to Empire State University to see if they've posted any grades. Dr Sloan berates Peter for seriously thinking he has a chance to pass, after his negligence to his studies. Peter declares he will be a great physicist one day, but right now he's going to go and start living in the real world outside the college campus, and storms off. Left alone with his thoughts, Peter wonders did he really mean what he just said. Would he really give up his studies and the possibility of a physics career? He thinks he'd give it all up for the Black Cat, including revealing his secret identity to her. But first, he must deal with the menace of Doc Ock.

Meanwhile, in the New York sewer system, Doctor Octopus stalks the tunnels, ranting about he intends to kill Spider-Man and the Black Cat for what they've done to him. Suddenly, from one of the tunnels emerge some deformed beings, whom mistake Ock for their King. Ock declares he would never be King to such slime, and attacks them with his tentacles as they flee in terror. Ock declares he is an uncelebrated genius, the greatest intellect who ever lived. And Spider-Man will acknowledge that truth with his dying breath.

Peter bumps into his good friends Flash Thompson, Sha Shan, Harry Osborn, and Liz Allen. They invite Peter to lunch so they can chat over old times. Peter is hesitant at first, as he should be preparing for his battle with Doc Ock. But then he realizes that there's a strong chance that he'll never see his old friends again. So, he agrees to go. At the Dannemora state prison, Boomerang is brought in, and is greeted by the press upon his arrival. The Warden tells them to take a last look at him, because he wont be appearing in public for many years. Boomerang declares no prison is strong enough to hold him. Locked in his cell, Boomerang rants about how they'll all be sorry, especially Spider-Man for putting him in there. Suddenly, someone in the cell across from Boomerang tells him to shut up, as he's making a fool of himself. It is the Punisher. And he tells Boomerang he will do exactly as he says if he wants to survive inside this prison.

At an exotic Thai restaurant, Peter enjoys lunch with his friends. Peter proposes a toast to friendship. He then looks at the time and says he has to leave. Harry asks him when will they see him again. Peter says he just doesn't know, and leaves. Flash says that sounded very final, and wonders what's bothering Peter. Peter then goes to Aunt May's house in Forest Hills. Peter hugs her and tells her how much he loves her. He gives her the check to help with the expenses of her new Halfway House for senior citizens. Aunt May is so happy with the large amount. Nathan Lubensky comes out onto the porch and asks Peter how he is. Peter tells Nathan he's a good man, and is counting on him too look after Aunt May, and not to let him down. Aunt May asks Nathan what does Peter mean, but Nathan doesn't know, but admits that Peter does seem troubled.

After saying goodbye to everyone who means something to him, Peter goes back to the hospital, changes into Spider-Man, and begins to climb the outer wall. Just as he does, the lid on a manhole opens by a tentacle. Doc Ock has arrived. Inside the hospital, the police are preparing for Ock's arrival. Captain DeWolff tells Spider-Man that Felicia has been edgy since he left. She knows something's up. Spider-Man goes in to see the Cat, while Police give them some privacy. Felicia asks Spider-Man if he's here to stay, and he says he is. He then tells her to listen as he doesn't have much time to say everything he'd like to say. Felicia realizes something is wrong. That's why all the Policemen are here. She knows Doc Ock is coming back. Spider-Man assures her that he wont let Ock hurt her again. But first, he doesn't want any secrets between them, and begins to remove his mask. Felicia stops him, and tells him to wait until it's over, when he comes back to her. Suddenly his spider sense goes off. Doctor Octopus is coming. Captain DeWolff and her men storm the room as Spider-Man leaps towards the window. He tells her to post her men throughout the room and take care of the Cat. As Spider- Man leaps outside the window onto the wall, Doc Ock is seen ascending the wall, his tentacles reaching out towards Spider-Man.

General Comments

One of my favourite Spider-Man issues ever. To see Doc Ock instil such fear in Spider-Man with his death threat was truly fantastic. And, very believable, too. Doctor Octopus has already proved his worth as a dangerous adversary many times over in the past. But, in this story arc, he has gone above and beyond with his death threats.

I've never been a fan of the Spider-Man/Black Cat romance, but credit must go to Mantlo for handling it well. Spider-Man's genuine fear and concern for the girl he loves is portrayed very well. As is Peter going to see everyone he cares for, as he says his final goodbyes, as he fears he may never see them again. The Aunt May scene was particularly well done. Also great to see Harry, Flash etc.

Overall Rating

Excellent stuff all around. Peter in turmoil and fear over his loved ones. Doctor Octopus more menacing and deadly than ever. Lots of Spidey's supporting cast in very welcome and pivotal appearances.

Five webs all the way.

 Posted: 2007
 Staff: Stephen Wolfram (E-Mail)