Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #244

 Posted: 16 Jun 2021
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)

Background

With Spider-Man at his mercy at Ravencroft Asylum, Chameleon tried to psychologically control him. He tried to convince him that his real name was Herbert Fillmore Smith, a lie that Peter eventually saw through. Chameleon escaped but was confronted by a seemingly resurrected Kraven the Hunter.

Meanwhile, Flash Thompson sought out the help of Betty Brant for his drinking problem.

Story 'Backlash'

In a warehouse on Manhattan's lower east side, a terrifying new criminal was about to go into action. He called himself the Kangaroo, and was determined to honor the memory of Frank Oliver. With his new battle armor bought with his trust fund, he was confident that he could defeat Spider-Man and any other super-hero. He stumbled across Spider-Man and attacked with a missile from his armor, which Spidey dodged. He attempted to fire a second missile but his armor blew up. As he collapsed, he said he wanted a refund from the "Sharper Villain Catalogue." Spider-Man left him webbed from a light pole and was saved by another terrifying super-villain, the Grizzly.

At May Parker's home, Mary Jane was pondering her life. She had been such a shallow party girl when she was a young woman but she felt that she has grown tremendously in the previous year. She was excited to enter school to study psychology to learn even more. Peter arrived and asked if Aunt Anna was gone, which MJ confirmed. Peter was glad to see her and confessed that he had been afraid of losing her. He told her about what Chameleon had done to him and how he knew Peter's secret. MJ wasnt as concerned as he expected. Venom knows who Spider-Man is as well and they've survived him multiple times. They'd been through a lot and always come through. She told him to go back and kick Chameleon's butt.

At some point, Chameleon was stunned at the fact he was staring at his former ally, Kraven the Hunter. Sergei Kravinoff had died years beforehand at his own hand. Chameleon tried to run but was caught when Kraven's whip wrapped around his neck. Chameleon was convinced that this was all in his imagination and Kraven taunted him, saying that his self esteem still made him feel small and worthless. He had come to free Chameleon from his pettiness.

Flash and Betty were out for a walk, despite Betty's apprehension to help him. He had burned her before. He had quit his job at the youth center and had big plans for himself, none of which panned out. He found sympathy in bars from guys just as miserable as he had been. It started to scare him, since that's exactly who his father had been. Betty told him that he wouldn't become his father and he told her that he'd been hired as a gym teacher. She was proud of him and he offered to let her stay at his apartment. It was a long way back to Manhattan but they could make it work. She was insulted and left. In frustration, he went to get a drink.

At Ravencroft, Dr. Kafka and John Jameson went over what they knew about Chameleon. Jameson hoped that he could be captured before the federal government found out what happened. Kafka promised him that they'd find him, even if they had to search all thirty five of his known hideouts in the area. Edward Whelan arrived and told them that Senator Roeberg had learned about Chameleon's escape and was demanding to talk to Kafka. She told him to leave the senator on hold. As Jameson and Kafka drove away in an ambulance, Jack O'Lantern watched and mused over how Jameson's life was about to get more complicated.

Back at the Parker house, MJ awoke from a nightmare of a man reaching through a mirror towards her. She was embarrassed that she had acted tough for Peter's sake but she was truly intimidated by the fact that a new criminal had learned who wore Spider-Man's mask. She grabbed a baseball bat to feel better.

Spider-Man was out web swinging being proud of his wife for her bravery. As he passed one of Chameleon's hideouts his spider sense buzzed and it led him to the brownstone where Kraven died. Inside, Chameleon and the man claiming to be Sergei Kravinoff were discussing Kraven's suicide. Kraven demanded that Chameleon tell the truth of what he thought of him and he erupted in rage. He fought back at Kraven, telling him he was a self absorbed animal and a monster. He had been glad when he'd heard that Kraven had killed himself. He was finally free from Kraven's abuse.

Kraven stopped his beating and reminded Chameleon that he was nothing but a servant boy. He was nothing but gutter trash and had no reason to respect Chameleon. Yet he had always kept Chameleon close, always proving his superiority. It was because Kraven knew that Sergei Kravinoff and Dmitri Smerdyakov were brothers. Kraven's father had slept with Dmitri's servant mother and Dmitri was the result. Kraven's father was humiliated and didn't want the child to bear the Kravinoff name. He beat young Chameleon until he was too terrified to admit that he was a Kravinoff. Chameleon was jubilant in knowing the truth and when he looked around, Kraven was gone. He assumed that what he saw was a psychological projection.

Spider-Man arrived and made fun of him for shouting out loud to himself. Spidey said that Kafka had a lot more work to do with Chameleon and he asked if Spider-Man was saying he was insane. Chameleon pointed to a nearby electrified cage and let Spider-Man know that Dr. Kafka and John Jameson were inside. Spider-Man called him Smerdyakov and Chameleon corrected him that his name was Kravinoff.

General Comments

In so many solicitations for Marvel comic books, the advertisement says "nothing will ever be the same!" The events in that comic book often stay relevant for a limited time, so when "nothing will ever be the same" is used, readers are often skeptical. This is one of few issues where the events did stay relevant. Chameleon is still seen as Sergei Kravinoff's half brother and it's still an important factor in Kraven stories.

The rest of the issue only moved forward minimally. We were shown that things were still going on just to show that other plot points were still happening.

Overall Rating

Not a whole lot going on in much of the issue but what does happen is pretty important.

 Posted: 16 Jun 2021
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)