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Secret Wars: Spider-Island # 1

Posted by bulletproofsponge 16 July 2015

This issue features two stories, the first being Spider-Island, and the second about Spider-Girl, now going by the name Spider-Woman after the events of Spider-Verse

Much like the "Renew Your Vows" storyline, the first story takes place on Battleworld, a place where fragments of different worlds exist.

In this world however, the Spider-Island story line did not end the same way as that of the 616 universe.

The Story

Part One: Altered States

In this world, the Spider-Queen took over Manhattan and Spider-Man and the other heroes were unable to stop her. Spider-Man died in battle, while almost everyone else transformed into spiders, including the superheroes.

We learn that the virus mutated so that it was able to affect super humans. As such, heroes like Captain America, The Hulk, Ms Marvel and etc all bent to the will of the Spider-Queen.

The remaining rebels include Agent Venom, Spider-Woman, The Vision, and Jack Russel - man by day, werewolf by night. In this situation however, Jack Russel becomes a Spider by day, and Werewolf by night. During the night, he is able to take control of his mind and is, as such, acting as a spy for Agent Venom to try to learn what the Spider-Queen is planning.

The issue starts with Venom and Vision on a mission to get supplies for the remaining human civilians. By nightfall, Jack Russel turns to his werewolf state and helps Venom fight  the spiders while Vision escapes. After the battle, before the two part ways, Jack Russel informs Venom of a vague memory he recalls from his spider state about a cure being held at Horizon Labs.

Back at the hideout, Agent Venom informs Spider-Woman and Vision of what Jack Russel told him. He also fills Spider-Woman on his last resort plan which he had been secretly working on for a while now. Despite having suspicions that the "cure" might be a trap, the heroes decide that they no longer have anything to lose and should try to get the cure if it does exist.

Later than night, the three heroes and a handful of military men head to Horizon Labs to try to extract the cure. At Horizon Labs, Agent Venom makes a quick detour to get a vile of something. As it turns out, Jack Russel was working as a double agent and the "cure" was indeed bait to trap them. The three are soon faced against Spider-Hulk, Captain Spider-America and Ms Spider Marvel.

Fortunately, Agent Venom had planned for such a situation. Both he and Vision quickly place and inject the Godstone and Dr Michael Morbius blood into both Cap America and Ms Marvel respectively, while Spider-Woman used her pheromones on the Hulk to calm him down. Vision then feeds the Hulk Dr Connors Lizard Serum, in hope to rewrite the DNA of all three former heroes and possibly release them from the Spider-Queen's mind control.

After having their DNA compromised by the special objects, Capt America, Ms Marvel, and the Hulk turn into a Werewolf, Vampire, and giant Lizard respectively.


The story ends on a cliffhanger as Agent Venom and his team wonder if their plan to release their friends from the Spider-Queen's control worked or if they simply made their enemies even stronger than they already were.

Thoughts

Personally, I think its pretty obvious that Venom's plan is going to work. The logic is not flawed. All three of the former heroes will certainly break free of the Spider-Queen's control. Whether or not they will be able to control themselves or become mindless beasts is another question.

Ms Marvel and Cap will probably very soon begin craving for blood, while the Hulk will probably follow his Lizard instinct to become the dominant species and destroy all the spiders.

The thing about alternate universe's is that the writer realizes the readers are not quite as attached to the characters as in the cannon stories. As such, he is free to make drastic changes and kill important characters ( like Spider-Man in a series called Spider-Island).

Capt A, Ms Marvel and Hulk are most likely going to live in their new forms permanently as there is really no cure for their transformation that we know of. If anything like this was to happen in the cannon Marvel universe, fans would go crazy, not to mention the drop in sales. These alternate universes provide a platform to experiment and try something new with major characters without having the side effects.

As such, being a reader myself, I don't really share too much connection to these characters thus reducing the anticipation to know what will take place in this alternate world.

The star of this story is Agent Venom more than anyone else. If you're an Agent Venom fan, then this would probably be a good book to get. For Spider-Man fans, it wouldn't hurt to save some bucks and skip it.


Story 2
Mayday Parker: Spider-Woman in Shattered

The issue begins with Mayday, now as Spider-Woman, using her father's old costume design, fighting crime. No one seems to notice the change however and everyone still refers to her as Spider-Girl.

She wonders if she did the right thing in allowing Daemos to live as part of her still wishes she had killed him, against all that her father would have wanted her to do. ( Her father, Peter Parker was killed in the events of Spider-Verse)

Spider-Woman confides with Cassie, also known as the Stinger about her troubles. Over at the Avenger's Mansion, Henry Pym Jr, aka Big Man comes storming in to warn Scott Lang that Cassie, his daughter is in serious trouble.

Jumping back to Spider-Woman and Stinger, the two are sitting on a roof chatting when they are attacked by the "Dream Team," led by a woman in a Captain America Costume going by the name American Dream.

In a separate scene, that I'm not sure why is in this comic, we randomly see Mary Jane, with Uncle Ben and Baby Ben, running a shop selling Spider-Man merchandise. Uncle Ben makes a passing comment about telling May they can share the burden since he too has spider-powers.


Finally, returning to Spider-Woman for the third time, we see her holding her own against her attackers who claim that she is an imposter who killed Spider-Man. Things are all going okay until Stinger is suddenly compromised and begins attacking Spider-Woman as well, calling her an imposter too!

Thoughts

This issue is definitely a must read for Spider-Girl fans. I'm not sure why it did not just appear in a separate issue as this has absolutely nothing to do with Spider-Island. As we all know, her series has been discontinued for a while now, and the last we saw of her was in Spider-Verse. Here we have a new original story, by the original team keeping us updated of the latest developments with Spider-Girl, after she has adopted the name Spider-Woman.

As for the story, I can't say I was too impressed. Up to this point, the whole thing seems a little messy and confusing. It should clear up a little by the next issue though. Not being a huge fan of the MC2 universe also doesn't help. If there is one gripe I have with this universe, it is that every other character is someone's daughter, or son from the 616 universe.

Regardless, for fans of the MC2 universe, this is highly recommended!



Amazing Spider-Man v3 # 19.1

Posted by bulletproofsponge 14 July 2015

Amazing Spider-Man v3 # 19.1

 Spiral: Part 4


This issue begins with flashbacks from Spider-Man's and Wraith's life. While we all know Spider-Man's story, here we find out that Captain Watanabe was born into a family of cops. Her father unfortunately, went corrupt and accepted a bribe during his career.

The scene then reverts to where we last left off in Amazing Spider-Man # 18.1, where Spider-Man rushes to Wraith after hearing a gunshot and finding her with a gun in her hand. Wraith explains that she did not fire the shot and that one of Mr Negative's inner demons did so to tarnish the scene and set her up. The guards soon arrive and Wraith throws her fear gas bombs at them, escaping with Spider-Man.

Over at Chinatown, Mr Negative has arranged a meeting with the Ringmaster, a criminal with mind controlling abilities stemming from eye contact. He also has a bunch of goons who follow him called the  Circus of Crime. Mr Negative proposes an alliance as they are the remaining two crime lords. His offer is rejected by the Ring Master however, knowing fully well that Negative has alternate motives to rule the criminal empire himself.

As soon as the Ring Master leaves, Wraith drops in the room attempting to get back at Mr Negative for setting her up. She is taken aback however when she learns that Mr Negative knows her secret identity as Captain Watanabe. Mid conversation, Mr Negative takes a low blow at Captain Watanabe, insulting her corrupt family history. Wraith attempts to attack but is held back by the Inner demons. Negative then explains to her that he means her no harm and only wants her to continue fighting crime as she has always been doing.

The next morning, Spider-Man is swinging around, looking for Wantanabe as he had been doing half the night before. He eventually finds her at her office, being fired from her job following Judge Howell's death in prison.

Later that night, Wraith and Spidey follow Negative's tip to where the Ringmaster would be that night.

To cut it short, Spider-Man takes out all the bad guys by himself as Wraith left the scene after spotting one of Negative's inner demons at the scene.

Wanting vengeance for how Mr Negative played her out, he decides to take her battle straight to Mr Negative.




Thoughts

Wraith going after Mr Negative is certainly not one of her smarter moves. We just saw a few panels ago that she was unable to hold her own against just a handful of Negative's inner demons. Seeing that her alter ego's life is now doomed however might be giving her extra motivation, or a lack of concern about what happens to her after she battles Mr Negative.



Spider-Man, as he has been in the last few issues, is just a side character who adds color to the issue. He is primarily concerned about Wraith's well being, both physically and mentally. Being the good american hero in red and blue, he tries to act as a guide for Wraith, hoping she will recover from her all time low.

The true genius in this whole story is really Mr Negative however, how has single handedly inherited the criminal empire without lifting a finger. Posing as the good informant, he managed to get Wraith's help to take out every one of his competitors, while holding an ace up his sleeve - the knowledge that Captain Watanabe is Wraith.

That Ace however is now not as useful as it used to be as Watanabe just got fired from her job, the one thing she had dedicated her life to.

The final scene shows Wraith off to get 'justice' for what Negative did to her. Ultimately, what we want to find out at the end of this story is if she will kill Mr Negative and completely lose grasp of who she once was, or if she will do the right thing and simply arrest him.

In a sense, what is happening to Wraith is quite similar to what happened to the Black Cat. Is there possibility that the two will join forces by the end of this story?


Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows # 2

Posted by bulletproofsponge 13 July 2015

Secret Wars: Amazing Spider-Man
 Renew Your Vows # 2

"Because we said so, That's why"

While issue number 1 seemed like a good way to end the story of this alternate earth Spider-Man, it appears that his story and the consequences of his actions are not over yet.

Years after hving killed Venom in the last issue to prevent harm from ever coming to his family, Peter still finds it hard to sleep at night, feeling guilty about what he had done.

His daughter Annie too finds it difficult to sleep, still having nightmares of Venom taunting her at night. As it turns out, Annie, like her father, too has spider powers and can stick to walls. Both Peter and Annie have "inhibitors," specially designed to prevent Regent's scanners from detecting them.

As usual, the Parker family is having monetary problems. MJ is still trying to make it as an actress while Peter is still taking photos for the Bugle, except without the special appearances of Spider-Man. Hiding from Regent and his men also means that he can't climb up walls to take better photos like he used to.

Over at school, MJ reminds Annie once again not to stand out or to use her powers, even if it seems like the right thing to do at the time.

Meanwhile, Peter is busy trying to get some photos that might sell. He comes across D-Man, a former hero, fighting Rhino, Shocker and Boomerang. Not too far away however, Luke Cage and Mockingbird are watching from afar, wondering if they should help. Mockingbird check's in with SHIELD, now headed by an unknown character. The two are instructed to stand down as a hero who is dumb enough to show himself in public is not worth their exposure.

The defeated D-Man is taken to Regent, who is unimpressed with the worthless catch. He orders for D-Man to be inspected and dissected for research purposes. Shocker, having proven himself, is promoted to the Elite force of his team. At that moment, a report comes in from one of the scanners that a little girl with super powers has been detected at the same school that Annie goes to.

When Peter hears about the news at the Bugle, he rushes to Annie's school, exposing himself as Spider-Man with his fancy maneuvers.  Though he instructs MJ to stay behind, MJ too rushes to aid her daughter.


Over at school, Annie watches as several of her friends, whom she just found out had powers fight for their lives against Regent's men. Annie contemplates helping them, but not before her father shows up and breaks the party for the bad guys. Peter, in his hoodie, tells the kids to run while he takes care of the bad guys. Unlike before, Peter does not banter or make any jokes while fighting. The fight ends quickly and the bad guys are sent back to Regent empty handed.

Upon hearing that Spider-Man is still alive somewhere, Regent assembles his Elite Squad - the Sinister Six, comprising of Kraven the Hunter, Vulture, Dr Octopus, Mysterio, Shocker, and the Hobgoblin.

Meanwhile, back at the Parker Residence, Peter prepares his family to leave town and run. MJ however has other plans as she knows that they can not run from Regent. She unpacks an old Venom inspired black Spider-Man costume, though it terrified her once before, for Peter to use and hide in the shadows as Spider-Man.

When Annie sees the costume, she freaks, recognizing it as the "Shadow" that comes to her in her nightmares. Peter promises his daughter that it isn't real and that Venom will never come to haunt her again as he got rid of it long ago.

Thoughts

This issue was pretty good providing a means for a possibly very interesting story. Contrary to what the cover implies, Venom is not actually physically present in this issue. Instead, the story focuses more on Peter and his super powered daughter, trying to live in a world where supers are being hunted. ( Really sounds like the Incredibles)

Mary Jane too plays an equally important role as the powerless, yet powerful mother who overcomes all her fears for the safety of her daughter, including her once childish fear of the Venom costume which Annie now understandably shares.

I particularly enjoyed her short conversation with Annie just as she dropped her off at school, reminding her daughter that her powers do no make her special and that she is special either way, to which Annie goes on to assume that it is because of her red hair which he got from her mother.




Unfortunately, the Parker Luck, though used slightly out of the usual context in this story, follows Peter even to his married life as his family is still not financially stable, even years later. I enjoyed seeing the positivity from Annie, as a child who believed the Parker Luck to be a good thing.




In a world that seems hopeless for Peter and his family, there is yet a sliver of hope as Luke Cage and a few others working for SHIELD are still out there working up a plan of rebellion.

When this series first came out, I had hoped that it would continue on after Secret Wars. After reading issue two however, though it is a great story, I'm not too sure I would like to be reading about a Spider-Man who is constantly in hiding from an overpowered villain. It would also not be the same without most of the other big Marvel heroes that add support to the stories.

With that being said, I do hope that the series is not rushed too quickly with the few heroes easily defeating Regent after he just defeated all the heroes in one issue. That would simply be a terrible story!









The Amazing Spider-Man #2

Posted by Jon Smith 09 July 2015


THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2 (May 1963) 
'Duel to the Death with the Vulture!' and  
'The Uncanny Threat of the Terrible Tinkerer!
Written and Edited by Stan Lee 
Pencils and Inks by Steve Ditko 
Cover Art by Steve Ditko

Introduction: 
So with his first proper villain nabbed and bagged and the Marvel Universe (in its infantile state here) growing aware, Spider-Man is all set for his next foe and really, his first truly powerful one. Now remember this is still a two for the price of one book at this point so we’re also in for the ‘treat’ of that early Stan Lee trope of putting his heroes against…aliens. Maybe we should just get to it?

Plot:   
'Duel to the Death with the Vulture!’ 
A shadow stalks the skies of New York City as we’re informed that the citizens of the city are in constant fear of attack from the Vulture! An elderly man, dressed like a bright green bird of prey, he has somehow developed the capacity to fly and he’s using his power to steal jewels, bags of cash and generally wreaking a reign of terror. Naturally the public wants to know more about him and media mogul J. Jonah Jameson is hot on the case. But no one can get close enough to photograph the fiend. This is where we shift our narrative to the still broke Peter Parker who figures that with his powers he probably could get close enough to snap photos worth big bucks. So Peter goes to snap some photos dressed as Spider-Man.

Unaware, the Vulture is in the midst of a plot of his own, delivering a threat concerning a shipment of highly guarded diamonds, saying he’ll be stealing them from under the NYPD’s noses. Realising he’s being watched, the Vulture doubles back and displays great cunning and surprising speed, circling around to take down the inexperienced youth. He even traps him in a water tower hoping to suffocate him. Naturally Spidey frees himself, using his brains alongside his brawn, but it’s too late, the old man has escaped. Retreating home, Peter is in a surprisingly upbeat mood – he thinks he’s figured out just what it is that gives the Vulture his power of flight and fiddles with a small gizmo. He also managed to get a few good photos of his nemesis, and so takes them to Jonah. The tobacco loving editor is delighted so much so that he even allows Peter to be printed anonymously and won’t ask how he got the photos.

Meanwhile the Vulture puts his plan into action, leaping out of a sewer to nab the diamonds and retreat from whence he came. After resurfacing, the Vulture has the most unfortuitous luck: yet again bumping into Spider-Man who is scouring the area for his foe. Thinking he’s got the youngster dead-to-rites, the Vulture attempts the same trick as before, circling round to take Spidey from behind. This time though, Spider-Man’s ready and the Vulture’s over confidence costs him. Getting a grip of the big nosed bad guy’s foot, Spidey activates a gizmo, the same one he’d been working on earlier, and the Vulture begins to plummet. 

The Vulture spirals down into the arms of the law while Peter captures a few more photos and reveals that the gizmo disrupted the magnetic power the Vulture used to keep himself in the air. Jonah again pays the big bucks and Peter is able to pay Aunt May’s bills while the Vulture vows revenge in what is our first true happy ending. 

'The Uncanny Threat of the Terrible Tinkerer!'
We begin this second tale with Peter being greeted by his teacher Mr. Warren. Warren introduces Parker to Professor Cobbwell who is in need of an assistant over the weekend to help him with his research and Warren has recommended Peter for the job. Delighted Parker accepts, but Cobbwell needs a favour and asks Peter to pick up an old radio he’s left at a local repair shop. The shop is run by someone who ‘looks like a character straight out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales!’ It’s the Tinkerer and he enters into the bowels of the building where we quickly realise something sinister is afoot. It turns out he’s in league with…aliens! They have hatched a diabolical plan of some sorts but before we discover much, the Tinkerer returns to give Peter the radio.

Throughout the morning Peter’s Spider-Sense is going wild. The Tinkerer, the radio, it all seems to be setting it off. So when Cobbwell takes a lunch break, Spider-Man investigates. Upon returning to the Tinkerer’s lair, his Spider-Sense goes ballistic. Spidey discovers that the Tinkerer and the aliens are spying on their customers, learning about human weaknesses’ and the like. So the web-slinger springs into action, overpowering the aliens easily, but succumbing to a blast from the Tinkerer’s laser gun. Surprised that Spidey is still alive, they lock him into a glass cage until they can figure out what to do with this meddlesome arachnid. Using pinpoint accuracy in combination with his webbing, Spider-Man frees himself. The fight resumes and a fire breaks out.

The aliens make a hasty exit while Spidey goes after the Tinkerer who also manages to get away after the fire becomes too powerful even for our super powered hero. Spotted leaving the scene, locals deduce Spider-Man must have started the fire. A supposed alien aircraft leaves with the aliens stating they’ll never return and Dr. Cobbwell returns to his lab, telling Peter of a strange alien craft in the sky. Young Mr. Parker looks on as Cobbwell rambles, holding a rubber mask of the Tinkerer’s face, believing that he too could be an alien.

Review:
Last time around my major complaint was that everything was very by the numbers – the plot unfolded in a plodding and obvious manner and the threat never seemed all that real. The same can be said of this issue, but things have very much improved. First off the Vulture is far more of a threat here than the Chameleon was. He has a unique ability which allows him to be able to take the fight to Spider-Man and doesn’t simply run away. Legendary Spider-writer Roger Stern noted that the Vulture was always his favourite of the Spider-Man rogue’s gallery because it was age and experience versus youth and exuberance thus the pair were natural foils to one another.

This is very much at the forefront of this story with Lee writing the villain with a great deal of cunning and a willingness to break the rules that makes you want to boo him, even if it is in the most pantomime way. He even beats Spidey in their first encounter and is the first villain to properly try and kill the wallcrawler. I’ve always been fond of the design for the character too: Ditko’s eccentric style works perfectly here with the harsh lines on the main body-suit, jagged edges of the Vulture’s wings, the frilly neck and of course that bald head and hooked nose. On paper the character sounds silly, but in practise he’s far more threatening than you would suppose and it works very, very well. This is a character you want to hate and he has the resume to back it up as seen in this issue.

The Tinkerer was clearly designed in a similar manner. He too is a bald, disturbingly ugly foe. His physical characteristics are emphasised and warped so much that he’s practically a caricature and we shouldn’t be at all surprised by that last page ‘revelation’ when it comes. He also gains credibility by nailing Spider-Man in the back with that death ray and by having the ingenuity to be able to build such marvellous machines of espionage and the like. However he falls short of the mark as a foe for three primary reasons: the Vulture can fight and go toe-to-toe with Spider-Man while the Tinkerer can’t (much like the Chameleon last issue), his physical appearance is so weird that its laughable and thus off putting and there’s the whole alien thing.

Even three issues in, we know where Spider-Man should probably fit into the world and involved with space is not there. The Incredible Hulk’s second issue did a similar thing and while it was laughable then, you can see the potential for the Hulk in space, a concept that has been realised time and time again since. Spidey just doesn’t fit in with the space crowd, though he has had one or two exceptions to this rule. The plot for this second story is so ridiculous and over-the-top that we know not to take it all that seriously, but that of course renders it very tame, continuing the problems from last issue. Still, the Vulture is a villain who manages to bring in action and excitement and so this one’s more of a treat than last month.

On a final note, the supporting cast is fleshed out more this month. Jonah is using NOW Magazine alongside the Daily Bugle to spout his anti-Spider-Man propaganda and now interacts with Peter Parker, giving us the all-time great irony of the Spider-Verse: Peter has been selling Jonah photos of himself the entire time. Aunt May no longer has debt hanging over her head and is free to continue serving wheatcakes (yummy) to her favourite nephew. The most important thing though is Peter’s beginning to be integrated with the Flash Thompson/Liz Allen crew. 

Briefly in the Vulture story he joins up with them to see if the Vulture’s heist will indeed take place. Peter has to slink away to get changed into Spider-Man and he’s accused of being a coward, but it’s nowhere near as bad as before.  He’s finally starting to become integrated in the school’s social hierarchy. In turn Flash’s bullying remains relentless, but Peter’s close to having all he can stand and it’s adding another wrinkle to Peter Parker’s character. Again we feel like this is a fully formed world we are peering into.


Next Time:
As the two part serials come to a close, the rogue’s gallery gets its biggest addition yet as Spider-Man spends his first full length epic going to war with the debuting Otto Octavius, better known as Dr. Octopus! It’s gonna’ be a good un’! Until then…

Thanks for reading!

The Amazing Spider-Man #1

Posted by Jon Smith 20 June 2015


THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 (March 1963) 
'SPIDER-MAN' and  
'SPIDER-MAN vs. The Chameleon' 
Written and Edited by Stan Lee 
Pencils and Inks by Steve Ditko 
Cover Art by Steve Ditko


Introduction:
In March of 1963 Marvel delivered on its promise to have Spider-Man inherit the Amazing Fantasy title. This wasn’t a continuation of that series though, rather an inheritance of its legacy as the Amazing moniker was bestowed upon Peter Parker and his alter ego, and thus The Amazing Spider-Man was born! Unusually though, Amazing Spider-Man began its life by printing two mini-epics a month as opposed to the standard one and done. So rather than one full length story of 21-25 pages, two 10-15 page stories are presented:


Plot:
‘SPIDER-MAN’
 We begin by learning that things haven’t got much better for Peter Parker since his uncle’s death; rather they’re a good deal worse. Bills are stacking up, Peter is continuously ostracised in school and Spider-Man can’t earn a buck either. Aunt May is having to pawn off her jewellery to keep the Parker’s afloat and J. Jonah Jameson, Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Bugle, is spearheading a media campaign against Spider-Man remarking: ‘The youth of this nation must learn to respect real heroes – men such as my son, John Jameson, the test pilot! Not selfish freaks such as Spider-Man – a masked menace who refuses to even let us know his true identity!’

This disguised piece of exposition sets the stage for the action of story number one: John Jameson is testing an experimental space craft and naturally things go wrong. A component breaks loose and unless it can be replaced, Jameson Junior will plummet to his doom. Enter Spider-Man! Realising he’s the only person capable of getting the part to Jameson’s craft in time, he interrupts an emergency meeting between the mission commander and Jonah, offering his services to act as a courier for the component. The cigar chomping, moustache sporting, flat-top wearing newspaper man is of course outraged, but the commander obliges.

Spider-Man commandeers a plane, takes it to within jumping distance of the craft and attaches the missing component. John is saved! Satisfied with his work, Peter eagerly awaits to see the next Bugle headline. How will Jonah thank him for saving his son? ‘THIS NEWSPAPER DEMANDS THAT SPIDER-MAN BE ARRESTED AND PROSECUTED!’ begins the Bugle. Jonah Jameson suggests that Spider-Man must have sabotaged the test flight in a plea for positive publicity and even offers a reward for his capture (‘Report him to the nearest F.B.I. office’). The people of New York eat this up and Peter is left dumbfounded: in the public’s eyes, he’s a heel and a flat broke one at that. This leads us to…

'SPIDER-MAN vs. The Chameleon'
Peter figures the only way to make big bucks and pay the bills is to exploit his superhero shtick and gets a bright idea: he’ll join the Fantastic Four (FF)! ‘They’ll probably jump at the chance to have a teenager with super powers working with them! It’ll be a natural!’ With this ‘foolproof’ plan, he webs his way toward the Baxter Building, home of the FF, and breaks in. A defence mechanism triggers and traps Spider-Man. But it can only hold Spidey for so long when, using his super strength, he breaks free.

After a brief scuffle the Four explain they aren’t a business but a non-profit organisation. Spidey is furious and leaves in a hurry. Sue Storm remarks that they could’ve helped him had he simply stuck around while Reed Richards believes they’ll be hearing more from him in the future. Meanwhile, the Chameleon, a master of disguise and all around bad guy, is planning to steal secrets from the U.S. government in order to sell them on to the Soviet Union and/or Eastern Bloc countries. Taking note of Spider-Man’s unpopularity, he figures he’d make the perfect fall-guy for this latest job. In the guise of the wall-crawler, the Chameleon steals the secrets and escapes in a helicopter, all the while, luring the real deal to the scene. Spidey is forced to track down his new nemesis to clear his name.

Preventing the Chameleon from reaching a Soviet sub, he drags the costumed crook back to the long arm of the law. It looks like that’s all she wrote -- but wait! The Chameleon causes a temporary black-out, changes into his final disguise, a police officer, and attempts to escape. As Spider-Man is accused once more he leaps away to vanish and sulk in the night. The Chameleon is revealed in turn – his costume is torn, exposing his villainous identity. As the issue closes, the Fantastic Four ponder if Spider-Man could turn his back on law and order.

Review:
Let’s face it, neither of these stories are knockouts though they do carry importance in developing our narrative and introducing some key players and relationships. First off, the core theme linking these two stories is Peter/Spider-Man’s continued rejection from the super-hero norms. With Steve Ditko’s quirky art and Stan Lee’s fall from grace scripting, Peter Parker was noted for being different from just about any and all superheroes out there. He doesn’t have a fortune to fall back on like the Fantastic Four or a confidant like the Hulk had with Rick Jones.

He has enemies in the super-powered circle (the Chameleon being the first, as seen here) and in the everyday world via the highly opinionated J. Jonah Jameson. This creates a linkage between story one and story two and allows for a good flow; you can feel that these stories take place well within 24 hours or so of each other. You might even draw the same conclusion that John Byrne did in his much loathed Chapter One series and suggest that the orbiting craft John Jameson manned was sabotaged by the Chameleon.

Whatever the case, the world of Spider-Man is already being constructed masterfully by Lee with the inclusion of the FF setting up the development of the Marvel Universe with ties to the 1940s adventures of the Submariner already apparent courtesy of events in the foursome’s own adventures. Of course this creation of a tangible world has flaws, the biggest of which is of course its utterly dated nature. We noted last time that this comes with the territory of comic books, but it is particularly potent in early Marvel Universe tales, including here.

Stan refers to the Chameleon as a ‘commie’ and mentions the ‘space race’ in relation to John Jameson’s one man craft. The repeated mentions of these terms can become deeply grating to a modern day viewer and makes painful reading in early Hulk stories particularly and it is no surprise that the Hulk’s first major recurring super-villain foe is in fact the Chameleon (though these early stories actually suffer from a holding pattern more than anything else). Mercifully, Spider-Man has to deal with these references less and less as the character is relocated within the universe as the first truly street level hero, taking out mob bosses, crooks, robbers and the like. That would begin next issue.
Here however, we are witness to a lame plot from the Chameleon with highly generic motivations and a weak escape plan. No tension is created though the drama is progressing around it. This is almost identical to the John Jameson rescue in story one as the set-piece is designed to be a showcase for Spider-Man’s powers but it falls short of that and is all very easy, which I suppose is kind of the point – it’s all so crisp and clean that Jonah’s doubts over its legitimacy are founded…only the situation isn’t really known on the ground level and so only we (along with Spider-Man) know what has truly happened. It’s dramatic irony, which works on an emotional level, but on a story one causes inconsistencies and issues.

By far this issue’s greatest contribution to the Spider-Man mythos is J. Jonah Jameson. Jolly Jonah comes in like a wrecking ball – the sort of antagonist who can get under your skin but who you can’t do a single thing about. Sure if this was the Chameleon you could wallop him. But Jonah is a civilian and a powerful one at that. In the months and years to come, many a surrogate would take Jameson’s place in the physical battle against Spider-Man to partially resolve this issue, but Jonah’s greatest strength early on is his ability to provoke both Peter and the reader into frustrated rage. The most frustrating thing about Jonah? The fact that he truly believes he’s right.

Jonah’s a much more complex character than he’s often written as. He isn’t all bluster and high blood pressure, rather his character is one rooted in a deeply personal crusade. We are given a glimpse of that with the previously quoted speech concerning his son being a hero. Jonah does think of his son as a real hero, one who embodies the vision of America and is willing to risk his life for his country. In today’s world where we recognise military service as a great sacrifice and often speak of true heroes, this topic is still prevalent.

While we can lambast overpaid sport’s stars or overly pampered actors or over-dramatic musicians, Jonah chooses a masked man, someone who is stealing that spotlight but also maybe showing his son up a tad. I also think there’s real fear in Jonah’s loathing of Spider-Man, a metaphor I’d suggest, for nuclear weapons in a way (another contemporary issue for the 1960s), masked men are necessary for the bad times (World War II with Cap, Bucky etc…) but are not needed in this time of delicate peace. Such characters could very easily set events in motion for disaster to unfold. More on Jonah’s hatred for Spider-Man would come to fore in issue 10.

Next Time:
Another two parter unwittingly gives us the debut of one of Spidey’s greatest foes as The Vulture takes flight for the first time but then Spider-Man must face the terrible threat of…The Tinkerer? Ah but things are not as they seem. Till next time true believers!

Thanks for reading!

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Spider-Man Reviews
features as many updates on the latest developments in Spider-Man comics as we can, along with reviews, commentary, news and discussion. Occasionally we try to throw in some game reviews as well.

We're in no way related to Marvel, but do recommend you read their comics.

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