Monday, August 11, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Est. 1951: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man confronts Captain Jean DeWolff about a Daily Bugle article covering the previous night's fight at Phil Bradshaw's party, but which omits the Black Cat's participation. DeWolff says the police can't condone the activities of a fugitive, but Spider-Man informs her that the Cat wants to go straight.

Spidey then visits the Black Cat, who tries to get him to join her in stealing a valuable gem called "Quest's End", currently in the possession of a mobster named Galvagno, to use for their "nest egg". Spidey refuses and the Cat promises to drop the matter. But instead, later that night, she breaks into Galvagno's penthouse for the jewel. Spider-Man shows up to stop her, but the Cat instead attempts to implicate him in the crime, explaining that she can't live his life but hopes he can live hers.

Galvagno and his men show up and Spider-Man is injured saving the Black Cat. He pursues her to the docks where she intends to escape in a speedboat, but Spider-Man webs her up before she can. Preferring death over capture, the Cat jumps into the water. Spider-Man dives in as well, but is unable to find her. The police soon arrive and Captain DeWolff informs Spidey, too late, that she has procured a conditional offer of amnesty for the Black Cat from the district attorney's office.

The Sub-Plots: At Empire State University, Peter reminds readers that he is a scientific prodigy as he bangs out an entire term paper in one morning and hands it in, confident that it will be well-received by Professor Sloan. Later, Peter tells Phil Chang that there's a new girl in his life.
Continuity Notes: Spider-Man and Captain DeWolff recap the events of last issue in a wonderfully executed bit of exposition which could be a textbook for how to get new readers up to speed in as natural and unobtrusive a way as possible.
Moments later, the wall-crawler mulls over the great and not-so-great loves of his life.
Uncle Rog Speaks: "When I started writing [the Black Cat], I was reading a lot of Will Eisner stories. I saw the Black Cat as the closest Peter Parker would ever get to an Eisner babe. I wanted her to become this mysterious, roguish woman in Spider-Man's past who would occasionally appear to screw up his life and then disappear again." -- COMICS CREATORS ON SPIDER-MAN, Titan Books, 2004
The Spider's Web: This issue we have comments on Denny O'Neil's final AMAZING, #223. Requests abound for the returns of various classic villains and supporting cast members, and the editorial responses inform readers that Harry and Liz Osborn recently popped up in SPECTACULAR #63 and another long-missing female character will show up two issues from now.

Also On Sale This Month: Kraven haunts Spidey in PETER PARKER #65, while our hero hangs with Valkyrie in MARVEL TEAM-UP #116.

My Thoughts: Things had been going too well for Spider-Man and Peter Parker throughout Stern's recent stories, so you just had to know something bad was bound to happen. And here it is -- Spider-Man and the Black Cat played as star-crossed lovers, each wanting to be with the other while knowing their love can never realistically work. They both crave thrills in their lives, but that alone isn't enough common ground for them, especially when they get those thrills from opposite sides of the law and neither is willing to jump to the other's side.

I have only read the Black Cat's original appearances by Marv Wolfman once, so I don't recall how the relationship between the two was played there. Stern presents them as two people with a tempestuous attraction, almost in lust rather than in love. Though the fact that they're talking about settling down together after having only met a handful of times may seem unusually out-of-character for Spider-Man, I think it works. I'm sure everyone has had at least one of these sorts of romances in their life. The kind where you think someone you just met is perfect for you, and only realize later that there's no way you could be compatible.

Stern's take on the Black Cat, as quoted above, is right on the money as the best way to play her. Unfortunately, not long after this issue, Bill Mantlo will pick her up in the pages of SPECTACULAR and go through with the story Stern only (rightly) teased here, by making her go straight and become Spidey's honest-to-gosh girlfriend. We'll see a bit of that in upcoming installments of AMAZING, but mostly, thankfully, the storyline will be relegated to the sister title -- so we can try to remember the Black Cat in the role Stern so perfectly casts her in here.
Next Issue: We'll skip straight past issue #228, a fill-in issue by Jan Strnad and Rick Leonardi, and jump directly into a classic two-parter with #229: "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut!"

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