Monday, August 25, 2014


Scripter: Roger Stern | Penciler: John Romita, Jr. | Inker: Jim Mooney
Letterer: Diana Albers | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Mr. Hyde challenges Spider-Man for his captive, the Cobra. Hyde proves too much for the web-slinger and eventually Spider-Man tosses Cobra to Hyde -- but not before coating Cobra's helmet in webbing, which sticks the two villains together when Hyde catches him. Hyde collapses several rooftop water towers and escapes with Cobra, while Spider-Man heads for Empire State University.

Later, Hyde, in his guise as Dr. Calvin Zabo, brings Cobra to the latter's penthouse suite with the intention of killing him and taking his riches. But Spider-Man, having planted a tracer on the Cobra before handing him over, arrives to challenge Hyde. The wall-crawler's non-stop barrage of quips enrages Hyde to the point of irrationality, and Spider-Man manages to defeat him by hurling him from the penthouse to the street below. Hyde passes out, and Cobra surrenders to Spider-Man rather than go another round with the webbed wonder.

The Sub-Plots: Ned Leeds and Marla Madison put in a brief appearance as they wait for Spider-Man to deliver Cobra to the police, and Marla makes her dislike and mistrust for the web-slinger clear to Ned. When Lance Bannon shows up to snap photos of the captive Cobra and gets caught up in Hyde's rampage, Spider-Man saves him but Lance chastises the wall-crawler for not rescuing his camera as well.

At ESU, Peter cleans out his teaching assistant desk after quitting the job a few days before. The other teaching assistants, along with Deb Whitman and Peter's lab partner, Roger Hochberg, attempt to throw a surprise farewell party for him, but Peter blows them off, not realizing their intentions.
Stern furthers a Bill Mantlo sub-plot from SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN as Debra suspects that Peter is actually Spider-Man.
Continuity Notes: Spider-Man twisted his ankle in Mr. Hyde's initial attack last issue, and fights injured for this entire story.

As he cleans out his desk, Peter recalls that he quit his teaching assistant job in issue #68 of SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, after "a term-and-a-half" in the position.

Mr. Hyde briefly appears in his civilian identity, the dapper-looking Dr. Calvin Zabo. Later in the same scene, Hyde explains to Cobra that, while he was frozen in CAPTAIN AMERICA #252, he survived through his sheer desire for revenge on his former partner for betraying him. Cobra's irrational fear of Hyde will last well into the eighties as he becomes a member of the Serpent Society in Mark Gruenwald's decade-long CAPTAIN AMERICA run.

Uncle Rog Speaks: "I wasn't as smart or as clever as Pete, but I could take more time to think up the words that would come out of his mouth on the spur of the moment. As Spider-Man, he would do or say anything and get away with it. Wearing that mask made him sort of like a nicer version of those guys who post rude comments on the internet." -- COMICS CREATORS ON SPIDER-MAN, Titan Books, 2004
The Spider's Web: Rave reviews for issue 227, which brought us the second half of the Black Cat story. Fans are also glad to see Jean DeWolff back in Spider-Man's life, and a couple correspondents even have favorable things to say about Galvagno, the mobster the Black Cat tried to rob. The letter column ends with "Lovely" Linda Grant, Jim Shooter's former secretary and Tom DeFalco's new assistant, introducing herself to readers.

Also On Sale This Month: Silvermane strikes in PETER PARKER #70. Spider-Man joins forces with his old pal, the Human Torch, in MARVEL TEAM-UP #121.

My Thoughts: First off, this issue feels like it was under a deadline crunch or something. The art is credited to series regulars John Romita, Jr. and Jim Mooney, but it is not in their normal smooth, polished style. Instead it's very rough and occasionally awkward-looking throughout. It clearly is Romita on pencils, but one wonders if perhaps Mooney had some uncredited assistance with his normally lovely finishes.

This is also the first of Stern's AMAZING issues to be lettered by someone other than Joe Rosen. And while Diana Albers turns in a fine effort, the consistency added by Rosen is missed. Also, on the subject of lettering, when Dr. Zabo escorts the Cobra to his penthouse, they pass Cobra's doorman, who observes that Cobra appears to be unconscious. Zabo says he drank too much and as they board the elevator, the doorman thinks that "Mr. Voorhees never struck me as the type who'd overindulge," with the word "overindulge" clearly re-lettered. I'm curious what word the original script used instead?
At any rate, now that we have the technical issues out of the way -- this is a fun story. There's some danger in having Spider-Man fight another hulking man-monster just after triumphing over Juggernaut, for fear of repetition. But Stern avoids this trap nicely. Juggernaut is an unstoppable force of nature, but through most of his encounter with Spider-Man he remained calm and collected and barely acknowledged the web-slinger's existence. This contrasts nicely with Hyde, who, while also out of Spider-Man's league on the strength scale, is more intelligent and cunning than Juggernaut and also far more prone to fits of violent rage.
In fact, it is the fits of rage which ultimately do Hyde in, as Spider-Man keeps egging him on while hopping around -- a tactic which didn't work on Juggernaut -- until Hyde finally drops his guard and allows Spidey to defeat him. The story's coda, with Cobra simply surrendering after seeing Spider-Man defeat the ex-partner he fears so much, is a genuinely funny touch.
So while there may be some concerns raised by slotting this match-up immediately after the Juggernaut story, they are addressed quite capably by Stern.

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