Wednesday, August 27, 2014

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #233

"WHERE THE @¢%# IS NOSE NORTON?"
Scripter: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Diana Albers | Colorist: Glynis Wein | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Lost & Found: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Realizing that underworld informant "Nose" Norton may hold the key to their exposé on the Brand Corporation, Robbie Robertson, Ned Leeds, and Marla Madison convince Jonah Jameson to offer a $1500 cash reward to the first Daily Bugle employee to find the missing stool pigeon. Spurred to action by the reward, Peter Parker -- as Spider-Man -- combs the city for Norton.

Meanwhile, the Brand Corporation wants Norton silenced. Their own men are on the hunt as well, and they hire the South American terrorist called the Tarantula to kill him once he is uncovered. Brand finds Nose around the same time as Peter and Bugle reporter Ben Urich, who have decided to split the reward.

When the Tarantula arrives to kill Norton, Peter changes to Spider-Man and fights him off. But private investigators working for Brand arrive and gun Norton down, claiming he fired upon them first. After the Tarantula escapes, Spider-Man changes back to Peter and informs Ben that he has photos of the entire altercation.
The Sub-Plots: The Brand Corporation sub-plot of past issues takes center stage here, developing into part one of a four-part storyline.

As he arrives at the Daily Bugle, Peter mulls over the fact that Aunt May is planning to open a boarding house for senior citizens. Later, inside the Bugle, Peter crosses paths with Lance Bannon's girlfriend, Amy Powell, introduced a few issues back, who seems to have plans for Peter.
Continuity Notes: Nose Norton was last seen in issue 231 as the Cobra's fence and Ned's possible Brand Corporation informant.

Ben Urich first appeared in 1978's DAREDEVIL #153, created by Roger McKenzie and Gene Colan -- but he would rise to prominence in Frank Miller's epic run on that same title. This is, to my knowledge, his first appearance of any significance in a Spider-Man comic.
The Tarantula, a.k.a. Anton Miguel Rodriquez, has been hiding out in Florida since his last appearance in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #1, wherein he tried to kidnap the mayor of New York City.
Uncle Rog Speaks: "When I came on the series, I felt that some of the 'wow' factor had been lost, that people had forgotten just how strong and agile Spider-Man was. Some of his lesser villains were having way too easy a time in fighting him. So in my stories... well, I just had him stop holding back as much." -- "Roger Stern, the Spectacular Spider-Writer", MARVEL SPOTLIGHT: SPIDER-MAN, Marvel Comics, March 2007
The Spider's Web: Comments this issue cover "Murder by Spider", issue 228's fill-in by Jan Strnad and Rick Leonardi which we skipped. Two readers want Peter to stop being such a jerk to Deb Whitman, and another declares that the Stern/Romita Spider-Man hardens the return of the Lee/Ditko vibe. Also, editorial plugs AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #16, which we will cover in due time.

Also On Sale This Month: PETER PARKER #71 finds Spider-Man after a gun-running ring, then anything that knows fear -- including possibly Spidey -- burns at the Man-Thing's touch in MARVEL TEAM-UP #122.

My Thoughts: First off, I just have to say that this issue has one of my favorite splash pages from the entire Stern canon. That wonderful art by Romita and Mooney (this being the latter's final issue as regular inker, by the way), those bold letters by Albers, and that brilliant title by Stern -- it's perfect!

The story that follows is easily just as good, too. I love when simmering sub-plots blossom into main stories, and Stern pulls that trick off beautifully here. First we had the Killer Shrike/Will-O'-The-Wisp one-off months ago in SPECTACULAR to plant the seed. Then issue 231 finds Jonah looking to follow up on that story and elegantly ties the sub-plot into the issue's main Cobra storyline by way of Nose Norton. Now Norton is on the lam as a result of that story, and everything comes to a head when the Bugle and Brand go searching for him at the same time. It's magnificently played, and this sort of threading of plots and sub-plots is a practice which has sadly died out in recent years.
The typically excellent Stern sub-plots keep things interesting as well. In this case we get the reappearance of the sultry Amy Powell, plus some comic relief from Peter in the time-honored "ol' Parker luck" fashion when he arrives at the Bugle to find that that an exit-only bar has been installed inside the door he usually uses to enter, forcing him to sneak into the building via an elevator shaft instead.

Cross-pollinating DAREDEVIL supporting player Ben Urich into a Spider-Man story is a natural touch as well, given that he's a Bugle reporter. Plus Stern indulges in one of his favorite pastimes -- letting Spider-Man mop the floor with a villain who should never have beaten him in the past -- as he takes out the Tarantula with ease.

And all this is only part one of four!

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