Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Plot: Roger Stern | Script: Bill Mantlo | Penciler: Ed Hannigan
Inker: Jim Mooney | Letterer: Diana Albers | Colorist: George Roussos
Editors: Tom DeFalco & Danny Fingeroth | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Milton Farr, publisher of sleazy men's magazines, is kidnapped by mobsters who are aware he has information which could topple the Kingpin. Meanwhile, Peter Parker attends the pre-reunion mixer for Midtown High School's class reunion, where he bumps into former classmates Louie Minelli, now an insurance salesman, and C.J. Vogel, a comedy writer. Peter leaves the mixer and changes to Spider-Man, and as he departs he spots Louie coercing C.J. into delivering a package for him by invoking the name "Remington Colt".

Peter learns that Colt was a pen name for writers working for Farr, and also that Farr has been kidnapped. He follows C.J. on his delivery run and gets in between two rival gangs, both after Farr's dirt on the Kingpin. Spider-Man saves C.J. from the gangs and nurses him back to health as Peter Parker. After C.J. leaves Peter's apartment, Spider-Man heads out to Farr's office, where he finds a hidden safe C.J. had described to Peter. The web-slinger takes a file which would identify C.J. as Remington Colt, then departs to let the police in on the safe's location, which still contains the evidence on the Kingpin.

But Farr finally breaks under pressure, and his captors head for the office to raid the safe. C.J. has headed there as well, to recover the Colt file, and is cornered by Louie. Spider-Man returns from calling the police in time to find one of the gangs holding Louie and C.J. both at gunpoint. The wall-crawler saves them and webs up the gang, but C.J. burns Farr's safe, still believing the Colt file to be inside.

Later, at the Midtown High reunion, C.J. gives a monologue filled with cruel jokes about his former classmates, and the alumni are not amused. Backstage, Peter gives C.J. the Colt file and informs him that Louie has been arrested for his part in recent criminal activities. C.J. evidences his selfishness to Peter, who berates him and walks away.

The Sub-Plots: At the mixer, a classmate of Peter's asks Harry Osborn about the recent break-ins at his company, and Flash Thompson tries to speak with Peter about his relationship with Sha Shan.

Most all of Peter's classmates have grown up and no longer pick on him. Several are shocked to see that Peter and Flash have become good friends since school ended.

Continuity Notes: A footnote directs readers to "current issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN" for more on the Osborn break-ins, and Peter notes that he last saw Flash in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #85.

Harry is present at the mixer, but only as Liz's husband. He reminds Peter, as well as readers and the fans and producers of every Spider-Man adaptation since the Sam Raimi movies, that he did not attend high school with Peter.
Alternate Peter dialogue for panel 1: "That's what she said!"
The reunion is filled with "familiar" faces who we readers have never seen before. Besides Peter, Flash, and Liz, as well as C.J. and Louie, other classmates named include Barry Hopgood and Stanley Stackmeyer.

Uncle Rog Speaks: "I want to do a story, a high school reunion with Parker, 'cause I missed mine. So I'll live through him. Whatever happened to all those people he went to school with? Is Principal Davis still in charge and why is a high school in the middle of Queens called Midtown High? I could never figure that out. That's the name of the school, folks, right in the middle of Forest Hills." -- "The Amazing Roger Stern", FANTACO'S CHRONICLES SERIES #5, FantaCo Enterprises, 1982

My Thoughts: From the lackluster cover to the boring artwork within to the overcomplicated plot to the sub-par script by Bill Mantlo, this is almost a universally bad issue. Mantlo is back to overwriting everything, with way more narration boxes than the story needs. Ed Hannigan and Jim Mooney, who provided some very solid art for the Beetle storyline in Roger Stern's final issues of SPECTACLAR SPIDER-MAN, here turn in a very workmanlike job with only a few stand-out panels (the best of these, a full-page splash, is depicted at left). And the story is messy, with four or five ill-defined factions all searching for Farr's papers, which it seems everyone just learned about this morning.

Given the chance to script this one, Stern might have handled it better. And I don't say that only because I dislike Mantlo so much. It's Stern's plot after all, and perhaps Mantlo missed or omitted some key elements when he came in to script. But whatever happened, the end result is a waste of a fun premise: Peter Parker's high school reunion! That's a great idea for a Spider-Man story. But one would expect it to involve characters like Liz and Flash a bit more, rather than focusing on folks we've never heard of. And where's Peter's AMAZING FANTASY 15 crush, Sally? She would've been a great inclusion, maybe even as a potential new love interest when she sees the man Peter has become. This seems like a no-brainer and a sadly wasted opportunity.

(The correct answer, of course, is that Sally died between issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, courtesy of Kurt Busiek's UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN series from the nineties. But that series is not even a glimmer in anyone's eye at this point, and if someone had thought to include Sally in this story, it would have spared her from Busiek's retroactive axe years later.)

Anyway, about the best thing to say about this issue is that I'm done reading it and I never have to look at it again if I don't want to. Now, let's get back to the good stuff!

Next Issue: Back to the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN as the Hobgoblin returns.

Bonus panel from this issue: The Kingpin works out in a G-string, for some reason:

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