Monday, September 1, 2014


Plotter & Scripter: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Dan Green
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Tom DeFalco
The Light of Truth: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Late at night, Will-O'-The-Wisp destroys a Brand Corporation facility in Boston. Meanwhile, Peter and Ben Urich develop photos of their encounter with Nose Norton and the Tarantula, but find no proof that the Brand Corporation detectives fired on Norton before Norton shot at them. Elsewhere, Brand employees approach the injured Tarantula about joining them as their newest super-agent and he agrees.

The next day, Spider-Man finds that his photos of the Tarantula were bumped from page one of the Daily Bugle by an article about the Boston explosion. Suspecting that Will-O'-The-Wisp is involved due to the nature of the blast, the wall-crawler ponders a way to investigate Brand. At Empire State University, Peter learns about the company's internship program, and later that day arrives at the Brand offices in Queens for an interview, but quickly changes back into Spider-Man to search the campus.

The web-slinger tails James Melvin, the same Brand bigwig involved in his last altercation with the company, to a secret lab where Tarantula is about to be endowed with spider-powers. Spider-Man intervenes, but so does Will-O'-The-Wisp, leading to a conflict between the two vigilantes. Melvin wounds Wisp with an experimental weapon, then the tank holding the Tarantula explodes and he emerges, mutated into a spider-monster.

The Sub-Plots: As Ned and Robbie continue working on their Brand Corporation exposé, Betty confides in Peter that, while she and Ned are not having marital problems like before, she doesn't see him all that much these days. Soon after, as he leaves the Daily Bugle, Peter is approached by Lance Bannon's girlfriend, Amy Powell -- though Peter is unaware of this relationship. Amy comes on to Peter, but he brushes her off and departs, then wonders why he was so curt, ultimately deciding that he's still broken up over the Black Cat's apparent death.

Continuity Notes: Ben recaps the encounter with Nose and the Brand Corporation detectives last issue. Later, Spider-Man mulls over his last encounter with Brand in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #57.

Though not explicitly stated at any point, it's pretty obvious that this story picks up later on the same night as last issue's story, meaning that the Tarantula mutation occurs less than 24 hours after his defeat at Spider-Man's hands.
Uncle Rog Speaks: "...There's another lady I'm bringing into the strip that's based on a suggestion that John Romita, Jr. made, a lady called Annie Howell [sic] who is romantically involved with Lance Banyon [sic], Parker's chief rival in the photography field. She's going to be getting involved with Parker in not the nicest ways." -- "The Amazing Roger Stern", FANTACO'S CHRONICLES SERIES #5, FantaCo Enterprises, 1982

John Romita, Jr. Speaks: "[The Daily Bugle] was the way to make the book look realistic, and we were always told to steep the book in reality, and having just Peter Parker and the girls wasn't enough. We had to use the newspaper. And Jonah Jameson was a great character." -- MODERN MASTERS VOLUME 18: JOHN ROMITA JR., TwoMorrows Publishing, 2008

It's interesting to note that Romita apparently had at least some level of input on the plot, if Amy Powell was indeed his idea. He is pretty much always credited exclusively as an artist, and you rarely, if ever, hear of writers collaborating with him as far as the content of the story.
The Spider's Web: Issue 229, "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut!", gets its due on the letters page. One reader points out that a letter in AMAZING #39 contained a suggestion that Spidey lock horns with the X-Men's unstoppable foe, but confirms that it never happened until 192 issues later. Another reader refers to the Juggernaut as "a goon who's seen better days," which would seem to imply his star had fallen quite a bit circa 1982.

Also On Sale This Month: Dr. Octopus rears his tentacles in PETER PARKER #72. Spidey works with Daredevil in MARVEL TEAM-UP #123, and has a get-together with the Thing, the Scarlet Witch, Dr. Strange, and Quasar in MTU ANNUAL #5.

My Thoughts: I'm still not a fan of Will-O'-The-Wisp. The character has a somewhat silly visual and really does nothing for me on any level. But Stern uses him effectively here, as a wild card in the Spider-Man/Brand Corporation conflict. Wisp's attack on the Brand Corporation spurs Spider-Man to probe deeper into their activities, which he had let lie ever since Killer Shrike's kidnapping of Marla Madison near the end of Stern's SPECTACULAR run.
I've always liked this aspect of Spider-Man, and we've seen it to some extent in Stern's past stories as well. Even though he's driven by guilt over past inaction, he doesn't mind letting things go for a little while if he knows he can't do anything about them. Villain kidnaps Dr. Madison, Brand Corporation and Will-O'-The-Wisp are involved -- fine. He deals with the immediate problem, but he has no idea what the full extent of the situation is, so he goes home and sleeps, then heads back to school the next day. Certainly he gives some thought to the whole scenario over the following weeks, but he doesn't launch a full-scale probe of the Brand Corporation or go combing the city for Will-O'-The-Wisp because there's no urgent need to do so.

We've seen this somewhat in single-issue microcosm as well, when he left the Ringer loose on a rooftop to go on a date, then went back for him later, and even just a few issues ago when he tagged Cobra with a spider-tracer then left him with Mr. Hyde for a few hours while heading over to ESU. It feels like a very realistic way to handle things. You don't think non-stop about one issue in your everyday life when you have work, family, and other things vying for your attention. You put certain tasks on hold to deal with your other, more immediate commitments.
But on the other hand, when Juggernaut is rampaging through the city and no one else is around to stop him, of course Spider-Man isn't going to let go to school for a few hours. He's going to dog that villain till he's subdued. But afterward, while Juggernaut is encased in a concrete building foundation, he'll go home and sleep and get up for class the next morning, and not bother going back to check that Juggy is still there. He's got a life to lead, after all.

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