Thursday, 16 April 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #66. Mysterio

Amazing Spider-Man #66, Mysterio
(Cover from November 1968.)

"The Madness Of Mysterio!"

Words by Stan Lee
Layouts by John Romita
Pencilling by Don Heck
Inks by Mickey Demeo
Lettering by Artie Simek


So, after finding a new artist last issue, this month it's back to Don Heck. Actually, this reversion to confusion doesn't matter that much; one, because Jim Mooney's back next month and, two, because there's something pleasingly cartoony about Heck's art in this tale.

As for the story, it's another of my favourites, as the perennially under-used Mysterio makes his return. We can tell he's made his return because he tells us so. Clearly suffering from the same affliction that struck Kraven the Hunter in his last appearance, he spends the first few pages talking to himself. He tells us how vital a model amusement park is to his plans and how he escaped captivity by using chemicals stolen from the prison pharmacy. Presumably, this is the same prison where the Shocker garnered the tools to create his first vibro-blaster. The regime at that place just never learn do they? Anyway, he's out for revenge on Spider-Man.

But first he has to get Spider-Man's attention.

To do this, he appears in a street, emerging from a cloud of smoke, and then vanishes. Now, with the class that only a criminal mastermind could muster, he hides down a drain, wondering why Spider-Man's not shown up. Probably because it's only seconds since you appeared, and what're the chances that he'd just happen to be in a street you randomly selected?

Well, plenty, as it turns out, because Peter Parker just happened to be right there in that street at that moment. Not that Myserio has any way of knowing this and not that he had any reason to expect it. Anyway, for once, Peter shows some kind of sense and can't be bothered to go after him. He's got better geese to cook, like having to sell his bike to pay the bills and the fact that Gwen's still not speaking to him.

Then it turns out she is. Coming across him, she tells him her dad's cleared up the whole, "Peter attacking Capt Stacy" thing of a few issues ago. At this point, she does the usual and bursts into tears. This is the fourth consecutive issue that Gwen Stacy has burst into tears. I've heard of hormones but really.

Elsewhere, Mysterio doesn't care about the failure of his previous master plan. He can always get attention another way.

He can do it by appearing on TV and declaring that he's going to destroy New York unless the arachnid adventurer meets him at the scene of their first battle. Happily, unlike me, Spider-Man remembers where the pair first fought and heads there. Seeing no need for subtlety - as the goldfish bowl wearing menace is expecting him - he tears his way in and confronts the villain who uses his smoke of mystery to bamboozle Spidey while he rains blows on him. There's a pretty obvious point here which is that Mysterio could just shoot Spider-Man while he's disoriented. But, of course, Mysterio isn't a common-or-garden crook, he's a criminal mastermind and so is determined to do the deed with ridiculous amounts of extravagance.

Having annoyed Spidey a bit, he now reveals his master weapon, a big gun gizmo. Before Spider-Man can get out of the way, he fires it at him. The thing clearly hits our hero full on, although in the next panel, Mysterio says that Spider-Man's jumped out of the way of it.

Not that it matters because the gun's fired some kind of gas and therefore it makes no odds whether the thing was on target or not, merely whether our hero has the sense to hold his breath.

He doesn't.

Now, as the world goes all swirly on him, he starts to feel weird, telling us that he simultaneously feels like he's dying, and being born.

And then he finds out why.

Because, when the smoke clears, he finds himself a changed man. Where once he could look his foe straight in the goldfish bowl, now he's a mere six inches tall and in the model amusement park Mysterio was so proudly showing us earlier.

Now, at last, his foe can crush him like the bug he's named after.

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