(Cover from February 1972.)
"The Spider Slayer!"
Words by Stan Lee.
Pencils by Gil Kane.
Inks by Frank Giacoia.
Lettering by Artie Simek.
Well well and thrice well, it seems like this is an issue for comebacks. Spidey's back in New York, Stan Lee's back in the writer's seat, Flash Thompson's back from the war, Harry Osborn's back from the hospital, Randy Robertson's back on the picket lines, and Professor Smythe's back with his Spider Slayer.
Under normal circumstances, the last of those returns would be the least welcome. After all, we've had the Spider Slayer storyline before - twice - and I doubt too many readers were in a rush to see it again. Happily, this time, there's a twist, Smythe wants to use the slayer not to kill Spider-Man but to frame him for a crime of Smythe's own doing.
Not only that but he's planted cameras all around town and thus, at the end of the tale, he discovers Spider-Man's true identity.
Of course, despite this increased competence, Smythe still has his eccentricities. For some reason, he declares that his previous slayers failed because they were human-shaped and that this one will succeed because it's spider-shaped. With logic like that, you can see why his previous plans failed.
On the art front, Gil Kane's pencils are as excellent as ever, though Frank Giacoia's inks are a little too heavy-handed and do much to obscure the elegance of the maestro's work.
Sadly, MJ's still going through her bitch phase and insists on coming onto Peter in front of Gwen Stacy - even as she's waiting for her own boyfriend Harry's return from the hospital. Oi, Watson, no.