Words by Stan Lee
Art by John Romita
Lettering by Artie Simek
I've got to admit I've always viewed the period between Gil Kane's initial departure and his later return as the weakest period the comic endured in the time frame I'm reviewing but I have to admit that, on closer inspection, this story's way better than I always thought it was. It still has the problem of John Romita's art being noticeably busier and fussier than it once was but it also has plenty of Flash Thompson.
Once upon a time, that would've been a bad thing but now, with Flash becoming ever-more recognisably human, it's good to see him being fleshed out. It makes you realise that, of all the major characters in the web-swinger's soap, he's the one we know the least about. Who're his parents? Where does he live? Does he like Coke or does he like Pepsi?
We've no idea.
Even Mary Jane's had more revealed about her outer and inner life over the years than Flash has. But, at last, Lee and Romita give us some insight into his existence and what he's been up to during all those absences of the last few years.
As for the story itself, in truth, the villains are a bit run-of-the-mill, a small bloke and a big bloke, but the action sequences are well rendered by Romita, especially Panel 1 of page 18, where Peter, in his civvies, smashes through the windows to kick, "The Giant One," in the back. It's a minor masterclass in dynamism.
My favourite bit of this tale has to be where Pete, having gone barefoot so he can climb up a wall, tells Gwen that he doesn't have any footwear on because an explosion blew his shoes off. The mind boggles.
Sadly, Gwen's back in Annoying Mode again, demanding, at the issue's conclusion, that Peter proves he's not a coward by staying with her, when all our hero wants to do is go off and rescue Flash. Exactly how Gwen thinks that Peter staying with her, when the danger's somewhere else altogether, will prove he's not a coward is anyone's guess but that's Gwen for you, never happy unless she's being an obstacle.