"They Call the Doctor, 'Octopus!'"
Words by Gerry Conway.
Art by John Romita, Jim Starlin, T Mortellaro.
Lettering by Artie Simek.
What an unbelievable Doctor Dr Bromwell is. Just by planting a stethoscope on Peter Parker's chest, and having been told none of his symptoms, he can tell instantly that he has a duodenal ulcer. No wonder Americans don't want a National Health Service if their system produces medics of this calibre.
But then, doctors have always been clever in Spider-Man. Look at Doc Ock. Not content with seeing off our hero - and removing his mask in the process - he then refuses to fall into the trap of his mysterious new rival for control of the local crime scene. But, in truth this isn't that much of a story. Spidey fights Octopus a couple of times, ultimately beats him with one punch and then Octopus's mystery rival's revealed.
Something that does leap out at me during this issue is a strange thing that happens only in the world of comic books, where people who're basically friends insist on calling each other by their surnames. It happens in The Fantastic Four all the time, where, for instance, Mr Fantastic and Ant Man will have a conversation, and Mr Fantastic will be calling Ant Man, "Pym," and Ant Man will be calling Mr Fantastic, "Richards." The very same thing happens in this tale with Peter and Ned calling each other by their surnames even though they've known each other for years. Why is this? As every writer seems to do it, it's clearly a convention of the comic book industry but I've never been able to work out why.
On the Gerry Conway front - not content with giving Spider-Man an ulcer - for some reason, he decides to lumber him with a comedy mask he can't breathe through. In my book, the replacement mask has to be one of the most annoying subplots the strip's ever had and it's a blessed relief for us all, not just Spider-Man, when the day finally arrives where the mask is disposed of.
Trouble is, that's not till issue #116 and we're only on issue #113. :(