Thursday, 19 November 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #118. The Smasher and the Disruptor

Amazing Spider-Man #118, the Smasher and the Disruptor
(Cover from March 1973.)

"Countdown to Chaos!"

Words by Stan Lee/Gerry Conway.
Art by John Romita/Jim Mooney/Tony Mortellaro.
Lettering by Rosen/Duffy.
Colours by Stan G.


Confusion. It was the title of an old ELO song and it might as well be the title of this titanic tale. At one point Spider-Man gets so befuddled, he calls Joe Robertson, "Joe Robinson". Never can a man have been so confused since Bruce Banner spent a whole issue of the Fantastic Four calling himself Bob.

But then there's no wonder our hero's confused. Anyone who wouldn't be baffled by the goings-on in this tale would need the mental storage-capacity of Einstein and the deductive powers of Jessica Fletcher. In a nutshell, this is it: Spidey tracks the Smasher to the Disruptor's HQ and discovers the Disruptor is in fact hugely popular mayoral candidate Richard Raleigh.

Well that's no surprise. Hands up anyone who didn't see that coming? What I didn't see coming was the total lack of explanation for any of it. The obvious assumption is that Raleigh was trying to boost his electoral chances by staging a series of attacks against himself. The only problem is, Raleigh was leading the polls all the way and didn't need to do any such thing. Certainly not anything this risky. It also doesn't come across as his motivation back at his lair, where his motivation seems to be... ...erm... ...er... ...erm...

That aside, the Disruptor's clearly a complete plank. Not content with wearing a terrible costume no self-respecting villain would be seen dead in, he does the old super-villain thing of completely ignoring his scientific advisor, thus getting carried away with his remote control and sending his own creation on the rampage.

Nice touch of the issue has to the be the "scrolling" news updates that accompany Spidey's fight with the Smasher.

Lowlight of the issue has to be Harry Osborn's startling resemblance to Aunt May when he spots the Smasher heading towards the gang's van.

Mary Jane has a strange personality transplant and is happy to see Gwen and Peter together, whilst chastising Harry for paying too much attention to them and not to her. That's the girl who's spent the last couple of years coming onto Pete in front of Harry at every possible opportunity? Does one spot the moment when Gerry Conway's rehabilitation of Mary Jane as a character began? Did he already have in mind what we later found out he had in mind?

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