"Jackal, Jackal... Who's Got The Jackal?"
Words by Gerry Conway.
Art by Ross Andru.
Inks by Esposito and Hunt.
Lettering by John Costanza.
Colours by Petra Goldberg.
There are well over a hundred frames in a typical comic book but a single frame is all it takes to define an issue. Steve Ditko allegedly quit Spider-Man in protest at the Green Goblin being revealed to be Norman Osborn. God alone knows what he'd have done had the Jackal been revealed to be Professor Warren.
And yet that's exactly what happens here.
Happily, Ross Andru didn't quit in protest but you wouldn't have blamed him if he had. It has to be the stupidest revelation in the history of literature. A twist that must have been born of desperation. All these months there's been the mystery of who the Jackal was and what he was about, so Gerry Conway had to come up with something. And it seems like, in the end, this was the only thing he could think of. Not only is it ludicrous but it deprives us once and for all of Professor Warren who's been a good old reliable mainstay of the strip for years. The only worse person it could have turned out to have been was Joe Robertson.
That aside, what did I actually make of this tale? It's a good, solid story with some nice character stuff, that seems to fit more than usual into its twenty pages without feeling at any point, crammed in. There's even time for Peter Parker to take a nice relaxing bath.
There's also time for a good old fashioned punch-up, plus the revelation that Spider-Man's spider-sense only works when he's being snuck up on by people it already knows to be his enemies. How it already knows them to be his enemies is anyone's guess.
Highlights of the issue are Mary Jane going round to Peter's place to give him a piece of her mind, and Spidey's fight in the dark with the Tarantula. Exactly why Spidey's so eager to get the fight out into the daylight is another matter, seeing as how his spider-sense should give him a vital advantage in the gloom but the fight's pretty cool while it lasts, allowing Andru to make an appropriately Ditkoesque use of light and shade. Good to see the Spider-Signal getting a rare outing too. I suppose it had to come in handy for something at some point.
One final point is that I don't understand this issue's title at all. I have the feeling it's a reference to some sort of catchphrase but, if so, I don't have a clue whose catchphrase it might be.