Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #159. Dr Octopus and Hammerhead

Amazing Spider-Man #159, Hammerhead smashes through Spidey and Dr Octopus
(Cover from August 1976.)

"Arm-in-Arm-in-Arm-in-Arm-in-Arm With Dr Octopus."

Words by Len Wein.
Pencils by Ross Andru.
Inks by Mike Esposito.
Lettering by Joe Rosen.
Colours by Glynis Wein.


Moonraker. It was the James Bond movie where 007 owed it all to Star Wars. This is the issue where Spider-Man owes it all to James Bond, as the lab from last issue is stormed by both a SWAT team and Hammerhead's previously forgotten henchmen.

In the tale's second half, we get more of the same as Hammerhead's men try to kill Spider-Man and Dr Octopus in the super-villain's secret lair. Throw in Hammerhead's somewhat ostentatious helicopter and you almost expect Sean Connery to turn up in his Aston Martin.

Amid all the chaos, there's just one question.

Just why do both sides insist on using, "anaesthetic bullets?" OK, at a stretch, you could just about credit a SWAT team with doing it, trying to avoid hurting innocent hostages, but Hammerhead's men? They're supposed to work for one of the most ruthless criminals this side of Los Angeles.

I admit it. I lied. There are in fact two questions, not one.

The second is Aunt May. How come she seems to have heart attacks at the drop of a hat but, whenever things are going on around her that'd give the average man in the street a cardiac arrest, it seems to do her no harm at all? She manages to get caught up in two armed sieges in this tale, get abducted, sees a ghost come back to life and gets directly threatened with physical violence and suffers no ill effects at all other than fainting.

For that matter, when he finally gets her free, Spider-Man doesn't seem at all concerned for her well-being He's clearly more intent on giving Dr Octopus the punch in the mouth he thinks he owes him than getting his aunt medical treatment, even though she's lying there, spark out. Perhaps he suspects what we must all suspect by now, that that "sweet old lady" is putting it on. Time to call in the lawyers, I reckon.

Lowlight of the tale has to be the return of Hammerhead's spinning office. It was a lame enough gimmick before without us having to endure its resurrection.

If the room's the lamest moment, compensation for it comes from Dr Octopus using a rubbish bin to bring down Hammerhead's helicopter. For that matter, the incident makes it a very strange issue indeed. It means we have a tale where Spider-Man's irrelevant in his own comic. The truth is, if Spider-Man was excised from this issue altogether, it'd make no difference at all to its settlement.

But, before we go, there's one more thing to be dealt with in this tale, because the revolving office isn't the only lame gimmick that returns, as the Spider-Mobile's revived by hands mysterious. Who is the man in the chair, working so hard on it? And who is his mysterious employer? You know, the large looking man? With the cigarette holder?

How could we ever hope to guess?

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