"The Claws Of The Cat!"
Scripted by Stan Lee.
Plotted, drawn and inked by Steve Ditko.
Lettered by Artie Simek.
"Confusion," said ELO, "it's such a terrible thing." Presumably, they'd been reading Amazing Spider-Man #30, as we're handed a tale that seems designed to bamboozle the life out of the best of us. Why? Because Spider-Man comes up against a break-in artist called the Cat Burglar or occasionally the Cat. He also comes up against a gang of crooks working for a never-seen villain called the Cat. Now, obviously, those crooks work for the Cat Burglar.
No they don't. They have nothing to do with him. What possessed Stan Lee to give both villains in one story the same name is anyone's guess. I can only guess that, like Jeff Lynne, he was feeling somewhat confused at the time and it does make the story completely baffling for large chunks of it as you try to figure out why a high-powered gang are working for a small-time crook who seems to work alone.
On matters more personal, Betty Brant announces Ned Leeds has asked her to marry him, although it turns out she doesn't want to because it's Peter Parker she loves. However, she also makes it clear she could never marry a man like Spider-Man whose life is one of non-stop danger, meaning Peter Parker finally realises his relationship with Betty can have no future. Cue spectral image of Spider-Man pushing Betty and Peter apart in the final panel.
Interesting that, having been written out, seemingly permanently, just two issues ago, Liz Allan's back already, and having problems with Flash Thompson hanging around. It gives the impression she's going to remain a regular character after all, which is odd as, to my knowledge she disappeared from the strip for years after this brief appearance. As we see the final break-up of Peter and Betty in this tale, it gives the impression that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were intending to pursue a relationship between Liz and Peter but, for whatever reason, the idea was promptly ditched. There are times where you'd just love to know what was going on behind the scenes and why certain decisions about the long-term future of the strip were made.