"The Yesterday Connection!"
Written by Gerry Conway.
Drawn by Ross Andru.
Inked by Mike Esposito.
Lettered by Ray Holloway.
Colours by George Roussos.
If ever a story was going to have a tough time making me dislike it, it was going to be this one, for the simple reason that it features 1930s' adventurer Doc Savage. It's not that I love Doc Savage. It's that, the 1970s Ron Ely movie apart, I don't actually know anything about him. I don't even know if he's literally made of bronze. So, anything that allows me to see the legend in action's going to grab me.
From how he goes about things in this tale, with his secret lab, speeding automobile, gadgets and blatant wealth, he appears to have a distinct Bruce Wayne vibe to him. I'm not sure about his seeming army of assistants though. With all of those knocking around, his section of the tale seems somewhat overcrowded. And not a woman among them?
Fortunately, a woman soon appears to fill that particular gap in Doc's life, as a half-naked, light-blue space-babe called Desinna appears in order to enlist the aid of first him and then Spider-Man in dealing with a giant energy being called Tarros.
While Doc Savage more or less falls for the tale Desinna spins him, Spider-Man's made of more cynical stuff and does the exact opposite of what she wants. Enabling Tarros to take the treacherous Desinna back to her own world of Saku. It's a pleasing twist that, when we're expecting Spidey to have a fight with the monster and finish the battle Doc Savage started forty years earlier, instead he helps the thing. Of course, there's the point that Spidey might know Desinna's been economical with the truth but that doesn't actually mean Tarros is a good guy, and Spidey has no way of knowing just what fate the monster has in store for Desinna as he takes her away. Oh well, I suppose we just have to put it down to his spider-sense or something. Or maybe we just have to accept that super-heroes always get things right, despite all evidence to the contrary.
This is the issue where we learn that Spider-Man has a lot more learning than we even knew he had. Not content with being one of the world's great scientific minds, it turns out he can decipher Morse Code and has a knowledge of comparative languages that enables him to get the gist of what the alien Tarros is saying. Loiks, is there anything Peter Parker can't do?
Like Giant-Size Spider-Man #1 where our hero never actually got round to meeting the character he shared the cover with, in this issue Spider-Man never actually meets Doc Savage and his cohorts. Whereas in that earlier tale, the non-meeting was a weakness, here it's a good thing. The only way for such an encounter to happen would've been for time travel to be involved and, for me, Spider-Man and time travel never sit comfortably together. It's fine for the likes of the Fantastic Four or the Avengers but Spidey's world should always be that bit more humdrum than theirs.
Of course, even the chance to learn more about Doc Savage can't blind me to all flaws and there is one quibble. I'm not sure about the fact that, unlike Doc Savage, Spidey sorts out the situation because, unlike Savage, he lives in a time when men know that women aren't always trustworthy. Really? Has he never read any of those hard-boiled detective novels that were so big in Savage's time?
Or what about all those old pulp magazines - you know, the sort that Doc Savage used to appear in - where, whatever else she might be, the one thing the beautiful dame isn't always is trustworthy?