Sunday, 8 March 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #52. Kingpin. Fred Foswell dies

Amazing Spider-Man #52 fred foswell dies
(Two enemies united in peril. From Sept 1967.)

"To Die A Hero!"

Written by Stan Lee
Drawn by John Romita
Inked by Mickey Demeo
Lettered by Sam Rosen


This issue kicks off with a great splash page, as J Jonah Jameson's bundled down some cellar steps, with the unconscious Spider-Man being carried before him. John Romita's use of angles here is excellent.

Amazing Spider-Man #52, john romita, the kingpin's thugs carry the unconscious spider-man into a basement while j jonah jameson protests

It soon becomes clear what the Kingpin's plan is. He's going to manacle his two captives to a couple of iron plates on the floor (see front cover) and then flood the room with water. Why he doesn't just shoot them is a whole other matter but that's master criminals for you. Never kill someone quickly when you can do it in the most convoluted way possible.

Jameson and Spider-Man are left alone as the Kingpin savours his moment of triumph. But, as you always knew he would, Spidey wakes in the nick of time. Quickly assessing the situation, he breaks the manacles that hold his wrists. But what good will that do? demands JJ. They're still trapped in a room that's filling with water. Spidey has a plan. He starts shooting webbing into the air.

Amazing Spider-Man #52, john romita, as the shackled j jonah jameson watches and the room fills with water, spider-man shoots webbing into the air

Back at The Bugle, Ned Leeds is worried. Leeds is a character who could hardly be said to have pulled his weight since his introduction all those issues back. He's barely had anything to do since then but he's determined to get to the root of this mystery. First Fred Foswell goes missing and now Jonah. There's something up and he's out to discover what.

But who's going to fill in for Jonah in his absence? Cue Joe "Robbie" Robertson, making what I believe is his first ever appearance in the strip. Leeds tells fiancee Betty Brant that he's off. She begs him not to. She can't bear the thought of him dying. Yeah, build his confidence up, love. Frankly, she can be a bit of a pain in situations like this. You can't help but feel Peter had a lucky escape when his relationship with her broke down.

Meanwhile, Spidey's still firing webbing into the air. Maybe he'd be better firing webbing into the nozzles that all that water's coming in through but no, he has more extravagant things in mind. Exactly what isn't clear yet but, by the end of the page it is. He's surrounding himself and Jonah with an air bubble, using his webbing to keep it in.

Amazing Spider-Man #52, the room filling up with water, spider-man creates a web bubble around himself and the captive j jonah jameson

Certain their captives must be dead by now, the Kingpin's lackeys open the cellar door, to find their "victims" cocooned in a large orb of webbing. Quick as a flash, Spider-Man leaps out of the cocoon and, with one blow, knocks them both out. Another lackey runs in, gun in hand. Spidey takes him out. Now for he and Jameson to depart the scene. Jameson's in a panic over it all but there's no time to worry about that now because more goons are on their way.

Spidey gets Jameson to flee while he deals with them.

Jameson promptly runs head first into a steel pipe and knocks himself out. Unaware of this, Spider-Man goes in search of the Kingpin.

Amazing Spider-Man #52, john romita, spider-man bursts in on the kingpin who is threatening to kill fred foswell

He finds him, just as the villain's about to beat Fred Foswell to a pulp. Foswell's had a fit of conscience and won't be any part of cold-blooded murder. That makes him useless to the Kingpin and that means it's curtains for the man who only last issue was planning to be criminal overlord of all New York (presumably, one with a, "no hurting people," policy. Clearly, this was going to be a caring, sharing brand of criminal underworld).

But that's enough excitement for now. Time for the strip to cut away to a happier scene as Flash Thompson's back. Down at the Silver Spoon, he shows everyone his new uniform and it seems that Mary Jane's no longer going out with Peter Parker.

Amazing Spider-Man #52, john romita, flash thompson shows off his new military uniform to gwen stacy, harry osborn and mary jane watson

Back at the Kingpin's, Spider-Man's tangling with the corpulent crime lord. Our hero clogs his tie pin with webbing, to stop him firing any more gas. Foswell grabs a gun and flees as the pair grapple. Spider-Man's clearly getting the upper hand and the Kingpin unknowingly copies Foswell's example and scarpers. I like the fact that the Kingpin's always boasting about how hard and unbeatable he is but, whenever a fight gets tough, he always does a runner. It makes hm seem all the more unadmirable. Spidey follows him but a gas bomb delays him and the villain gets away. Spider-man goes in search of Jameson. Jameson meanwhile has recovered from his knock out and is running around in a panic. He's spotted by two goons who go after him. He's doomed.

No he's not.

Foswell's found him.

Foswell, who doesn't seem able to decide what side of the law he wants to be on, tells Jameson to get behind him. He'll hold the goons off for as long as he can.

As it turns out, he can only hold them off for one panel. That's how long it takes the former Big Man before he gets shot. Hearing the gunfire, Spider-Man rushes to the scene and takes out the thugs.

Amazing Spider-Man #52, john romita, as j jonah jameson watches, fred foswell is shot by the kingpin's goons

But it's too late for Foswell. He's on the floor, dying. By the time, Spider-Man gets there, Foswell's dead, his life sacrificed to save the boss who gave him a second chance. At last we see why Foswell's been getting so much panel room over the last two issues, bearing in mind that his presence seemed so irrelevant to proceedings. The whole story has been set up so the ex-criminal can go down in a blaze of glory and show that even the baddest of men might, somewhere within him, retain a spark of nobility.

Amazing Spider-Man #52, john romita, spider-man watches as fred foswell lays dead on the floor with j jonah jameson kneeling over his body

The cops arrive. Jameson declares to Leeds - who's still not got round to doing anything much - that Foswell will get a hero's write-up in The Bugle, and Spider-Man departs cursing the fact that Jameson never writes him up as a hero.

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