Sunday, 15 March 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #56. Spidey and Doc Ock team up

Amazing Spider-Man #56, Spider-Man and Dr Octopus team up
(Cover from Jan 1968.)


Written by Stan Lee
Drawn by John Romita
Inked by Mike Esposita
Lettered by Sam Rosen

So this is it. Now Spider-Man and Doc Ock are in cahoots and making their getaway. Exactly why Octopus launched his attack on Tony Stark's factory in the previous issue is anybody's guess as he's clearly taken no advantage of the situation whatsoever and has simply climbed into his van at the end of it and driven off.

Amazing Spider-Man #56, john romita, suffering from amnesia, spider-man helps doctor octopus load the ultimate nullifier onto the back of his truck

But the police are in pursuit.

Not for long they're not. Octopus fires his nullifier at their car and brings it to a halt. With the nullifier in his grasp, nothing can stop him. Nothing! It's worth remembering that boast for future reference.

But there's a problem. The nullifier's over-heating. It's not yet ready for full use. Still, the multi-limbed genius can sort that out once he reaches his secret hideout. By this, he means his real secret hideout, not Anna Watson's house which he'd previously been using as a secret hideout in the absence of a secret hideout. Octopus is clearly a confused man.

Amazing Spider-Man #56, john romita, suffering from amnesia, spider-man almost removes his mask in front of doctor octopus

Back at the hideout, Spider-Man's confused too. He's wearing a mask and hanging out with a criminal and, therefore, logic suggests he too must be a criminal - but every instinct he has tells him to punch Octopus in the face. Never ones to resist the urge to punch someone in the face, Spidey and Octopus come to blows, but the villain defuses the situation by sending him off on a mission. To make the nullifier fully finctional, he needs a rare isotope, of a kind that can be found at a not-too-distant fort. Still confused about what's going on, Spidey sets off to get it.

It's beginning to look like everyone's confused. Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn certainly are. They're wondering what's happened to Peter. To find out, they go to see Aunt May who still thinks Doc Ock's a good guy. She doesn't have a clue where Peter is and promptly starts whittling over the disappearance of her nephew. Then she too succumbs to the plague of confusion by wondering why Pete risks his life to get those photos of Spider-Man. Fortunately for us all, for once she manages to get through a scene without having one of her atttacks.

At last, a shred of light. A character who's not confused. Her taste in see-through clothing dumped, Mary Jane appears with a copy of The Bugle that leaves no one in any doubt that Spider-Man's teamed up with the vile villain.

It's not alone in talking about the incident because, in a locked room, John Jameson's addressing the relevant individuals about the theft of the nullifier. Among them is a man who we've never seen before but is clearly full of good sense. His name, we discover, is Captain Stacy, retired police officer and father of Gwen Stacy.

But what of his daughter's boyfriend?

Amazing Spider-Man #56, john romita, clinging to the side of a rocket, spider-man sneaks into a military base

He's busy launching his raid on the fort, sneaking in and taking the isotpope from the cell it's being stored in.

Amazing Spider-Man #56, john romita, breaking into a military base, spider-man bends a bunch of steel bars

All's not well. unknown to him, he's been spotted on CCTV and a bunch of guards set off to stop him. They fail miserably, of course, as non-super people always do against Spider-Man but, as he escapes, he drops something. It's the map that's guided him here from Octopus' secret lair. Did he drop it on purpose, his subconscious making him do it? We're given a strong hint that he has. Upon seeing it, Jameson realises he can use it to trace Spidey's steps back to the secret hideout.

Spidey delivers the isotope to Octopus but that's when Octopus discovers that he's left the map behind. The fool! Now the authorites'll be able to find them. "So what?" you might think. He's spent the last three issues declaring that, with the nullifier in his grasp, nothing can stop him, nothing! Anyway, cue another punch-up, interrupted when the military show up. In the melee, Jameson grabs the nullifier and uses it on Octopus, whose tentacles promptly stop working because of it. So much for, "With the nullifier in my grasp, nothing can stop me, nothing!"

Amazing Spider-Man #56, john romita, john jameson fires the nullifier at doctor octopus, causing his tentacles to stop working

That's one menace dealt with. Now for the other. Will Spidey side with Octopus in the battle, or with the military?

Well, we were never in any doubt were we? Amnesia or not, Spidey knows he's no friend of Octopus and flees the scene.

But what good does it do him? He may have his freedom but, as he gazes into his unmasked face reflected in a skyscraper window, he still has no identity.

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