Friday, 17 April 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #67. Mysterio

Amazing Spider-Man #67, John Romita, Mysterio
(You need hands. John Romita's third consecutive classic cover, this time from December 1968.)

"To Squash A Spider!"

Written by Stan Lee
Layouts by John Romita
Pencilled by Jim Mooney
Inked by Jim Mooney
Lettering by Artie Simek

Bam, a giant fist crashes down, seeking to smash Spider-Man to the pulp that all super-villains want him to be. He's still trapped in the model amusement park, still only six inches tall and still stuck with Mysterio out to get him.

The rest of the issue's made up of Spidey trying to survive a series of amusement-park-style traps while striving to work out what's going on. He knows something's not quite right (apart from him only being six inches tall) but can't work out what. He quickly realises that Mysterio's desperately trying to keep him moving, trying to stop him finding the time to think.

But why's he doing that, when he seemingly no longer has anything to fear from his doll-sized opponent?

Spider-Man decides to risk it. Knowing his foe's history of illusion, he flings himself at the giant figure of his enemy, who promptly vanishes to avoid contact. Why does he do that? After all, the impact would have hurt Spider-Man more than him. It confirms Spidey's suspicions. However it may seem, he's not six inches tall and Mysterio's not gigantic.

Then he spots it - a tower at the heart of the park. It's the only building there with a light on. He heads for it, rips the roof off...

...and there he is, the villain of the piece, sat in his control room, the same size as Spider-Man and suddenly in trouble. Spidey knocks him out, relieves him of his boots and helmet, and that's that all sorted.

Well, it's not really. Maybe it's just me but it's not altogether clear what Mysterio's been doing. They appear to be in a real amusement park, which begs the question of how they got there, as Mysterio and Spider-Man were in a warehouse when the villain fired the gun that "shrunk" him, and Spidey at no point lost consciousness. So, how did Mysterio get him to an amusement park without him noticing? For that matter, how come a real life amusement park happens to have Mysterio's control tower in it? Did the staff and management never notice it was being built? As for the giant figure of Mysterio, what was it? Was it a giant robot? Was it an illusion? The same goes for the deadly attractions. Were they real or just illusion?

Oh well, maybe we just have to accept there's some things we'll never know. Like we'll never know why Mysterio turned to crime when he was supposedly the greatest special effects man Hollywood had ever seen. You'd have thought, with a talent like that, making a highly lucrative but honest living would be well within his capabilites.

On the art front, after a one issue absence, Jim Mooney's back and produces some lovely work, especially a sequence in a deadly hall of mirrors and another in a house of horrors.

On the supporting cast front, we may have lost Mary Jane but we've gained a new character, Randy Robertson, introduced as Joe Robertson's son and revealed to be a student at ESU, which, of course, means he's going to be meeting Peter Parker before long. And what's that we see at the very end of the story? A student protest? How will that affect the life of our hero?

Sob Watch, Gwen Stacy gets through a whole issue without crying. Well done, Gwendolyne, we knew you could do it if you tried.

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