Thursday, 30 April 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #72, The Shocker's back

Amazing Spider-Man #72, the Shocker(Cover from May 1969.)

"Rocked By The Shocker!"

Written by Stan Lee
Art by John Buscema, John Romita and Jim Mooney
Lettering by Sam Rosen

So, it's back to the many-chefs-make-light-work approach when it comes to the pictures, with Big John Buscema hopping on board to help out. Even at a glance, it's pretty obvious what his contribution is. Even though Buscema always claimed to have copied his layout style slavishly from Jack Kirby, his character poses are instantly recognisable as being his and no one else's.

Of course, that still leaves the question of just what Romita's and Mooney's contributions to the art are. I'm not even going to guess. I'm assuming the inking's by Mooney, which leaves the small matter of how much of the pencilling is Mooney and how much Romita. Like I say, I'm not even going there. Umpteen issues of various hands having a finger in the artistic pie have left me far too confused by it all to even speculate.

Anyway, it doesn't matter because, as you'd expect with that combination of talent, the thing looks great and, in the end, that's all that counts, as The Shocker announces his return by smashing into George Stacy's living room and zapping him with his vibro-blaster. The ex-cop out of the way, the villain turns his attention to what he came for, the priceless stone tablet. Apparently Captain Stacy has let it become common knowledge that he has the tablet, even letting the newspapers know. Frankly, you'd have expected an ex-police captain to have a bit more sense than that and you'd have expected the tablet's rightful owners - whoever they are- to have more sense than to let him keep it.

Drawn by the noise, Gwen bursts in to see the Shocker purloining the artifact. And then he's gone, leaving Stacy senior with no more than a sore head.

The captain isn't the only one with a headache because, when he tries to fence the supposedly priceless tablet, The Shocker can't get shut of it. It seems the entire criminal underworld's too scared to touch it in case Spider-Man comes for them. Oh yeah? Well The Shocker's not scared of Spider-Man.

He gets an early chance to prove it as Spidey catches up with him on a rooftop. Cue the statutory fight. As it's only halfway through the story, cue the villain's escape. But not before Spider-Man plants a tracer on him. To The Shocker it might be goodbye but to Spider-man it's no more than au revoir.

Back to day-to-day reality as, an unspecified time later, Peter Parker sees off his Aunt May. She's off to Florida, for a holiday, which is the perfect excuse for the various creators to give us a flashback to Curt Connors and his tendency to become a human reptile.

Peter Parker, meanwhile decides to get all jealous when he sees Gwen and Flash talking. Flash, increasingly grown-up since his draft into the army, isn't impressed by Pete's behaviour, Gwen isn't impressed by his behaviour and, in the end Peter isn't impressed by his behaviour. There are times when he has to accept that he really is his own worst enemy.

But not right now. Right now, that title belongs to The Shocker. Spidey catches up with him. They have another punch-up - and then we get a masterclass in why, powerful as he might be, Shocky just isn't a top class criminal. The last time they met, Spider-Man beat him by firing webbing at his thumbs. This time he does it by firing webbing at his eyes. Unable to see, and with no way of removing the webbing, The Shocker falls easy prey to just one punch from our hero.

If only all of Spider-Man's problems were so easy to solve.

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