Saturday, 2 May 2009

Amazing Spider-Man # 74. Silvermane

Amazing Spider-Man #74, Silvermane
(July 1969. America lands a man on the moon, and Spider-Man lands a man on his backside.)

"If This Be Bedlam!"

Written by Stan Lee
Layouts by John Romita
Pencils by Jim Mooney
Inks by Jim Mooney
Lettering by Sam Rosen

There are two men in the Marvel universe who it's not wise to get angry. Actually, there are plenty. The Marvel universe is full of angry young men. No one would ever have a fight if there weren't and then where would we all be? But there are two men who it's notoriously unwise to anger. One's Bruce Banner. And the other?

That's Curt Connors, one-armed bio-chemist and occasional megalomaniac super-reptile. Therefore it's probably not a good idea for Man-Mountain Marko to be threatening him at the start of this issue. Of course, the Maggia's muscle doesn't know about Connors' somewhat unusual nature and it's only the intervention of Silvermane that halts the confrontation. At Silvermane's insistence, Connors is taken to a lab where he's to work with Wilson on deciphering the tablet.

And if he doesn't?

Then his wife and kid get it.

And what of our hero?

He's still on the trail of the tablet. He learns from The Bugle that Caesar Cicero's bailed Wilson. Bearing in mind Wilson's previous links with the tablet and the fact that both Cicero and Marko work for the Maggia, this is all too big a coincidence. So, Spidey decides to drop in on Cicero. Wouldn't you know it? Just as he's threatening the man, a secret panel opens and gang of hoods emerge, aiming to fill Spidey with more holes than Blackburn, Lancashire. Of course, they fail miserably, but they divert Spidey long enough for Cicero to make his getaway.

And he's not alone. He's got Connors' wife and son tied up in the back of his car.

Back at the lab, Connors has cracked it. Silvermane was right. The symbols on the tablet are a chemical formula and not a language. That's why no one's ever been able to translate it before.

Silvermane's not interested in exposition. He wants that formula and he wants it now. He's an old man, on his last legs, and patience is a guest that only the young can afford to entertain. Given no choice, Connors whips up the potion in question and hands it to Silvermane. Connors warns him that it's not been tested. Silvermane doesn't care. Caring is for wimps. Marko warns him not to drink it. Connors could have poisoned it. Silvermane doesn't care. Caring is for wimps. The crime lord knocks it back in one swig, like he's a gunfighter in some spaghetti western.

But then, it all goes Pete Tong.

The crime lord's in agony.

The crime lord collapses.

Marko knew it all along. Connors put poison in the potion. Right; well Connors killed Silvermane - now Marko's going to kill Connors.

Oh no he's not. Why? Because he's interrupted by a voice. A voice from behind him, where Silvermane had been.

Marko looks round...

...and is stunned by what he sees.

It's Silvermane! He's still alive!

No. He's more than that. Something's happened to him. Where once the leader of the Maggia was an old and enfeebled man, closer to his maker than he'd ever been, now he's young, reborn. That's what the tablet's secret was, the resurgent crime lord tells his henchman. It was the secret of the Fountain of Youth.

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