Monday, 4 May 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #80. The Chameleon

Amazing Spider-Man #80, the Chameleon
(Cover from Jan 1970.)

"On The Trail Of... The Chameleon!"

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

Back at his pad, Peter Parker's still moaning about Gwen Stacy having dumped him for Flash Thompson. As every reader knows, she's not dumped him for anyone, but Peter's insistence on never actually talking to his girlfriend about anything that matters has led him to this conclusion. That's when Harry Osborn walks in.

And he's not alone.

No, he doesn't have Mary Jane with him. She's still missing in inaction. He's got Flash with him. Pete loses his rag with Flash and Flash tells him what a plonker he's being. There's nothing going on between him and the gorgeous blonde. She was just asking him for advice about Pete.

She was?


Feeling a proper Charlie, Peter calls Gwen and, after a certain amount of frostiness, she confirms what Flash was saying.

So, now that everyone's friends again, Pete's off to the museum with his girlfriend. There, they spot her dad. Despite being retired, he's in charge of museum security. The odd thing is, that when he passes them, he doesn't seem to recognise them - and Peter's spider-sense is tingling like nobody's business.

Now there's a scream.

The museum's priceless paintings...

...they're gone!

And Captain Stacy was the only one who could have done it!

Ha ha ha ha, gloats the Chameleon, back at his apartment. It was simplicity itself for a villain of his genius to get into the museum, disguised as Captain Stacy and steal the paintings. Only a master of disguise such as himself could have pulled off the deed.

Back in his apartment, Peter Parker's suddenly thinking the same thing. He knows Captain Stacy can't be guilty, therefore it must have been an impostor. And there's no one better at being an impostor than the Chameleon. Actually, it's so long since they last met, it's a wonder Pete even remembers him.

Pete leaps into action, then swings into action, then squats into action, as he asks Bugle sub-editor Joe Robertson to plant a story in his newspaper. As it turns out, Robertson doesn't need to plant a story. He's got a real one up his sleeve that'll serve the function perfectly. It involves a meeting involving the transfer of millions of dollars. Robertson'll give it front page coverage. Peter reasons that if that doesn't attract the Chameleon's attention, nothing will.

Spider-Man sneaks into the building where the meeting's being held. Opening a panel in the ceiling, he's spotted by one of the attendees who calls out as Spidey drops down onto the table. In the confusion he's caused, he tries to work out which of those present is the Chameleon in disguise. He goes for the one who's acting most suspiciously.

He's gone for the wrong one.

And now the police burst in, accompanied by Jonah. Why he'd be there is anyone's guess but needless to say, he's more hindrance to the lawmen than asset as he inadvertently stands in the line of fire as he demands they shoot our hero.

Emerging onto the roof, Spidey needs to find the Chameleon.

He spots him, in the street below, out to make his escape. It has to be him. He's certain of it. He swings down and grabs the villain who's made the biggest mistake of his life by assuming the identity of the one person Spider-Man knows it can't be. Peter Parker.

Again the police try to shoot Spider-Man. Again Jameson gets in the way. You're starting to wonder if he does this on purpose. We've seen him do it in previous stories as well.

"Peter Parker" attempts to flee the scene by flinging a hand grenade at his potential captors. Spider-Man muffles the blast with webbing and then grabs the villain as he tries to flee in a stolen car.

Now for the big unmasking. Jameson is shocked. It's the Chameleon!

And so, as another tale comes to a happy conclusion, Spider-Man departs the scene, leaving everyone to wonder how he could possibly have known which of them was the villain of the piece. That'll just have to remain Spider-Man's secret.

Mary Jane vigil.
Number of consecutive months without Mary Jane now: fifteen.

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