Monday, 4 May 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #81. The Kangaroo makes his entrance

Amazing Spider-Man #81, Origin and first appearance of the Kangaroo
(Cover from February 1970.)

"The Coming Of The Kangaroo!"

Written by Stan Lee.
Art by John Buscema, John Romita and Jim Mooney.
Lettering by Artie Simek.

Spider-Man's all hot and bothered. He's got to get to the station to meet Aunt May who's on her way back from Florida.

As it turns out, she's not the only person of interest getting off the train. Among the departing passengers is an Australian. We know he's Australian because he's called the Kangaroo, and he's on his way to be deported.

That's what Immigration think but he bashes the officials who're accompanying him and then leaps off in the style of a kangaroo. It turns out he used to spend all his time in the outback, watching the bouncy-legged marsupials, eating what they ate, drinking what they drank, until he too could jump like them. As far as I'm aware, kangaroos drink water and eat grass; so there you have it, kids, the secret of gaining super-powers is to drink water and eat grass. It sort of makes you wonder why there aren't any super-powered cows out there.

Having gained his mighty powers, he decided to put this skill to good use by becoming a boxer. As boxing doesn't tend to involve a lot of leaping around, it seems a slightly odd career choice for a man of his talents and, as it transpired, it turned out to be a disastrous one, as he decided to win a fight by kicking an opponent in the head.

Needless to say, this went down like a cat in a dog pound and he found himself forced to flee the country. He ended up in America where he was promptly apprehended and lined up for deportation. Yeah? Well no one's deporting the Kangaroo.

Using his incredible powers of... ...jumping around a bit, the Kangaroo robs a security van but is disappointed to discover that his haul consists of just one item - a glass vial. He sticks it in his jacket pocket till he can figure out what to do with it.

What he should do with it is get rid of it sharpish, as Peter Parker discovers when he's round at Aunt May's. The teen's watching TV when an urgent announcement's broadcast. The Kangaroo's stolen a vial containing an experimental bacteria. If it's opened, a deadly plague could devastate the city. Spidey needs to find the Kangaroo - and find him now.

He finds him on a balcony, threatening people, and tries to warn him of the danger.

But the Kangaroo's not listening. He's eager for a scrap.

So now what does Spider-Man do? He's got to stop the crook but daren't lay into him in case he accidentally breaks the vial.

Back at chez Parker, Aunt May decides to give Peter his medicine. Yes, I know he's not there, he's fighting the Kangaroo but Aunt May doesn't know that. In order to get away, so he could fight the villain, Peter said he wasn't feeling well and was going to take to his sickbed. Showing his usual genius, he's left a web dummy of himself in his bed, so that if Aunt May pops her head round the door, she'll think it's him and that he's gone nowhere.

The only problem is, she's popped her whole self through the door, in order to administer the medicine and, when she pulls the sheets back, instead of seeing her nephew, she sees a man made of webbing. You can criticise Aunt May for never exactly being slow to have one of her turns but, in fairness, the sight of a loved one having been turned into a web creature would probably give most of us a turn and, needless to say that's all the excuse she needs to have one.

Spider-Man's still failing miserably to get the Kangaroo to listen, so, he grabs the villain with his legs and tips him upside down, shaking the vial loose. Then he catches it, with his webbing, as it falls. Taking advantage of the distraction, the Kangaroo leaps off but Spidey doesn't care about that. He's got the vial and that's all that matters. He hands it to the relevant individuals and then heads back home.

He gets home and finds Aunt May lying unconscious on the bed. Realising what's happened, he flings the dummy out the window and revives her. She's all right - this time - but how long, he asks, before the shadow of Spider-Man destroys them all?

Mary Jane vigil.
Number of consecutive months now without Mary Jane appearing : sixteen.

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