Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #83. The Kingpin & the Schemer

Amazing Spider-Man #83. The First appearance of the Schemer
(Cover from April 1970.)

"The Schemer!"

Written by Stan Lee
Drawn by John Romita
Inks by Mickey Demeo
Lettering by Sam Rosen

There's trouble in town. A new crime lord's arisen and he's out to take on the Kingpin. Almost instantly, Spider-Man's onto him. This isn't down to any great awareness on the webbed wonder's part. He just happens to be around when a bunch of the Schemer's men attack a truck belonging to the Kingpin. The truck says "ACME" on the front, in big letters. So, at last we know who was supplying all those gizmos to Wile E Coyote for all those years. At last we know how Kingie made his millions.

Needless to say, Spidey makes quick work of the hoods but realises he's got a much bigger headache on his hands. He didn't think anyone would have the nerve to take on the Kingpin. This can only mean trouble.

The Kingpin's got troubles alright. However, it's not the attacks on his "business" that he's bothered about. He's more concerned about the disappearance of his son Richard in a ski-ing accident.

But was it an accident?

Kingie's wife's convinced that their son killed himself because he couldn't bear the shame of having discovered his father's a criminal. The Kingpin refuses to hear of it and, angered by his wife's words, decides that it's time to get back into action.

Again, the war between the two criminals impinges on Peter Parker's life. This time in a manner far more serous than before. After seeing Flash off at the airport, Pete and Gwen are minding their own business when a passing truck's forced off the road by a car. Swerving wildly, the truck topples over and the only thing that stops it from squishing Gwen flatter than the economy is Pete shielding her with his body. Not wanting anyone to see him supporting the weight of a truck, he grabs a snapped-off parking meter and jams it under the truck, to hold it in place while he and Gwen get out of there. Pete's fine but Gwen's not. She's been unconscious since he flung her to the ground to protect her.

That's it. This war between the Kingpin and the Schemer was a problem before but now it's got personal and he's going to end it whatever it takes.

What it takes is for him to follow the tracer he planted on the car as it sped off, and he soon locates the Schemer's HQ. He smashes in through the window and quickly disposes of the Schemer's goons. Now for their boss.

But the would-be crime lord has a trick up his sleeve. His desk is a death trap. When Spidey jumps onto it, what appears to be a light suddenly drops down and starts to crush the web-spinner. He has only once chance, if he can brace his arms, the "light" might just give way.

It does, and Spider-Man's free. Unfortunately, the effort caused an explosion and, in the resulting confusion, the Schemer got away.

Back in his civvies, Pete heads for the hospital where Gwen's being kept. Needless to say she's complaining about him not having bothered to visit her till now and, for once, it's hard not to sympathise. Clearly, in going after the Schemer, Pete was more interested in getting revenge than looking after the well-being of his girlfriend. Sadly, and worryingly, he doesn't seem to get it.

Capt Stacy seems to get it. He seems remarkably understanding towards Peter, bearing in mind that the boy didn't turn up to see his injured daughter, and, after letting slip a bit more than he should, Pete starts to worry that the captain might guess his secret. As the story ends, our hero can't help feeling that, somehow, his life's reached a turning point...

...and that, whatever it is, he won't like its outcome.

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