Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #85. The Kingpin & the Schemer

Amazing Spider-Man #85, the Kingpin and the Schemer
(Cover from June 1970.)


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

What happens:
Following the Schemer's escape from the Kingpin's mansion, Spider-Man catches up with him and captures him. He takes him to the address of the mystery person offering the reward for his capture - only to discover it's the Kingpin. While Spider-Man's trapped in a net of the Kingpin's devising, the two crime lords square up to each other. That's when the Schemer reveals his true identity,

He's the Kingpin's son Richard who was so horrified when he found out his father was a criminal that he set out to destroy him. The shock of this revelation sends the Kingpin into a catatonic state from which he may never recover.


You do have to wonder about Spider-Man's intelligence. Right from the moment he arrives at the address where the offerer of the reward's to be found, he realises there's something wrong but doesn't for one moment suspect that the person offering the reward might be the Kingpin. Well, really, who else would be most likely candidate?

You also have to wonder about the intelligence of the Schemer who recognises the building at once - and clearly doesn't want to be there - but doesn't point out to Spidey who it belongs to.

You also have to question the intelligence of the Kingpin's wife Vanessa who recognised her son in the last issue but doesn't bother telling the her husband. In her case, she has an excuse - that she's trying to protect her son - but you can't help feeling that an awful lot of hassle could've been avoided if she'd just told him the truth.

On the other hand, you can't blame the Kingpin for not guessing who the Schemer really is. He has every reason to think his son's dead and it has to be said that the Schemer with his mask on bears no resemblance whatsoever to Richard.

While some might be disappointed that it's an issue where matters aren't resolved by Spider-Man himself, with the hero a helpless bystander as events unfold before him, it serves to highlight the strength of the strip - that it's ultimately more about human drama than straight super-heroics and it's this trait that makes the title special.

On the art front, we're back to having three artists working on the strip. You wouldn't have thought it'd be that difficult to find one permanent artist for what was supposed to be Marvel's flagship title but, for several years now, it seems to have been beyond them to manage it for more than a few issues at a time. In the past, Jim Mooney's inks have helped blur the distinction between the various artists' styles but, here, the frequent gear shifts between Romita's style and Buscema's hit you in the face. It doesn't mar the enjoyment massively - after all, they can both draw comics - but it is somewhat distracting.

Peter's personal life.

Gwen and her dad come round to Peter's flat, with Captain Stacy wanting to know how Pete gets his photos of Spider-Man. The captain clearly seems to be onto him and it appears, from the conversation Gwen and her dad have when Peter's in his dark room, that her dad's suggested to her that Peter might be Spider-Man. Gwen tells the ex-cop that he's, "way off-base."

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