Friday, 15 May 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #97. Green Goblin drug issue

Amazing Spider-Man #97, Green Goblin drugs issue

(Cover from June 1971.)

Written by Stan Lee
Drawn by Gil Kane
Inked by Frank Giacoia
Lettering by Sam Rosen
Artist Emeritus John Romita

What happens:
The Goblin's back - and as hell-bent on Spider-Man's destruction as ever. But Peter has even more to worry about. The Goblin's son Harry has become dangerously dependent on pills, a situation made all the worse when his girlfriend Mary Jane keeps coming onto Peter right in front of him. Now, at the climax, Harry's taken a potentially fatal overdose and, just as Peter's about to call for an ambulance, the Goblin reappears.

The Verdict:
There's no way anyone could complain of being short-changed by the strip during this era. This issue's got it all, the first half being a fizzing scrap between Spidey and the Goblin (Gil Kane making every possible use of angles to get across the sheer dynamism of a battle fought across all three dimensions), the second dealing with Harry and his sudden addiction to tablets of every possible type.

But, is it sudden? It seems so to the reader but Peter tells us Harry's always had a lot of pills in his cabinet and perhaps this at last explains Mary Jane's behaviour.

My first assumption was that it's her recent behaviour, constantly coming onto Peter in Gwen's absence, that caused Harry's drug dependency but then someone pointed out to me it's more likely her behaviour's a reaction to Harry's drug dependence. On page 11, when, fed up of her flirting, Peter says, "You know how Harry feels about you! So what's the bit?" She replies, "It's a long story. Wanna hear it?" In fact, he never does. He simply walks away. Reading between the lines, it seems she's laid down an ultimatum to Harry, "Get off the drugs or I walk," and her behaviour with Peter is her attempt to drive that message home. It casts a whole new light on Mary Jane and is therefore arguably the first time in the strip that a more serious side to her comes through.

On other matters, is it just me or does the drug dealer in this tale bear more than a passing resemblance to Stan Lee?

I've always been fascinated by the splash page to this issue because, although the tale's credited to Gil Kane, that one page does look remarkably like the work of Ross Andru.


JalRod said...

You're on the mark ... the splash page art is definitely Andru! I know and love his distinctive pencils!

The Cryptic Critic said...

Thanks, JalRod. It's nice to know I'm not going mad.


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