Sunday, 17 May 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #99. Spidey's day off?

Amazing Spider-Man #99, prison riot, Gil Kane cover
(Cover from August 1971.)


Written by Stan Lee
Drawn by Gil Kane
Inked by Frank Giacoia
Lettered by Artie Simek

What happens:
Money. Peter Parker never has enough of it. But, now that Gwen Stacy's back, he needs more of it than ever, to keep her in the lifestyle to which he'd like her to become accustomed. But how does a man like him make some extra cash?

Simple. He gets J Jonah Jameson to take him on staff at the Daily Bugle, and he agrees to appear, as Spider-Man, on a chat show.

His first photographic assignment is to get pictures of a prison riot. Holding the governor hostage, the inmates are demanding better conditions but, when he gets there, Spidey discovers that Turpo, the riot's organiser is merely using it as a cover for his own escape. Spider-Man foils that bid, and the released governor backs the prisoners' demands. Pete has the pics he was sent to get but is then told by Joe Robertson that, now that he's on staff, he doesn't get paid till Friday, like all the other staffers.

That attempt to raise money quickly foiled, he guests on the chat show where, as Spider-Man, he makes an impassioned plea on behalf of the prisoners.

But, when the police show up with a warrant, he has to flee the studio before collecting his cash. It means he has no money with which to take Gwen out tonight but she says she doesn't care. As long as she's with Peter, she's happy.

The Verdict:
So, after the high drama of the last few issues and the, no doubt, even higher drama lined up for the title's hundredth outing, it's a low-key tale. Basically, it's the tale of Spider-Man's day off. I mean, OK, he foils a prison riot but that only takes a few panels. Mainly the gist of the tale is about Peter Parker's inevitably doomed attempts to make money. In truth, although it's a brave experiment and it's good to see Stan Lee still trying unconventional storylines, it has to be said it's not the most memorable of tales and it probably has to be viewed as something of a failure.

One thing does puzzle me though. The splash page. I mean, just what is going on with it? There's a bloke playing what seems to be a six-string ukulele. Why? Who is he? What's he doing there?

As for other mysteries, I assume the chat show host in this issue's a real person, as he doesn't look like a standard Gil Kane character but I have to admit, not being American and not having been around in the late 1960s, I have no idea who he is. As far as I can make out, he's never named in the story. If anyone can tell me his identity, I'd be all ears.


Anonymous said...

The host is meant to be Johnny Carson, who was the king of late night television during his 30-year run on The Tonight Show.

The Cyptic Critic said...

I see. Thanks for the info, Anon. :)


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