Friday, 6 November 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #107. The Spider-Slayer

Amazing Spider-Man #107, the Spider-Slayer
(A cover not exactly designed to ramp up the tension, as loon pot scientist Professor Smythe, in his moment of orgasmic triumph, can only think of the line, “I’ve got you at last,” and Marvel maestro Stan Lee loudly proclaims the web-slinger to be headed for his greatest ever triumph. April 1972.)

Spidey Smashes Through!”

Words by Stan Lee
Pencils by John Romita
Inks by Frank Giacoia
Lettering by Artie Simek

So, like a National Lottery winner, Smythe has his wish at last. He has the masked web-spinner trapped, helpless and defeated. Now, at last, he can fulfill his all-consuming ambition of killing the wall-crawler.

Except he doesn’t. For no noticeable reason, he leaves him literally hanging around, guarded by his operator-less robot, while the mad scientist sets about orchestrating a bank robbery.

You see, this is why Smythe’s a loser. He’s choreographing a bank job so he can become rich. But hold on, the man’s a cybernetics genius. He’s the best builder of robots this side of Dr Doom. With knowledge and expertise like this, he could become as rich as Bill Gates, without ever having to commit a single crime ever. It’s like Warren Buffett suddenly deciding that making fifty billion dollars a minute on Wall Street isn’t enough for him; instead, he’s going to go out and rob McDonalds.

Clearly, none of this has entered our master villain’s head and so he ploughs on with his inherently redundant plan.

Not for long he doesn’t because Spidey soon breaks free of his bonds, gets the cops to take down the cameras that Smythe is using to co-ordinate the heist and then goes back to deal with his antagonist and his infernal contraption.

And that’s that. Easy as pie. As always, for all his boasting about how Spider-Man can’t possibly thwart it, the professor’s creation’s defeated with stunning ease.

Sadly, someone who’s not finding things easy is Flash Thompson. First he’s lurking in some bushes, waiting for Gwen Stacy, and dropping great big clunking hints that he loves her, and then, at the tale’s climax, he’s taken away in a big car by some military types as Gwendolyn bursts into tears. It’s practically Kate Bush’s Cloudbusting video all over again, only without the rain and the machine and Donald Sutherland.

None of that matters right now. What matters is that the humanisation of Flash continues apace - no longer is he the empty-brained high school meathead - and that Gwen’s in tears. Remember, the blonde bombshell’s made of sterner stuff these days than once she was. It’s actually been quite some time since she last sobbed or fainted. So, whatever it is, we know it has to be serious.

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