Sunday, 15 November 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #114. Dr Octopus and Hammerhead

Amazing Spider-Man #114, Dr Octopus and the first full appearance of Hammerhead
(Cover from November 1972.)

"Gang War, Shmang War! What I want To Know Is...Who The Heck Is Hammerhead?"

Words by Gerry Conway.
Art by John Romita/Jim Starlin/T Mortellaro.
Lettering by Artie Simek.

Hammerhead. What images that name conjures up. Right from the moment you first hear it, you know what a character called Hammerhead's going to be like; a deadly opponent of the Sub-Mariner. Sleek and deadly, armed with huge strength and cunning.

What's that? He's not? Turns out he's just some two-bit hood with a hard head?

You may have guessed I've never been a huge fan of Hammerhead. I mean, if Spider-Man - or anyone else - wants to beat him, all they have to do is make sure to hit him anywhere except the noggin.

Sadly, this never seems to occur to either Spidey or Doc Ock, two men of proven genius. The story itself''s OK but I don't think anyone's going to be putting it on their list of Spider-Man classics. I also have to say that Hammerhead's revolving office is plain ludicrous. Exactly what purpose it serves for the villain is anyone's guess.

Highlight of the tale has to be its climax, with Aunt May in league with Dr Octopus and clobbering Spider-Man - also introducing the concept that Spidey can't sense threats if they come from friends or loved ones. It's an idea Gerry Conway would use again in a far more significant tale than this but, right now, it's new, and if there's an ending you didn't see coming, it has to be this one.

On the art front, it's the second issue running that Jim Starlin gets an art assist credit - and the second issue running that I can't see even the vaguest hint of his involvement. I guess that, despite having once been bitten by a radioactive artist detector, my artist detector sense isn't all it could be.

Or perhaps I can only detect art assists from my enemies and not from my friends and loved ones...?

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