Monday, 21 December 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #146. The Scorpion

Amazing Spider-Man #146, the Scorpion threatens Aunt may as she lies in her hospital bed
(Cover from July 1975.)

"Scorpion... ...Where Is Thy Sting?"

Words by Gerry Conway.
Art by Ross Andru, John Romita and the Gang.
Lettering by Joe Rosen.
Colours by Don Warfield.

Looks like chief Wiggum's in charge again.

If stupidity's a disease, the Spideyverse has the plague. First up, we get the Scorpion. Having been told that, if he crashes into Aunt May's hospital room, he'll find Spider-Man there, he instead finds Peter Parker. Enraged that Spider-Man isn't present, he goes on a rampage around the curiously empty building. For some reason, it never seems to occur to him that Spider-Man might not spend twenty four hours a day welded into his spider-suit and might, gasp, be in his civvies.

For some reason, he also seems not to recognise Peter Parker - even though, when we first met Gargan, all those years back, he was tailing Peter for J Jonah Jameson who wanted to know how he was always where Spider-Man was. Hmn, let's see; Peter Parker, always seems to be where Spider-Man is and you've been told Spider-Man will be in that room. Why on Earth would you draw any link between those twin facts?

Second up, matching Scorpy in the brainless stakes, are the New York City Police Department. Get this; the Scorpion's robbed a bank. They're looking for him. Where have they not thought to look?

That's right.

His official address. The place where it transpires he's got the money stashed, in money bags, in his closet. It's hard to know who's the stupider here, the police or Gargan. Oh well, at least now Spider-Man's tipped them off, they might actually have a chance of be finding the loot - if they can only get their act together enough to buy a map to get them there.

How did the Jackal know the Scorpion was going to be outside Santonio's house? We're never told.

How did Santonio know that, at the very moment he switched his TV on, Spider-Man was going to be on it? We're never told.

Where's Gwen Stacy staying? We're never told.

Oh. No. Hold on. We are. She's staying at Betty Brant's. At last we've been told something.

We've also been told something else.

The Jackal knows Spider-Man's true identity.

And he's on a revenge schtick for Spidey's seeming involvement in murder.

I've come to the conclusion from this tale that normal rules of story-telling don't apply to comic books. This story's dumb. This story recycles bits of the recent Molten Man storyline. This story's full of plot holes and things happening for the sake of them happening. It's full of people doing implausible things and knowing unknowable facts. And yet, despite all this, there's something about it that grabs me. The only letdown is the comedy ending of the Scorpion being forced to apologise to Aunt May. I'm starting to think there's no hope for me.

There is, however, more than hope for Ross Andru who does another sterling job (with a noticeable assist from jazzy John Romita.) Highlight on the art front has to be the Scorpion climbing the side of the Chrysler building as Spidey watches from a distance. Why's he climbing the Chrysler building? Aw, who cares? Like I said, it's a comic. The normal rules of story-telling don't matter. All that matters is that's is how to use a vertical panel.

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