Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #147.The Tarantula's back

Amazing Spider-Man #147, the Tarantula attacks Spidey in the streets of New York
(Cover from August 1975.)

"The Tarantula Is A Very Dangerous Beast!"

Words by Gerry Conway.
Pencils by Ross Andru.
Inks by Esposito and Hunt.
Lettering by Sam Rosen.
Colours by Stan G.

Latest in the long line of stupid things for the New York prison authorities to do is stand by like lemons while the Tarantula makes a pair of steel-spiked shoes in the prison workshop. He tells us he's been working on these things for months.


And at no point has it occurred to the guards that allowing a man, notorious for stabbing people with his footwear, to make pointy steel shoes might be a bad thing? They even do nothing while he's stood there, speaking aloud, in front of them, about his plans. Needless to say he promptly uses them to escape - followed no doubt by a dozen other super-villains who've presumably also been using the prison workshop to rebuild their criminal careers.

That aside, this is a story of distinctly surreal tastes, with Spider-Man and the Tarantula fighting each other on a bus as the driver completely ignores their presence before tearing off his head to reveal himself to be the Jackal - not to mention the presence on the vehicle of Gwen Stacy.

Except it's not Gwen Stacy. It's a clone and, for all our hero knows, there could be a whole army of them out there.

Actually, that would've been a pretty good storyline but it was not to be. For now, there's only one clone in sight; one who seems to be under the Jackal's complete control, judging by the way she just stands there, a strangely lunatic blankness on her face, as the villain flings our hero off the Brooklyn Bridge in echo of the original Gwen's demise. All put together, it feels more like a dream our hero would have than any kind of objective reality. And it's all the better for that. I love this story. It's one of my favourites from the Ross Andru/Gerry Conway era precisely because of its madness.

On less dramatic but just as crucial matters, it's nice to see Mary Jane and Aunt May having a heart-to-heart, with the older woman giving MJ some sound advice. Interesting that, despite believing the Gwen clone to be the original article, Aunt May would appear to be fully on Mary Jane's side in the battle for Peter Parker's heart.

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