Thursday, 14 January 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #160. The Tinkerer and the Spider-Mobile

Amazing Spider-Man #160, Spidey slides down a wall as the Spider-Mobile attacks him and the Terrible Tinkerer watches on a monitor
(Cover from September 1976.)

"My Killer, The Car!"

Words by Len Wein.
Pencils by Ross Andru.
Inks by Mike Esposito.
Lettering by Joe Rosen.
Colours by Glynis Wein.

A car, like a dog, is a man's best friend but, like the ravenous wolf, it may become his deadly nemesis.

Then again, if that dog's a dachshund, the threat somehow seems less real.

The Spider-Mobile is that dachshund.

It's hard to know what to make of this tale. It's clear from our hero's thought balloons that Len Wein's fully aware of the ludicrousness of it all and simply can't bring himself to take it, or the threat of the Spider-Mobile, seriously.

All of which makes you wonder why he decided to go with the concept in the first place.

You do wonder if it was his idea at all or if it was one of those Steve Ditko/Stan Lee situations where the writer was given the artwork as a fait accompli and had to try and write his script around it. The sight of the Spider-Mobile crossing a gap between two skyscrapers on a makeshift bridge of webbing, and the explanation that this is how the world's most recognisable car has been getting around Manhattan unseen is insane. Who the hell would fail to notice if a car went driving past his skyscraper window?

You also have to wonder what the deal is with Gil Kane and John Romita's front cover, a retread (excuse the pun) of the cover to issue #98. Except it's not as good. Not by a long shot. In fact, it's terrible. It seems this tale brought out the off-day in all concerned.

I'm actually quite happy to see the Tinkerer back. I like it when foes from the early days reappear, and it's been so long since we last saw him that we can hardly complain he's been over-used.

On a side issue, there's a sequence in this tale, where Peter Parker's back at his apartment, testing his powers by walking up the wall. It all strongly reminds me of a sequence I'm sure Jack Kirby once drew in another comic but I don't have a clue what the comic was. If anyone can tell me, I'd be more than happy to hear it.

Peter Parker, in his Spider-Man costume, walks up the wall of his apartment and lifts a refrigerator from the floor as he hangs from the ceiling

This is also the tale when our hero says ,"Cripes," one time too many. I realise we can't have our characters swearing but it does sound ridiculous, especially coming from a grown man whose life is on the line.

At the end of it all, all we can do is look forward to the next issue and hope it sees a return to some sort of sanity.

What's that?

It guest stars the Punisher?

Why are my hopes of sanity not high?

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