Friday, 15 January 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #161. Nightcrawler

Amazing Spider-Man #161, Spidey fights Nightcrawler from the X-Men, on a New York amusement park ferris wheel
(Cover from October 1976.)

"And The Nightcrawler Came Prowling, Prowling."

Words by Len Wein.
Pencils by Ross Andru.
Inks by Mike Esposito.
Lettering by Irv Watanabe.
Colours by Gynis Wein.

Fun. According the Beatles, it's the one thing money can't buy.

Then again, they also claimed money can't buy you love.

Regardless, bear with me, because money certainly can't buy fun at New York's Coney Island. If Marvel Comics are to be believed, all a ticket there will buy you is a one way trip to the morgue. Whenever a Marvel character goes there, it ends in trouble and, when Peter Parker and his squeeze Mary Jane Watson go there, it ends in murder. Needless to say, our hero's soon on the case.

But he's not the only one, as the X-Men's Nightcrawler turns up. It seems a friend of his, who lived on Coney Island, was murdered a few days ago (See? I said it was no place for fun) and he's there to investigate. Cue instant misunderstanding and a fight between the two heroes.

Someone who's not misunderstanding is J Jonah Jameson, well-heeled entrepreneur of the Daily Bugle, who has in his possession some very interesting photos of the webbed wonder disposing of his own dead clone. JJJ knows exactly what it means....

Meanwhile, Nightcrawler and Spidey are back to fighting each other, even though it's clear by now that neither of 'em'll be wagering this week's salary on the other having done anything wrong. It's the Marvel way; when heroes collide, they just have to fight.

And the artwork?

It's great. Ross Andru seems to be having a whale of a time with the freedom the tale's various settings give him, the money shot being our hero and Nightcrawler running up the rims of a Ferris wheel to confront each other.

Almost as pleasing is the conclusion's cable car fight. I have to admit - never having been there - I never knew New York had a cable car system. Perhaps it doesn't. Maybe it's just something Len Wein and Ross Andru cooked up between them but, whichever's the case, it lends itself perfectly to a fight between Marvel's two greatest wall crawlers.

Lowlight of the tale has to be the return of the Punisher. Haven't we seen enough of this card carrying psycho? Needless to say, he thinks both latter day demon and arachnid adventurer are killers.


Because he learns nothing. Every time he meets our hero, he thinks he's a killer - and, every time, he's proven wrong. Let me guess, after a bit of gun play, next month, will he be teaming up with Spidey and the Nightcrawler to deal with the real villain of the piece?

You bet your bottom dollar he will.

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