Amazing Spider-Man #304-305
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #304, Amazing Spider-Man #305
Having to keep a deadline is one of the reasons Todd McFarlane eventually left Marvel to form his own company, and (segue alert) another was the question of creator rights. So it's interesting that this issue starts with Peter Parker finding out that the Daily Bugle is about to co-produce a book of his photos of Spider-Man.
Peter finds that he doesn't have the rights to any of his photos.
But the real money is in signings anyway.
They want him to get Spider-Man to come along too, but Peter says that he has no way of doing that. Mary Jane decides to go along with him on his book tour, the first leg of which is in Los Angeles. It starts in "two weeks". Peter tells Aunt May about the book deal and she's very excited and proud.
Meanwhile, the Black Fox is in California...
...specifically to avoid bumping into Spider-Man.
After "days pass", Peter and MJ are ready to leave. They bump into the owner of their building, Jonathan Caesar, on their way out. Caesar asks MJ out for tea but she responds by emphasizing that Peter is her husband, and then they leave.
Peter and MJ fly (first class!) to California. They spend some time at Disneyland before going to a a charity gala where a priceless chalice is being displayed. You can see where this is going.
Chasing the Fox, Spider-Man accidentally winds up back in the main room of the gala, and Mary Jane covers for him by saying that he's agreed to be part of the book tour.
Notice the "Magnificent 7" ink credit. It's actually 8 because in addition to seven inkers assigned to specific pages, Jim Sanders III does the opening splash page and "assorted heads and figures" throughout the book.
Spider-Man gets stuck signing autographs.
When he hands the autograph to "Glenn Close" she thinks to herself that she can sell it for a fortune.
Spider-Man eventually slips away and finds the Prowler facing off against the Black Fox, and the Fox slips away in the confusion with the chalice. Prowler tells Spider-Man that he needs the chalice to keep his wife Mindy out of jail. So Spider-Man lets him go too.
Later, after going to the beach with MJ and then the Johnny Carson show to promote the book (and where it's said that they would have had MJ do a walk on if they had known she was backstage, because she's that popular a super-model), Spider-Man meets up with the Prowler and gets an explanation. It turns out that the company that loaned the chalice, Transcorp, is really owned by Justin Hammer. And Mindy works there and found out about some dirty dealings, and (god knows why!) all of the information about the dirty deals is on a microchip disguised as one of the gems on the chalice. Spidey decides to help the Prowler.
The Transcorp people catch up with the Black Fox at the docks, and Spider-Man and Prowler get there soon enough as well...
...and in the end the chalice is recovered and Mindy is absolved. Spider-Man lets the Black Fox go free again, though.
Sometimes i look at the boxes of later comics in my collection, when Marvel's output gets out of control and where it's like 2 or 3 long boxes just for a single year, and i wonder how i'm ever going to get through it all. But more and more the stories will be like this one, where it's two issues with a hackneyed old plot where barely anything happens and i can read and cover the issues in like 5 minutes.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Since there is a "two week" break in issue #304 as we wait for the book tour to begin, the MCP places a number of stories during issue #304, including Spectacular Spider-Man #139-142, Web of Spider-Man #40-43, Iron Man #234, and Amazing Spider-Man annual #22.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Spider-Man Legends vol. 1: Todd McFarlane Book 1 TPB
Inbound References (5): show
Proof that MacFarlane's talents are actually in his inking - he's really a poor penciller underneath that.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | July 3, 2014 6:06 PM
I guess seeing McFarlane's take on the Prowler really does show where he was starting to think about his own ideas and such with Spawn.
Posted by: Ataru320 | July 3, 2014 6:41 PM
You might want to mention that this is the first appearance of Jonathon Caesar.
Posted by: Michael | July 3, 2014 7:33 PM
Thanks Michael. I've added a scan of Caesar with a note about him.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 3, 2014 8:06 PM
I read the conclusion to this story in real time and remember thinking that McFarlane had really made the Prowler look cool. Then I realized that he was probably thinking of Batman, and this would eventually lead into Spawn.
I'm likely in the minority on this, but when inked by others, McFarlane's work straddled the line between realism and cartoony-ism in a way similar to that of Milton Caniff. I suppose that's a compliment of sorts to McFarlane.
It's when he really began to cut loose that his stuff became too Image-like for Marvel, but it wouldn't be long before that became their new "house" style ...and I had long stopped caring by then.
Posted by: Clutch | July 5, 2014 9:24 AM
Was McFarlane the first to regularly disregard the webs on Spidey's costume? I know they're Hell to draw, but McFarlane also introduced a lot of complicated/unnecessary detail (excessive webbing full of knots, etc) so it's kind of weird to be lazy with a traditional aspect of his depiction.
Posted by: Cullen | July 5, 2014 12:49 PM
@Cullen: lots of artists drew Spider-Man without the webbing under his armpits at least since the early 1970s, so no.
For instance, I'm fairly certain that an early Marvel Team-Up featuring the Vision had no armpit webbing.
Right, here it is. It was Gil Kane in 1972:
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 5, 2014 1:03 PM
Sorry if it was unclear which webbing I was referring to - I meant the lines on the costume, as in the final panel of the last scan above.
Restoring the underarm webbing is one of the intricacies that McFarlane brought to his "model" of Spidey. Which I think says something about that stylistic direction, overcomplicated at the expense of basics.
Posted by: cullen | July 5, 2014 1:41 PM
#305 took some criticism from fanzines due to MacFarlane obviously not using correct references for the Queen Mary.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 20, 2014 4:17 PM
I really loved the Prowler as a kid. My dad brought back an Italian reprint of his first appearance after a trip to Europe. The great Romita art look even better in the lush European printing, and it was all super-mysterious because of course I couldn't understand a word anyone was saying. Amazingly, this is first significant appearance in seventeen years.
Posted by: Andrew | June 16, 2017 5:45 PM
The Prowler has a great name and costume, but Hobie Brown is just uninteresting. Even if he was a lesser cat burglar type (like the Black Fox and Black Cat) that only preyed on the rich and avoided violence, but not a real menace, his origin, source of powers, and motivation are just weak. Hobie Brown himself was just fine for the limited appearances at the tail end of Stan Lee's run, but really didn't need to be brought back.
If the Prowler as a villain were to work, it'd be better if they continued with what Roger Stern set up in PPTSSM # 47/48 with the old Cat being the Prowler. Even then they'd still need to do something so he'd be able to present some kind of menace for Spidey.
Posted by: Chris | June 16, 2017 6:56 PM
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