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1981-08-01 00:02:00
Ghost Rider #58
1981/Box 17/EiC: Jim Shooter
Daredevil #168-182

Amazing Spider-Man annual #15

Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man annual #15
Published Date: 1981
Title: "Spider-Man: Threat or menace?"
Denny O'Neil - Writer
Frank Miller - Penciler
Klaus Janson - Inker

This is a very nice annual with Miller/Janson art and a focus on the Punisher.

In Code of Honor #3, we'll learn that Jeff Piper, the main character from that series, is one of the cops facing down the Punisher in that scene above.

It's got Doc Ock up to his usual generic super-villain tricks (trying to poison the Bugle's ink in order to ransom the city) but he's depicted so competently, so dangerously, that it works really well. The Punisher goes up against Dr. Octopus first and gets trounced, showing how powerful he is against non-powered foes.

Spidey, of course, manages much better.

There's also a great running gag as JJ keeps having to change the headlining story as the plot of the issue progresses (Brian Cronin at CBR says this is the first instance of the hilarious "Threat or Menace?" headline).

Overall, a nice treat.

Here's the back-up feature that Alex mentions in the comments.

Quality Rating: B+

Historical Significance Rating: 2

Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this between Amazing Spider-Man #223-224. The Punisher goes to jail in this issue, and he'll next appear in jail in Daredevil #181-182. It's pretty context free from Spider-Man's perspective, and due to the fact that my Daredevil issues are all bound up in a big trade, i have this issue placed before the trade, and then ASM #219, which takes place after DD #173, after the trade.

References: N/A

Cross-over: N/A

Continuity Implant? N

Reprinted In: Spider-Man vs. Dr. Octopus TPB

Inbound References (2): show

Characters Appearing: Ben Urich, Doctor Octopus, Glory Grant, J. Jonah Jameson, Jeff Piper, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Punisher, Spider-Man

Ghost Rider #58
1981/Box 17/EiC: Jim Shooter
Daredevil #168-182


Also, this issue has the cool "Strength Chart" in the back, depicting where all of Marvel's heroes fit on a scale. It's broken into four or five groups, but the characters aren't ranked within their groups. And most of them have a smart-ass quip, comment or character note in their word balloon, so it's not just a technical thing. It's cool. Maybe you can throw up a scan?

Awesome. I have this issue reprinted in a trade, so i probably would have never noticed that cool strength chart feature if you hadn't pointed it out. Luckily, i've got the PDFs for scanning purposes. Pictures added.

The strength chart actually ticked off quite a few readers back then.

Bow Tie Guy in that Daily Bugle panel? DC's Jimmy Olsen.

Spider-Man is supposed to be in Colossus' range? The same Colossus that went a few rounds with Gladiator? That's odd.

From the comments by the characters, it's apparent that their rankings is based on Spidey's perception of their strength level, and not all of the characters agree - especially in the mediumweight and super-mediumweight levels. Perhaps based on appearances in his book or crossovers?

Certainly a few years later in the Official Handbooks, this ranking would look very differently.

Denny doesn't have the most highly regarded Spider-Man run (and in fact he makes a lot of missteps), but this is an excellent story--well plotted, well scripted. I assume Miller must have had a hand in it somewhat because elements of it seem more suited to his interests. Anyway, the running gag of the headlines is not just funny, it's a wonderful clue too--we wonder where Ock is going to use the poison, only knowing a number, but if we've been reading the front page we know where we've seen that number before.

Anyway, the story also does a nice job of making Doc Ock seem reasonably badass. Spider-Man does take him down a bit too easily but he kicks Punisher's ass, which is what he should be doing.

Interesting that Denny O'neil wasn't great at regular spidey issues delivered a great annual. While Roger Stern, a great regular writer, delivered some average to poor annuals on ASM.

This might be my favourite doc ock story. Favourite punisher one as well.

This is definitely not the first instance of "threat or menace" headline. That headline (reversed) appears in ASM #140 describing the Grizzly.

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