Amazing Spider-Man #112-115
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #112, Amazing Spider-Man #113, Amazing Spider-Man #114, Amazing Spider-Man #115
Then Peter looks for Aunt May and thinks about how rough she's had it since Uncle Ben died. He's so focused on finding his Aunt he even lets a thug kidnap a bookie, something he could have easily stopped. But when he stops by the Daily Bugle hoping for leads or advice, he finds out that Jameson is putting a hold on his salary until he starts delivering some pictures. Betty Brant has heard about Pete's aunt and she lets him know that she is concerned. This is a really nice touch; Betty used to sit with Pete's Aunt all the time when she got sick in the early ASM (and UTOS) issues. She hasn't really had a real speaking part in years but it's nice to see that she hasn't been completely forgotten (although... why is she still Betty Brant? Didn't Ned Leeds propose to her years ago? Is their marriage on hold?).
Then Peter bumps into Mary Jane and her Aunt, and Aunt Watson suggests that even though the note was written in May's handwriting, maybe she was forced to write it. This gets Peter moving again, and he tears through the underworld asking questions. He finds out that there is a gang war going on, and one thug has a harness that amplifies his strength. Spidey beats the thugs, but starts feeling sick and in pain. Then Dr. Octopus shows up.
This next issue was one i got in a random " grab bag" box of comics as a kid, and probably mainly for that reason it is still one of my favorites. But in my non-nostalgic defense, it is fully drawn by Romita and has all the elements that make a good Spider-Man comic: Peter has real world problems and a realistic supporting cast, he is out of his league when fighting bad guys, and deals with plausible problems that you never see happening to other super heroes (like losing his mask).
Sick and taken by surprise, Spider-Man flees, losing his mask.
Randy Robertson finds it and brings it to his father.
The other half of the Gang War is led by a guy named Hammerhead.
He talks like an old school mobster (or maybe a Dick Tracy villain?), but he's a vicious and dangerous killer. Doc Ock launches an attack on one of his bases, but Hammerhead gets away.
Meanwhile, Harry and Gwen get Dr. Bromwell to come and visit Peter. He diagnoses Peter with nervous exhaustion and a duodenal ulcer.
Later Peter goes to the Bugle to sell photos of him getting his ass handed to him by Dr. Octopus, and sees his mask hanging on the wall.
Ned Leeds also gives him some information on where his Aunt may be. He heads off as Spider-Man, stealing an ill-fitting plastic Spidey mask from a costume store.
Unfortunately the lead brings him back to the area where he fought Doc Ock earlier, and he bumps into him again. Still weak from his ulcer, Octavious knocks him around like last time, but then Spidey finds himself near the super-strength exo-skeleton, allowing him to beat Dr. Octopus after all. But then of course Hammerhead and his goons show up at the end of the issue.
A perfect Spider-Man comic!
Well, i didn't get the rest of this story for about 20 years and it turns out it's a little silly. Hammerhead's origin is that he was a thug who was injured and left for dead near an Al Capone movie poster. He was found by a Dr. Jonas Harrow who fixed his skull with an "unbendable steel alloy"...
...and, having no memory of his former life, based his personality on 1920s style gangsters.
Spidey spends most of the next issue as Hammerhead's prisoner, and then escapes to hunt down Aunt May. He finds her living with Dr. Octopus, and she whacks him on the head with a vase before he sees her.
Then, Hammerhead attacks Doc Ock's base.
After a big three way fight, Doc Ock is defeated and arrested and Hammerhead flees, but Aunt May decides to stay on living at Octavius' place as a housekeeper.
Actually, other than Aunt May's involvement, these issues are pretty good over all.
There's some problems with the reprints; some obviously missing pages and one case of the pages being in the wrong order, but the backdrop of a war between two super-powered villains' gangs is a good one.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Spider-Man drops off the Gibbon at the hospital at the beginning of #112, meaning no Spider-Man appearances should take place between this issue and last. Jonas Harrow appears in flashback only and so is not listed as a Character Appearing.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #91, Marvel Tales #92, Marvel Tales #93, Marvel Tales #94
Inbound References (13): show
JIm Starlin's first work for Marvel is on the last issue(or last two) of this story, but I'm not quite sure what he did.
Hammerhead was undoubtedly influenced by the popularity of "The Godfather"(which also spawned several softcore porn films).
Gerry Conway never explains why Betty and Ned never married; Len Wein has to solve that one.
Aunt May's involvement in the last few issues eventually spawned a letter column debate about Spider-Man's Spider-sense, starting off with why it didn't go off before Aunt May bashes him on the head in #114.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 14, 2011 12:41 AM
I think Hammerhead owes more to the old Dick Tracy villain, Flat Top, than Marlon Brando.
Posted by: Andrew | January 17, 2015 7:27 PM
I think that "The Godfather"'s influence is less to do with caricature's and more to do with a legitimacy of using the mob in a certain way. Prior to this, it was more about bizarre gimmicks like Count Nefaria the "what the heck am I, a mob boss or a generic supervillain"; but here its an actual mob gang...even if it is still lead by a gimmicked character like Hammerhead. I think its probably just as important for comics in some ways as what was seen in street crime with the laxing of drug rules in the CCA at this point.
Posted by: Ataru320 | January 18, 2015 7:39 AM
Yeah, I also had a feeling that Flattop (one word) was a big influence on the creation of Hammerhead. I wonder if anyone has ever asked JR about this?
Posted by: Chris Wallace | September 2, 2015 4:02 PM
Gerry Conway never mentioned Flattop specifically, but he has said Hammerhead was created in the style of Dick Tracy villains. Probably not just his looks, but his methods of 1920s/30s gang wars.
Also, Spidey's constantly calling JJJ either "Flattop" or "Pruneface", amusingly enough.
Posted by: mikrolik | September 2, 2015 4:07 PM
Hammerhead is basically just a man with a metal plate in his skull. He's not really the sort who should be holding his own against Spider-Man and Dr Octopus.
Posted by: The Small Lebowski | February 28, 2018 6:37 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|