Amazing Spider-Man #78-79
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #78, Amazing Spider-Man #79
Peter sees Flash who is on leave from Viet Nam again, and Gwen talking at a coffee shop, and thinks they are on a date, when really Gwen is trying to get some insight into why Peter disappears all the time.
Meanwhile, a frustrated window cleaner decides to convert some window cleaning innovations he's created into a super-villain suit.
I'll repeat that: the Prowler's origin is that he was a window cleaner.
The Prowler isn't really a bad guy. He intends to commit some crimes and then return the stolen goods in his civilian identity, hoping that will make him a hero. It's not a very well thought out plan. His first job is the Daily Bugle's payroll bag. Of course he runs into Peter, but since Jameson is also in the room, Peter doesn't fight back. He lets himself get thrown out the window instead. This makes the Prowler think that he's committed murder.
Spidey has way too much trouble fighting the Prowler...
...and he realizes that himself. He lets the Prowler get away. Back in his Peter Parker identity, he blows off Gwen since he thinks she was dating Flash.
Spider-Man and the Prowler have a rematch and this time Spidey has got his game back and easily defeats the Prowler. However, when he unmasks him and sees that he's just a kid, he listens to Hobie Brown's story and lets him go.
This was originally meant to be a three-parter but due to Marvel's new policy of no more continued stories it is wrapped up in two. It doesn't feel especially compressed or anything. Despite the silliness of the Prowler's powers, it's actually a pretty good story.
Early in the arc, despite catching Hobie daydreaming while he's supposed to be cleaning, JJ has words for Hobie's boss when a racial comment is made.
Quality Rating: C+
Historical Significance Rating: 4 - First Prowler
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #59, Marvel Tales #60
Inbound References (1): showFlash Thompson, Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Mindy McPherson, Prowler, Spider-Man
The Prowler's costume was designed by John Romita Jr., his first contribution to comics.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 10, 2011 6:18 PM
Not sure that JR Jr. was responsible for anything beyond the Prowler's name. In JR Sr.'s sketches, he's called the Stalker (info co. the various Essentials reprints).
Posted by: haydn | February 5, 2012 1:06 AM
If you used Marvel Tales reprints for any of the Spider-Man entries, here's what got cut out:
Spider-Man #78-82 each lost 2 pages in Marvel Tales #59-63.
#83,85-99 lost 1 page in Tales #64, 66-80.
#104 lost 2 pages in Tales #82-83, but got a new splash page in #83.
#105 lost 4 pages in Tales #84.
#106-109 lost 3 pages in Tales #85-88.
#110-117 lost 2 pages in Tales #89-96.
#118 lost 3 pages in Tales #97.
#121-122 lost 2 pages in Tales #98-99.
#124-134, 136, 156, 157, 159 lost 1 page in Tales #101-111, 113, 133, 134, 136.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 20, 2013 4:24 PM
I always liked the name and the look of the Prowler. I think if he had a better origin, motivation, and better power set he could have become a regular member of the rogue's gallery. As if, Prowler might be a good DD villain, but if Spidey is your enemy, you need actual powers.
Posted by: Chris | January 27, 2013 12:18 PM
I have a strong hunch that the Prowler is the inspiration for McFarlane's Spawn. Around 1990, I recall seeing a McFarlane pinup of the Prowler (in a Spidey annual?) trailing a miniseries by McFarlane. The visual similarities between the Prowler and McFarlane's character are obvious, and even the fact Spawn turned out to be black might have been carried over from a plan for Hobie.
If I'm right about this, I'm really glad McFarlane launched his own character rather than mangling Hobie. I can easily imagine McFarlane would have killed him, sent him to he'll, and retuned Hobie as an avenging demonic bore. Hobie deserved better.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | January 27, 2013 9:56 PM
"I'll repeat that: the Prowler's origin is that he was a window cleaner."
Hey, if you had to clean windows for a living, you'd want to be a super-villain, too. Makes perfect sense to me.
Huge step up from the last two issues. I've always loved Hobie, and Gwen and Flash trying to do something responsible about Peter is just good writing. (Maybe they thought Harry was slipping Pete some drugs while, ahem, "tickling" Pete with that Fu Manchu?)
Posted by: Dan Spector | July 9, 2014 4:27 AM
If you've ever seen the early 1970s first attempt at a Spider-Man newspaper strip by Lee & Romita, according to Comics Interview #89 the "Phantom" villain was the Prowler.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 26, 2015 9:36 PM
The art here seems to tell a different story than Lee's script, with the Prowler being fired because JJJ yells at him, robbing the Bugle in revenge, and later ripping off a jewelry store. Lee's scripting turns it more into the story of a confused young guy with a bad plan than a guy who just flat-out went supervillain out of desperation.
More generally, this seems like the story of another Peter Parker type, but one who's locked out of the opportunities Peter has had because of racism.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 13, 2017 6:32 AM
I don't think its so bad that the Prowler was a clever window cleaner. I mean it explains why he'd be more comfortable with heights. It makes more sense than if he was a scientist who had no experience with heights, etc.
Posted by: kveto | February 10, 2018 4:32 PM
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