Amazing Spider-Man #174-175
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #174, Amazing Spider-Man #175
Spider-Man deludes himself into thinking that the Punisher is using "mercy bullets" to take out the Hitman's goons.
We learn that the Hitman and the Punisher were in the same squadron in Viet Nam, but the Hitman never refers to Punisher as "Frank Castle". The Hitman is "Burt Kenyon".
Spider-Man's arm is injured during the fight, and the Punisher is faced with either saving Spidey (who is holding JJ) or his squadron mate. He chooses Spider-Man.
Meanwhile, Liz, rattled by a recent attack by her stepbrother, the Molten Man, leaves Harry, and Harry goes crazy again. Harry's psychologist attacks Harry and becomes the next Green Goblin (it's left ambiguous over who wins the fight, but it will turn out to be the doctor).
Not a lot of depth to Spider-Man stories of this era. Add that to the fact that they added a third Spider-Man title to the line (Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man, counting Marvel Team-Up as the second), and it really looks like they were lucky to not to suffer from some serious brand dilution.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Spider-Man returns home from his fight with the Molten man at the start of this arc. And in issue #176, he's shown returning with J. Jonah Jameson from the encounter with the Punisher and the Hitman here. So Spidey's appearance here continues directly from the previous arc and continues directly in the next arc. Spider-Man's shoulder, injured in the previous arc, is still injured here.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #216, Marvel Tales #217
Inbound References (4): show
The mercy bullets were from editorial decree; the Punisher's earlier lethal shootings weren't that popular in the 1970s.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 28, 2011 1:10 AM
Some time after this Punisher appearance, Roger Stern & John Byrne created a joke "Spider Super Stories" cover showing the Punisher blowing away Easy Reader.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 18, 2012 4:17 PM
"It's OK, kids, those are just 'mercy bullets!' Those people will wake up any day now..."
Posted by: TCP | March 12, 2015 1:15 PM
The narration that Harry and Bart are "trading blows that would fell the strongest professional prizefighter" is being extremely generous about these guys' physical prowess.
Posted by: Mortificator | March 5, 2016 12:51 AM
Hyperbole, thy name is Wein (and Mantlo, and Thomas, and Conway, and...)
Posted by: Oliver_C | March 5, 2016 5:21 AM
I loved this story, so I have to take umbrage with the lack of depth comment!
Posted by: Ian | August 14, 2016 11:18 AM
Are mercy bullets like "ich luge" bullets?
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 12, 2018 8:35 PM
Please. Len Wein. All Spidey needed to do was put Jonah in a scissors-lock with his legs to free up his uninjured arm. No way he'd be all "Help me, Punisher!!" *gag*:p
Posted by: Holt | March 9, 2018 6:36 PM
Even if Spidey can somehow use his good arm to pull Jonah high enough up to put him in the waistlock (JJJ is notably farther down) before they both go splat, he'd then have to use the injured arm to pull the both of them high enough to grab on with the good one. Hardly easy work.
"Help me, Punisher!" and having Frankie save your ass might be unmanly, but it's considerably easier work, IMO.
Posted by: Dan Spector | March 9, 2018 11:56 PM
But he's Spider-Man. He's not afraid of falling like most normal people would be. He can cling to the statue with any hand or foot, so he wouldn't have to pull them both up with his injured arm. He has web-shooters, super-strength, and agility. He's been in much tougher spots than this. He could even simply let go of the statue, and still have plenty of time to save both Jonah and himself before they went splat.
Plus he and Jonah together must weigh well over 300 pounds, yet we're to believe that Castle, without any super-strength, can dead-lift all that weight by himself, without any ropes, adhesives, or counter-weights to keep himself from being overbalanced and being pulled off the statue by Spidey's and Jonah's combined weight. Spidey still has one super-strong arm, and he only has to lift about half that amount of weight, over a much shorter distance.
IMO it's a writer's contrivance, to fulfill the goals of a pre-determined plot, and it's a contrivance that doesn't adequately take Spidey's unique abilities, or Castle's limitations, into consideration. The art was probably drawn before the script was written, using the "Marvel method" of writing dialog and narrative based on the pre-penciled art. It could have probably been drawn more convincingly, but it seems very likely that they just didn't have time to redraw the scene because of deadline pressures. This sort of snafu apparently happened a lot at Marvel in the mid-1970s.
Posted by: Holt | March 10, 2018 7:38 AM
Here's a generous way to look at it: Spidey is hanging on by only a fingertip or two, and if he shifts his weight at all, he's going to lose his grip. He could arrest his own fall, but he's worried he might not be able to catch Jonah. And remember, he has a very good reason to worry about trying to stop people falling long distances from New York landmarks. And suppose the Punisher doesn't have to haul them both up; he just has to help Spidey enough to get a better grip so his super-sticky fingers and strength can do the rest.
Posted by: Andrew | March 10, 2018 9:12 AM
Poor Gwen. In respectful memory of our dearly beloved but now departed Gwendolyn-- no-prizes all around! Par-tay! :D :D :D
Seems like the real point here was to make Punisher a more sympathetic anti-hero. He saved Spidey's and Jonah's asses after all, and deep down he's a really sweet guy, just misunderstood. Spidey's been kinda rough on him in previous issues, forcing him to use mercy bullets and what not. Time to cut him some slack.
Posted by: Holt | March 10, 2018 9:39 AM
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