Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #38-40
Issue(s): Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #38, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #39, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #40
And aside from the annoying and poorly written Marcy Kane, he's getting along with his fellow teaching assistants and has been invited to Chip Martin's party.
But that doesn't stop him from having a freak-out in the classroom lab.
Doc Connors' observation of that scene is pretty relevant. As we'll soon see, Connors is (correctly) concerned that Spider-Man was sickened through the use of the enervator while fighting the Lizard and the Iguana recently, and one of the symptoms is emotional outbursts. The fact that Connors is seeing Peter exhibiting the same symptom could be a sign that Connors is figuring out Peter's secret ID.
Anyway, Chip's party turns out to be a costume party.
And it gets crashed by a recently-resurfaced Morbius.
Martial artist Phillip Chang takes a crack at Morbius but doesn't have much luck.
But it does give Peter a chance to change into Spider-Man. The fight with Morbius is pretty unusual in that it ends when Morbius is randomly struck by lightning while he's drinking Spidey's blood.
The result is that Morbius is cured of his living vampirism.
That is (literally!) out of the blue. We'll see in She-Hulk that the cure still needs a few tweaks, but for all intents and purposes this is the end of Morbius as a vampire for a long while.
During Morbius' attack, Chip starts having a freak out of his own....
...and he runs away.
Next issue, Spider-Man responds to an ad that Doc Connors took out in the Daily Globe (as part of a new "Write Your Favorite Super Hero" feature), and Connors tells him that Spider-Man is at risk due to the reasons i mentioned above. Spider-Man is already exhibiting the erratic behavior that Connors is worried about but he's not willing to stick around for extensive testing for fear that it'll expose his secret ID.
Peter's problems continue into his civilian life. Although the aggravating Marcy Kane would be enough to get on anyone's nerves.
It's then that Chip resurfaces, still in his costume from the party.
I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of creating a super-villain defined exclusively by a mental illness, but this is handled about as well as one could ask from a comic written by Bill Mantlo. We learn that Chip has been a concern since birth when his mother's painkillers got into his bloodstream ("Meaning what, doctor?" "Uhhhh... no idea.").
And he's had past problems with mental illness, but things had been under control until the Morbius attack.
In addition to being "schizoid", Chip exhibits the ability to basically create whatever he wants. Spider-Man compares it to Mysterio or Mindworm's powers except that the things he projects are real.
But what makes this story "ok" for me is that he's not treated like a real bad guy. He's definitely meant to be a sick kid that needs help. But Spider-Man's own problems right now prevent him from seeing that, and instead he acts very aggressively.
Spider-Man's actions may have caused permanent psychological damage, and Spider-Man doesn't care.
That's because he's turning into a Lizard.
As the Spider-Lizard, Peter goes on a lengthy rampage...
...but Doc Connors eventually tracks him down and administers a cure.
These three issues are interspersed with scenes of Electro meeting up with the Frightful Four, who are as usual down a member.
Electro more than proves that he could pull his weight on the team...
...and they agree to go after both Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.
The timing of these Electro scenes are a bit weird. We see him gliding along the subway lines on his way to meet the Frightful Four in issue #38. But then in #39, which takes place long enough later for people to be worried that Chip Martin has been missing, Electro shows up on foot at their headquarters. So it seems to take a really long time for him to travel from a subway stop near Aunt May's rest home (in Queens, i think) to the Bowery in New York City. And then we see Electro fight the FF in the middle of #39 and it's not until the last page of issue #40 that we see them again, still resting from their fight.
A complaint about a similar sequencing problem is in the lettercol of issue #40 about issues #29-32. As the letter makes clear, things are even worse when the sequences try to tie-in with events in Amazing Spider-Man.
Along the same lines is this scene with J. Jonah Jameson.
This story definitely takes place after Amazing #200, but here's JJ back at the Bugle (albeit a "nutcase") despite his complete nervous breakdown during that arc. As Michael noted in the comments for that arc, the theory is that JJ had a temporary recovery and that's why he's back here.
(I also think the "Rog" in that panel looks like Roger Stern. If so, is "nutcase" JJ meant to be Jim Shooter?)
These sorts of problems will be mitigated to a large extent beginning with a change in the editorial organization, starting next issue, that puts all Spider-Man titles under the domain of the same editor.
As for these issues - definitely a lot going on. A very random cure of Michael Morbius. I'm iffy on the Schizoid Man; as a way to demonstrate Spider-Man's emotional problems leading up to the Lizard transformation he's fine, but as an actual character he's boring while also risking trivializing real mental illness problems (which i think have been handled better when not done so explicitly; see the original Green Goblin, for example). Artwise, i actually enjoyed the three different artists, all of whom bring their own thing.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Has to take place between ASM #200 (because of the Reference below) and #201-202 (because Joe Robertson takes over the Bugle during that arc). Takes place after Amazing Spider-Man annual #13 and Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man annual #1 thanks to the Doc Ock photo (see References again). There is a gap in time in the main story between issues #38 and #39 but weirdly, the Frightful Four sequences in each issue continue directly from each other as if no time has passed. I've therefore kept the three issues together in one entry. Takes place after the Sandman's appearance in Fantastic Four annual #14.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
Morbius' appearance in #38 was most likely another instance of Shooter's Disposing of Disposable Characters. In this case, he seems jammed in so fast(and cured likewise) that you could imagine Shooter yelling "I forgot about Morbius! No more monsters in the Marvel Universe! Dispose of him immediately!"
The villain in #39 may be inspired by the King Crimson song "21st Century Schizoid Man".
For some reason, #40 had abominable reproduction in Essential PPTSS V.2.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 30, 2013 6:17 PM
Interestingly, when spidey goes nuts, he sees the rest of the world as bleeding heart liberals.
I'm really disgusted by the Senator's attitude. He blames Spider-man for his son's condition? yeah, Spidey shouldn't have beat on him after Chip had been beaten, but he is in no way to blame for Chip's problems. This was a guy who just rained knifes down on a crowd and in a really disturbing sequence tried to get a police officer to point a gun at his own head. Sorry but Chip having the confidence to walk the streets and show his face in public is not the priority here. If he has that kind of power and that lack of control over who he harms with it, he is a danger to everyone around him. I think the senator is overcompensating for his own guilt in the matter.
Posted by: kveto from prague | November 2, 2013 1:01 PM
This is probably the first appearance of Senator Martin, Chip's father, who will much later return with a chip (pun unintended) on his shoulder.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 15, 2015 6:38 PM
PPTSS #40 looks to me to be a hastily-done fill-in. Notice the lack of either creator from #39, JRjr or Gentleman Jim Mooney. The splash with Electro looks great, but the book wasn't titled Max Dillon, the Spectacular Electro.
I wonder what happened behind the scenes.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | May 15, 2015 3:59 PM
Glad to see that Michael Morbius was finally cured. Now if only he could be convicted as a mass murderer, justice could finally be served, but I suppose that's probably just me being way too optimistic again.
Posted by: Holt | April 4, 2018 9:00 PM
There's a whole story arc about that in the first volume of She-Hulk, though not with the outcome you're looking for.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 4, 2018 9:07 PM
I was being facetious but forgot to add an eyeroll smiley. Since I do remember seeing Morbius again during the Midnight Sons mini-glut of the '90s.:\
Posted by: Holt | April 4, 2018 10:06 PM
Comments are now closed.
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