Spectacular Spider-Man #174-175
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man #174, Spectacular Spider-Man #175
The arc opens with J. Jonah Jameson announcing the opening of a newly repaired Daily Bugle building (no footnote, but it was damaged in Web of Spider-Man #65). Peter is covering the event as a photographer, but for some reason he's chosen to dress up as Spider-Man to take the pictures.
Spider-Man notices a suspicious van and follows it. Someone in the van shoots at Spider-Man and we hear someone else admonishing him for that. When Spider-Man opens up the van, he finds a dead man and a hole in the floor leading to a manhole into the tunnels underneath the new Bugle.
Instead of investigating, Peter returns to the Bugle opening ceremony, where JJ is unveiling a giant statue of himself. But that statue crumbles as an earthquake occurs. Peter realizes that the earthquake is related to the tunnel incident, so he goes back to the tunnel and finds Doctor Octopus.
Spider-Man winds up getting buried under a pile of rubble and machinery, and Doc Ock comes up from the basement and takes Mary Jane hostage.
Sad to see Doc Ock reduced to petty extortion.
Spider-Man wakes up and sees a giant robot thing holding support pillars in the Bugle's basement.
This is the sort of plot that we used to make fun of Silver Age DC comics for. Doctor Octopus has spent untold amounts of money on his "Tremblor" robot, and he's now extorting JJ, who has just spent all his money to rebuild the Bugle. What's the return of investment on this scheme?
In any event, JJ has been prepared for something like this, and he has some members of Silver Sable's Wild Pack in reserve.
They seem to have appropriated the Wizard's gravity discs.
Spider-Man stops the Tremblor and shows up to help the Wild Pack, and Doc Ock flees. As usual, Spider-Man doesn't exactly get accolades from JJ for his help, and when he's home with MJ, he complains about it. What follows is probably the most interesting part of what is otherwise a very generic plot: comparing the popularity of Spider-Man to Captain America in the Marvel universe.
Meanwhile, Doctor Octopus licks his wounds and figures out his next move. A lot of mention was made of the fact that MJ was the wife of Peter Parker, one of JJ's employees. And Doc Ock noticed how Spider-Man seemed a bit hesitant during the fight because MJ was being held hostage. So Doc Ock decides that it would be a good idea to go after "his" wife, and we're briefly meant to think this means that Ock has figured out that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. But Ock really kidnaps Marla Jameson, JJ's wife.
This causes JJ to put the Bugle up for sale to pay Doc Ock's ransom, but Spider-Man of course stops him again. And gets some help from Marla, who is not happy about being a repeat hostage.
In the end, hearing that Spider-Man was responsible for his wife's rescue, JJ decides to leave up Puma's pro-Spider-Man billboards a little longer.
One hopes there might have been a little more to this story if it wasn't other writers finishing up something that Conway started. But generally speaking the Spider-Man books are getting stale and something was needed to shake things up.
One the lettercol page for issue #174, instead of any letters, it has an ad for the Venom story in Amazing Spider-Man. It also repeats the Statement of Ownership numbers from last issue.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Spider-Man thinks to himself that his last confrontation with Doc Ock, from #173, happened "the other day" (not that anyone in the story is dressed like it's a few days after Christmas).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBen Urich, Betty Brant, Doctor Octopus, Glory Grant, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Joy Mercado, Kate Cushing, Lance Bannon, Marla Madison Jameson, Mary Jane Watson, Nick Katzenberg, Spider-Man
Jameson's hatred for Spider-Man is always interesting mainly because while Jameson is crusty around superheroes in general, he does genuinely admire some and has no real problem with the X-Men, which would mark him as pretty tolerant by Marvel character standards.
Jameson starts his crusade against Spider-Man before Spidey really is a serious crimefighter. In #1, Spidey is more of an entertainer than anything. Thus, the idea that Jameson is really honked off on those who operate outside the law seems dubious; he clearly goes after Spidey, sincerely or not, at least initially because he thinks he's a bad example.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | September 13, 2015 5:53 PM
Well, Jameson seems to have racked up a few reasons over the years, both rational and irrational. Various forms of jealously have been attributed, especially if it distracts from his son's popularity as an astronaut. Maybe Spider-Man just had the misfortune of being one of the first popular masked men of the Fantastic Four generation?
Operation: Zero Tolerance will have much focus on Jameson's attitude towards mutants and the X-Men. He makes it quite clear that he doesn't particularly like any of them but is perfectly willing to stand up against those who would have Sentinels do henious things to them. If nothing else, Jameson is usally able to focus on the worst of the immediate two evils unless he's been seriously misled.
Posted by: Max_Spider | September 13, 2015 8:30 PM
Has there been any analysis of the fact that if Jameson succeeded in destroying Spider-Man, one of the Bugle's cash crops would be ripped away?
Posted by: MikeCheyne | September 13, 2015 9:09 PM
Dr. Octopus seems almost like a midget in several panels.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 13, 2015 10:22 PM
MikeCheyne: Amazing Annual 15 actually revealed that sales of the Bugle go down when there is excessive Spider-Man bashing going on.
Posted by: mikrolik | September 15, 2015 12:42 PM
Right, the public doesn't like Spider-Man bashing, but they do seem to like Spider-Man coverage in general, I assume (i.e. Spidey fighting supervillains); either that or the Bugle has a really crappy business model.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | September 15, 2015 1:37 PM
Wasn't the Bugle struggling a bit in Brand New Day after Spider-Man dissapeared for 100 days? Although that might have also been inspired by talk of print news flagging in real time.
Although not 616, Spider-Man 2 (the film) did show the Bugle struggling somewhat when Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus both dissapeared from public radar for a lengthly period.
Its a small wonder that when the Bugle is in other publisher's hands than Jameson, despite their personal views on Spider-Man, they still seem to cater to Spider-Man publicity, even calling it the "Offical Spider-Man Newspaper" or something on at least one occasion. Its kind of interesting considering that Spider-Man started off in show business, since the Bugle seems to make cash off him like a celebrity regardless of wherever Jameson or anyone else truly believes in what they're doing as good or not.
Posted by: Max_Spider | September 18, 2015 7:42 PM
Do the Wild Pack just hit in closets until they're called?
Also, wouldn't Doc Ock have been killed had the Tremblor actually gone off with him in the building? Can't see him surviving a whole building collapsing on him - the arms are powerful - he's not invulnerable.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 2, 2015 7:41 AM
It''s not only that Spider-Man thinks to himself that his last confrontation with Doc Ock, from #173, happened "the other day", but Nick Katzenberg thinks about the pictures he took "last night"
Posted by: fragsel | March 23, 2017 3:06 PM
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