Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #111

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Peter was on his way to Aunt May's apartment since she isn't answering her phone. While en route Martin Blank, a societal outcast with ape-like features that he had met earlier in the day, calls out to him and asks if he can be his crime-fighting partner. While Spider-Man's initial reaction is not exactly kind (he actually laughs at him), he does try to explain that this profession is not for everyone. Martin doesn't like this answers and tries to kill him, but Spider-Man saves himself and swings away. Unknown to either of them, they were being watched.

In Detail...

"To Stalk A Spider!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #111
Aug 1972 : SMURF 111.500 : SM Title
Summary: Gibbon, Kraven
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Gerry Conway
Pencils:  John Romita, Sr.
Inker:  John Romita, Sr.
Cover Art:  John Romita, Sr.
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 Reprinted In: Marvel Apes #0
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #90
 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #5
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Gog (FB), Gwen Stacy, Jameson, J. Jonah, Kraven The Hunter, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

Kraven – long thought dead – appears and offers Martin a chance to team up with him to gain revenge upon Spider-Man. Initially skeptical of this offer, Kraven explains how he survived his fall in the Savage Land Amazing Spider-Man #104 and took weeks to recuperate, still suffering from a broken arm. He eventually discovered the remains of Gog in the quicksand where Spider-Man left him and swore revenge. Martin agrees to work with Kraven.

Spider-Man arrives at Aunt May's apartment and discovers the note she left; she will be going away for a while but promises to write. While he was inside the apartment, the police arrive, responding to a call from a neighbor. They witness him leaving her apartment and since they are hearing reports of the tenant (May) missing, they naturally assume that he is responsible for her disappearance.

Peter continues to search for May for several hours with no results, blaming himself for her decision. He eventually arrives at the Daily Bugle and pop in – as Spider-Man – to ask Joe Robertson for some assistance. Joe warns him that he's being linked to May Parker's disappearance. He gives Joe the note to read. When he hears Jonah coming, Spider-Man leaves, allowing Joe to explain the true situation to Jonah and place the decision on whether or not to run the story in his hands.

Kraven has taken Martin Blank to his hideout beneath the Botanical Gardens where he teaches him multiple fighting styles and mixes special herb extracts to grant him enhanced strength. All the work pays off as Martin's speed and reflexes are enhanced, but at the cost of his sanity. Thinking that Kraven convinced him to drink the extracts to hurt him, he lashes out trying to kill Kraven. Despite his handicap, Kraven is able to out-fight Martin and put him into a trace (probably with the help of some of the potions) to calm him down. He then explains that he will be inside Martin's mind during their final battle with Spider-Man. Martin once again reluctantly agrees.

Peter returns to his apartment after a fruitless search for Aunt May. Gwen calls him to remind him of their afternoon class and he tells her what has happened. Gwen blames herself for May's disappearance, but Peter reassures her that this has been coming for a long time.

Being unable to sleep Peter resumes his search for Aunt May and encounters and upgraded, min-controlled Gibbon on a rooftop. Gibbon quickly overpowers him. When the time comes for the deathblow, Martin begins to resist Kraven's influence, not truly wanting to kill someone. This allows Spider-Man to break his grip and flip him. Unfortunately he flips him over the ledge and has to perform a quick rescue. One thing working to his advantage is that Martin is unconscious form the strain of fighting off the mind control.

Back in his hideout, Kraven is furious that his impatience in using an unknown has cost him a potentially successful revenge scheme against the wall crawler.

In General...

Despite the enhanced strength Kraven was able to give him, the Gibbon still comes across as a pitiful Z-List villain. It is pretty much established in this issue that he will always remain a one-shot adversary. The only reason this took two parts was that Stan wanted to incorporate a "man's inhumanity to man" theme into his origin. While this is admirable, it still comes across as boring.

Overall Rating...

3 webs. An average Spider-Man story, but all in all, not a bad debut. Gerry did a decent job finishing up Stan's last story.