Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #119

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This story is part of an Arc: "Spider-Man vs. Hulk"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

Aunt May has moved to Westchester as a housekeeper for the estate of Dr. Octopus while he is in prison. She's not there by herself, of course. She has Ock's henchmen to keep her company. As icing on the ulcer cake - which Peter has by the way - Ock claims to have a romantic interest in her. (Easy, stomach, don't turn over). This happened in Amazing Spider-Man #115.

In Detail...

"The Gentleman's Name Is... Hulk!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #119
Apr 1973 : SMURF 119.500 : SMURF 119.700 : SM Title
Summary: Spidey vs. Hulk in Canada
Arc: Part 1 of "Spider-Man vs. Hulk"
Editor:  Roy Thomas
Writer:  Gerry Conway
Pencils:  John Romita, Sr.
Inker:  John Romita, Sr.
Cover Art:  John Romita, Sr.
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 Reprinted In: Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #12
 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #6
 Reprinted In: Spidey's Origin Retold
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Betty Brant, Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Jameson, J. Jonah, Leeds, Ned

Peter receives an urgent telegram addressed to Aunt May from Anna Watson. Anna received it because the sender addressed it to her previous residence. He makes his way to Westchester (Spidey-style of course) to visit May and give her the telegram. He bypasses the security and finds a secluded spot to change. As he makes his way to the main house, he overhears Ock's gunmen mention that nobody has received a telegram for May. When they do Ock will be notified. This is enough to convince Peter that he should keep this to himself for the time being. His visit proceeds without incident.

Once he returns to New York, Peter opens the telegram and reads it. Its sender, Jean-Pierre Rimbaud, instructs May to meet with him in person to discuss a matter that apparently can't be written down. The catch: he wants her to meet him in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Peter decides to take a walk to determine the best course of action.

As he leaves the building, he encounters Harry talking to his father through the limousine window. As he turns away, Harry clutches his stomach and collapses on the street. The instant Peter rushes over to help his roommate, Norman begins screaming at him to stay away from his son. Norman ignores Peter's suggestion to take Harry to a doctor, stating he can handle this himself. As they drive away Peter begins to worry that Norman's memory is slowly returning. If that happens, he'll have to deal with the Green Goblin.

He passes a television store featuring a live feed of a rampaging Hulk in Montreal and gets an idea. He arrives at the Daily Bugle and convinces Jonah to pay for a round trip ticket to Montreal in exchange for pictures of the Hulk and the possibility of a fight with Spider-Man.

Arriving at Rimbaud's law office, he discovers that Rimbaud has been called out of town on business. He makes arrangements with his secretary to meet later to discuss this "urgent business". As he leaves the office, he notices a crowd gathering at the hotel across the street. As he moves in closer, he realizes that General Ross is giving a press conference on the Hulk. He has been requested by the Canadian military to act as an advisor on how to best combat the Hulk. Pulled aside for a moment, Ross returns informing the crowd that the Hulk has been sighted near a power station on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Since his orders are clear, he will be leaving, but promises the Hulk will be captured.

Peter makes his way into the Hulk-buster convoy along with the other journalists. When they arrive at the power station, their truck is attacked by the Hulk. Being the last in line, there is no one else to defend them from the monster. No one from the military at least. Peter realizes that he is the only one capable of distracting the Hulk until the convoy turns around. Finding a relatively private place to change, he bundles his clothes into a web backpack and attacks the Hulk directly.

His first assault catches the Hulk off-guard, knocking him down a hill, away from the other journalists. Amazed that he's not dead, he sets up his automatic camera. He's aware that if he doesn't come back with decent pictures, Jonah's rage could dwarf that of the Hulk.

When the Hulk regains his bearings the military has made their U-turn and begins a full assault on the Hulk. The Hulk is tired of being fired upon, so he tears off a large section of a mountain and hurls it at the Canadian army. Using his webbing Spider-Man redirects the giant rock back to the Hulk, who easily shatters it.

The Hulk leaves, heading in the direction of the Maskattawan Dam. The Hulk rationalizes that if he "smashes the big rock" (the dam), he can keep the military away from him. What he doesn't realize is that destroying the dam will flood the towns below, killing millions. He begins to hammer away at the top half of the dam.

Not limited to ground movement alone, Spider-Man arrives at the dam before the army. He realizes what the Hulk is doing and what will happen if he continues. The best solution he has is to lower the water level. The only problem with this plan is that the controls are on the other side of the dam, with the Hulk blocking the way. Leap-frogging the flying chunks of debris, Spider-Man reaches the control tower and manages to start emptying the reservoir.

The Hulk doesn't like the fact that the wall is "leaking". He hits the wall as hard as possible to stop the leak, but that only brings the upper right section of the dam crashing down on him - and Spider-Man - who finds himself underwater beneath a large chunk of rock.

In General...

First of all, that's a lot to fit into 20 pages of story. I tried to keep it simple and look where that got me. This has got to be one of the more densely packed stories I've read in a while.

Despite the rapid progress, the story flows very well. Each scene receives a reasonable amount of time and somehow does not appear to be rushed. That is a near-miracle in my book.

Overall Rating...

3.5 webs. It's the classic David and Goliath story, just with radiation-based powers. The Hulk just wants to be left alone; Spider-Man has to fight the monster that is unintentionally threatening innocent lives.

Conway & Romita do a great job packing a great deal of content into a single issue. The only reason it didn't receive a higher rating is due to the arbitrary need to get Peter out of New York for a couple of issues. Ok, Norman is showing Goblin-like tendencies again. Good enough reason to stay away for a while. Should he leave the country though? In addition the story progresses from Peter visiting Westchester to visiting Canada in a few short pages. To me, this seems rather odd.

Footnote...

Norman last turned into the Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man #96. This coincided with Harry's first experimentation with illegal drugs.

Why was the Hulk in Montreal? The simple version involves this: Betty Ross and Glen Talbot were married in Incredible Hulk #158. The Hulk learned this fact and their honeymoon destination of Niagara Falls in issue #159 - from the Abomination of all people. The Abomination struck a deal with General Ross to capture him in exchange for a cure (like that'll really happen). Once the Hulk defeated the Abomination, he set off for Niagara Falls to find her. Banner learned of this new development in issue 160 when he realized why the Hulk had made his way to the Falls - he considers Betty "his".

Spider-Man last fought the Hulk in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3