Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #304

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2006.


Peter has been selling photos of himself as Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle for years (since Amazing Spider-Man #2 to be precise). What does Jonah do with all those pictures once they've appeared in the paper? We're about to find out.

In Detail...

"California Schemin!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #304
Sep 1988 : SMURF 304.500 : SM Title
Summary: Webs The Book, Black Fox, First Jonathan Caesar
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  David Michelinie
Pencils:  Todd McFarlane
Inker:  Josef Rubinstein
Cover Art:  Todd McFarlane
Staff Only
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Visionaries - Todd McFarlane (TPB)
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Annual (UK) 1990
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Black Fox, Jameson, J. Jonah, Caesar, Jonathan, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Prowler

Peter arrives at the Daily Bugle and discovers that Jonah is in a meeting with Mr. Wilton, the publisher for Wiltonbooks. Jonah has arranged for a book of his Spider-Man photos - Webs - to be published as a coffee table book. Peter argues that he can't publish them without his consent or at the very least, some compensation. Jonah informs him that the wavier he signed years ago granted the Bugle full ownership of his photos. Peter is livid but there is nothing he can do. Jonah may be a cheapskate, but he's a cheapskate acting well within his legal rights.

In an effort to provide him some measure of compensation, Wilton offers Peter an opportunity to go on tour promoting the book. This will allow him the opportunity to earn up to $25,000 if sales meet their projected levels. Not so offended as to pass up a chance at 25 large, Peter jumps at the offer. If nothing else, it'll help pay his tuition for graduate school. He returns home to tell Mary Jane and Aunt May the good news.

Meanwhile in Beverly Hills, the Black Fox breaks into the mansion of Mr. and Mrs. Osgood Hempsted, on vacation in Switzerland. He has chosen this as a base of operations to pull of his final theft to finance his retirement on the French Riviera. He admits - to himself of course - that although unfamiliar with L.A., he will not have to worry about Spider-Man's presence as he has in the recent past.

Days later as Peter gets a cab, Mary Jane runs into Jonathon Caesar, the owner of Bedford Towers. Caesar admits being a fan of hers and invites her to tea. She replies that she and her husband will do that when they return from L.A.

The first stop of the tour involves Los Angeles where they meet Ginny Edwards the publicist hired to help promote Webs. She informs them that her publicity firm has arranged for them to attend a charity event tonight sponsored by Transcorp. Transcorp has recently found a previously lost artifact, the Valencia Chalice, during the construction of a new building. It was a gift from the Queen of Spain to explorers thought lost for centuries. It's being shown at the gala before being taken back to Europe as part of a goodwill effort. With that she informs them that the remainder of the afternoon is clear for anything else they would like to do. With that in mind, Peter talks MJ into going to Disneyworld for the afternoon.

Later that night Peter, MJ, and the Black Fox attend the charity gala. Peter and MJ have their invitation, but the Fox picks another attendee's pocket and assumes his identity for the evening. As they mingle in the grand ballroom, Peter spots the Black Fox in the crowd and excuses himself to capture him.

He finds him in the secured room where the chalice is being kept. The Fox abandons the chalice and begins to knock over the other priceless artifacts (made in Hong Kong) to slow down his pursuer. A liberal use of smoke bombs thoroughly confuses Spider-Man and he ends up back in the grand ballroom - in full costume. Thinking that his secret identity will be blown trying to explain why Spider-Man and Peter Parker are both in L.A. at the same time, Mary Jane quickly announces that Spider-Man has "decided to join the 'Webs' tour with Peter". Shrugging his shoulders, he begins to mingle with the star-struck crowd of Hollywood stars.

The Black Fox takes advantage of Spider-Man's absence and returns to the display room to retrieve his prize when the Prowler appears and announces that the Fox won't be stealing the chalice, he will.

In General...

Overall I liked this story. This is a good use of the Black Fox character. Like his wrinkled brother-in-crime the Vulture, he proves that old people compensate their lack of speed by being very sneaky.

Overall Rating...

3.5 webs. Good set up for part two and the reason behind the Prowler's sudden return to crime.


The "recent past" the Black Fox referred to occured in: