Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #307

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

  • Peter continues his cross-country tour promoting "Webs" a book of Spider- Man photos he's taken over the years.
  • Jonathon Caesar, owner of Bedford Towers, where Peter and Mary Jane currently live, is obsessed with MJ.
  • The Chameleon has kidnapped and assumed the identity of William Drake in Chicago for undisclosed reasons.

In Detail...

"The Theif Who Stole Himself!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #307
Oct 1988 : SMURF 307.500 : SM Title
Summary: Chameleon, Mary Jane Kidnapped
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  David Michelinie
Pencils:  Todd McFarlane
Inker:  Todd McFarlane
Cover Art:  Todd McFarlane
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 Reprinted In: Legends Vol. 2: Todd McFarlane (TPB)
Articles: Chameleon, Caesar, Jonathan, Mary Jane Watson-Parker

Peter travels to Chicago as part of his "Webs" tour. One book signing is arranged at an exposition of science and technology where Dr. Edmund Debevic, the leading authority on superconductivity, will be speaking. Peter is - as one could guess - a fan of his work.

The Chameleon has recently exposed himself to chemicals that transformed his entire body into a completely malleable substance. One of the benefits is that he no longer needs rubber masks for disguises; he can instantly duplicate any face he sees. The downside is that he no longer has a face or features of his own. His change of focus is due to a recent epiphany that he has allowed petty crimes and his feud with Spider-Man to get in the way of his ultimate goal of destroying the United States. He is using Drake's identity to establish contacts with local organized crime to help bring about the realization of that goal.

The Chameleon kidnaps Debevic using local goons as a distraction. He plans to kill him, assume his identity, steal his research, and sell it to unfriendly powers. He doesn't count on Peter attending the expo the same day, capturing his hired help, or finding him so quickly. He tries to escape by forcing Spider-Man to choose between catching him or saving his hostage from a bomb. With no choice Spider-Man tags him with a spider-tracer and saves Debevic. After a brief chase, the Chameleon discovers the spider-tracer and loses himself in a crowd. He heads for the airport and a new scheme. Peter returns disappointed to his book signing.

Back in New York, Mary Jane is kidnaped by Jonathon Caesar.

In General...

The Chameleon's rubber masks have been replaced with an advanced science that allows him psuedo mutant shapeshifting powers. Changes like this - done properly - make Spider-Man's enemies more formidable without losing any of their uniqueness.

The Caesar subplot will now take center stage. This issue left an impression on me when I first read it that continues to this day. Strangers that openly flirt with women in front of their boyfriend/husband are probably scumbags. Allow me to reiterate: "Strangers flirting"; friends are another matter. To be fair I think it's proof of a scumbag boyfriend/husband that won't let his girlfriend/wife talk to anyone. There is a limit to what one should do upon discovery that the object of your affections is spoken for. Talking and joking is completely acceptable, but some deeds are better off left undone.

The one minor complaint I have with this sub-plot turned primary is the borderline naive way that MJ initially perceived Jonathon Caesar. His behavior should have made her a bit more guarded around him. She isn't swept off her feet from his attention, but she doesn't share Peter's concern that something isn't right. To be fair even if she had shared Peter's opinion, there isn't much you can do to stop an obsessed millionaire with armed henchmen and a master key to your condo.

Overall Rating...

Overall a good issue. The enhanced Chameleon was a long time in coming. Once his plot to kidnap Debevic is stopped by Spider-Man, the only thing the Chameleon can do is escape. It's never mentioned what happens to the real William Drake but we can assume he was found in his penthouse at some point in the near future.