Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #318

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This story is part of an Arc: "Scorpion"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

After defeating Venom last issue, Peter has to focus on the problems in his personal life. He and Mary Jane have been evicted from their condo in Bedford Towers by Jonathon Caesar, a millionaire obsessed with MJ. He kidnaped her and was later sent to prison when she escaped and called the police. As payback for spurning his affections, Caesar evicts them, ultimately tying up their life savings in either the condo or legal fees to reclaim their investment. They have moved in with May (at her request) until they can get back on their feet. This is proving more difficult than they imagined. MJ - for some reason - is unable to make a living as a model, relying on Peter's income from the Daily Bugle. Peter ... works for Jonah. To further complicate matters, Jonah has started buying Spider-Man photos exclusively from Nick Katzenberg. Why the sudden change? It's not really Jonah but the Chameleon impersonating him.

In Detail...

"Sting Your Partner!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #318
Aug 1989 : SMURF 318.500 : SM Title
Arc: Part 1 of "Scorpion"
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  David Michelinie
Pencils:  Todd McFarlane
Inker:  Todd McFarlane
Cover Art:  Todd McFarlane
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Articles: Chameleon, Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Mercado, Joy, Scorpion

In exchange for kidnaping General Chester Musgrave for Justin Hammer, the Scorpion receives an equipment upgrade. The new circuitry in his tail allows more precise control over its movements as well as the abilty to spray a wide array of chemicals (mace, corrosive acid,etc.) at any target. Hammer informs him that he plans to hand over Musgrave to unspecified European clients in exchange for exclusive contracts for his legitimate businesses. If he succeseds at this trial exercise, he may consider him for permanent employment within his criminal empire. Scorpion agrees to the terms and leaves.

In Manhattan Peter and Mary Jane conclude an unsuccessful day of apartment shopping. Before they can actually move out of May's boarding house, they'll need some money. She has a potential modeling gig; he needs to look for non- Spidey photos to sell to "Jonah". Peter's afternoon is a bust, quickly followed by MJ. Instead of heading directly home (as Peter does), she meets up with some friends to go dancing to cheer up. She arrives home at 3 AM to a midly irritated husband. They get into a minor argument about how the other is handling the stress they're under, but resolve it quickly.

A bit later in the Soho district of Manhattan, Harry Osborn inspects a building he inherited from his father that he recently remembered that he owned. As he presses a button to open a secret cache of Green Goblin costumes, he comments that this building will be perfect for his "master plan".

Later that morning at a more reasonable hour, Peter arrives for his class at E.S.U. He discovers that some classmates will be protesting an award ceremony for General Musgrave. He will be receiving a peace medal at the National Guard Armory in Brooklyn. Peter reluctantly decides to skip class and take pictures of the event in the hopes of photgraphing something that Jonah will buy from him.

Peter arrives in Brooklyn at the same time as the Scorpion, both unaware of the other's presence. They both put on their costumes and sneak into the armory. Spider-Man finds the correct building first. As he gets into position to take pictures of the ceremony (out of sight of the crowd), he notices Lance Bannon and Joy Mercado among the crowd. He quickly realizes that they're on assignment for Jonah, who'll never buy pictures from both him and Bannon. As he prepares to leave the Scorpion makes his entrace and announces his intention to kindap Musgrave.

Spider-Man drop down from his perch and attacks the Scorpion to give Musgrave an opportunity to escape. After a brief fight, the Scorpion uses a concussive blast from his tail to bring down a wall to occupy Spider-Man while he grabs Musgrave.

While Spider-Man holds the wall up until all the spectactors can leave, Bannon begins taking pictures. When he blurts out "Jameson will be ecstatic" at the prospect of selling thousands of additonal papers, the Scorpion stops in his tracks. Not wanting to be responsible for helping Jameson (who is partly responsible for turning him into the Scorpion) make money, he changes tactics. He grabs Musgrave by the throat and announces that he's not kidnaping him. He'll kill Musgrave unless Jonah shows up within an hour to take his place.

In General...

Overall a great issue. The upgrade to the Scorpion's arsenal is done very well. The pacing is excellent, although a few sequences could have been extended. It seemed a bit rushed in places.

The "3 AM" sequence with MJ in (and almost out of) her lingerie is a nice surprise. Just enough to make you take notice without being overdone. I'm surprised the Comics Code accepted it. I'm not complaining mind you. I would've guessed that they would've said "no". Maybe that's why.

There are a few minor criticisms however. It never specified what Musgrave did to earn the medal. Also why is he important enought to kidnap? I know "he's a high ranking general", but what makes him special? The fact he's getting a medal and security may be lax? Another is why did Hammer decide to give the Scorpion this test assignment?

I have no ready answer for these questions, but Michelinie could've used a few caption boxes to explain those points without interrupting the story.

Overall Rating...

3.5 webs. The inclusion of the elements I mentioned above would've made a beter story. It's still one of the best Scorpion stories; it's just missing a few plot points in my opinion.

Footnote...

Harry regained some of his memories in Amazing Spider-Man #312 during the Inferno storyline. The weird dimensional energy combined with stress from the attacks by the second Hobgoblin unlocked many of Harry's repressed memories.