Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #15

Staff Only
Edit Review
Edit Title

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

There's double trouble for Spidey with Doctor Octopus and the Punisher on the loose.

In Detail...

"Spider-Man: Threat Or Menace?"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #15 (Story 1)
Year 1981 : SMURF 223.600 : SM Title
Summary: The Punisher And Dr. Octopus
Editor:  Tom DeFalco
Writer:  Denny O'Neil, Mark Gruenwald, Roger Stern
Pencils:  Frank Miller
Inker:  Klaus Janson
Cover Art:  Frank Miller
Add. Art:  Bob Layton, Frank Giacoia, Greg LaRocque, Keith Pollard, Marie Severin, Mark Gruenwald, Terry Austin
Staff Only
Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Essential Punisher #1
 Reprinted In: The Complete Frank Miller Spider-Man (Hardcover)
 Reprinted In: The Complete Frank Miller Spider-Man (TPB)
 Reprinted In: Sensational Spider-Man (TPB)
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Strange Adventures (TPB)
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus (TPB)
Articles: Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius), Glory Grant, Jameson, J. Jonah, The Punisher, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

Our story opens with a big Daily Bugle headline which reads "Spider-Man: Threat or menace?". Coupled with the headline is an artist's rendition of a monster like Spider-Man with sharp teeth. Very similar to Doppleganger (who had not been introduced yet in the Spidey comics). Anyway it's jolly Jonah up to his usual Spider-Man bashing tricks. However Robbie convinces him not to run the story, as the public are tired of it. Jameson reluctantly agrees, asking what else have they've got. Robbie tells him there's the thing they sent Urich and Parker to cover.

The Punisher is seen on top of a building rooftop carrying his rifle, and he's planning to rid the world of a very "bad influence". Inside the building we see a man who calls himself the great Turhan on a stage with a young girl, and he is about to demonstrate what he calls the death touch. The audience is captivated, and Peter Parker is among them snapping pictures. As Turhan touches the girl, Peter's spider sense goes off. The girl falls back unconscious. Turhan says unless he reverses the effect of the death touch by charging the girl with positive energy, she will sink deeper and deeper into a coma, and her vital signs will lessen, and in precisely 3 days she will die. Suddenly a bullet pierces thru Turhan's chest killing him.

Peter races out to change to Spider-Man. Meanwhile the Punisher is racing across the rooftop making his escape, when suddenly the spider signal shines on him. Spidey dives at the Punisher, but misses, striking the chimney behind him, shattering it to pieces. Spider-Man then tries to web up the Punisher, but the Punisher skillfully shoots Spider-Man's web shooters clean off his wrists. The Punisher tells Spider-Man to surrender, without his web shooters he's out classed, and the Punisher admits he doesn't want to hurt Spidey. Of course Spidey refuses. The Punisher then shoots at Spider-Man, hitting him in the chest, and knocking him to the ground. Spider-Man thinks he's going to die, but the Punisher tells him it was a mercy bullet, it merely stops him without killing him. The Punisher then tosses a gas grenade at Spidey and escapes. Spidey watches the ambulance people take the girl away. It looks like Turhan wasn't a phony. The death touch appears to be real. Ben Urich reports the day's happenings to Jameson, who immediately makes a headline about it.

At the city morgue the police leave in Turhan's body. The mortician notices a ring on Turhan's finger, and figures he won't need it now, and tries to pry it off. However he pricks his finger on it and collapses to the floor. The Punisher appears and checks the mortician's pulse. He was poisoned, just like the girl, Punisher claims. The Punisher then pulls out a knife as he is going to get the ring himself. Suddenly his face is struck by a tentacle, as a voice behind him says that he needs that ring. The Punisher tosses a knife towards his assailant saying that he cannot have the ring. However another tentacle catches the knife, while another tentacle knocks the Punisher out. Of course it is Doc Ock, who takes Turhan's body in his tentacles, declaring he will soon overflow this morgue with bodies.

Across the city, Spider-Man pays a visit to Turhan's assistant who he wants to answer a few questions. The assistant flees at the sight of Spider-Man, but Spidey catches him with a web line and dangles him from the ceiling. Spidey then quizzes him about the death touch. He reveals that the death touch was nothing more than a drug in a gimmicked ring Turhan wore. He and Turhan were supposed to deliver a supply of the stuff, but they saw the chance to earn an extra buck with the death touch scam. Spidey asks where was it to be delivered, and the assistant says Pier 43 at six tonight. He says his brother is probably there now. Spidey leaves for the morgue to find that ring. However when he gets there he hears that Turhan's body was stolen. Spidey realises if he's to save the girl he'd better get to the pier. Meanwhile Urich reports to Jonah that the Punisher is in town. Jameson runs a headline, but he wants more details on the story and tells Urich to hit the pavement to get them.

Meanwhile at Pier 43, the assistant's brother drops the canister of poison into the water as instructed. Suddenly the Punisher appears behind him and tells him that he's too dumb to know when he's being followed for months. The Punisher punches him, knocking him out and says he's lucky that he's nothing more than an errand boy. Not a vicious punk like Turhan, not worth killing....yet. Punisher then dives into the water, where at the bottom of the river we see the canister being taken into a secret hatch by three of Ock's tentacles.

At the Mayor's mansion he recieves an urgent phone call. The caller is Doctor Octopus, who tells the mayor that he's planning to murder 5 million of New York's citizens. Ock tells the mayor not to bother to send his ridiculous police force after him. His hideout is too cleverly hidden for them to find. Ock says that he intends to implement his plan this afternoon. The mayor asks does he intend to poison the water supply. Ock says it's nothing so banal. The mayor asks does he want money, to which Ock replies "I wouldn't accept cash if you gift wrapped it in a flag and had a hundred dancing girls deliver it". Behind Ock the Punisher sneaks in and aims his gun at Ock. However Ock has spotted him and easily subdues him with his tentacles while he continues to calmly chat with the mayor on the phone. Ock tells the mayor today he is merely establishing credentials. Next time he calls he will want 20 million dollars in gems, otherwise another 5 million will die. Ock says he's going to use a poison, highly concentrated, and fatal within the hour. He has been negotiating with certain foreign powers for months, and he took delivery of the poison a few minutes ago, and is in fact testing it now, Ock pours the poison down the Punisher's throat and hangs up the phone.

Ock mocks the Punisher for not learning his lesson back at the morgue, and being stupid enough to think he could actually defeat Ock. Ock informs him that he's swallowed enough toxin to kill a regiment, and he'll soon be dead. Suddenly the wall beside Ock buckles inwards and Spider-Man bursts in knocking Ock back, and letting in a flood of water. Ock informs Spider-Man that the Punisher is dying of a deadly toxin. Spider-Man can either try to save him or combat Ock. Ock mockingly says that's not much of a choice for Spider-Man, and leaves to carry out his scheme. Spider-Man finds Doc Ock's lab notes, so he can make a cure. However the Punisher awakes, and his mind is so muddled by the drug that he doesn't see Spider-Man. All he sees is an enemy. The Punisher attacks Spider-Man, who swiftly dodges his attacks as he formulates an antidote using Ock's lab equipment. As the lair continues to flood, Spider-Man leaps on the Punisher and pours the antidote down his throat. The Punisher falls unconscious. Spidey carries him out of Ock's flooding lair back up to the pier where he ties him up. He then phones Jonah and tells him he has the real story.

The Bugle runs a front page headline saying "Five million will die: Doctor Octopus threatens city with mass murder". Jameson then heads off to the "usual place" for a moment he says he lives for. At the Manhattan hospital, a doctor tells Spider-Man that his antidote worked. The young girl will be fine. Spider- Man swings off and thinks he set out to save one girl, now he has the whole city to worry about. Then he realises the significance of the five million Ock said he'd kill.

At the Daily Bugle printing press room, Jonah stands and watches the printing presses, and thinks of them as "Big greasy, beautiful monsters". He get's a thrill out of watching them start up to print the Bugle papers. He then tells his employee Harry to switch them on. However Harry is snatched away by a pair of tentacles, as Ock appears and prepares to pour a canister of the poison into the Bugle's newspaper ink. The poison will seep thru the skin of anyone who touches it. "The Bugle readers will get a dose of death with their news today, all 5 million of them" Ock says. Suddenly a strand of webbing strikes the canister and snatches it from Ock's hands, as Spider-Man jumps in and kicks Ock in the face.

Ock attacks Spider-Man with all four of his tentacles, and demands to know how Spider-Man knew he was here. Spider-Man tells him that he figured the only product that would reach 5 million people in a day is the Daily Bugle newspaper. Jonah spots Spider-Man, and in true Jameson fashion blames Spider- Man for interfering with his presses. Spidey asks if he could get just a teensy bit mad at Doc Ock, as he's the one trying to kill everyone. Ock tosses a roll of paper at Spider-Man, who dodges it, but it hits the walkway Jameson is on, causing it to collapse. Spider-Man catches him, as Ock continues to attack Spider-Man. Jameson blusters and rants as Spider-Man moves swiftly around the room trying to avoid Ock's tentacles.

Spider-Man and Jonah hide beneath the presses, as Spidey plans to pull off a neat little trick. Suddenly Ock's tentacles rip thru the paper as he says "You didn't really believe you could elude me?". Ock lunges two of his tentacles at Spider-Man, but Spidey grabs them and jams them into the presses' paper rollers. Ock is pulled forward, and Spider-Man lands a devastating punch on Ock's face, knocking Ock out.

Meanwhile back at pier 43, the Punisher manages to break free from Spider- Man's webbing. Suddenly a young beat Cop arrives and points his gun at the Punisher, telling him he's under arrest. The Punisher realises he's a kid Cop, young and scared, and he could easily kill him. But he is also the law, and he doesn't fight the police, so he surrenders. The Punisher tells the police he's on their side, but they say tell it to the judge. Punisher says he won't believe him either. The police agree, and tell the Punisher he's going to jail. Punisher says one good thing about prison is that there's lots of criminals there.

Back at the Bugle, Jameson has a front page ready for printing, which says he saved the city from Ock's poisoned ink. However Robbie warns him not to print that story, as it may put them out of business because the public are bound to think that their ink is poisoned, or it might be. And they won't take the risk. Jameson angrily rips up the page.

The following day we see the Spider-Man: Threat or menace headline we saw at the beginning of our story, on the Bugle's front page. At a newspaper stand, the seller sees Jameson walk by and asks him what's with the Spider-Man bashing, because sales always go into the sewers when he prints this stuff. He can't give the Bugle away today. But Jameson angrily tells him to get lost, and continues to storm down the street in anger. The newspaper seller reckons some guys just can't take criticism.

In General...

Awesome story. It was great to see Doc Ock fight the Punisher. Ock has held off dozens of guns with his tentacles before, did the Punisher really think his one gun could take down Ock?? Jonah Jameson was used very effectively in this story. I swear Jameson would blame Spider-Man for the common cold if he could. Love the old grouch.

Ock's scheme was one of his deadliest. I always enjoy Ock's mass murder schemes, which are usually implemented by some scientific method he's cooked up, in this case this poison he's developed. It really shows how ruthless he is in getting what he wants.

Spider-Man really showed his smarts in this one. Not only did he develop a cure for the poison, but he figured out how Ock intended to carry out his sinister scheme, by using the number of people Ock said he intended to kill.

Dennis O'Neill should write more Spidey stories. He succeeded admirably well with this one.

Overall Rating...

Five webs. A very witty Spidey, who really used his brains in this one. Doc Ock at his deadliest. The Punisher at his craziest. What was not to love??