Comics : Giant-Size Spider-Man #5

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Lost Classics

This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

After about two years of being dead (comic time) Gwen Stacy has suddenly returned, giving the wonderful web-head a lot of questions; the usual who, what, where, when, why and sometimes how. For those of you slightly confused, here's an explanation; Gwen Stacy, Peter's love of his life, was killed during a battle with the Green Goblin way back in Amazing #121. These events would lead to Professor Miles Warren becoming the Jackal in Amazing #129. By Amazing #144 the Jackal's plans started to come together in the form of a Gwen Stacy clone, a morbid homage to the forbidden love he felt for his former student. This would all eventually lead up to Amazing #149, the first Spider-Clone. Within this span, the seeds were set for the Spider-Clone's return in 1995 as Ben Reilly, kicking off what's been dubbed affectionately (or with loathing, depending what side of the fence you sit on) "The Clone Saga." And now you know the rest of the back-story. Good day!

In Detail...

"Beware The Path Of The Monster!"
Giant-Size Spider-Man #5 (Story 1)
Jul 1975 : SMURF 146.800 : SM Title
Summary: Original Story with Man-Thing
Editor:  Len Wein
Writer:  Gerry Conway
Pencils:  Ross Andru
Inker:  Mike Esposito
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 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #7
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Pocket Book #1
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Clone Gensis (TPB)
Articles: Watson, Anna, Betty Brant, Gwen Stacy (Clone), Jameson, J. Jonah, Lizard, Mary Jane Watson-Parker

With Gwen Stacy back, Peter is one confused web-slinger; and rightfully so. He ONLY witness the death of the girl he was in love with first-hand, and now suddenly she's back alive and well and missing two years worth of memories. Peter decides he needs a place without so many memories to clear his head, and finds his opportunity when he catches a news report about the Man-Thing's rampage against Schist Construction in Florida. Somehow, he manages to convince Jolly Jonah to send him down to get pictures for the story.

Spidey puts in a call to his old pal, Dr. Curt Connors, and enlists his help navigating the strange lands of Florida. Unfortunately, shortly after hanging up Connors knocks over a vial of the gas that makes him into the Lizard and undergoes his horrible transformation.

Sometime later in the swamp, a chemist, bankrupted by the recession, contemplates suicide to let his family collect on his insurance. That is, until Man-Thing appears to save him from death by crocodile. As Man-Thing lumbers away, the chemist realizes he could use his savior to make some quick cash and solve all his problems.

Meanwhile, Spidey swings through the dense wetlands only to be ambushed by the Lizard. The fight takes them by the Connors house where Martha Connors uses a high pressure hose to distract her reptilian husband long enough for Spidey to web him up between some trees. However, the Lizard was already working on his escape by telepathically summoning all the nearby reptiles in the swamp... including Man-Thing!

Now with the Man-Thing in the Lizard's thrall, Spidey has his hands full as it barely gets dazed by his best shots. And while he was distracted, the Lizard's friends managed to release him and allow him to enter the fray. Fortunately, the Lizard's rage overrides the mental hold he had on Man-Thing and Man-Thing turns his attentions on him.

Inside the house, Martha had enlisted the aid of the chemist who arrived shortly after Man-Thing to create a batch of the antidote for the Lizard. His confidence was rocky, having not done it in a while, but upon learning Spidey created the formula that's all he needed to know to make him realize it would be easy. He creates it in no time and runs out to give it to Spidey, only to be tripped up by a snake. A quick web-line catches the formula and deposits it on the Lizard, changing him back to Curt Connors. Man-Thing and the other reptiles disperse back into the depths of the swamp. Spidey now understands the so-called "monster" more, while the chemist understands his self-worth.

The book also features a back-up story reprinting Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #21. For a review on that check out its page on this site.

In General...

A typical story in the Mighty Marvel fashion. Not only do you get a titanic team-up and a classic villain, but you also get a nice subtle message about not giving up no matter how bad things may seem. Even before the adventure began, we had the whole first chapter dedicated to tying this book into the main Spidey continuity, giving long-term readers a sense of placement and new readers a brief summary of just what the heck is going on.

The artwork is as superb as it generally was in that era. And as a fan of the much maligned Clone Saga, you know I dug the tie-in and foreshadowing of the impending events mere months after this issue's cover date. Despite the 12 years of continuity already established, the comics of the era always managed to keep it simple and light. Convoluted messes? What's that?

Also, for fans of the more modern Spider-Man comics, the latest Spider- Man/Human Torch mini or the Thunderbolts, the back-up reprint of Amazing #21 is a good way to get another classic team-up and to see how much the character of the Beetle has evolved since his appearance in 1964. By far the greatest thing about a reprint is getting to witness your favorite character's humble origins... next to getting to read or own a comic you would never be able to afford, that is.

Overall Rating...

Five webs. This was just a great enjoyable story. Plenty of action to satisfy you, and despite the fact you'll never see him again you were able to care about the chemist. Although a reprint featuring the Lizard probably would have tied into the main story a little better, you were still getting more bang for your buck. 68 big pages for 50 cents...can you imagine?