Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #194

Background

Aunt May is resting in a nursing home from her last heart attack, Mary Jane has just broken up with Peter, and and Betty Leeds wants to get cozy with Mr. Parker because Ned isn't there for her. Peter's live outside of his red & blue tights is pretty complicated and his life in costume isn't about to get any easier.

Story 'Never Let The Black Cat Cross Your Path!'

Our story opens with a platinum blond, dressed in tights who calls herself the Black Cat. She breaks into a police station to check out some files and quickly escapes. The next night, Black Cat is prowling the streets once again. This time she comes across a couple of stooges, Bruno and his associate, who Bruno calls "Boss," stealing tires. The tries in the truck suddenly fall all over them and the Black Cat strikes. Bruno's boss takes off and Black Cat persuades Bruno to work for her with no effort at all. She also succeeds in enlisting the aid of a fellow named Dr. Korpse.

At the Restwell nursing home Peter takes his leave after looking in on aunt May. Peter's constant visits seem to pose a problem to the head doctor, Dr. Rinehart and the unnamed bugler who killed uncle Ben, who hasn't seemed to change his ways despite his stint in prison. Why is the doctor with a scumbag like uncle Ben's killer and what do they want with May Parker? Uncle Ben's killer says he was looking for something in the Parker home when he shot Ben but he thinks May knows the whereabouts to what he's seeking. The Rinehart says he'll help him get rid of Peter and he thinks to himself that he's intrigued by whatever it is he's looking for. Hmmm....

The Daily Bugle offices. Ned wants to know why Betty been spending time with Peter. Betty explains that she wants him to be at home, not covering stories all the time.

Robbie shows Jonah the latest edition of the Daily Globe. Plastered on the front page is a photo of Spidey and the Human Torch with the caption below it reading "Peter Parker, Chief Photographer!" This sets Jameson into one of his usual rants. Spider-Man drops by to have a chat with Jameson but he threatens Spidey with words of a "special surprise." When he doesn't get an answer on what Jonah knows, Spidey takes off through the window, but not before webbing old skinflint up and leaving him hanging, literally. As Spidey swings through the city, he thinks that Jameson must know his secret identity, that he unmasked him when he was knocked out in Amazing Spider-Man #192.

Coming in through the window in his office, he makes the change from Spidey to Peter and is approached by his boss, Barny Bushkin and is very happy with Pete's photos. They did make the paper a sell out, after all. Barny insists Peter call him by his first name and even offers him a cigar. Yes, folks, at the Globe, Peter is treated like a king.

Changing to Spidey once again, his web-slinging comes to a halt when he eyes the Black Cat, who looks like she's in a rush to get somewhere. She didn't even notice our hero. Spidey decides to tail her, thinking the two of them could go out on a date if she's on the right side of the law.

Black Cat enters the the office of Emil Greco who has an extensive gun collection. Before Cat can collect the goods, Spider-Man makes his entrance. Cat quickly flees out the window and Spidey gives chase. Cat grabs hold of a metal ladder connected to some stairs and slams into Spidey with it. Quick to get back on his feet, the web-head rips the ladder from its connection, causing Cat to fall but she purposely pounces on Spidey and makes her way back to Greco. Spidey is so ticked from what Cat did to him that he kicks her in the butt (yes, the butt) as he swings in. Cat warns Spidey that he should never let the Black Cat cross his path. Right after she gives him the warning, a rack of guns fall on him. As she's making her escape with her guns, Spidey stands in her way once again but Black Cat says she's giving up. Spidey doesn't buy it. Cat tells Spidey that she has a scrapbook on him, lifts up his mask and gives him a kiss. While the wall-crawler is stunned, she makes her escape, this time for real. Back at her hide away, Bruno and Korpse want to know what Cat has planned so she tells them that she's going to break into prison.

The next day Peter is leaving his apartment, thinking of how aunt May is getting worse when he's grabbed by a pretty angry Ned. Ned says that he won't let Peter take Betty from him. Peter shoves Ned aside and tells him to take her and not bother him with the details.

At Empire State University, Flash and Harry are giving Peter a hard time about his absence from the party they had planned for him. He couldn't attend because he had business as Spider-Man (This all happened in ASM #192) They want to know what's bothering him but he just tells them to butt out of his life and walks off.

In his office at the Globe, Peter hears on the TV that a police station was robbed of files on Bruno Grainger, Boris Korpse, Walter Hardy, and Emil Greco. The name Emil Greco is the one that sticks out to Peter because that's where the Cat was the previous night. On his way out, April Maye tries to ask Peter out on a date but he tells her he's in a rush and can't talk, which doesn't sit too well with April and thinks to herself that Peter won't ignore her the next time they meet. (Ever notice how a lot of women HATE being ignored by Peter?)

Spidey swings over to the prison where Walter Hardy is being held. His spider-sense goes off and Black Cat attacks him from behind. Bruno and Korpse set explosives on the prison walls as Spidey tries to stop Cat. Spidey tells Cat that he knows Walter is dying. Cat pleads with Spidey not to interfere with her freeing him. She says that she's taking him away and she won't let Spider-Man stop her. The explosives set by Cat's partners go off right on the wall Spidey was sticking to. Cat says she's sorry for what happened to him, but she warned him about crossing paths with the Black Cat.

General Comments

I was actually kinda bored with this issue when it started, but things really kicked into high gear with uncle Ben's killer and Dr. Rinehart plotting against the Parkers, and everything after that just fell into place. Spidey's first encounter with the Black Cat was well done and memorable and I really enjoyed the banter between the two of them.

Peter's civilian life is looking on the rocky side and he's being pretty nasty to nearly everyone but aunt May. Flash and Harry only wanted to help Peter with whatever was bothering him, but he just blew them off. As lovable as Peter is, he really can be harsh at times. And you just know Peter will have another confrontation with Ned that won't be pretty.

Overall Rating

Interesting plots, sub-plots for Spidey both in and out of costume. Four webs.