Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #7

Story 'Cry Mahem..Cry Morbius!'

A fighting-mad Spidey crashes in on Mr. Morgan's office as revenge for the crimelord's setting the Hitman on him. He spins Morgan in his chair and sends him hurtling at his underlings. You may have your faults as a human being, Morgan -- but teamed with that swivel chair, you're a terrific bowling ball!

As the threat of rain begins, Spidey retrieves his clothes from an air vent -- better, he thinks, than having them frozen like last time. Only this time the vent was for a deli and a child lets on that Pete smells like chopped liver! He'll have to walk in the rain to keep his shopping meeting with Glory Grant so as to not offend riders on the Manhattan bus lines.

Meanwhile Flash Thompson keeps a vigil at the restaurant in which he and the gang saw Sha-Shan and spots her at an upstairs window, even while he himself is being watched by the man who lied to them about her presence.

At the same time Morbius reforms on a rooftop and battles not only his own vampiric urgings but a voice inside his mind that gives him commands. He at first goes in search of prey but a picture of Spider-Man on a Daily Bugle truck gives the voice another idea...

Glory is waiting out the rain by finishing some last minute work at the Bugle. She holds up a photo of Spidey vs. the Lizard that Peter took just as Morbius peers in. The vampire smashes through the window and takes Glory.

Pedestrian Pete is struggling with an umbrella when he sees Morbius fly off with Glory to a water tower, where he demands to know how to reach Spider-Man. Wish granted, as Spidey sends him flying with a kick. But Morbius hits right back making the wall-crawler realize he shouldn't be overconfident (It's easy to forget when a guy feels light as a Kleenex...that he still can hit like an H-Bomb!) Swinging down to the street to renew the battle, Spidey is clipped by an oncoming truck.

Meanwhile, Mary Jane is helping her Aunt Anna and Aunt May with some signs for a senior citizen protest. MJ leaves with a smile on her face (and this is very subtle) after Aunt May tells her to remind Pete "not to forget his rubbers in this weather!"

Spidey realizes Morbius is torn about what to do next and takes advantage of the opportunity to try to rescue Glory. His web-shooters have been wrecked by the truck so he climbs the water tower and starts to lower her down. Morbius swoops down and knocks them from the building but Spidey grabs hold of a ledge to save them both.

Morbius rebels against the voice inside but it is too powerful for him to fight. The villain is revealed as the Empathoid, who will command Morbius "to attack them again and again...so long as it pleases me."

General Comments

After his classic cover for issue 5, Dave Cockrum returns with a Gil Kane-inspired piece for this issue.

A good story with the usual touches of humor like Pete's continuing clothing misadventures, although Aunt May as a grey panther - complete with the malapropist slogan of "Right up!" - seems a little too comical.

The Sha-Shan subplot is moving very slowly but this extra dimension to Flash's character makes it worthwhile.

Morbius returns as a very engaging villain, caught as he is between his lusts and his humanity. He is another in the line of Spidey villains who was changed irrevocably while trying to cure his own condition. Quite appropriate that the photo Glory was looking at was that of the Lizard, perhaps the most famous villain of this type.

The art team of Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney present a moody atmosphere complete with murky Manhattan skies. Their Morbius is a frightening figure, especially in his first close-up on the sixth page of the story.

Overall Rating

Very entertaining story with solid art.

Footnote

Although the reference given when Spider-Man tells crime boss Mr. Morgan that he's been too busy until now to track the man responsible for the Hitman's attempted hit is Amazing Spider-Man 169, our friends at the Marvel Chronology Project have traced other appearances as well. After issue 5 (issue 6 was a reprint), Spidey takes on the Spider-Slayer and Will o' the Wisp in Amazing Spider-Man #'s 167 & 168, is confronted by Jolly Jonah with pictures from the (first) clone saga in 169 and falls victim to Dr. Faustus in 170. From there he meets the new X-Men in the classic Marvel Team-Up Annual #1. After that, he hangs out with the Hulk and Woodgod in Marvel Team-Up #'s 53 & 54 and Adam Warlock in MTU 55 before coming back down to earth to team up with Daredevil against the Blizzard and Electro in Marvel Team-Up #56. Whew! Busy indeed.

Interesting ads include one for a book called The Brunner Mystique (featuring the art of Frank Brunner of Dr. Strange fame), Captain America and the "Sore Sir's Apprentice" (ouch) for Hostess Cupcakes and house ads for Ms. Marvel and the "crowning creations of Edgar Rice Burroughs," Tarzan (by Roy Thomas and John Buscema) and John Carter (by Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane) on sale monthly. Stan Lee trumpets the Burroughs books in his soapbox. And don't forget, if you sell Blair products, "You can earn extra money...like Tim Newcomer.'

A letter writer complains that Marvel only publishes the letters of several writers...including Ralph Macchio, Jo Duffy and Peter Sanderson!