Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #99

 Posted: 17 Apr 2024
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)


Gwen and Peter reunited after she went to England to mourn her father’s death. Harry had a bad reaction to drugs he bought off the street after Mary Jane rejected him. Norman became the Green Goblin again but was defeated when Spidey made him see how sick Harry was.

Story 'A Day in the Life of... (Featuring: Panic In The Prison!)'

  Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #99
Summary: Prison Riot/Spidey on the Johnny Carson Show
Editor: Stan Lee
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Gil Kane
Inker: Frank Giacoia
Cover Art: Gil Kane
Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #80
Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #5

Peter and Gwen walked the street, madly in love with each other. He took her home and since he planned on marrying her, needed to find a job. He was unwilling to ask for a job from Osborn after he had relapsed into the Goblin identity again so had to make do with the Bugle. Robbie told him that a job had opened up and went to talk to Jonah. Jameson was looking for a photographer for a prison story and decided that Peter was better than no one. Peter entered the office and demanded a pay raise for such a dangerous assignment, which Jonah resented. He told Peter he was bluffing and Peter told him to find out. Jonah agreed to a part time job and Peter left feeling proud of himself. He gave all the credit to Gwen.

Spider-Man made his way to the prison, which seemed to be in the middle of the city. A couple of escaped convicts stood guard on the roof and Spidey quickly carried one away. The convict confessed that they were rioting for better treatment and for their basic rights. Spidey broke into the prison and webbed the con to the ceiling before looking for his leader, a guy named Turpo. Spider-Man crawled through the ventilation ducts and overheard one of the rioters saw that Turpo was with the warden in the office. A couple of prisoners held the warden at gunpoint as a middle aged man explained that he was going to escape as everyone else rioted. Some of the cons in the room were surprised by the betrayal and others worked for Turpo.

Spider-Man smashed through the office window and quickly defeated the convicts. The warden warned him of two more of Turpo’s men waiting outside the room, who Spidey dealt with. He confronted the mass of freed prisoners and explained Turpo’s betrayal. They didn’t believe him, until one of the prisoners inside the office agreed with Spider-Man. The warden agreed with the prisoners complaints and wanted to help but the rioters were doubtful that anyone would be sympathetic after the violence. The warden arrived and promised them all amnesty if they dropped their weapons and returned to their cells. He’d also look at their list of grievances. The rioters agreed and outside the prison, the warden spoke to the assembled media. He announced that the uprising was finished but reform was badly needed to prevent the next one.

Spidey swung away but was stopped by someone calling his name. A man in a nearby window called out to him, saying he wanted Spider-Man to be a guest at his tv talk show. Spidey asked how much it paid and the host said he was offering him good publicity and fame and glamour. He could be the next Zsa zsa Gabor! Spider-Man still demanded to be paid and the host offered the usual rate. Spider-Man agreed and left in a hurry to get the riot photos to Jonah. Jameson and Robbie were pleased with the photos but Jameson still wondered how Peter managed to upstage two dozen professional photographers. Robbie smirked and told Peter he did good work, which made Peter suspicious.

They sent him to the cashier and Robbie said he’d get paid on Friday. Peter had planned on taking Gwen out that night but would still be broke. He hoped that the tv appearance would pay him immediately. He just made it in time for the show to begin and the host asked him to make a special entrance. After being introduced Spidey swung to the stage over the audience. Someone called out that anyone could pretend to be Spidey, so he proved himself with some wall crawling, then lowered himself on a web and picked up the host. Since he finally had a convinced audience, Spider-Man took a moment to talk about the overcrowded conditions in prisons. Prisons were breeding grounds for crime and was counterproductive to public safety.

He stopped talking when he heard a commotion nearby and the police began to close in. He was still a wanted man and barely escaped before the cops closed in. In his eagerness to leave, Spidey realized that he hadn’t stopped to get paid. He was nearly late for his date and decided not to lie to her anymore. He’d just admit that he didn’t have the money to take them out. Gwen called him an idiot, as she’d never intended to go out with him. She’d spent the day cooking dinner for them. She wanted him all to herself. Even Peter admitted that for once, he didn’t screw up.

General Comments

There was some nice character growth in this issue. Gwen seemed more at peace and Peter stood up to both Jameson and the talk show host, who was absolutely not based on Johnny Carson. This is the second time he appeared on a talk show. The previous time was Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 1) #82 when he fought Electro. He also went on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in Spider-Man: Quality of Life #1 (Story 2).

The prison riot aspect was certainly a lucky break for everyone. How likely were a mob of angry convicts to quietly return to their cells? I admit, Spidey’s monologue on the tv show was out of place and a little preachy. The point had been made earlier in the story. Again, this story was inspired by actual events, as there had been uprisings around the time the story was published: the 1970 Manhattan Central Detention Complex (also known as “the Tombs”) and the 1971 Attica prison revolt.

Stan was at least pretending to be sympathetic to the prisoners, otherwise more of the story would have been dedicated to Spider-Man beating them up. Makes me wonder how Steve Ditko would have written the story.

This is also one of the last Spidey stories that Stan wrote. I believe that the follow up writer focused more on adventure stories and less on social issues. I don’t know if that was a personal choice or if the readers had gotten tired of it.

Overall Rating

It’s a solid story with good character development but the shift between a prison riot and appearing on a tv talk show feels jarring.

 Posted: 17 Apr 2024
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)