We conclude the Day of the Grizzly! two-part story arc which began last issue in Amazing Spider-Man #139.
|Inker:||David Hunt, Frank Giacoia|
|Cover Art:||Gil Kane|
With Peter now conscious, the Grizzly carries him in a bear-hug, following the Jackal down the hallway of the Washington Square townhouse.
The costume of the Jackal, by the way, resembles a green man in a loincloth with pointed teeth, racoon-like eyes and swept-up ears that are reminiscent of the head fur of the Beast. He has claws on hands and feet and sometimes chooses to walk with his hands slapping the ground, which is as close to looking like an actual Jackal as he ever gets. (Mostly, he leaps about like a deranged elf.) Still, he has such a great look, who could possibly complain?
Leading the way, the Jackal explains that Peter Parker and Spider-Man must be partners. "How else does Parker manage those news photos?" He opens the door to his laboratory - "complete and totally portable" - then tells the Grizzly to knock Peter out. "It'll be simpler if he's unconscious when we perform... the operation!" Ignoring Peter's protests, the Grizzly squeezes hard and Peter is out. The Grizzly puts him on the operating table and the Jackal declares that, soon, "Peter Parker will be ours to control forever!" (Why this is such a big deal to anyone who doesn't know Pete is Spidey is not discussed. And at this point, the Jackal still doesn't know Pete is Spidey.... I think.)
Anyway, Pete's unconscious mind accomodates the reader by reviewing everything that happened last issue, then he regains consciousness with Ned Leeds and Betty Brant standing over him. He is in the lobby of the Daily Bugle and who knows what time it is. Remember it was after midnight when Pete was captured by the Jackal. Now it seems to be the afternoon of the same day of the Grizzly's attack. (The Jackal doesn't have a time machine, does he?) Anyway, Ned, Betty, and Pete go across the street to a coffee shop and as Peter reaches for his cup of Joe, he realizes that something is wrong with his arm. He rushes to the Men's room, lifts up his sleeve, and discovers that the Jackal "put some sort of harness" on his arm. (And where is his Spider-Man outfit? He conveniently stashed that away before entering the townhouse? This little inconsistency is never explained.) Even as Peter tries to figure out the best way to remove the metal device, it speaks to him. Or, to be more specific, the Jackal speaks through it. He warns Pete not to tamper with the harness which is a homing device so that the Jackal can track Peter wherever he goes and thereby learn the identity of Spider-Man. If he tries to remove it "the harness will vibrate itself to powder instantly, destroying both itself and your arm!" Peter swears profusely at this news... and who can blame him!
Later (after, presumably, Peter has left the bathroom and given Ned and Betty the air), our hero shows up at his new apartment in the company of Flash Thompson. Flash is unimpressed with Pete's new digs. Pete doesn't even have any furniture. In fact, his possessions seem to consist of a suitcase, a satchel, a shoulder bag and his camera. The men have left the front door open and a striking young African-American woman takes advantage of this. She walks in and introduces herself. She is dressed in a yellow halter top with red bellbottoms. Her hair is cut close to her head. Her earrings are large concentric circles. She is Gloria Grant and she is thrilled to learn that Peter is a photographer because she is a model. She lives right down the hall. (In later years, Gloria becomes J. Jonah Jameson's secretary.) Flash takes back everything he said about the place after meeting Glory. "This", he says, "is the greatest apartment I've ever seen."
Flash takes his leave and Peter spends the day pondering his situation. He ends up at his college chemistry lab, after midnight, with his harnessed arm laid out on the counter. He decides that he cannot function as Spider-Man with the harness on so he must take a chance that the Jackal was bluffing. He must remove the harness from his arm.
He opens a compartment to reveal a maze of wires. Then, he lights an acetyline torch, adjusting "the flame to a blue-white intensity". Then, sweating profusely once again, he aims the flame right into the guts of the harness. The metal smoulders from the heat but does not destroy itself. Pete then takes a pair of metal cutters to the device and clips it off. He drops it to the floor, his arm unharmed, then he puts his head in his hands and sighs with relief.
Later, our enviromentally-conscious hero tosses the harness into the Hudson River. He swings by the Daily Bugle and notices Jonah's office light is still on. That suits him since he's got a few questions for the publisher. He climbs through an open window only to see JJJ asleep on his office couch, shoes off, a copy of the newspaper opened and laying over his head. Well, what else would Spidey do in such a situation? You got it. He gives Jonah Jameson a hot foot. Jameson awakens with a jolt and he is understandably upset. ("If you're planning to rob me, forget it.") Spidey mollifies him by pulling out one of Jonah's cigars, placing it in the publisher's mouth and lighting it. Then, he politely asks Jonah to "tell me what you know about the Grizzly before I paste you one across that darling nose." "If it'll get you out of here", Jonah says, "you can have the facts, you costumed creep." And he begins his story.
It was eleven years ago that Jameson first became aware of the Grizzly. The villain was, at that time, a professional wrestler and he was excessively brutal and cruel. Jonah was so shocked by "the kind of violence the man used" that he wrote a series of editorals "demanding the wrestling commission investigate". (One article was the front page lead, featuring a headshot of the Grizzly and a familiar sounding headline... "The Grizzly: Menace or Threat?")
The commission does indeed investigate, bringing in Maxwell Markham a.k.a. the Grizzly, to defend himself. But, "by the time the hearings were over, the Grizzly was finished". The wrestling commission revokes his license and Markham is out of a job.
After the hearing, Markham confronts Jameson in the hallway, charging that the newspaper campaign was unnecessary, that "it wasn't your business". But Jameson casually blows cigar smoke in the Grizzly's face, while telling him that anything is his business, if he can use it to sell newspapers.
In the telling, JJJ tries to make it appear to be "a matter of high moral principle" but Spidey isn't buying it. To him, the bottom line is that Jameson ruined the Grizzly's career. He yanks the cigar from Jameson's mouth and crushes it in his hand. "That's what the Grizzly's going to do to you, JJJ", Spidey says as he heads to the window. "And after what you told me, I'm tempted to let him!" An angry Jonah picks up one of his shoes and flings it at the webspinner. Spidey swings away as the shoe flies out the window and falls to the street. An apoplectic Jonah can't believe he threw it. "That's a fifty-dollar pair of shoes!" And, of course, the loss of the shoe is Spider-Man's fault, too.
Meanwhile, Spidey heads back to Washington Square and the townhouse which was the Jackal's hideout. He assumes that the Jackal has fled long before but, just in case, he investigates by sneaking into a window and walking about on the ceiling. There is no sign of any life and Spidey begins to wonder who the townhouse belongs to. "Maybe I can track him down by finding out who owns this building", Spidey thinks. (As far as I can remember, this line of investigation was never followed up by Spidey.) By this time, he gets to the location of the portable lab and, sure enough, all the equipment is gone. "There's nothing here but footprints in the dust." Spidey is stumped. He's gone through all his leads and has no idea how to proceed. But then something comes to him. He heads to the nearest open gym (a place called "Ed's Gym" if you must know) to see if they know anything about an ex-wrestler named Maxwell Markham.
The manager is asleep in his chair, his feet up on his desk, when he is awakened by a rapping on his window. Spidey is there, asking the man if he knows anything about Markham. The manager says "Maxie" used to work out of Halberstam's Gym on West Thirty-Fourth, so the webhead makes his way over there.
But fast as Spidey is, he's not fast enough. Before he can arrive, a giant smashes through a door at Halberstam's Gym, interrupting the workouts of several muscle-bound men. Even though he's dressed in a bear costume, one man recognizes the figure as "Crazy Max". This does not sit well with the intruder. "I ain't Crazy Max anymore, you creeps!", he proclaims, "I'm the Grizzly and I've got a debt to pay". And saying this, he wades into the three men, flattening them. "When the commission had hearings on me ten years ago, you guys could've saved my hide with a little lyin'", he tells the unconscious men, "You didn't and you've laughed at me ever since." But the Grizzly's revenge is short-lived. He is joined in the gym by the Amazing Spider-Man.
Spidey perches himself on the ropes of the wrestling ring allowing the Grizzly to charge. But just as the bear reaches him, the webhead leaps over, attaching his webbing to the back of the Grizzly's suit. He pulls down, ripping the costume open, revealing a metal apparatus underneath. The Grizzly protests that "the Jackal built it for me real special" but Spidey doesn't care. He's figured out that the Grizzly must have "some sort of power-boosting exo-skeleton under that costume", something that makes him stronger than just an ordinary wrestler. He methodically uses his webbing to tear the entire costume apart, leaving the Grizzly clothed in his bear head and feet, his exo-skeleton, and his blue briefs. The giant boasts that he can beat Spidey without the costume but the wall-crawler isn't listening. As far as he's concerned, the Grizzly is "just a flabby has-been who's borne a grudge so long he doesn't know the real world from the false." Spidey webs the bear head, pulling it off and the exo-skeleton comes apart. Still, the Grizzly charges him. Without his power-enhancement, though, the Grizzly is easily thrown against the wall by Spidey who webs Maxie's waist, head, hands and feet to the wall. Just like that, the fight is over.
Spidey calls the police, telling them where to find the webbed-up Grizzly. He assures them that J. Jonah Jameson "will be willing to press charges". "Jameson!", the bitter Grizzly spits out, "If it hadn't been for him, I could'a been somebody, I could'a been the champ." "Make that chump, not champ, Max", Spidey replies, "You were Jameson's chump ten years ago now you've been the Jackal's. But don't worry, someday I'll get the Jackal, too. And that, my fat friend, is a promise from Spider-Man!"
So, did Spidey keep his promise? Well, sort of, but not really. The Jackal continued to plague him over the next nine issues, creating the Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker clones, discovering Spidey's identity, and revealing himself to be Professor Miles Warren, Peter's science teacher. In Amazing #149 (October 1975), he forced Spider-Man and Spider-Clone to fight each other, each believing they were the real Spidey, each knowing that only the real Spidey could defuse the bomb the Jackal set up to kill Ned Leeds. The Gwen Stacy clone rebeled at Warren's inhumanity. Her words and actions snapped Warren back to sanity and the Prof. saved Ned himself, only to be killed by his own bomb. So, Spidey didn't really "get" the Jackal. He essentially got himself.
To make matters worse, the Jackal reappears years later in Amazing #399 (March 1995) and reveals that he created all sorts of other clones including one of himself. It was his clone who got religion and died back in ASM #149, while the real Jackal remained free. So, now it sounds like Spidey never even "got" him at all.
The Jackal finally meets his end in Spider-Man: Maximum Clonage: Omega #1 (August 1995) when he falls umpteen stories to the pavement while trying to rescue the Gwen Stacy clone; a demise so lame it's hard to believe that this was the real Jackal either. But even if it is, well, let's just say Spidey didn't do a particularly good job of keeping his promise and leave it at that, OK?
The Grizzly, on the other hand, has mended his ways. He has teamed with the Gibbon to fight crime and was last seen in Spectacular Spider-Man #256 (April 1998) fighting the White Rabbit and giving super-hero advice to Peter Parker in his guise of Bag-Man. (You had to be there.)
Finally, a look at a very interesting letter page in ASM #140. Harold Aberdeen Harvey of Cartholl, Minnesota complains that "The problem with Spidey as I see it is that there are too many loose ends left dangling that should be tied up." (How do you think Harold would react now?) And in an interesting discussion of whether Peter should age, Paul DeRogatis of Waban, Massachusetts writes that "Basically Peter has grown up in the sixties and thus is a product of those years, making him different from people who are products of the fifties or forties or thirties or seventies.... The influence of the particular years that Peter Parker spent in high school and college are an important part of his character and will be reflected in the ways he will act and the attitudes that he will hold for the rest of his life. If you allow Peter to remain the same age forever, he will be forced to become a product of all generations, a conglomeration of experiences and feelings that belong to several different ages, a college student in the year 2000 who remembers doing the Twist in high school." Edward Rigdon of Dothan, Alabama writes that "if it takes him nine years to graduate, it'll be 2001 before he gets a regular job!" and The Lawgiver from Ape City, California (What can I say? That's how he signed it.) says, "Let Parker stay in college a few more years. He should, however - sooner or later - die."