|Dave Cockrum, John Romita, Sr.
|Essential Spider-Man #8
Spidey's sitting back riding on top of a bus because "swinging around town on a cockamamie web all the time can get to be a strain on the arms." However a passing helicopter of strange engineering comes by and picks up a delivery truck. Spider-Man investigates and finds some costumed criminals that he's seen before (in issues 153, 154 & 160 says writer and editor, Len Wein).
The criminals manage to keep Spidey busy long enough to get the "thingamajig" their boss wanted and drop the truck - with Spidey standing on top of it - to the ground. Their boss is watching though and wanted our hero alive. Fortunately for him (and us) Spidey webs himself into a giant web ball and bounces on the ground. The threatening shadow of the boss promises to get the wall-crawler next time.
Bruised, Peter Parker makes his way back to Manhattan and picks up flowers for Mary Jane to try to patch things up. She's not home, so he heads back to his apartment dejectedly. But once he walks through the door...surprise! Pete's friends are there and have all chipped in with one piece of furniture to add to his sparse digs, a Glory Grant-inspired "Please Provide for Peter Parker's Pad Party." Pete tries to talk to MJ but is jealous that Flash is around as well and storms off. Robbie tries to offer some wisdom but Pete isn't in the mood. He heads to the roof where he finds Harry Osborn and Liz Allen in a tender moment. Thinks Peter, "It's nice to know things are working themselves out for someone!"
After "24 hours" or so (and see the footnote below to check what else Spidey was up to in that time), Spider-Man follows up a lead regarding unusual electrical activity to an old movie studio in the West 50s. Once inside some doors slide down and the Kingpin is revealed as the mastermind behind the plot.
After pointlessly trying to zap Spider-Man with his cane the Kingpin rolls up his sleeves to do the hand-to-hand thing. He surprises Spidey with his speed (as always) and drops his desk on him. They tussle for a bit until Spider-Man falls for the gas in the tie-pin trick.
When Spider-Man awakes again he has one question about his current condition: "Why in blazes have you strapped me to this crazy gizmo anyway?" As Spidey sees a body strapped next to him whose face we cannot see, he receives the Kingpin's answer: "In just one moment, Spider-Man -- we are going to steal your life!"
Well, I'm never a big fan of any story that sees a masked hero knocked out and not unmasked. I just feel that any villain would do this, even if he had plans to "steal his life." Why not find out who the superhero is just in case? Especially a smartie like the Kingpin.
There's been some argument whether Wilson Fisk is more at home as one of Spider-Man's villains or Daredevil's. I say, no contest...with his abilities as manipulator and shadowy backer of more physically dangerous combatants, Kingpin was never used better than in Daredevil.
A very nice moment occurs between Harry Osborn and Liz Allen, as Peter sees that his old friends are becoming closer than he'd realized. This is a couple that would last quite awhile in Peter's universe until Harry's death in Spectacular Spider-Man # 200
The party for Peter's pad is also a nice touch and reminds readers of what a rich supporting cast Spider-Man's books is sometimes allowed to have. Present at the party are Mary Jane, Glory, Harry, Liz, Flash Thompson, Robbie Robertson, Randy Robertson and the inimitable Mrs. Muggins. Pete receives a giant stuffed dog a multi-colored couch, a mounted sailfish, five toasters and a wooden indian whom Peter dubs "Big Chief Down-in-the-Mouth."
Tension with Mary Jane continues as he wants to talk to her but thinks Flash is after her as well.
Some nice character moments but an uninspiring battle with the Kingpin and a "let's not unmask the masked hero" loophole.
*This issue continues the Marvel tradition of having mini-blurbs about upcoming comics at the bottom of some pages. These fun previews include:
"Spider Super Stories #20: The Hulk, the Human Torch and Sue Richards too!"
"Hear ye! Solomon Kane will be swashbuckling your way in Marvel Premiere #33!"
"Captain America and the Falcon - crushed by the Unliving Enemy!"
The Defenders face Solarr, the Rhino, Egghead and the Ever-Deadly Cobalt Man!"
"Super-Villain Team-Up #9: The Vision! Captain America! Iron Man! and More!"
"Who will win the battle of Los Angeles? The Champions...or Nemesis?"
"Mighty Thor #254: Wouldja believe...the Stone Men of Saturn?"
"'Gods and Men at City College!' Make sure you're there too in The Eternals #6!"
"Hunted by the police, Iron Fist the Living Weapon becomes a Kung-Fu Killer!"
*Interesting ads for this issue include "Thor and the False Immortal" from Hostess cakes; Mead-licensed paper products; O.J. Simpson and his Juicemobile sneakers; and the World Encyclopedia of Comics, edited by Maurice Horn.
*A picture of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #1 appears on the Bullpen Bulletins page.
*According to our friends at the Marvel Chronology Project, Spider- Man's last appearance was with Iron Man in Marvel Team-Up #51. There is a span of time between pages 9 & 10 of this issue in which Spidey appears first in the aforementioned Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #1, then with Captain America in Marvel Team-Up #52. Then it's back to the rest of this issue where he discovers and is captured by the Kingpin.