Previously, on Spider-Man…
Spidey had an epic throw down with the Hobgoblin as Hobby’s battle van careened out of control. The van crashed into the river and Hobgoblin escaped. After that, we had Richard Fisk show up as the Rose for the first time, then Spidey returned from the Secret War with the symbiote.
|Cover Art:||Rick Leonardi|
|Reprinted In:||Marvel Tales #268|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man: Saga of The Alien Costume (TPB)|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man Spectacular All-Colour Summer Special (UK) 1984|
As the police pull the battle van out of the river, black suited Spider-Man grumbled that it took them long enough. He reminisced about the past few weeks and then left a spider tracer on the van, knowing that Hobgoblin would come back for it. As he swung away, a jogger radioed to a man in the shadows that the van was on its way to the police impound yard.
As Spidey is swinging, he thinks about how he needs to talk to Black Cat because he thinks she’s keeping something from him. He also needed to call his aunt, who was upset that he had dropped out of grad school. He stopped to use a pay phone and when one of May’s tenants answered, he told Peter that she wouldn’t come to the phone. He swung away, dejected that she had refused to talk to him a second time. He caught a ride on a Daily Bugle truck and went to sell pictures of the van coming out of the river. Inside the Bugle, some workers noticed Spider-Man on the truck and chased him away.
Meanwhile, the battle van gained a police escort, which the mystery man had anticipated. The police were forced to stop when a pedestrian “accidentally” ran into a police car and an ambulance was called. The van moved on alone. The two cops driving the truck that towed the van were distracted by an attractive woman in a convertible next to them. As they were flirting with her, the van was picked up by a giant magnet and the truck drove away, the men inside none the wiser.
At the Bugle, Peter had no luck getting anyone to buy his photos. He left them with Betty in case anyone changed their minds. At that moment, a frustrated man left Joe Robertson’s office, complaining that Joe had told him to change a headline yet again. Peter commented that Joe had been putting everyone under pressure lately and Betty replied that he was taking his new position as editor in chief seriously. Another employee told Peter that he had a phone call and it was Nathan Lubensky . Nathan said he thought both Peter and May were being foolish and told him he and May would be at a restaurant soon. Peter would be there in a half hour. Peter was called over to Wendy Thorton’s desk, who told him that the battle van had mysteriously disappeared on its way to impound. Peter ran off as Wendy talked, frustrated that he had to choose between seeing his aunt or finding the van.
Spider-Man was soon at the impound yard, quickly taking care of some goons. His spider sense warned him just in time to avoid an explosive device. Seeing a figure hidden in the swirling dust, he assumed it was the Hobgoblin. He was surprised to find he was facing the Jack O’Lantern, a very similar criminal. Spider-Man was confused why he wanted Hobgoblin’s vehicle but Jack wasn’t talking. He led Spidey away from the van so that his men could continue their work. Spider-Man went after Jack O’Lantern, knowing that he still had the tracer on the van. Before Jack’s men could finish their work, the van sped away on it’s own, and they assumed by remote control.
At the restaurant, May noticed that Nathan was continually looking at his watch. She assumed that he had called Peter and told him to meet them, and Nathan confessed. May said she wouldn’t know what to say to her nephew. They used to be close but he seemed to drift away over the past few years.
In desperation, Jack O’Lantern crashed his pogo platform through a toy shop, hoping to use the indoors to his advantage. Spider-Man had more difficulty dodging his blasts while protecting innocent bystanders. He knocked Jack off of his pogo platform with a punch but Jack was soon back riding it. Spidey prevented his escape by webbing the platform and knocking Jack into a wall. He demanded that Jack tell him why he was interested in Hobgoblin’s equipment but Jack distracted him by firing a laser toward a mother and son. Spider-Man rushed to save the family from the electrical cords that had been damaged and Jack escaped.
Peter arrived at the restaurant, where Nathan was waiting for him. May had left an hour beforehand in tears but Nathan stayed to chew Peter out. He accused Peter of not really caring about his aunt.
This era of Spidey stories is probably my favorite. Hobgoblin’s identity and ultimate motive is an intriguing mystery, and in this story we see the beginning of the Hobgoblin/Jack O’Lantern rivalry. I love the relationships between villains as much as between hero and villain. They aren’t always friendly just because they’re on the wrong side of the law. Jack’s “pogo platform” is still stupid but at least he eventually moved on to a better design. Norman’s flying broomstick was a bad first draft of the glider, so I guess that’s typical. They can’t all be winners.
Aunt May and Nathan still annoy me with their “poor me” attitude. Granted Peter looked bad by showing up late and not calling but May comes across as overbearing. She didn’t even ask Peter WHY he dropped out of school, she immediately went into indignant hysterics.
I like the art, it’s very mid 1980s Spider-Man. The way that the bodies move during fight scenes is very organic feeling and the faces are believable. They aren’t overly stylized.
Maybe nothing Earth changing but an enjoyable read with classic characters.