Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #18

 Posted: 11 Jun 2023
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)



Story 'The Scorpion Takes A Bride! (But Not the Way You Think!)'

The story begins with Spider-Man watching a bank robbery unfolding as he sits on a skyscraper. The thieves got away in a helicopter and he swung after them, then hitting the helicopter with a web. It dragged him behind them and the pilot tried to shake him off by flying low to the street. The pilot then took off skyward and yanked Spidey behind him, nearly slamming him into a wall. The maneuver made the helicopter’s blades hit a tower and it began to fall toward the street. Spider swung toward the ground, leaving web lines behind him. As the helicopter fell, it hit each web and slowed slightly. By the time Spider-Man caught it, it was slow enough. After the crooks were webbed up, he went to get his camera and hoped he had film in it.

Luckily he did and was soon at the Bugle and hoped Robbie would buy them. He noticed that the office atmosphere was different, as if people were whispering a private joke. Peter told Robbie he knew that he was tired of Spider-Man photos but Robbie liked what he saw. Just then a package arrived and Ben Urich passed out invitations to Jonah’s wedding with Marla Madison. The invitation was snatched out of his hand by a staffer named Ann, who needed it for her announcement in the society page.

Meanwhile, Jonah and Marla were talking privately in his executive suite. She sarcastically complimented him on his romantic small talk and asked if he had invited his son to the wedding. Jonah stammered that John may not be able to attend but Marla insisted that he be there. She kissed him and left, just in time for Spider-Man to appear at the window with a flower bouquet. He came to congratulate Jonah, who told him to send a note next time. Spidey told him that since he probably isn’t invited and he can’t kiss the bride, he’d do the next best thing. He spun Jonah around and kissed him. As Spider-Man swung away, Jonah screamed he’d need a rabies shot.

Jonah soon arrived at Sherwood Nursing Home to see John. The doctor told him that John had good and bad days but does best when untroubled. Jonah talked to John in his room, where he was working on a jigsaw puzzle. Jonah nervously lit a cigar and told John he was getting married to Marla. John freaked out and threw over the table with the jigsaw puzzle, saying Marla would come between them, just like there was always something coming between them.

Jonah left and as he talked to the doctor outside, Mac Gargan watched from his padded cell. He reminisced about how he became the Scorpion and was soon greeted by therapists. He refused to pay for therapy and was told that it had all been paid for by people in high places. Later that night, a guard named Frank brought Gargan some cigarettes, coffee and a newspaper. Frank told Gargan that knowing a supervillain made him a big shot with his friends. Frank was the only one that Gargan let get close to him. As Frank read the newspaper to Gargan, he mentioned that Jameson was getting married. Gargan told him to shut up, he had heard enough. Frank threatened to shoot him with a tranquilizer dart but Gargan broke out of his mechanical straight jacket before he could. He stomped on the tranquilizer gun and tore the metal door off its hinges. Gargan forced Frank to take him to his Scorpion armor and Frank told him it was behind two feet of solid steel. Gargan was glad, as that meant it had been kept safe. Frank tried to run but was cut down by Scorpion’s electric tail. Scorpion then came to John’s room and kidnapped him.

At the Daily Bugle, Jonah was met by a surprise congratulation party. As the party began, Peter realized that he was the only staffer that hadn’t gotten an invitation and Ned assumed it was a mistake. Jonah told Peter that he was indeed invited and to bring his camera. Peter was disappointed that he was expected to work, when Jonah reassured him that his personal photographer would be there. He just wanted Peter to learn a few things from a professional. That’s when the police arrived and told him that Scorpion had escaped with John.

Spider-Man immediately began combing the city but soon gave up and returned to Jameson’s penthouse. Guards had surrounded it but he slipped past them. It was a thought that scared him, since if he could get past the security, then so could Scorpion. Inside the penthouse, Marla wanted to leave and hide but Captain DeWolfe told them to stay. However, when Jonah told her that she should leave, DeWolfe agreed. Captain DeWolfe promised Jonah that Marla would be safe, as he was Scorpion’s target.

In the sewer, Scorpion taunted John, telling him that he’s the strongest and deadliest that there is. He hung John from his straight jacket on a hook and smashed his way through the sewer. He ended up at Marla’s apartment building and climbed the elevator shaft to her apartment. He easily brushed aside the police. As he made his way to Jonah’s fiancé, Spider-Man arrived. He had a hunch that Scorpion would go for the less protected target. During the fight, the fuse box was destroyed and the room went black. Spider-Man trusted his spider senses but Scorpion used his tail blasts to light the darkness. Spidey was soon knocked out.

In the sewer, John tried to escape from his jacket by lifting himself off of the hook.

Jonah had tried calling Marla but hadn’t gotten an answer. DeWolfe reassured him that everything was fine while quietly telling an officer to send a team of patrol cars to Marla’s apartment. Jonah hated waiting like a coward and then told himself that he needed to do something that he should have done years ago. He left the building telling the cops that Scorpion was upstairs. As they rushed inside, he slipped away.

The fight continued and Marla tried to escape the apartment but was winged by one of Scorpion’s tail blasts. Spider-Man grabbed her and jumped out the window, the Scorpion right behind him.

John managed to get off of the hook on the wall. He made his way to some broken concrete and rubbed the jacket against it, despite also taking off skin. He eventually broke free and ran to help his father.

Jonah saw Scorpion chasing Spider-Man on the rooftops and had a taxi driver follow them.

Spider-Man managed to drop Marla off on a rooftop with a way out of the building and turned to face his enemy. During the fight, mortar from the building began to fall to the street and Spidey caught it with his web. As he was left pulling it up, Scorpion went after Marla.

He found her in an alley, just as Jonah showed up. He told Jonah that he was going to pay for making Mac Gargan into a freak. Jonah replied in terror that he had been paying for the Scorpion for years. He paid for his doctors, his stay in the nursing home and set up a fund for his victims. Scorpion wasn’t satisfied, saying money wouldn’t make him normal again. At that moment, John arrived and Scorpion grabbed both him and Marla. He made Jonah choose who would die. Jonah demanded that he be the one to die, and Scorpion said they’d all die but Jonah would be last.

Spider-Man showed up and webbed Scorpion’s eyes shut, giving the Jameson’s time to escape. He was knocked into a building and Spidey’s taunts kept him unfocused. Scorpion tore his mask off to get the webbing away but Spidey soon had him beaten and webbed up.

The Jameson’s walked away in relief after talking with the police but an officer asked Captain DeWolfe about Spider-Man. She said he’d stopped a bank robbery, saved lives and delivered the Scorpion.

On Jonah and Marla’s wedding day, he and John talked about Marla. Jonah told his son that he loved her and John understood. He wanted his dad to be happy and they were proud of each other. It ended with Spidey saying that if a grouchy old man can find love, then there’s hope for everyone.

General Comments

This was good but still basically a typical Scorpion/J. Jonah Jameson story. Gargan hates Jonah for making him a freak but also loves the power that he has. That is the extent of Gargan’s character, unless he is Venom or working as muscle for another criminal. Speaking of Venom, I can see Scorpion as an early precursor to Eddie Brock. They are both single minded and relentless in seeking revenge. Scorpion is a creature that Jonah regrets creating, as Spider-Man does with Venom.

Again, the police need to be inept for the story to work. Why else would Captain DeWolfe send Marla away after saying how safe Jonah was? Also, one moment Spidey is knocked out and the next he’s up and fighting.

The art was simple but decent. Gargan did look sufficiently insane and dangerous. I liked the twist that JJ had been the one paying for Scorpion’s expenses, it was surprising to see him taking the responsibility. I don’t know what was happening at the time between John and Jonah (or why John was institutionalized) but their disagreement over Marla seemed tacked on. I’m probably missing backstory.

Overall Rating

It’s basically a longer length average issue. Nothing terrible or amazing.

 Posted: 11 Jun 2023
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)