|Cover Art:||Al Milgrom|
|Reprinted In:||Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #1|
It's tennis time at Central Park, but a distracted Flash Thompson is lording it over his friend, a very patient Peter Parker. Flash has Sha Shan on his mind and how disappointed he is that she's married. For his part, Pete just wants to see if his arm's okay (after an injury in a battle with Molten Man in Amazing Spider-Man 173). A Spidey sense tingle almost results in Pete getting hit by another harsh Flash serve, but the Spider reflexes help him avoid collision by destroying both the racket and the ball.
The spider-sense warning came from a group of young people marching hypnotically with placards with a sun on them, chanting, "Uniting the many as one...as a Legion of Light." Flash goes to investigate while Pete gets his camera ready and also looks for a spot to change into Spider-Man duds "without getting arrested as the Central Park Streaker."
The "brothers and sisters" are converging upon the bandshell where a male and a female costumed figure await. Brother Power speaks first and then introduces Sister Sun. Flash recognizes the voice...it's Sha Shan! Flash rushes the stage to ask a stunned Sha Shan what is happening and has to throw off the protective cult members. Brother Power forces her to join hands and they fire energy beams that send Flash flying.
Fortunately Spidey is able to save him from a beam that "looks like light...but it hits like a physical force!" Winded, Spidey is unable to save Flash from another attack. Spidey webs up a shield and attacks Brother Power (whom Sha Shan calls "Achmed") and reveals him to be Sha Shan's husband.
The police come and Spidey takes Flash away while Achmed protests against the vigilante's incursion on a peaceful ceremony. Sha Shan regretfully agrees. Pete wakes Flash up and lets him crash at his apartment while he talks to Professor Hutton, an ESU sociology professor who had given Pete a bad grade last semester. Pete just wants to find out about the origin of the Legion of Light. Hutton tells him that Achmed Korba has a shady past and once claimed to have seen a mentor of light who convinced him to start the cult, which he often does with the help of financial security from restaurants.
Pete goes back to check on Flash, but finds only a note saying that the distracted youth was going to Sha Shan. Brother Power finds Flash with Sha Shan and threatens to kill Flash. Spidey saves him just in time but a joint blast from the husband and wife send Spidey crashing through the window to the alley below. As he struggles to rise, Spidey is approached by a sinister- looking shadow.
A pretty good issue...I had known a bit about Sha Shan from reading other older comics from this time period, but I had no idea she had any sort of super- powered identity. The revelatory scene came as a surprise to me.
I'm not certain that there have been two less likely seeming "villains" than Achmed and Sha Shan. Although the latter's "evil" was firmly established in previous issues, giving them powers was a surprise.
I suppose it's a holdover from my mutant reading in years past, but I'm accustomed to blinding flashes of light coming from siblings, not husband and wife (i.e. Fenris, Northstar/Aurora).
Professor Hutton looks a bit like Green Arrow.
Interesting story with a nice surprise in the middle...but the specter of Razorback (next issue) looms.
*According to our friends at Marvel Chronology Project, it's been a long time between issues for Spider-Man. After issue 11 came the confrontation with Arcade and Murderworld alongside Captain Britain in Marvel Team-Up 65 & 66. Brian Braddock may have stayed with Pete for a bit, a period perhaps covered more in detail in the U.K. Captain Britain strips and in the flashback in Excalibur 53, an issue that features Cap with his original costume on the cover. A quick trip to Marvel Two-In-One Annual 2 followed, in which the classic battle with Thanos took place. Spidey teamed with Tigra against Kraven and then Man-Thing against D'Spayre in Marvel Team-Up 67 & 68, more terrific stories by Claremont/Byrne.
After quick cameos in Defenders 52 and Avengers 168 (an early part of The Korvac Saga...boy, there were some terrific stories happening about this time), Spidey fought the Living Monolith with the help of Havok and Thor in Marvel Team-Up 69 & 70. Spidey gets buggy in Amazing Spider-Man Annual 11, fighting some insect creatures. The second story of this issue features the first artwork from some artist named John Romita, Jr.
After something called Code of Honor 2, next comes an uninterrupted run of Amazing Spider-Man issues. The Rocket Racer and Molten Man turn up in issues 172 & 173. The Punisher and the Hitman show up in issues 174 & 175. The new Green Goblin rears his ugly mask in issues 176, 177, 178 & 179, also featuring Silvermane.
Then it's right back here to this very issue. Get to reading, folks, we'll wait for you here!
*Interesting ads for this issue include one for Pizzazz on the inside front cover, featuring a suave-looking Stan Lee and a bunch of super heroes peeking into the magazine. Daredevil utters the infamous line, "Lemme see." Elsewhere, Howard the Duck hawks subscriptions to Marvel Comics as a carnival barker. Some Marvel mags get a full-page house ad. And good old Captain Marvel faces a smiley villain at a fair in the Hostess ad "He's all Mouth!"
*The Marvel Bullpen Bulletins include a welcome to Rick Parker and Jim Salicrup. Roger Stern and Jo Duffy got promoted. And the recent price change of the comics up to 35 cents is noted in a special, somber yellow box.