After having been zapped out of a restaurant window at the end of last issue, Spidey remains groggy as a sinister shadow falls over him. Thinking it could be Brother Power trying to finish him off, the wall-crawler strikes first. But it's not Brother Power at all...it's Razorback, a burly man from Texarkana in a costume with a boar's head on it and an electrified mane who talks like a refugee from the CB era. After some pointless fisticuffs (in which Spidey dangerously throws Razorback through a restaurant window), Razorback reveals that he's really a good guy who is trying to find his brainwashed sister at the Legion of Light.
Annoyed at the interruption, Spidey finds his way back to Flash who is unconscious and alone. He thought that Brother Power (and Flash's friend Sha Shan, Sister Sun) were going to finish him off but they responded to an unheard command and took off in a car. Spidey goes off to follow but Raazorback - Buford Hollis - has another surprise. He's already tagged them with his own homemade tracer. And better yet, he, Spidey and Flash can follow the signal in his tooled-up rig, the Big Pig.
Achmed and Sha Shan arrive at their destination - an estate in Croton-on- Hudson. They learn of "the mentor's" displeasure at Brother Moon's use of his power. This mentor is none other than the Hatemonger, who blasts Brother Moon for insubordination with such force that Sha Shan begs for his life. Hatemonger is also angry that Brother Moon allowed himself to be followed. Achmed swears to destroy the interlopers to make up for his failures and Hatemonger conjures up a plan.
Meanwhile in the Big Pig...Buford tells more about his sister Bobby Sue's disappearance, how she was taken in by the Legion of Light. He figured with his electronics know-how and muscles he could come east and bring her home. Flash also has a story to tell, a tale related by Sha Shan just before they were interrupted by Achmed. Sha Shan was told by her aging father where they lived at a temple that "a lord of darkness has descended to Earth in a shower of light...and chosen a mortal as his emissary of hate!" But that mortal can only use his power when joined with a pure and innocent creature. Thus Sha Shan was destined to meet and marry Achmed so they might become Sister Sun and Brother Moon.
The party reaches the compound and Spidey searches alone for some sign of what's happening. He notices the heavily guarded estate and finds where they are clustered..."the way they're deployed around this window can't help but arouse my spider-curiosity enough to turn me into a Peeping-Peter!" Spidey overhears Hatemonger talk about his plans to spread his hate.
Having heard enough, Spidey tries to escape when an electric shock sends him crashing through a roof. This also gets Razorback and Flash's attention and they seek to help before being attacked themselves by bat-wielding thugs in Legion of Light robes. Spidey is ambushed by Brother Moon and Sister Sun while Razorback is blasted by the suddenly-appearing Bobby Sue while Flash is taken down by the weight of their numbers.
Spidey wakes up with Hatemonger's masked visage telling him how they played into his hands by attacking. Spidey, Flash and Razorback are bound and chained in a chamber with dynamite. Their seeming suicide attack on a religious organization will provide Hatemonger with just the audience he needs. Sighs Spidey, "Hoo boy - this is gonna be another one of those days!"
Well, the Hatemonger angle is interesting. The plot of the Sha Shan saga is certainly a lot more involved than one would have thought at first. From a story about a man who can't have the woman he loves because she is already married, it's moved into a tale of attempted world domination!
Bill Mantlo's Spider-Man tends to be a bit too "act first, think later" for my liking. While most of the characterization is solid - the humor of the character is spot on - I find that such actions as starting the fight with Razorback (and then denying it) and hurling him through a window into a restaurant full of people is a bit out of character.
Ah, Razorback...just when we thought that we had a break from strange dialogue with an absence of "personas hispanicas" - Hispanic characters who instantly translate their own dialogue into English, here is a wannabe hero for the CB generation. He's afraid he might 10-7 Spider-Man for example, which means "kill him." The hokiness of his speech is hard to get past, although he is a sympathetic character. And, hey, he HAS to be a "razorback" if he's from Arkansas! Get it, college sports fans?
The plot of Hatemonger's using a phony attack by superheroes to make his own church look better predates Marv Wolfman's Brother Blood stories in New Teen Titans by quite a few years.
Great art by Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito this issue. With his "Klanmaster" hood and haggard and torn-looking tunic (complete with a capital "H"), Hatemonger is a visually striking if not overly physically intimidating villain.
Mantlo and editor Archie Goodwin make certain that Sha Shan is seen as a complete innocent for her involvement with the whole situation, leading one to believe that her purity will somehow help to win the day for our heroes...eventually.
The Hatemonger storyline seems intriguing, but the cool Daddy-O dialogue of Razorback 10-7's any chance at a higher rating.
According to our friends at the Marvel Chronology Project, this issue takes place right smack dab in between issues 12 and 14
Interesting ads for this issue include the always welcome Rick Barry and Dr. J Spalding Street Ball ad with great art by Jack Davis, A Spider-Man and Fantastic Four board game for only $3.95 plus 60 cents shipping and handling (check eBay to see if you can find this for that cheap now), Johnny and Ken Unitas shooting with Daisy B-B guns and Dr. Doom laughing himself silly over an issue of Crazy.
The letters page features a thank-you letter from Boisterous Bill Mantlo regarding the White Tiger's reception. He thanks the fans, Goodwin and co- creator George Perez.
Stan's Soapbox talks about upcoming live action shows on CBS, including The Incredible Hulk (yay) and Captain America (boo)! We didn't get to see Sub- Mariner or the Human Torch or even one featuring "one of our fabulous females."
The Bullpen Bulletins talk about the end (at the time) of the Thanos saga in the upcoming Marvel Two-In-One Annual, an appearance for Torpedo in Marvel Premiere and an update on the Marvel softball team.