Cover Price: $.30

#1
December 1976

Value: $75 (Near Mint-)
Spider-Man's 2nd OWN title

 

Supporting Cast:
Flash Thompson, Mary Jane Watson, Gloria Grant



Guests:



Villains:
Tarantula

"Twice Stings The Tarantula!" - 17 Pages


Writer -
Gerry Conway
Artist - Sal Buscema
Inker - Mike Esposito
Cover - Sal Buscema
Lettering - Joe Rosen
Colorist - Dave Hunt
Editor -
Gerry Conway

Kicking off a review of the debut issue of Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man, here is Bruce Buchanan. This title should not be confused to the Magazine Sized Spectacular Spider-Man #1-2 that was published in 1968. This title actually included the Peter Parker part for about half of it's run, but has mostly been remembered just as Spectacular Spider-Man. Eric

The mid-1970s were a tough time for the United States. The wounds of the Vietnam War still were fresh in the nation's collective mind. The one-two punch of inflation and rising unemployment left many Americans struggling to pay the bills. Crime was on the rise in the nation's urban centers - and the White House, where President Richard Nixon left the Oval Office in disgrace after the Watergate scandal. But there never was a better time to be a Spider-Man fan than the middle years of that decade. Writer Gerry Conway produced hit after hit in Amazing Spider-Man and in 1976, Marvel decided to add a second title devoted to the Web-Slinger's monthly adventures.

That title was Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man. Gerry Conway and artist Sal Buscema were assigned to launch this new book. The writing situation remains pretty much a job by committee until issue Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #9, when Bill Mantlo settles in for a lengthy and distinguished run. The series gets off to a solid, albeit unspectacular (pardon the pun) start in this premiere issue. For starters, the Tarantula isn't exactly at the top of Spidey's rogues gallery. Previously, he had served as hired muscle for the Jackal (last seen by Spider-Man in the pages of the infamous Amazing Spider-Man #149). and has always been a second-tier villain. A classic Spider-Man villain, such as the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Mysterio, the Vulture or the Lizard, would've been a better choice to kick off a new series in grand style. However, this first issue does have some intrigue and is a well-told, professionally drawn story, as comics from this era tend to be.

The issue starts out quietly enough with Spider-Man in a hidden perch at the Empire State University campus. He's there to photograph a speech by vice-chancellor Edward Lansky, who is speaking out against upcoming budget cuts. "If I didn't need the money J. Jonah Jameson is going to pay me for these pics -- I could almost scream from boredom," Spidey thinks. Sure enough, this tranquil scene is interrupted by the South American super-villain the Tarantula.  The Tarantula was last seen in the pages of Captain America #224 of all places, where he was beaten to a pulp by Captain America, but now he is back, and he intends to kidnap Lansky, until Spider-Man jumps to the rescue. Spidey is particularly concerned when he notices Mary Jane in the crowd, as he worries she'll get hurt in the brawl.

Unfortunately, the new series has an inauspicious start for the title character. The Tarantula and his men escape with Lansky and Spidey gets a stiff kick to the ribs for his trouble. To make things worse, some of the students blame him for Lanksy's abduction and his camera was broken in the melee, meaning he has no photos to sell to the Daily Bugle. Later, the Tarantula meets with a mystery boss, whose face we cannot see. The man tells the Tarantula, "No matter what happens -- the mayor must die!" The man says the murder must look like a botched kidnapping. Curious. Peter spots the Tarantula's car near City Hall. A quick costume change later and he's there to make the save. First, he takes out the Tarantula's goon squad and rips off a steel security door to get to the mayor's office. Spider-Man finds the Tarantula in the mayor's office terrorizing the city's leader. Madre de Dios! They brawl in front of the mayor, then crash out of a window. "If I have to hear another word of macho earwax out of you--I'll go crazy!" Spider-Man says as he tackles the startled villain. However, the Tarantula grabs the mayor as they are falling, forcing Spider-Man to save the mayor and allowing the Tarantula to flee. The Tarantula escapes, but his plot to kill the mayor has been foiled.

There's not a whole lot of action on the supporting cast front. Peter and Mary Jane are somewhat on the outs at this point and Mary Jane has been seeing Flash Thompson. Still, Pete and Mary Jane take Peter's neighbor, Gloria "Glory" Grant, job hunting. This will end up with Glory becoming a regular part of the Daily Bugle cast.

All in all, this issue sets the scene for bigger, better things to come in the next couple of issues, but in and of itself isn't particularly noteworthy. It's not a bad start for the new title, but it's also not the memorable first issue you might expect. Really, it reads more like an average monthly issue of Amazing Spider-Man than a milestone issue. But as long as you realize that going in, you aren't likely to be disappointed.

Coming next month: Who is this mystery man behind the Tarantula? Well, we'll hear more from him, see more of the Tarantula and best of all, get an appearance by one of Spidey's classic foes: Kraven the Hunter!

Reviewed by Bruce Buchanan.

Quality Rating: 3
Significance Rating: 5

Overall Rating:

8

 

Spectacular Spider-Man -#1

Also This Month:

Amazing Spider-Man #163
Marvel Team-Up
#52

Spectacular Spider-Man #2