Monday, December 9, 2013

Spider Monday - Amazing Spider-Man #7

After an introduction to the all-new, all-dangerous Lizard last issue, this time around Lee and Ditko are answering the requests of the fans and bringing us another exciting adventure of the Vulture. Where he only had half a comic before, now he has a full adventure of his own spanning an entire 22 pages. Will the character be compelling enough to make it work? Spoiler Alert: Yes. Still, the fun is in the details, so let's take a look at the adventure for ourselves and see if Vulture's crimes can't be stopped! Also, who knew that the Spider Parachute tag would make a second appearance?? Bizarre.

The issue opens with Adrian Toomes, a.k.a. the Vulture, hanging out in prison, where he's been since Spider-Man foiled him last time with an Anti-Magnetic Inverter that he created because, you know, science. Anyway, Spidey declares that the Vulture will never threaten anyone again, and is this quickly proven wrong. Adrian, during his months in prison, becomes known as the best behaved prison in the entire jail, and allowed to work in the machine shop. Naturally, he uses this time to build a new flying device, and then hurries to escape prison and go back to his life of crime, and plans to build even more powerful wings than before.

While this is going on, Peter is suffering through the same agony that I remember, playing Volleyball with Flash Thompson and his other schoolmates and receiving a verbal beat down at the same time. That Flash Thompson is such a jerk.. as a reader, I hope one day he gets his legs cut off and stuck in an alien symbiote suit.. but alas. What are the odds of that ever happening?

Peter bemoans his fate, wishing that he could show up Flash Thompson with his spider powers without hiding behind a mask, but still follows his responsibility, responding to a radio broadcast stating that the Vulture escaped and the police recommending all citizens stay inside and lock their doors. Kind of overkill, I'd think, but I guess the police know best, right?

Checking his equipment before leaving, (and giving new readers a chance to hear all about the camera and web shooters that Spidey uses) Spidey waits for his street to be empty and sneaks out of the house. He's spotted by a small child who is accused of lying (and probably received the beatdown of his life for it once he got home) but otherwise gets away spot free. In no time at all (seriously, it's one panel later) Spidey is in the city, thinking that he'll beat the Vulture just like he did before with an anti-magnetic inverter.

Let me take a second to point out that in modern comics, the travel from Queens to the city would have taken at least three issues, with a great deal of filler dialogue to keep the story going as long as possible, selling more issues. This "decompression" is definitely a bane of modern comics. In comparison, in this one issue, we learn about Spidey's web shooters again, see where he lives, learns about his second life as an unpopular student, have the Vulture escape and make his new suit.. all in four pages. FOUR PAGES! If comics want to be popular again, maybe they should go back to being fun again. Getting rid of decompression would be a wonderful start.

Anyway, back to the issue, Vulture is is flying around in full costume being as conspicuous as possible while trying out his new wings, which look exactly like his old wings. Way to hide out, old man! He's actually pleased to be spotted by a police copter, seeing it as a chance to try out his new duds. He easily outmaneuvers the "whirleybird" and flies into a random window many stories up. Naturally, this turns out to be a jewelry storeroom, which he takes advantage of by robbing them blind, then jumping back out the window. That, honestly, it probably one of the quickest robberies in comic history. Well done, Vulture, well done. That was actually a well-done crime!

Naturally, this level of skill can not continue, and he ends up flying right at Spider-Man. He's planned ahead, though, and the anti-magnetic device won't work this time around. Instead of attacking, Spider-Man takes the chance to get a close-up picture, while activating his super-science doohickey at the same time. Vulture pretends to fall down, and catches Spidey by surprise, and as Spider-Man ignores his spider-sense, Vulture catches him with a sucker punch, stunning him. As he gloats about his ability to change his magnetic poles at will (science!) Spider-Man misses with his webbing, causing him to fall to the ground, landing on his shoulder and injuring it. Vulture gloats and runs away, as the crowds look on in shock and even a policeman pities him, thinking that he'll be missed. Jeez, he just hurt his shoulder.. not like he's dead. I doubt that would be a career landing injury, copper!

Indeed, he does get back up, thinking that his arm might be broken, and makes his way back home as he thinks about how much worse it could have been. As he gets home, he decides it must be sprained instead of broken, and begins changing just as Evil Overlord May knocks on his door, having heard a noise. She lets herself in without an invitation, because she's EVIL, and Pete manages to hide on the ceiling before the secret bane of his existence leaves, and he's finally able to change clothes and go in through the front door. Evil Overlord May has him taken to a hospital, where the doctor assures Petey that the arm is only sprained. He gets a sling and finds that he'll have to wear the sling for a few weeks. In the meantime, he decides he'll worry about Vulture when he has to. Right now, as always, he decides that Evil Overlord May is his biggest problem. So ncie for him to admit that.

Naturally, when he gets to school, Flash gives him hell for being injured, and Liz adds her own bit of humiliation to the shame soup. Peter is burning up with anger, but manages to suck it down before killing Flash with one spider-powered punch. If only that darned Flash would fall in love with a spider in human form and almost be forced to be impregnated!! But what are the odds of that, right? Sigh.

Meanwhile, the Vulture is hanging out in his silo, because you know, comics. He gloats about beating Spider-Man down, and thinks about what his next big haul is going to be. He decides that he should rob the Daily Bugle and "NOW Magazine" offices, where Jameson keeps what surely is a massive payroll. Vulture figures he can steal the pay envelopes and turn them into his money. I can see about twelve different flaws with this plan, but Adrian is an old man. We'll give him his little moment of glory.

Peter just happens to be at the Daily Bugle office at the time, and Betty has a hard time believing that he sprained his arm playing volleyball. Peter tells her the truth, that he sprained his arm in a mid-air battle with Vulture, and she laughs at the ridiculousness of the idea. Poor Peter. Jameson calls Peter into his office, and tries his best to rip off Peter for his close-up picture of the Vulture, offering a whopping $12.50 for it.

The one-sided haggling is interrupted by the Vulture, who demands that Jameson opens his safe. Jameson complains, buying Peter enough time to sneak out and change his clothes, altering the webs underneath his right armpit to act as a sling without anyone noticing, thus trying to save his secret identity. Given that Batman once dressed up in rainbow colors just to disguise Robin's injured arm, I think this makes a LOT more sense. Clothing on, Spidey hops out the window and makes his way over to Jameson's window, thinking that he's an idiot for fighting the Vulture with a bum arm. I can't say I disagree with him on that one!

In the close confines of the Daily Bugle and "NOW" magazine office, Spidey has the advantage on the Vulture and manages to get ahead in a dynamic, three page fight, but Vulture finally manages to get outside and plans a trap for Spidey. He springs the trap, however, using it to his advantage. As Vulture gloats and drags Spidey higher and higher into the air, Spidey takes this time to web the Vulture's wings together,sending them both plummeting back to the ground. As Vulture wets his Vulture-suit, Spidey puts together an old favorite, the Spider Parachute, and they float down to the ground as the bystanders cheer.

Leaving the Vulture defeated and webbed up, Spidey heads back to the Daily Bugle and gets harrassed by Jameson, whom he just saved. In frustration, Spidey webs up Jameson's mouth, telling him that at least for the next hour Jameson won't bother anyone (the webbing traditionally dissolves in an hour, although Stan the Man sometimes forgot that little fact.) Spidey enters the closet and Peter comes out, moaning about how often he has to change clothes as Spider-Man. Can't blame him on that one, to be honest.. he does have to do that a lot, especially with his bad arm. He sits with Betty, where she is hiding behind her desk, and they spend a bit of time flirting. They are interrupted by Jameson growling and muttering, and Betty and Peter share a laugh.

As the issue closes with a teaser that Peter does some very untypical things in the next issue, we end another issue of Amazing Spider-Man. This was definitely a whopper of an issue, with a great deal of action, plenty of time with Peter, and the return of a villain that would go on to be one of the more recognizable in his rogues gallery. With his age and appearance, Adrian Toomes was a non-standard villain, which typified Marvel's approach to comics. There were familiar elements, but modernized for the 60s. That, more than anything, defined the Marvel Age. I happily and easily give ASM #7 five spiders and recommend this issue once again for those who want to experience the very beginning of the legend of Spider-Man!


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