My project of reading all of ASM stalled out for a bit, but I’m back. With a vengeane! In pog form! All the ways you can be back, I’m those.
There are a few great things that happened in this volume, but first I wanted to say that I LOSE MY LIST! I had this list I made of the issues I’ve read already and the ones I still need to read. And I recently supplemented with a list that showed a clear path through graphic novels/trade paperbacks so I wouldn’t have to spend, I don’t know $8 million on funnybooks. And now I can’t find the damn thing. It’s sad. The list wasn’t the project, and I can remember where I’ve been already, but it’s a real shame to lose the list.
I did a hard-target search of every paper pile, desk drawer, man purse slot and everywhere else I could think of. Did I look in the garbage? Maybe. Did I stop looking in the garbage when I touched a large, wet mass of something? Yes. Did I then work up the courage (be drunk) and take another run at it? You betcha.
Did I look at the crack between the bed and the couch? All over inside the car? In a giant recycle bin at work? In my coat pockets? All over my desk at work. Yes, yes, and more yes.
It’s upsetting. And if you want to see me thrown into a rage, comment below with a suggestion of somewhere to look. Credit to my partner, Poonmaster Flex, for being very understanding in this dark time and not really suggesting I look here and there.
Anyway, some highlights.
+Spider-Mobile: A car company has invented some kind of rad new engine, and to promote it they want Spider-Man to drive around with it. Which sounds pretty stupid, and then you find out that not only is he supposed to demo the engine, he has to build the car himself! He recruits the Human Torch to help him out, and they come up with the Spider-Mobile. Which looks like a ridiculous beach buggy they would use back in the day when they did stuff like X-Men Bikini Specials or whatever.
Also, a Spider-Mobile would be totally awesome where I live, but completely stupid in Manhattan. Where the fuck are you going to park while you fight crime? Aren’t you just going to be stuck all the time?
Oddly enough, the thing is pretty much forgotten almost right after it’s introduced. I know it comes back later and is buried for good, but it’s weird that the appearance is so brief. Until you start thinking outside the panels.
The story, possibly apocryphal, goes that Stan Lee was approached and told that the way to sell toys is to pair action figures with playsets, vehicles, stuff like that. So he told Gerry Conway to put a vehicle in the book. He didn’t care how he did it, just do it. Conway made the same protests I did, also highlighting that Spider-Man’s whole thing is swinging around between buildings, but Smilin’ Stan was like, “Dude. Quit hassling me about this. Make a fuckin’ car.”
Not an exact quote. Not remotely.
What’s funny is that when the Spider-Mobile is complete, Spider-Man calls it a “fiasco.” He criticizes the ejector seat, a common staple in cool cars of the time, and when he takes it out for a drive, he realizes he’s never driven a car before. Even in the comics, it’s kind of a fuck-up.
Through its history, the Spider-Mobile was stolen by super apes, rebuilt by The Tinkerer, sunk in a river, and ultimately displayed at the Smithsonian somehow. Oh, and on Old Man Logan’s alternate Earth, used to drive Logan and Hawkeye cross-country.
+The Death of Gwen Stacy
Sooo much has been said about this, so I won’t belabor the whole thing. There are a couple things about it I do still find interesting.
For starts, I guess there was some question, at the time, about whether one could die simply from falling a long distance. Not by crashing into the ground, but that a long fall would kill you and you’d be dead before you hit the ground from shock or terror or from not breathing or whatever. This was back when, before you could just google something and find out if it was true. Looking at a little history, skydiving was a thing in the 60’s, but it wasn’t until the 70’s that there was equipment designed for skydivers as opposed to skydivers using military surplus stuff. This issue originally cam out in 1973, so I guess there might have been some questions, but it’s probably more a question of urban legend versus science, a case in which science doesn’t always fare well.
Another weird thing, Peter Parker’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, dies, and his supposed friends are getting all pissy that Parker is still upset about it like a MONTH later. Can you believe it? Parker is still sad about the violent death of his girlfriend a WHOLE MONTH after the fact?
But the strangest thing of all, the very next month we have a werewolf story. For some reason, John Jameson, son of J. Jonah, goes to the moon, gets a moon rock made into a necklace, and he starts turning into a werewolf when there’s a full moon.
I mean, I was complaining about the science a second ago, and now that seems pretty stupid.
Spider-Man fights the werewolf, and he rips the moon rock off him. It’s sort of embedded in his neck, and I guess this puts John Jameson in critical condition for some reason. Whatever.
The important thing is, Spider-Man rips a moon rock off a guy, a rock that’s turning him into a werewolf, and what does he do with it?
I’ll give you a few options.
A) He takes it to somewhat-friend Reed Richards, who has explored space and might know something about it.
B) He takes it to Doctor Strange, who also knows a thing or two about werewolves and is pretty accessibly seeing as he lives in Manhattan.
C) He hucks it into the East River without a second thought.
Seriously? What the hell? You just chuck it into the river, dust your hands off and say, “And that’s the end of that chapter”?
And then you’re surprised when it comes back into play like three issues later? C’mon.
Look, Spidey. It’s a pain in the ass, but when it’s time for me to take out the garbage (literally take a bag of trash out to the dumpster) I don’t just throw it into another room, dust my hands off and walk away, assuming it’s all good now. That’s pretty lazy, sir.
But what’s REALLY interesting is that this is the story that happens RIGHT AFTER the death of Gwen Stacy, a story that’s still talked about in Spider-Man lore to this day.
Maybe they were going for something lighter and sillier after such a heavy tale. Or maybe they didn’t really know at the time that this story would have such an impact.
It’s handled really differently than it would be today. I don’t think we’d follow up the death of a key character with a werewolf story, that’s for sure. We’d DEFINITELY get a long-ass funeral/remembrance issue. When J. Jonah Jameson’s wife Marla died in ASM #654, the following issue was completely guided by the event. She was a lot more minor than Gwen Stacy.
Anyhoo, just a couple things that were interesting about the event in context.
Haha, okay, there are some things that warrant a review-in-progress here.
We’ve got this bad guy, the Disruptor! And he’s the biggest dick and the biggest idiot. He’s the biggest of two things.
He hired a scientist to build him this evil, super-strong, remote-controlled man thing, and what does he do the moment the scientist is finished?
Disruptor: “GIVE ME THAT REMOTE!”
Scientist: “Dude, totally. Here.”
Disruptor: “Now that I’m in charge, nothing can go wrong.”
Scientist: “Okay. I mean, I can tell you how that remote works. I created an impossible being who should not exist, so if you wanna know how it works kinda-“
Disruptor: “SILENCE, FOOL! Only imbeciles take directions from dolts such as yourself. Why don’t you go back to creating impossible science miracles or something and leave the real work to a man.”
Disruptor: “FULL POOOOOOOWER!”
Disruptor: “Oh balls! This thing is way too powerful! How do I stop it!?”
Scientist: “Push the stop button! That’s what I wanted to tell you about!”
Disruptor: “Yes, yessss. Thanks to the genius of The Disruptor, your rampage has stopped, beast. You’ll only destroy a few more priceless machines before you run out of energy. And to be clear, I stopped you. Me. The Disruptor.”
Disruptor: “Alright, I’ma practice. In the meantime, just remember that you’re totally my bitch, giant monster that totally almost killed me and who I don’t know how to operate.”