By now, I imagine that you all know the drill here: this was another book that I got in a 3-Bag purchased from either a department store’s toy section, or a toy store proper. SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN was very much a series without a mission statement in these early days (apart from selling more Spider-Man comic books, which it managed handily.) This particular story appears to have been one of those multi-purpose inventory jobs that had been started under editor Marv Wolfman–it was capable of running in either Spidey title or in MARVEL TEAM-UP (or possibly even in INHUMANS had it been commissioned early enough) , so it was far more likely to get used at some point. And it was PETER PARKER that needed it first.
One of the possibly “tells” is that the story was written by Chris Claremont, who was then in the middle of an ongoing run as MARVEL TEAM-UP’s writer in residence. As with most inventory stories, it wasn’t all that earth-shattering a tale, but it rounded the bases and provided the requisite excitement and intrigue for 17 pages. And it was preferable to getting an unannounced reprint, as had already happened in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN five months earlier. Jim Mooney, who was another one of those long-lived stalwarts who was often underappreciated by fandom at the time, provided the penciling, with the open inking of Mike Esposito finishing it off. This wasn’t the A-team in terms of fan-pleasing talent, but it was a solid roster who could be expected to know how to play the game.
The story here is relatively boiler plate. it opens with Peter Parker at a hospital observing an operation being performed to save the life of a guy who had been in a terrible accident. A Rand Meachum (this was a Claremont story, after all) truck carrying a deadly toxin had gone out of control, almost creaming Peter and Mary Jane. But another student pushed them to safety and attempted to stop the runaway truck–getting caught in the crash, launched through the windshield and exposed to the toxin. There’s an antidote that can save the kid’s life being rushed across town, and that’s where Spider-Man decides to be–to make sure that the transport doesn’t run into any trouble along the way.
This being an inventory story, of course the vehicle has run into trouble–and when the web-slinger arrives, it appears that the serum has been stolen by his regular enemy Doctor Octopus. But this proves to be inaccurate. As Spidey catches up with the thief on a nearby rooftop, he’s astonished to discover that it is Medusa of the Inhumans. Medusa tells Spider-Man that, while she cannot explain, her need for the serum is desperate and urgent, and she will allow nothing to interfere with her carrying it away. Which is exactly the wrong thing to say to a wall-crawler attempting to save a life. So of course, matters devolve into a fight.
The first round goes to Medusa, who trounces Spider-Man relatively effortlessly and heads off. By the time the wall-crawler revives, an hour has gone by, leaving him only sixty minutes to retrieve the antidote before the damage to the young hero becomes irreversible. Fortunately, Spidey had planted a Spidey tracer on medusa when the pair fought, and so he’s able to trail her to the Boardwalk on Coney Island, a colorful place to stage another fight. Spidey’s in a rush, but still, Medusa is no pushover, and so their battle rages through the park and up the side of the Cyclone roller coaster, which is still in operation. Spidey has to divert in order to prevent the riders from falling to their deaths, giving Medusa the opportunity to elude him again. (Zero points to Medusa for leaving those passengers to their fate, regardless of how desperate her situation is.)
But that lovable old Spider-Tracer is still beeping away, and it draws Spidey to a remote pier were he finds not only Medusa, but most of the rest of the Inhumans’ Royal Family, all tending to a stricken blue-skinned figure. Now Spider-Man has a real fight on his hands, and the clock is ticking. He’s able to punch his way through Triton and Gorgon before he’s confronted by the silent Black Bolt, the most formidable of the bunch. But Black Bolt makes no move to attack as the web-slinger rails at him about the situation with the boy in the hospital. At a gesture, Black Bolt signals Karnak to bring what is left of the serum–their blue-skinned friend didn’t require all of it–and Black Bolt takes to the skies, racing across town in instants to deliver it to the hospital in time to be of aid to Spider-Man’s rescuer.
And now the full truth comes out. The stricken blue-skinned fellow is a Kree scientist, Falzon. He had been working to disarm a leftover bit of ordinance that the Inhumans discovered when he tripped a booby trap and was himself exposed to a deadly toxin. The Inhumans needed the antidote to save him so that he in turn could disarm the device before it could destroy the city and beyond. They made the Spock calculation: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” Spidey, though, has no use for that sort of math, and he pointedly tells them that just because they call themselves Inhuman doesn’t mean they have to live up to that monicker. Fade-out and end.
One thought on “BHOC: PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #11”
An early example of ‘nobody dies’ here and teen Steve agreed with Pete but decades later I side with the Inhumans. Also, anyone else surprised Claremont didn’t bring the good Samaritan back in another book as having gained super-powers from the toxin and the antidote?