Wednesday, November 7, 2012

To Smash a Spider

Spider Man #91 (December 1970)

Poor Peter has good reason to be down in the dumps this issue. His girl friend hates him.

Well, she doesn’t hate Peter. She hates Spider Man, whom she blames for getting her father killed last issue.

She decides to do something, so she offers to go to work for the campaign of Sam Bullit, a reactionary ex-cop who is running for D.A. Bullit uses Spider Man as a scapegoat in his supposed law-and-order platform, rabble-rousing much of the city against the webslinger.

He also figures there’s a connection between Peter and Spider Man, so he sends some thugs to work Peter over to get him to talk. This, of course, doesn’t work out well for the thugs.

Bullit is too much of a stereotype to be a very interesting villain, but he serves a purpose here, acting as a platform for Gwen to show her anger at Spider Man and giving impetus to some other nice character moments involving Jamison and Robbie. (J.J.J. wants to support Bullit, which gives us a chance to see the normally calm Robbie get really ticked off.)

The issue ends when Spider Man swings back into his apartment—to only then realize Gwen and Bullit are there waiting for Peter. It took Gwen long enough, but she finally remembers that—as far as she knows—the man she loves is in a partnership with the man who got her dad killed.

After last month’s classic issue, this one seems a little slow in its pacing and Bullit really is far too one-dimensional. But he’ll be gone after one more issue and it’s another tribute to Stan’s skill as a writer that he keeps the characterizations of his cast consistent and interesting even in the midst of a merely average story.

In the next issue of Spider Man, he’ll have a gratuitous but still entertaining team-up with a chilly mutant while he continues to mess up his relationship with Gwen. 

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