Monday, April 4, 2011
Spidey's Zoo: The Grizzly, part 2!
Amazing Spider-Man #140 (January 1975)
"...and One Will Fall!"
Gerry Conway-Ross Andru/Frank Giacoia/Dave Hunt
Doug: We're back for the wind-up of not only our 5-week series of Spider-Man reviews, but for this nifty 2-parter. Tune in next Monday for a two-week look at the departure of Dave Cockrum and the arrival of John Byrne -- yep, it's X-Men #'s 107 and 108, kids! But on to today's business at hand...
Doug: When last we saw our hero, he'd been kayoed by the Jackal, who apparently has been bossing the Grizzly around. Pete's still groggy as the furry behemoth carries him through the townhouse in Washington Square. The Jackal has the Grizzly bearhug (yep) Pete into submission and put him on a lab table. Pete drifts in and out of consciousness, which author Gerry Conway uses to recap the last issue. But when Pete awakens, it's Ned Leeds and Betty Brant he sees. Pete was dumped in the lobby of the Daily Bugle and is really out of it. Taking him across the street to a coffee shop, Ned and Betty try to figure out what the heck's been going on.
Karen: Don't you just love how unconcerned Ned is? "Betty wanted to call a doctor but you only looked like you'd been stunned"! Geez, if I get knocked out, I think I want to see a doctor, not just grab a cup of coffee.
Doug: Pete's suddenly aware of a strange sensation on his right arm and excuses himself to the restroom. Pulling up his sleeve, there's a large device affixed to his forearm. As he tries to force it, the Jackal's voice suddenly speaks from the brace -- he warns Peter that if it comes off, so will his arm! It's a homing device, with the purpose of bringing the Jackal to Spider-Man. We cut back to Pete's new apartment, where Flash is helping him move in. Conway introduces us to Glory Grant, a model who lives down the hall. She would be somewhat of a major character in the Spider-verse of titles in this era. After the work is done, Pete heads over to the ESU campus labs and begins work on the removal of the Jackal's mechanism. Wouldn't you know it -- he's successful on the first try. Did you think this added much drama to the story?
Karen: Yeah, this was a fairly pointless plot device. It gave us what? -5 pages or so of drama? And what happened to the microphone that was in that harness earlier -you know, the one where the Jackal could hear what Pete was saying?! We've seen this frequently now in our bronze age reviews (silver age too) where the writer starts off with something and it winds up being a big fat zero. I often wonder if some of that was due to guys writing three or more books a month. It had to be difficult to keep coming up with stuff.
Karen: I thought the more interesting development was the introduction of Glory Grant, who was not only a new cast member for Spidey but an African-American as well. And considering it was just 1975, I thought it was pretty cool to have Flash going a little ga-ga over Glory.
Doug: Once free, Pete's free to get back into costume. A few things he picked up "in conversation" with the Grizzly in the previous issue lead Spidey to believe that ol' Grizz was once a boxer. So, needing information Spidey heads to the Bugle to see what JJJ knows about it. In another funny scene, Spider-Man sneaks into his office and, finding Jonah asleep on a couch in his office, tickles his foot to wake him up! Then, in a scene that really reminded me of the vignette at the end of Planet of the Apes, where Taylor is grilling Zaius and the good doctor keeps saying all of these derogatory things to him in the course of the conversation, Jameson tells Spidey what he knows of the man who calls himself the Grizzly. Seems ol' Grizz was once a professional wrestler named Maxwell Markham who played a little too rough. Jameson, moral crusader that he is, got an investigation started that put Markham out of business and led to the vendetta against JJJ.
Doug: Armed with this information, Spidey heads back to the Jackal's townhouse. Nope - empty. So he heads to the nearest open gym -- nope again. But, he does find out the name of the training gym Markham used to work out of. So, web-slinging it over there, our hero finds our villain busting up the place (wrestlers included). Spidey rightly assumes that Markham's strength has to be augmented somehow, so begins to web-and-pull his bear suit apart. Yep -- exoskeleton underneath! The costume gets shredded, the exoskeleton gets broken, and then Markham gets punched out. End of story.
Karen: I wasn't real clear on how he could use his webbing to tear the suit apart. It seemed a little too easy. Then again, I never really felt like ol' Grizz should have been a threat to Spidey.
Doug: I thought this one was a little anticlimactic. It certainly seems to serve as a bridge for what's coming -- the clone saga. The Jackal has a role in this story, but he's in no way the player that he'll become. I felt that Conway's script was solid -- all of the good stuff that we commented on last issue was prevalent here, but perhaps in smaller doses. And Andru's art was solid, although I always think he is best served when inked by his longtime partner Mike Esposito.
Karen: It was OK, but as you said, more of a bridge to the future. All in all a fairly forgettable issue.