April 3, 2010

Ye Olde School Cafe’: The Sensational Spider-Man pt. 1

Welcome back to another pulse-pounding adventure here at Ye Olde School Cafe! This week, we’ll be taking a look at the TPB (trade paperback), The Sensational Spider-Man. This book contains two main stories with a short back-up story as well. This week we’ll be covering the first story entitled, “Spider-Man: Threat or Menace?” This story was conceived by Dennis O’Neil and illustrated by Frank Miller. It was originally published in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15 (1981).

I have to admit that Spider-Man was my hero growing up as a kid and he’s the reason I started buying comics. From reruns of the 1960s cartoon, the live action show, and then the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends animated series, I was a Spider-fanatic. He was everything I wanted to be in life. Peter Parker on the other hand, well, I never thought about it when I was younger, but thinking back now, maybe I liked him too. I look at Peter now and think maybe the reason I liked him so much is because I felt like he did a lot when I was younger. I wasn’t a straight A student or a science whiz like Peter, but I did know what it was like to be pushed around and feel alienated. These are qualities that used to draw most Spidey fans, in my opinion, to like him. The reason for this monologue is that several years ago, Spidey comics stopped being fun or interesting for me. I don’t know why, but the way he’s portrayed now doesn’t get me all excited to buy a Spider-book. Ah well, there’s always tons of stories from yesteryear I guess…like this one!

Our story starts out inside The Daily Bugle. The home away from home for J. Jonah Jameson, Publisher, and Robbie Robertson, City Editor. The two argue over what story should be the front page on tomorrow’s paper. Jonah of course wants to run a Spidey smear story, while Robbie reminds him that last time they did that, circulation went down. Jonah then gives in to Robbie, who tells him about a story that Peter and Ben Urich are covering that would be better. The team of Urich and Parker are at a show where a guru is demonstrating his powers of spiritual enlightenment. Peter starts to feel his Spider-sense kick into overdrive just as the guru is shot. Peter leaps out of the room to the fire escape while changing into his Spider-Man costume. Once outside, he confronts the man responsible – The Punisher!

The Punisher and Spidey have met before (ASM #’s 129, 134, 135), and there’s no love lost between them. Spidey immediately starts his trademarked wise-cracking, and The Punisher isn’t impressed. Spidey goes on his usual funny but acrobatic route to subdue someone, but The Punisher tells him that he’s studied him in anticipation of this meeting, and soon shows Spidey he’s not playing around. He shoots Spidey, and then throws a gas grenade at him to knock him unconscious. Spidey lives to see another day though, because The Punisher used Mercy Bullets (rubber bullets not intended to kill). Back at the Bugle, Jonah and Robbie congratulate Ben on a good story, and even Peter for the great pictures. We then see The Punisher sneak into the morgue to examine the guru’s body. Before he finds out too much though, he’s attacked from behind by Doctor Octopus!

Spidey then goes to interrogate the guru’s assistant and finds out that some kind of drugs were involved. The assistant tells Spidey that tonight at pier forty-three he was going to deliver some of the drugs to another buyer. The Punisher has also found out about the pier drop off and shows up, but he’s too late. The assistant’s brother has already made the delivery to a sub which has since gone underwater. Moments later, the Mayor receives a phone call from Doc Ock, stating that he’s going to poison the water supply and kill five million people if the city doesn’t pay him twenty million dollars in gems. Meanwhile, The Punisher sneaks onto the sub, but Doc Ock notices and grabs him. He then pours some of the poison onto The Punisher’s face, leaving him writhing in pain. Spidey then shows up to stop him, but winds up fighting The Punisher, who’s still delusional and almost blind from the poison. Spidey quickly takes advantage of his handicap and whips up a formula to counteract the poison. Amongst the melee, Doc Ock slips away.

Spidey then web-swings across the city trying to think about how Doc Ock will poison that many people. He figures out that Doc Ock is going to put it in the newspaper ink so that when people read the paper it will make contact with their skin and prove fatal. Spidey arrives just in time to stop the Octopus from adding the poison, and the two battle throughout the entire printing area. To make matters worse, Jonah shows up and starts to berate Spidey, and tells him he knows he was mixed up in this. Spidey, of course, saves Jonah from getting killed by Doc Ock and eventually grabs Doc Ock’s mechanical arms, and then shoves them into one of the printing presses. When it pulls Doc in, Spidey delivers a knock-out punch to the chin. Back at the pier though, Spidey left The Punisher all webbed up, but he manages to break free. A police officer arrives on the scene and confronts him. When faced with prison or killing an officer, Frank Castle decides that prison is the better option. As the police car takes him away, he says, “There is one nice thing about prison though, lots of criminals are there.”

In conclusion, I will say that I do really enjoy reading these older stories about Spidey. All the newer stories about unmasking or making deals with the devil really don’t appeal to me. The last Spidey stories I read and thought were good were The Other and Book of Ezekiel. I did enjoy those and thought they were a good twist on Spidey’s origin. That’s all for now, but come back next week for part two of this book, where Spidey and Doctor Strange must defeat another Doctor…by the name of Doctor Doom!

Billy Dunleavy



  1. Kristin

    “Spidey quickly takes advantage of his handicap and whips up a formula to counteract the poison.”
    LOL, what? Haha, that’s so ridiculous…. “Let me stop chasing the bad guy and fighting the insane guy to do some chemistry here in the middle of some mayhem.”

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Comic Attack. Comic Attack said: Ye Olde School Cafe: The Sensational Spider-Man! #comics #spiderman […]

  3. This was a good story, I remember it well.

  4. I’ve never been a big Spidey fan, but I’m a big Denny O’Neil fan!!

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  6. Aron White

    Good stuff, Billy! I bet some Miller/Janson Spidey art is…Sensational! It’s too bad that you don’t like the post-“Mephisto deal” Spidey. The old stuff is good, too! I’ve read the first volume of Essential ASM and am working on reading the second one. Great stuff and Stan Lee doesn’t bore me with these! (Essential Fantastic Four is another story!)

  7. Billy

    @Kristin- I was going to include a pic of that actual scene but decided not to. Yeah, it’s hilarious (I’ll put it up on the CA.Net FB page for some laughs).
    @Bill- I love older Spidey stories!
    @Andy- How about any of his X-stuff? I’m not a big fan of that but maybe give that a try. 🙂
    @Aron- I honestly don’t care for much of Spidey after the Maximum Carnage storyline, but up till then, he was my favorite.

  8. […] part two of The Sensational Spider-Man Tpb in this weeks edition of Ye Olde School Cafe’. In part 1, we saw Spidey and The Punisher mixing it up, but this weeks tale will showcase Dr. Strange and […]

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