Here’s Part Three of Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE.
SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #123 (August 1973)
Title: Just A Man Called Cage
Villain: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire
NOTE: Luke Cage was still going by Hero for Hire at this time, not Power Man.
Synopsis: This issue opens up with the police plus J Jonah Jameson and his City Editor Joseph “Robbie” Robertson at the crime scene where Norman Osborn has been found murdered. Jameson is, of course, insisting that Osborn, an old friend and major advertiser at the Daily Bugle, must have been killed by Spider-Man. The webslinger had been searching for Osborn through Robertson’s contacts at the Bugle earlier in the evening.
Robbie and the police at the scene tell Jameson they aren’t so sure Spider-Man was the killer. There are fragments of the Green Goblin’s exploding pumpkin-bombs in the battle scarred area there on the New York City streets. PLUS, someone obviously moved Osborn’s body a bit before the cops arrived on the scene. At length Jonah refuses to listen any further and rides off angrily in his limo.
From a nearby rooftop the mysterious man in the shadows from the end of last issue reflects that HE is the one who moved Osborn’s dead body when he was removing his Green Goblin costume and bat-shaped flier. He knew that if the world learned that Norman Osborn was really the supervillain the Green Goblin they wouldn’t care about his death.
The mystery man further reflects that millionaire industrialist Norman Osborn, with his secret identity preserved, is still looked on as a pillar of the community and therefore he will be widely mourned and the police will be pressured to bring in Spider-Man for questioning.
NOTE: It’s no spoiler this many decades later to mention that this shadowy figure turns out to be Harry Osborn, Norman’s son, who witnessed the final battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin and will become the new Goblin months down the road.
Meanwhile J Jonah Jameson decides to hire the new superhero Luke Cage to do what the police can’t do and capture or kill Spider-Man.
Three days later, we readers are shown the morning funeral and burial of Gwen Stacy, killed by the Green Goblin two issues back. Peter Parker is there, of course, with his grief intensified by the secret knowledge that Gwen was only targeted by the Goblin because that villain knew that Peter is really Spider-Man.
Other attendees are Aunt May, Mary Jane Watson, Anna Watson (Mary Jane’s aunt), Betty Brant, Ned Leeds, Flash Thompson and Robbie Robertson. Miscellaneous extras are also there. After Gwen is buried Peter and Aunt May comfort each other for awhile before May goes off to chat with Gwen’s grandparents. Peter notes that Doctor Octopus’ criminal bodyguards hover around his aunt even at a moment like this.
NOTE: We will learn what Doc Ock wants with Aunt May down the road.
Flash Thompson joins the others in offering his condolences to Peter. He also tells him that there was never anything between him and Gwen, he just hassled Peter about it because they were enemies going so far back. Robbie offers condolences on behalf of himself and J Jonah Jameson, who said he couldn’t make it because of “other business.”
Peter bitterly accepts that, pointing out that Jameson always treated Gwen like she didn’t exist anyway. Mary Jane, still comforting Peter like she was at the end of the previous issue, takes him to a coffee shop to continue helping him mourn Gwen. (Their romance has not started yet but will months down the road.)
Meanwhile, Jameson approaches Luke Cage in his Times Square office and offers him $5,000.00 to bring in Spider-Man dead or alive. (Today that would be worth $30,744.00) Cage accepts the job and begins his investigation.
The next day Luke tracks Spider-Man down and attacks him as he swings around Manhattan. The two fight it out for awhile before Spider-Man eventually knocks Cage through a skylight and onto the floor of a building. He warns Luke to stop hunting him and swings off.
Our hero returns to the apartment he shares with Harry Osborn and turns back into Peter Parker. He is surprised to encounter Harry there and to see he seems okay after his most recent use of LSD. He asks him how things are going being the executor of his late father’s estate. Osborn refuses to talk and just glares at Peter. Finally, our main character gives up trying and storms out.
That night Mary Jane drags Peter to a concert at Empire State University hoping to take his mind off his sorrows for a little while. Peter remains gloomy but thanks MJ for her efforts. Luke Cage shows up, having been barging into places all over town trying to flush out Spider-Man.
In the chaos and surprise Peter slips away and becomes Spidey, then takes on Cage. Their fight takes them all around the ESU campus until at length Spider-Man webs up Luke sufficiently to contain him while he explains that he is not guilty of murdering Norman Osborn and that Jameson is full of crap.
Luke has had to deal with being wanted for crimes he had nothing to do with as well, so the two part as friends. Spider-Man turns back into Peter Parker and rejoins Mary Jane for the concert. The next morning, Luke Cage shows up at the Daily Bugle offices, chews out Jameson and shoves all of the $5,000 in cash down JJJ’s mouth and throat. Robbie and Betty Brant laugh at the situation. (If only Jonah had suffocated and died, amirite?)
SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #124 (September 1973)
Title: The Mark of the Man-Wolf
Villain: The Man-Wolf
Synopsis: Ten days later, Spider-Man is swinging around a very rainy Manhattan that morning when he webs himself a few newspapers from a newsstand. Under an overhang he reads them, reflecting on how the other New York newspapers treat him fairly and admit he is just wanted for questioning in Norman Osborn’s death and that there is also evidence that the Green Goblin should be questioned about the murder, too. Not the Daily Bugle, though, which acts like Spider-Man is unquestionably guilty of killing Osborn.
Meanwhile, at the Bugle offices, Robbie Robertson is having a heated argument with J Jonah Jameson about the paper’s coverage of the Osborn murder, since there is no conclusive evidence against Spider-Man. Jameson stubbornly insists that Norman was a friend as well as an advertiser and he plans to keep up pressure on the police to arrest Spidey until they finally do.
Their argument is cut short by the arrival of Jameson’s son John, an astronaut. (In the fictional Marvel universe John Jameson was on the last Apollo mission and was one of the last men to walk on the moon.) John invites his father out to lunch to meet his fiancee Kristine Saunders. John is wearing a souvenir from the moon – a jewel-sized moon rock that he has had set into a piece of neck jewelry.
Jonah accepts the invitation and the two go off to meet Kristine. Both Jonah and Kristine mention how John keeps having attacks of illness which come and go, but the astronaut insists he is fine.
Elsewhere, Spider-Man changes into Peter Parker and tries to get back into his classes at Empire State University. He attends one of the biochemistry courses taught by Professor Miles Warren, who is also Peter’s academic counselor. He’s been a supporting character for over 80 issues at this point.
Peter finds himself too caught up in thoughts of Gwen’s death to concentrate and eventually ditches the rest of his classes for the day. He runs into Mary Jane Watson and Flash Thompson. The conversation turns to Harry Osborn, who hasn’t dated MJ or talked to Flash since his father was killed. The subject matter – for obvious reasons – makes Peter edgy so he explodes at Flash and MJ to leave him and Harry alone and storms off.
That night, as the full moon rises, John Jameson is alone in his brownstone when the moon rock around his neck – the cause of his recent “illnesses” – transforms him into a science-based version of a werewolf. NOTE: This is similar to the way another Spider-Man foe – Morbius – was a science-based version of a vampire.
Lumbering and leaping across rooftops, the nearly mindless brute is driven by John’s subconscious desire to seek out his father for help and heads for the Daily Bugle building. As usual, Jonah is working very late into the night and is stunned to see the Man-Wolf come crashing through his office window. He has no idea it is John.
A few minutes earlier, Peter Parker, walking the streets in the still-falling rain, spots the latest copy of the Daily Bugle in a vendor machine and is furious to see Jameson’s latest headline insisting Spider-Man needs hunted down for Norman Osborn’s murder.
Furious, Peter becomes Spidey and swings his way to the Bugle building to have it out with Jameson and arrives in the middle of Jonah being attacked by the Man-Wolf. As usual, our hero sets aside his beef with JJJ and fights the monster, unwilling to let even Jonah get killed if he can prevent it.
While Spider-Man and the Man-Wolf trash Jameson’s office during their battle, Jonah tries to call the police until he notices that the Man-Wolf is wearing the same necklace with a moonstone that his son John was wearing. Stunned and disbelieving, he stops. The Man-Wolf, meanwhile, finds a trace of John Jameson’s reason and refrains from further violence against his father. He leaps out the window and into the night.
Spider-Man tries bantering with Jonah, but the publisher is not his usual cantankerous self. He threatens our hero not to pursue the wolf-monster, so Spidey throws a few insults at Jonah and leaves. Jameson literally cries after he departs, reflecting on how the man he hates most in the world just saved him from a mad killer who is his own son.
Elsewhere, Spider-Man stops to rest on a rooftop and realizes the fight burned off his anger and he now feels better. Suddenly his spider-sense starts tingling and the Man-Wolf leaps out of the darkness to attack him.
SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #125 (October 1973)
Villain: The Man-Wolf
Synopsis: Spider-Man and the Man-Wolf battle it out some more, from the rooftops to the streets of Manhattan. Ever moody, Spidey is back to wallowing in sorrow over Gwen’s death and becomes distracted enough that the monster slashes him up heavily.
Luckily for our hero, the sun is close to rising, and when the Man-Wolf feels itself starting to transform back into its weaker, human self it skedaddles away. Spider-Man tries to chase it but is too weary from pain and blood loss to get very far.
He makes it home, switches back to Peter Parker and enters his and Harry’s apartment. Harry’s bed was slept in but is empty now. Peter tends to his wounds and then drifts off to sleep, reflecting on how hard he’ll need to work to get caught up on his classroom work and nagged by feelings that he has seen the pendant around the Man-Wolf’s neck somewhere before.
As the morning goes along, Mary Jane Watson, Flash Thompson and Robbie Robertson’s son Randy are all having breakfast together at a diner near Empire State University. Flash is dumping on how weird Peter and Harry have been acting lately but Mary Jane and Randy stick up for them given all that they’ve been through lately.
Harry walks in but refuses Mary Jane’s offer to sit with them. Flash is disgusted and says that grief is only good for so much. (What a guy!) MJ tells Harry to ignore Flash and she sits on a stool beside Harry, trying to talk to him about how he’s doing, etc. Harry blows up at her and heatedly dumps her.
He also tells her to leave or else he’ll hit her. MJ starts crying but Harry just screams at her to move it and she flees weeping out into the morning air. Randy tells Flash they should just stay out of it.
Across town, at John Jameson’s New York City brownstone, a fearful J Jonah Jameson has shown up to visit his son. He finds John sleeping in the tattered yellow outfit he was wearing as the Man-Wolf and this eliminates all doubt that his son IS the monster who attacked him last night.
When John wakes up he tells his father how it happened. Six months ago he and other astronauts went back to the moon on a top-secret mission that received no press coverage. Among the items they brought back was the moon rock that John is wearing.
Idiotically, he wanted it for himself, so he had a friend of his who works in the quarantine center slip him that moon rock when it had cleared quarantine. He says he “didn’t think they’d miss it” so he had it fixed into the pendant he now wears. (It’s a comic book. Just go with it.)
The next night of the full moon the rock glowed and turned him into the Man-Wolf creature. He almost killed a truck driver that night but didn’t. He’s been transforming all three nights of the full moon each month since then. He can’t remove the pendant because the moon rock has somehow grafted itself to his body.
He made a special radiation suit for himself – the yellow outfit he is wearing – hoping that it would keep out the lunar rays and prevent the transformation but it didn’t. He doesn’t know what to do now.
Hours later, Peter Parker wakes up at his apartment, becomes Spider-Man and swings his way to the Daily Bugle, hoping to talk to Robbie Robertson about why the pendant worn by the Man-Wolf looked so familiar to him. Before they can put their heads together on it Jameson and some cops burst into Robbie’s office. (No, I don’t know why our hero’s spider-sense didn’t warn him. You know how slipshod comic book writing can get.)
Spidey escapes and Robbie and Jonah have another argument about how there is no proof Spider-Man killed Osborn.
An exhausted Peter Parker, suffering from his chest wounds, shows up at Mary Jane Watson’s door. She is annoyed that he would just show up there, given how sullen and antisocial he’s been lately. She worries about Harry’s temper if he catches her talking to Peter so she tells him to leave, and Peter does.
Hours more go by and by now it is near nightfall. Kristine Saunders shows up at Johns’ brownstone but John and his visiting father Jonah try to hide and not answer the door. Kristine drives off in a huff. Back inside, John turns into the Man-Wolf again and controls himself enough to just smack his father unconscious and then flee into the night.
After attacking an alleyway junkie, the Man-Wolf hunts down Kristine Saunders and grabs hold of her car, riding along as she drives off, terrified. Meanwhile, Spider-Man has remembered that the Man-Wolf’s yellow outfit looks like a radiation suit that astronauts wear, and THAT makes him remember where he saw the pendant before – in recent photos of John Jameson.
Our hero swings toward John’s brownstone but along the way sees the Man-Wolf clinging to the top of Kristine’s car in the streets below as she drives along screaming. Spider-Man attacks the monster and they fight it out again. Spider-Man tries covering the pendant with webbing, hoping that cutting it off from the moonlight will make John Jameson turn back to normal but the Man-Wolf shreds the webbing with his claws.
With no choice left, Spider-Man closes with the beast again and this time uses his super-strength to tear the pendant from around John’s throat, taking some flesh with it where it had grafted itself to John’s body. The astronaut turns back to normal but collapses.
Spidey and Kristine, who is shocked to see that the monster was her fiancee John, are joined by the arriving J Jonah Jameson. Spider-Man shows Jonah the pendant he tore off of John and throws it into the Hudson River. He tells Jameson to get his son to a doctor but Jonah says he doesn’t want any publicity.
Disgusted, our hero tells off Jonah and reminds him that for all they know, John as the Man-Wolf may have already killed people, so Jameson agrees to get his son medical help. Spider-Man leaves as Jonah and Kristine tend to the unconscious John.
THE NEXT INSTALLMENTS COMING SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS IN THE AVENGERS/ MANTIS/ KANG/ CELESTIAL MADONNA STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS IN THE AVENGERS/ KREE-SKRULL WAR STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS TO THE 1970s ADAM WARLOCK/ GAMORA/ THANOS/ MAGUS STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS TO THE 1970s BLACK PANTHER VS KILLMONGER STORY CLICK HERE.