Here’s Part Twelve of Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE.
MARVEL TEAM-UP Vol 1 #30 (February 1975)
Title: All That Glitters is Not Gold
Villain: Midas (NOT the same Midas as Iron Man’s foe)
Synopsis: This story picks up an unknown amount of time after the previous installment. Peter Parker is well settled in to his new apartment in Chelsea. When he sees his new neighbor, aspiring black model Gloria Grant (introduced last time around) being attacked by two men as she approaches the building, he takes action as Spider-Man.
After he subdues Gloria’s attackers, she pleads with him to carry them to her apartment rather than turning them over to the cops because one of them is her cousin, Ramon. (First appearance for Ramon, who, like Gloria, will be a supporting character in Spider-Man stories for decades to come.)
Our hero complies, and is glad that he did when Ramon abruptly comes to and attacks again, letting Spider-Man and Gloria see that he is under some kind of trance. Spidey webs him to the furniture and he slowly comes out of his trance.
He tells Spider-Man and Gloria that he and his friend (who helped him attack Gloria just now) were at a club called the Hot Spot Disco (lol) when they were dragged before a man in golden armor calling himself Midas. He used drugs on them and Ramon doesn’t remember anything after that until coming to just now.
Gloria tells our hero that Midas has made a name for himself in the inner city as a scumbag who wants to wipe out all African Americans, Hispanics and poor white people. Furious, Spider-Man swings off into the night to find the villain.
Gloria picks up a phone and calls her friend Social Worker Sam Wilson aka the Falcon. Gloria does not know that Sam is really a superhero, it’s just that in the 1970s it was known in Harlem that Sam Wilson could contact the Falcon when that hero was needed. (It’s a comic book, just go with it.)
Anyway, Sam at first hopes it is Steve Rogers on the phone, calling to say that he has decided to return to being Captain America after he quit in recent issues of Captain America and the Falcon. NOTE: By this point it was already the SECOND time Steve had quit being Cap. Many more such storylines lay in the future, further diluting the emotional impact each time, presumably.
Sam dons his Falcon costume, complete with the wings, which were still reasonably new for him in 1975, and goes off to the Hot Spot Disco to find Midas himself. He and Spider-Man meet up and team up at that club and Midas sics his army of thugs on them and flees.
Our heroes defeat them all, of course, and the Falcon proceeds to rough up one of them to get him to tell all he knows about Midas. The underling says Midas is really Harrison Merriwell, which shocks Spider-Man and the Falcon since Harrison is known as a generous philanthropist.
The two heroes travel to Harrison Merriwell’s Connecticut mansion home, where a ritzy party is going on. Falc and Spidey fall into a trap set by Midas. The gold-garbed villain, rather than just kill them, stupidly confines them in the mansion’s restaurant-sized freezer in restraints that can hold even Spider-Man.
Midas gives the heroes a taunting goodbye and shuts the door, leaving them to freeze to death and/or suffocate. Spider-Man shoots some of his webbing into the door jamb as the villain does so, then explains to the Falcon that his webbing, though stronger than steel, is really a liquid, so it will expand from the cold. The gob of webbing does expand to the point where it makes the freezer door explode open.
The ritzy guests come running, while our heroes at last manage to get free from their shackles. Spider-Man and the Falcon chase the Merriwell brothers upstairs, where they realize that Midas is not Harrison Merriwell, but rather his brother Malcolm.
Malcolm fights our heroes while doing a Villain Rant that reveals he was out to kill all the poor people of all colors in the ghetto apartments he and his brother owned because he was sick of Harrison spending so much of “their” money on the disadvantaged.
Malcolm is defeated, then Spider-Man and the Falcon leave.
SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #141 (February 1975)
Title: My Name is … Mysterio
Synopsis: An unknown period of time after that team-up with the Falcon, this story starts out with Spider-Man driving the Spider-Mobile around the night-darkened streets in the wee hours of the morning.
He reflects on how he has been using the vehicle several nights recently to get around the skyscraper-scarce boroughs of Manhattan pursuing leads on the Jackal because of his use of a Washington Square townhouse awhile back. Unfortunately, this night the police have spotted him and he is involved in a chase with several cop cars after him.
The police try to cut him off but he pulls a spectacular driving stunt that lets him get away from them. He is congratulating himself for the stunt’s success as he enters what seems to be a fog-ridden street by the Hudson River. Instead, it turns out that the fog was a trap (by Mysterio, as the title told us) to drug Spider-Man into THINKING there was a street there.
Alarmed, our hero and the Spider-Mobile careen off into the river. Spider-Man swims to the surface and clings to the underside of the dock he just drove off while listening to the pursuing cops deciding that if their quarry is dead it’s just one less criminal on the loose.
NOTE: Remember, at this time Spider-Man was mistakenly wanted in regard to the deaths of Captain John Stacy and Norman Osborn.
The cops leave, radioing the Harbor Patrol to start a search for the web-slinger and his car in the morning. Spider-Man wallows in depression about his bad reputation and is even more disenchanted when his web-shooters won’t shoot because they are clogged with water. He has no choice but to wall crawl, leap and walk his way home.
Hours later, Peter Parker is in class at Empire State University. It is the biochemistry class being taught by Professor Miles Warren, Peter’s biochemistry instructor and academic advisor, who has been a supporting character in Spider-Man stories since December 1965.
Exhausted from his journey home after the police chase and from lack of sleep, he struggles to stay awake during the lecture but drifts off to sleep. Professor Warren wakes him up, and tells him he wants to see him after the lecture is over.
During that meeting, Professor Warren once again chews out Peter for his poor performance the past two semesters, first from his grief over Gwen Stacy’s death and recently over seeming indifference. He reminds Peter that he had to pull strings to let Peter take this particular bio-chemistry class over again after his grades last semester.
Warren once again reminds our hero how much confidence he has in his scientific acumen and says he has the most potential out of any other student he’s ever had, but he won’t pass if he keeps missing class or sleeping when he does show up. Peter thanks him, accepts the professor’s offer to confide in him if he has private problems (though, of course, he can’t) and leaves the room.
Peter runs into Mary Jane Watson, who decided to take this semester off, but who came by the campus looking for him. She is still obviously pushing for a romantic relationship with him, and observes how exhausted he looks.
Mary Jane tells Peter that he “can be the sex object this time” and carries his books for him. They walk along talking and as usual, Mary Jane’s humorous bantering brings a smile to Peter’s face. Soon, though, the narration tells us:
“Peter’s answering smile is a wistful one and as he smiles his mind goes back to another woman. That woman is dead now. And he wonders, can anyone replace Gwen Stacy, the woman he loved? Peter doesn’t know. He just … doesn’t know.” And we get a shot of Peter and MJ holding hands while she studies him, obviously aware of where his thoughts have gone again.
We cut to J Jonah Jameson and Joe “Robbie” Robertson, his black City Editor at the Daily Bugle. They are spending an afternoon at an exclusive club Jonah belongs to, with Robbie as his guest. While there enjoying conversation, brandy and cigars, Jonah at one point gets a phone call.
The phone is brought to him on a silver platter (yes, it’s one of THOSE kinds of clubs) and he takes the call. The mysterious party on the other end tells him that “contact has been made.” After a few more enigmatic remarks from Jonah, including his expectation of “another report tomorrow” he hangs up.
Robbie asks if anything is wrong but Jonah gloats that everything is just fine.
Hours later, Spider-Man is swinging around the city, pondering how he can recover the Spider-Mobile and get it to the Baxter Building for his friend the Human Torch to repair it from the water damage. At length, he notices how hungry he is, so he webs some bagged McDonald’s food out of the hands of a man exiting the restaurant.
He prepares to web-sling a few dollars back to the guy, but before he can, his Spider-Sense starts tingling as he is surrounded by a fog similar to the one causing his hallucination of the street he drove into the river.
He falls off the top of the building he is on and lands in an alleyway. With the fog still all around him, he sees Mysterio jumping over a fence and running toward him. The two fight and Spidey observes that Mysterio seems stronger than in the past. He’s also less talkative, with no taunting or bluster.
Suddenly, the villain runs off, clinging to the side of a building’s wall like our hero does. Spider-Man figures it must be a trap, since Mysterio could just disappear if he wanted to. Peter doesn’t care, though, and is happy to follow the villain anyway, reflecting again on how fond of danger he is, since it lets him escape from his problems as Peter Parker.
Without warning, a Mack Truck seems to be barreling toward him, driving sideways along the wall, like our hero and Mysterio. Spider-Man leaps away from it, smashing his elbow on the pavement as he hits it, reproaching himself for falling for another of Mysterio’s illusions.
He reflects that Mysterio’s fog dulls the senses, accounting for how fuzzy-headed he feels. Next, it appears to Spider-Man that he is surrounded by a large number of his foes – Dr Octopus, the Vulture, the Green Goblin, Hammerhead, the Lizard, the Jackal, Molten Man, Tarantula, Morbius and the Grizzly.
Because of the fog’s affect on him, our hero can’t help but lash out at them, like he’s in a nightmare. All he winds up doing is smashing his fists against the walls of the alleyway, leaving his hands bloody and bruised.
The pain makes him snap out of it and realize it wasn’t all his foes attacking him, just Mysterio. Mysterio steps out of the fog and taunts Peter that this is only the beginning, and that this game will end with our hero’s death. Then the villain disappears.
The next morning, Peter Parker shows up at the Daily Bugle building with his hands all bandaged up. When crime reporter Ned Leeds and Jameson’s secretary Betty Brant notice his injuries, Peter tells them he got hurt while trying to take photos of Spider-Man fighting Mysterio last night.
Ned tells Peter that he must be mistaken, that Mysterio died in prison almost a year ago. Peter, in his usual drama queen way, fears that this means he must be going insane.
SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #142 (March 1975)
Title: Dead Man’s Bluff
Synopsis: Later that day, Spider-Man is swimming under the Hudson River near where he drove off the pier in the Spider-Mobile. He ties the vehicle to the subaquatic legs of the pier to help keep it from being carried away over time from the current while he works out a way to recover it and get it to the Baxter Building without being seen by the cops.
He then sits on the pier and ponders everything he went through the past day or so. He reminds himself that Mysterio tried once before to convince him he was going crazy, back when he (Peter) was still in high school.
Suddenly his Spider Sense goes off and Mysterio appears on the dock and the pair fight again while the villain taunts our hero that he is back from the dead to get him. As the battle goes on he even plucks off his helmet and seemingly his head at the same time.
With Mysterio’s fog dulling his mind again, Spider-Man is put off-balance by this display and after continuing the fight for awhile, Mysterio disappears. Our hero swings home to Chelsea and his apartment.
He still has little furniture and sits on the living room floor in a phone conversation with Aunt May. At length, Mary Jane shows up and happily sits on the floor with Peter and produces a thermos full of a hot drink for the two to share.
After a while he thinks he sees the Kingpin hovering menacingly behind MJ and throws his phone at the illusion. Mary Jane and the still-talking Aunt May are alarmed over Peter’s behavior. His landlady Mrs Muggins comes upstairs to chew Peter out over all the noise, then leaves.
Peter’s neighbor Gloria Grant shows up and invites Peter to a party she is throwing “this weekend.” MJ meets Gloria for the first time and though they are friendly with each other, after Gloria leaves Mary Jane interrogates Peter about the model, obviously a bit jealous. Soon, Peter and MJ leave for the Daily Bugle building.
Meanwhile, at that building, Jonah is in his office and gets another phone call, obviously from Mysterio, telling him that the plan is proceeding and Spider-Man even addressed him as a “ghost” during their fight at the dock. Jameson promises the villain a bonus if he manages to kill Spider-Man quickly.
Jonah happily contemplates getting awards from the city as the man who destroyed Spider-Man and is in such a good mood he gives raises to Robbie Robertson and Betty Brant, confusing them. Peter and MJ arrive at the Bugle and Robbie talks to Peter about his hand injuries and the possible fight that Spider-Man had with the presumed-dead Mysterio the previous night.
Betty Brant tries grilling Mary Jane about her feelings toward Peter again, and MJ is less non-committal this time. The conversation turns to the way that Betty and her fiance Ned have announced a date for their wedding and Peter, MJ, Robbie, Betty and Ned excitedly talk about it.
Later, as Peter and Mary Jane leave the Bugle Building, Peter sees another of Mysterio’s illusions. MJ expresses concern about Peter acting strange again like back at his apartment. He tells her he needs some time alone.
Changing to Spider-Man, he notices that during their battle in the alleyway the night before, Mysterio attached a projection transmitter device to his costume the way he (Spidey) sometimes attaches Spider Tracers to foes. The transmitter has allowed Mysterio to broadcast random illusions throughout the time since last night.
Using his scientific prowess, Spider-Man rigs up a means of tracing and following the transmissions. Ignoring the illusions of his foes that Mysterio throws at him as he swings along, our hero arrives at the villain’s office hideout.
The two battle but Spider-Man successfully stops Mysterio from dispersing his drugged fog this time. He also tells him how he found his illusion transmitter and traced its signal to him. After defeating him and webbing him up, Spidey takes the globe off of Mysterio’s head and is surprised to see it is not the real Mysterio.
The costumed villain identifies himself as Danny Berkhart, a former Hollywood stunt man who got drummed out of the profession due to drunkenness. He was close friends with Mysterio (who started out as a Hollywood Special Effects wizard before pursuing a life of crime) and when the villain passed away he left his old costume and equipment to Berkhart.
Danny cut a deal with J Jonah Jameson to be paid big bucks to kill Spider-Man, so Jameson put him up in this office hideout and paid him half up-front to kill our hero. Spider-Man calls the cops to come pick up the new Mysterio.
When the cops pick up the villain he uses his one phone call to reach J Jonah Jameson and threatens to tell the cops all about Jameson’s plan and payments to him if he doesn’t pay for a lawyer for him to get him out of trouble with the cops.
Jonah, in a panic, flees the office and tells Betty Brant he will be flying to Paris on urgent business and that Joe Robertson is in charge while he’s gone – probably for months.
I’LL COVER THE NEXT CHAPTERS 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.