Here’s Part Thirteen of Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE.
GIANT-SIZE SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #4 (April 1975)
Title: To Sow the Seeds of Death’s Day
Villain: Moses Magnum (First Appearance)
Synopsis: We pick up an unknown amount of time after the previous story. J Jonah Jameson is still in Paris, using his lawyers to fight being brought back for questioning regarding the new Mysterio, whom he hired to kill Spider-Man last time around.
Peter Parker, in his Spider-Man costume, is web-slinging around New York City one night when he hears a woman scream “EEEE!”. (Or it could be Ned Beatty, I guess.) Following the sound to its source he sees four masked men kidnapping a nightie clad woman from her apartment.
Our hero defeats three of the four and a bullet fired from a rooftop by the Punisher kills the fourth. The Punisher flees the scene while Spider-Man takes care of the still-frightened woman. An ambulance and some cop cars show up on the scene. The police insist Spider-Man must come in to answer questions regarding the deaths of Captain John Stacy and Norman Osborn, both of whom he is mistakenly suspected of killing.
Spider-Man gets away from the cops and swings off to the Punisher’s van, which he enters without the Punisher catching on. He rides along to the Punisher’s latest secret hideout and surprises his old enemy/ ally when he opens up the back door of the van.
The Punisher welcomes our hero to work with him on his current case. He shows Spider-Man a cannister of toxic poison gas produced by DTC for an unknown foreign government. He then shows covert film footage of the gas being used on human guinea pigs in the jungles of South America.
Peter is outraged at the horrific way the gas kills its victims and the Punisher informs him that the company DTC kidnaps people from around the world to experiment on with its assorted biochemical weapons. He had traced the kidnapping ring to the apartment of the woman that Spider-Man saved from the abductors.
The Punisher planned to follow the kidnappers rather than intervene, which disgusts Spider-Man but the two agree to continue working together on this case. They break into the headquarters of DTC, the company which manufactures the gas for the unknown government.
As they fight the soldiers in the building they discover that the DTC owner – a black man named Moses Magnum – is meeting with other tinpot dictators from around the world, hoping to sell them some of his company’s toxic gas.
From there Spider-Man and the Punisher are able to trace Moses Magnum, his troops and his prospective clients to their South American jungle concentration camp where they keep their human guinea pigs imprisoned until they are ready to use them.
The two heroes fight Magnum’s troops while protecting the prisoners in the camp. Naturally they defeat all the villains, including Moses Magnum himself, who seems to die in agony from his own toxic gas. Peter and the Punisher depart as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents arrive to deal with the prison camp and repatriate the prisoners.
NOTE: Moses Magnum wasn’t really dead, of course, and showed up later fighting Power Man and later still fighting the X-Men in Japan.
SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #143 (April 1975)
Title: … And the Wind Cries: Cyclone
Villain: Cyclone (First Appearance)
Synopsis: As Spider-Man, our hero swings over to the Daily Bugle building. Switching to Peter Parker he tries to find out if anyone knows when J Jonah Jameson will stop fighting being brought back to New York.
He inquires of black City Editor Joe “Robbie” Robertson, who is chewing out an employee at the moment. Afterward, Robbie invites Peter to lunch to discuss some business. At meal’s end he shows Peter a telegram from JJJ which is obviously a thinly veiled request for ransom money.
Robbie agrees and his excuse for wanting Peter to come along with him to Paris with the money is that Peter has worked for Jonah even longer than he has. (In reality, fans speculated for years that Robbie had long ago guessed that Peter was really Spider-Man and that’s why he was always so sympathetic to Peter and so willing to believe Spidey was a hero, not the criminal Jonah claimed he was.)
Peter agrees to accompany Robbie BUT needs the okay from his academic advisor at Empire State University to avoid just not showing up for classes for days like he usually does. Professor Miles Warren, Peter’s advisor and supporting cast member in Spider-Man stories since 1965, tells our hero that since his grades have improved greatly this term he will request a week-long leave of absence for Peter.
The Dean’s office okays the leave of absence and Peter makes small-talk with Flash Thompson and Liz Allen, who are on their way to class.
Cut to that night at the airport. Robbie Robertson sits reading a newspaper in one seat while Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson sit cuddled up together near him. As boarding is announced for Peter and Robbie’s plane, MJ tells Peter to take care of himself as they say goodbye for now.
This leads to their first ever passionate kiss. As the narration says “Something happens. Maybe THIS is the moment each has been waiting for. Maybe now, when they are about to separate, something finally brings them together. Whatever the reason, something happens, and neither he nor she will ever be the same.”
Robbie smiles as the two continue kissing for a time. At last, when they finally stop, Mary Jane says “Wow. Why didn’t you ever tell me you could kiss? I mean … wow.” She follows that up with a joke by saying, “Peter, are you blushing or is that acne?”
Peter laughs, and Robbie reminds him they need to get going to their plane. Peter agrees, and as he and Mary Jane look at each other anew, he says to her “Well, Mary Jane … I’ll be back.” And she flirtily replies “And I’ll be waiting … Tiger.”
Mary Jane lingers in the airport watching all the way until Peter and Robbie’s plane takes off and disappears into the distance. She starts to leave, still floored by her feelings. Since this is the 1970s that is conveyed through her saying aloud “Far … freakin’ … out.”
Okay I’ll be quick with the rest of this particular story. I really feel this tale demands too much suspension of disbelief. Just when Peter Parker arrives in Paris, Spider-Man also shows up to free J Jonah Jameson and capture his kidnappers. And STILL people don’t put two and two together. Given all the other stories in which Peter and Spider-Man seem interconnected this to me is a bridge too far.
Anyway, 20 hours later, Robbie obeys a phone demand to meet regarding Jameson at a location in Paris. Peter follows along as Spider-Man.
The costumed gunmen who show up knock out Robbie. Spider-Man intervenes, defeating the gunmen, only to be attacked by their boss, the new villain called Cyclone.
The French criminal can whirl around to become the center of a cyclone and battles our hero. After a time, Cyclone wins and uses his cyclonic vortex to gather up the fallen Robbie and his gunmen. As he spins away, he tells the reeling and woozy Spider-Man that he has 24 hours to deliver the million dollars ransom money or he will kill Jonah and Robbie.
SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #144 (May 1975)
Title: The Delusion Conspiracy
Synopsis: Again, I’ll be brief except for the VERY relevant subplot. Spider-Man returns to his hotel room where he switches back to Peter Parker. He gets a phone call from Cyclone telling him to stay put in his room and await further instructions.
While waiting, he calls Aunt May back in New York. She is happy to hear from him and hopes he’s keeping warm in Paris. After the usual type of conversation between the pair, Aunt May has to go. She and her roommate, Anna Watson, Mary Jane’s aunt, are going out to a movie.
As the two old ladies get dressed to go they talk about how happy they are that Peter and Mary Jane are finally getting serious about each other. They reminisce about all their failed attempts to set the two of them up on a date going all the way back to when Peter was in high school.
Back in Paris, Peter is told to deliver the ransom to Notre Dame late the next night. Peter gets an idea how to counter the Cyclone’s power scientifically and makes a purchase of something at a Paris store. He uses his powers to sneak into Notre Dame that night and hides away whatever it is he’s bought and then swings back to his hotel room.
After a nerve-wracking rest of the night and all the next day, he changes back into Spider-Man and swings over to Notre Dame at the appointed late hour. Once there he overhears Cyclone explaining his origin to the captive Jonah and Robbie.
The Frenchman was a scientist working for NATO, but NATO refused to buy his cyclone costume and weaponry, thinking it wouldn’t work, AND fired him. (It’s a comic book. Just go with it.) He was told any such weaponry would be bought through America’s contracts. Furious with America, Cyclone decided to kidnap the American publisher J Jonah Jameson during his overlong stay in France.
Spider-Man makes his appearance, defeats all of Cyclone’s men, then battles the villain himself again in a running fight throughout the cathedral. At last he lures Cyclone to the spot where he secreted the item he purchased the previous night – a huge industrial fan.
Using the fan to create just enough of a counter-force to the villain’s cyclone to slow the criminal down, Spider-Man defeats the Frenchman. He then frees Robbie and Jonah, exchanges insults with Jonah and then remotely triggers a tape recording device he also secreted away the previous night.
That device works as hoped and from a few floors up plays a tape of Peter shouting down to Jonah and Robbie saying he managed to get a lot of good photos during the action. After that Spider-Man swings off, and the illusion works, Jonah is convinced that Peter and Spider-Man were just in two separate locations just now. (Groan.)
The narration even says Jameson is convinced, but says nothing about Robbie, in the usual teasing way of implying but never confirming that Robbie had already guessed Peter’s secret. At any rate, the three fly back to New York the next day.
NOTE: Nothing more is said about the legal trouble the new Mysterio created for Jonah. You know comic book writing. They could have at least told us that Jonah secretly paid off the new Mysterio AND his lawyers to keep Jameson’s name out of it all.
When a cab leaves Peter off at his Chelsea tenement apartment, he is alarmed to encounter Anna Watson waiting for him in the doorway. She tells Peter that his Aunt May had a heart attack and is in the hospital.
She can’t bring herself to say what caused the heart attack but indicates Peter should go up to his apartment and see for himself. Peter runs upstairs and sees, standing inside his apartment door – GWEN STACY. (Too bad they spoiled the surprise on the cover of this issue. That should have been the cover for the NEXT issue.)
NOTE: That’s this issue’s cliffhanger. Next time we enter into many layers of deception, and the first two of the final six chapters that I’ll be covering of Spider-Man 1970s classics. Be here. Aloha.
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.