Here’s Part Fourteen of Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE.
SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #145 (June 1975)
Title: Gwen Stacy is Alive and Well?
Villains: The Jackal and the Scorpion
Synopsis: We pick up right where we left off in last issue’s cliffhanger: a woman who looks exactly like the late Gwen Stacy has shown up, causing Peter Parker’s Aunt May to have a heart attack and wind up in intensive care at the hospital.
Peter himself is in a state of shock, while the “new” Gwen, whose memories are months out of date, cries and pleads with him to help her understand what is going on. When Gwen tries to embrace him, Peter loses it, recoiling from her and screaming at her that she must be an impersonater.
He angrily tells her he’s not buying the con job and storms downstairs and out of his apartment building in Chelsea, telling Mary Jane’s Aunt Anna that this new Gwen has to be a fake. He says whoever’s behind it has a sick sense of humor and goes off to the hospital where Aunt May is.
Once out of sight of Anna Watson, he switches to Spider-Man and swings over to the hospital. Changing back into Peter Parker, he inquires about his aunt and then sits in the ICU waiting room to sweat out developments while his mind tries to deal with Aunt May possibly dying AND what may be up with this Gwen Stacy situation.
Elsewhere, Spider-Man’s old foe the Scorpion is being released from prison, having been approved for parole. Having learned nothing from his imprisonment, the first thing he does is retrieve his spare Scorpion costume and equipment and begins scouring the city for Spider-Man, intent on killing him.
Back to the hospital, Peter is at last allowed in the sleeping Aunt May’s room, gnawed with anxiety while wracking his brain about whether or not the person behind the new Gwen is after him or after his alter ego Spider-Man. Aunt May wakes up and expresses worry for Peter, which causes him to shed a few tears of emotion as he comforts her at her bedside.
Eventually, Peter is told to leave now since May needs rest so he returns to the waiting room. Hours more go by. The Scorpion, unable to find Spider-Man so far, raids a bank and robs it of thousands of dollars while injuring several people. At the hospital our hero eventually hears news reports about his old enemy’s actions and decides to work off some nervous energy by turning into Spider-Man and swinging off to take down the Scorpion.
Hours more go by with Spider-Man and Scorpion searching for each other, until finally, very late in the afternoon, Peter’s Spider Sense goes off and the Scorpion attacks him. The two of them engage in a vicious and destructive battle across the rooftops of Manhattan.
Our hero unleashes his pent-up rage and pain on the Scorpion while also peppering him with insults in his usual sarcastic, humorous way. The ridicule infuriates the villain, who at length knocks Spider-Man off the girders of a skyscraper under construction and into the churning cement mixer far below.
The Scorpion grabs a control lever and accelerates the pouring and mechanical mixing of the concrete Spider-Man is drowning in. (The workers have all fled because of the hero on villain battle.) At last the Scorpion assumes his foe is already dead or soon will be and leaves the scene before cops or another superhero can arrive.
Spider-Man manages to fight his way out of his situation, escaping being buried alive. He then swings off himself, since he is still wrongly wanted by the police for the deaths of Captain John Stacy (Gwen’s father) and Norman Osborn.
Unable to find the Scorpion, he eventually makes his way back to the hospital waiting room after switching back to Peter Parker. Once there, he sees waiting for him Mary Jane Watson, black City Editor Joe “Robbie” Robertson, crime reporter Ned Leeds and Ned’s fiancee Betty Brant … and the new Gwen Stacy.
Peter again verbally rips into Gwen, who cries some more. Eventually, the others make him settle down and listen. This new Gwen showed up a few days ago, while he was still out of town with Robbie and J Jonah Jameson. In that time Ned investigated and had this seeming imposter’s fingerprints checked, and they match the dead Gwen Stacy’s.
Even more, they got permission from her family to have the dead Gwen’s body exhumed, and her corpse is still in her coffin. There are somehow two separate Gwen Stacy’s now – the original Gwen dead and this clone of Gwen alive.
The new Gwen, still crying, hugs Peter and begs him again to help her understand what is going on. Meanwhile, Peter and Mary Jane, who were at last beginning to act on their mutual attraction when Peter left town in our last installment, exchange pained, tormented stares as their burgeoning romance is threatened by these new developments.
SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #146 (July 1975)
Title: Scorpion, Where Is Thy Sting?
Villains: The Jackal and the Scorpion
Synopsis: More days have gone by. We open up at the laboratory headquarters of the Jackal, the mysterious foe who has been waging a vendetta against Spider-Man for months now. The vile costumed villain relishes the pain he is causing Peter Parker by way of the Gwen Stacy clone he has thrust into Peter’s life.
Yes, the Jackal now knows Peter IS Spider-Man, having somehow (we’ll learn how in a few issues) learned our hero’s secret. He congratulates himself for his fast-closing plan to avenge himself on Spider-Man/ Peter Parker for what the villain enigmatically refers to as “a murder.”
We now join Peter and the new Gwen as they walk the night-darkened city streets. We see how, in the past few days, the confused and deeply hurt Peter is reliving his feelings for the original Gwen, making him desperate to retrieve what they had, after all these agonizing months of mourning her. He still feels a bit wary, however, because of what may lurk behind all this.
Gwen and Peter arrive at the apartment building of Betty Brant and Ned Leeds, the couple with whom the new Gwen has been staying for the present. Gwen kisses Peter and tells him she loves him, but notices his discomfort with what, to her, is just their normal level of intimate behavior.
Gwen desperately wants him to say that he loves her, as usual, and when he can’t bring himself to say it, she runs inside to go up to Ned and Betty’s apartment. Peter, feeling torn between Gwen and Mary Jane AND between his simultaneous aching desire to have a happy ending with “Gwen” and his suspicion that she may be part of whatever is going on, becomes Spider-Man and swings off to look for the Scorpion, who has yet to resurface.
Meanwhile, Anna Watson tries to engage her niece Mary Jane in conversation about how she is dealing with the sudden arrival of the Gwen clone and what it may be doing to her and Peter. Mary Jane is clearly in pain but tries hiding it behind her usual happy go lucky, Party Girl behavior. Aunt Anna isn’t buying it, but lets Mary Jane pretend to not care.
Elsewhere, the Scorpion has been trying to convince the Maggia (Marvel Comics’ fictional version of the Mafia since the 1960s) that he is ready to take over because he was able to kill Spider-Man a few days ago. The Mafia brass refuse to play along, and point out news reports of Spider-Man having survived his battle with the Scorpion.
This outrages the villain, who leaves the Maggioso’s mansion after a battle with his goons. The Scorpion sets out again to kill Spider-Man, and is found by the Jackal, who learned about Scorpy’s ill-considered bid to muscle in on the Maggia.
The Jackal tells the Scorpion that they can both get revenge on their mutual foe Spider-Man by working together. The Jackal knows Spidey’s secret identity but doesn’t tell the Scorpion this. He just sics him on a certain floor of the hospital – the floor with Aunt May’s room – assuring Scorpion that such action will smoke out Spider-Man to be killed.
The next day, Spider-Man checks with Max Gargan’s (the Scorpion’s) parole officer and sneaks into the police records department to dig up info on potential addresses where the villain may be hiding. He at last finds Gargan’s current room and uncovers the stolen loot from the Scorpion’s bank robbery.
Our hero calls the police and tells them where they can find the stolen money and set up a stakeout for Gargan.
After devoting another hour to his search for the Scorpion he spends the rest of the day at Aunt May’s bedside at the hospital, chatting with her when she’s able to. The pair try to figure out what may be going on with the Gwen situation but are at a loss to do so.
The Scorpion attacks Aunt May’s floor of the hospital, prompting Peter to slip away to become Spider-Man and attack the villain. While they battle, the Scorpion mentions the Jackal sending him here, making Peter realize the Jackal DOES now know his secret identity and might even be the culprit behind the Gwen Stacy clone.
Naturally, our hero wins in the end and the Scorpion is dragged back to prison. Peter stays with Aunt May, trying to keep up her spirits as this issue comes to a close.
JUST FOUR MORE ISSUES LEFT IN THE RUN OF SEVENTIES CLASSICS I’M REVIEWING. Check back soon for the next two issues.
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.