Cover Price: $.12
Value: $150 (Near Mint-)
"Spider-Man Wanted!" - 20 Pages
The "Ancient Tablet" storyline continues
with the third installment. So far, the Kingpin has stolen a valuable, ancient
petrified tablet, which was on display at Empire State University. The tablet is
rumored to have vast powers, but the Kingpin basically plans to sell it to the
highest bidder. Spider-Man eventually defeats the Kingpin and recovers the
ancient tablet, but when he tries to return it, the police think he is in
cahoots with the Kingpin and start shooting at him. An angry Spider-Man says
that if the world is going to treat him like a menace, then he will act like a
menace! To make things worse, a group of ESU student protesters, led by Joe
Robertson's son Robbie, has been arrested and falsely accused of aiding the
Kingpin in the robbery.
This issue opens with the Kingpin and other inmates at the local jail reading the Daily Bugle's report that Spider-Man is wanted in connection with the ancient tablet robbery. The Kingpin vows to escape and recover the tablet. Another inmate makes the mistake of taunting the Kingpin, who responds, "Escape? Of course I'll escape! And then, just imagine yourselves helpless in the Kingpin's grip! How come you're no longer laughing!" The Kingpin's calculated cunning set him apart from the typical villain. His intelligence and his sheer ruthlessness are his most dangerous attributes. Spider-Man, meanwhile, still isn't over the shabby treatment he received at the hands of the New York Police Department. He has been swinging around town with the tablet, just blowing off steam. "Every time I squeeze into this corny Spidey suit, I'm taking my life into my hands! And for what?? That's what bugs me -- for what??" Eventually, he heads back to his apartment, figuring no one would ever think to look for the tablet at Peter Parker's apartment.
But while Peter settles in for a restless night's sleep, Randy Robertson and his fellow students are getting some good news. The police, led by Capt. George Stacy, has worked out an agreement to get the students out of jail. The police realize they had nothing to do with the theft and ESU has agreed to convert the Exhibition Hall into a low-rent dorm for needy students, which is what they were protesting for in the first place. Randy and his friend Josh, who had accused Joe Roberson of selling out his race because he worked for a white guy like J. Jonah Jameson, change their tune when they see what good can come from working within the system, rather than always fighting the system. "I sure had you pegged wrong, Mr. Robertson," Josh says. "Even if you work for whitey, you're a right cat in my book! Maybe...there's a lotta things...I gotta think about some more!" Josh was an interesting character who plays a fairly important role in this storyline. It's too bad he didn't become a recurring character, as I think he could've been put to good use as the guy who presents the militant black point-of-view.
The Kingpin makes good on his promise to escape from jail and it doesn't take Spidey long to find out that the villain is back on the loose. He's determined to find the Kingpin and send him back to jail. So he goes on a one-man crime-fighting spree, beating up a number of the Kingpin's thugs. Eventually, he gets the attention of the crime boss and the two of them hook it up for round two. "You pathetic pile of skin and bones...you'll never escape me!" the Kingpin declares. Yet it's Spider-Man who gets the better part of the battle. But before he can put the Kingpin away, J. Jonah Jameson and Ned Leeds drive up to investigate a news story. As their car blocks Spider-Man's path, a second car pulls up and the Kingpin gets away.
"You hysterical nut! I was trying to grab the Kingpin!" Spidey tells Jonah. "Now, thanks to you...he got away!" Of course, Jonah blames Spider-Man, saying the Web-Slinger and the Kingpin were working together. The already angry Spider-Man can take no more of Jonah's abuse. He jerks Jonah up by the lapels of his coat, hoping to put a good scare into him. But Spider-Man is horrified when Jonah collapses and possibly suffers a heart attack. Spider-Man realizes he may have accidentally gone too far. "By losing my temper...by losing control...I've proven myself as dangerous as he always said I was!!" the tortured hero says.
Overall, a very good issue that moves the ancient tablet storyline along, but brings new twists to the table. The ending is a classic cliffhanger. One of Spider-Man's appeals is that he is the hard-luck superhero; even when he wins, he loses. But this storyline is far from complete, as we haven't even met one of the key players.
Next issue: More of the ancient tablet storyline, as Spider-Man faces the challenge of the mutant Quicksilver! And what about J. Jonah Jameson?
Reviewed by Bruce Buchanan.
Marvel Tales #53
Spider-Man Comics Magazine (Digest) #6
Spider-Man Essentials IV
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