Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Disturbing The Police

My Very First Issue of:

Amazing Spider-Man #80

Beats me what it was about this issue that made me interested in the character of Spider-Man. In all probability, it may have been just coincidence. My Marvel reading list was expanding at the time, and this issue simply may have been in the right shop at the right time. I may have been rifling through a stack of back issues when I found it; after all, this particular issue was well before I became interested in picking up any Marvel books. It also has a strange notation on its cover that wasn't from its publisher, indicating that it was "marked" in some way by whatever shop it ended up in.

So what made me reach for this mag? Well, the cover has a good depiction of Spider-Man, in what would turn out to be a perfect way to describe the character: wronged by the public, distrusted by the law, and battling for justice in spite of it all. And the Chameleon seemed like an interesting enough foe, at first glance. I didn't realize it at the time, but he was one of Spider-Man's earliest villains--from the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man, in fact:

The Chameleon is really simply an elusive, sophisticated thief who targets high-profile items and later sells them to interested parties. Though as you can see, he thinks much more of himself:

The issue does a good job of bringing a new reader--e.g., me--up to speed on Spider-Man, his secret identity of Peter Parker, and Peter's cast of characters. (All but Aunt May, who's absent this issue.) In fact, the very first page gives us an idea of Spider-Man's loner status, given that his "base of operations" is a room in his apartment:

Right from the start, we're introduced to Harry Osborn, Peter's roommate, as well as Flash Thompson, Peter's nemesis from his high school days who Peter thinks is beating his time with his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. Flash finds out very quickly that this isn't the same "puny Parker" he used to bully in high school:

Yet when Flash clears things up, the ice seems finally broken between these two. It was a long time coming. It cracked a little when Flash joined the army; but with Harry's help, the two now seem headed for a decent friendship.

We're also introduced to the indomitable and irascible J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of "The Daily Bugle" newspaper, who is a thorn in just about everyone's side and Spider-Man's in particular. Fortunately, Jameson's attitude toward Spider-Man is somewhat buffered by his trusted editor, Joe "Robbie" Robertson, who gives a fair shake to Spider-Man in his efforts to bring the Chameleon out into the open:

Unfortunately, Spider-Man's plan backfires, since his spider-sense can't pinpoint who the Chameleon is in a roomful of suspects. (Since when?) And as time is running out, just look who's leading the charge to nab the wall crawler:

It's a made-to-order moment for the police to finally tell off this headstrong idiot. Jameson, as you might imagine, isn't accustomed to being on the receiving end of indignation:

But Spider-Man is in luck, since the Chameleon assumes another identity in order to escape in all the confusion. It turns out to be a fatal miscalculation:

Spider-Man isn't too bright himself, to be running off at the mouth in front of a newsman on just how he deduced the Chameleon's identity. He doesn't exactly put the issue to bed with this offhand comment, either:

He probably could have said something like "My spider-sense was able to nail him down"--which it was, though that would have made for a short issue. A so-called master of disguise isn't going to get very far with a walking divining rod like Spider-Man as a foe. So Spider-Man, who in his first encounter with the Chameleon was able to sense him in a getaway helicopter, had a little more trouble this time around.

But everything eventually works out:

Though not the way a certain newspaper publisher might wish:

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