Friday, March 3, 2017


It was tempting to make the subject of today's post one of our mystery villains, but who are we kidding. Talk about a dead giveaway. One look at him, and even a wild guess would allow any of you to nail his identity as the Spot--a villain who struck terror into the hearts of, well, likely no one. Maybe laundromat workers who were nervous about which pile to sort his costume into.

The Spot, a 1985 creation of Al Milgrom and Herb Trimpe, premiered in the story leading up to the 100th issue of Spectacular Spider-Man. Grabbing much of the spotlight of Milgrom's story was the continuing relationship between Spider-Man and the Black Cat, the latter recently having gained actual bad-luck powers courtesy of the Kingpin of Crime. Things don't end well between the two, with the Cat discovering that her new powers would adversely affect Spidey the longer she remained with him and, in a move that would break her heart, decided that she had no choice but to leave him. Yet she would never get the chance to make her self-sacrifice, since Spidey had also decided to break up with her, for several reasons--mostly boiling down to his feeling that she wasn't right for him.

The Kingpin, as well, was distracted by matters of the heart--his wife, Vanessa, afflicted both physically and mentally. The Kingpin's one hope to restore her to health--the light-being known as Dagger--was lost to him in a prior encounter that involved Spider-Man and the Black Cat, two people he has subsequently sworn revenge on. The Kingpin is also beset by business setbacks--having lost his trusted and powerful enforcer, the Answer, in that battle, while also involved in a conflict with Micah Synn for control of the underworld.

And so, while the top floors of his building are being repaired due to the damage caused by the attack of Silvermane, the Kingpin seems to be the figure around which the other characters of this story are orbiting--including Jonathan "Johnny" Ohnn, a research scientist among several who have been tasked to provide the means to empower another enforcement agent for the Kingpin, using the same technology developed by the late Harlan Stillwell which was used on both the Answer and the Black Cat. Everyone is coming up empty--except for Ohnn, who decides on a hunch to approach the problem by conducting a radiation analysis on the data gathered on Cloak (Dagger's partner). His efforts pay off--because in trying to artificially mimic Cloak's powers, he stumbles on a completely unique variation of them, as the radiation released by his experiment forms a mysterious circle of darkness.

As a typical scientist would say, "Whoops!" (Well, "Aaarrggh!" and then "Whoops"!) But Ohnn survives the experience--and while he realizes he hasn't succeeded in regard to Cloak, further hands-on testing results in not only an incredible discovery, but a meshing of scientist and environment that heralds the birth of a possible new super-villain.

Make that a definite super-villain--since not many scientists conclude that a proper test for a new discovery is to go looking for a hero to battle.

The battle scenes which follow will almost have you feeling that someone has unleashed 101 dalmations onto the printed page; even Spider-Man looks like he's wondering how he got into such a crazy situation, though amused that he's actually fighting with someone called "the Spot." For his part, the Spot appears to be enjoying himself, flexing his new abilities as well as appearing to get the better of Spider-Man in all respects. But Spidey makes a fair point: Despite the Spot's bag of tricks, his punches don't add up to much against someone of the wall-crawler's strength. That being the case, this fight is more novelty than substance, and far from decisive--and so the Spot decides to declare victory and leave, so to speak.

(The Spot no doubt meant to warn Spidey not to harass the Kingpin again.  You only get one chance to make a first impression, Spot.)

Things come to a head for all of these characters in issue #100, including the Spot--who returns for Round 2 but who falls victim to deductive reasoning on Spider-Man's part, and the fact that the Spot's ability to deploy his confounding floating spots is limited to the number of them that he can store on his body. Without being able to utilize them for defense, he becomes almost helpless to his opponent.

The Spot would go on to make several more appearances in various titles over the years--possibly because he's quite an eye-catcher on comics covers and no doubt appeals to kids of all ages who may want to pick up a comic book from time to time that doesn't appear to take itself so seriously.

Because YOU demanded it! The Black Cat's excruciating, tear-jerker farewell scene!
(Sorry I had to ambush you like this--but misery loves company.)

To quote our newest super-villain:  "Aaarrggh!"


Anonymous said...

I've never seen this cat before. Interesting villain.
Something about him is kinda Ditkoesque, for want of a better word.
I could definitely see Ditko coming up with this guy.


Comicsfan said...

I quite agree, M.P.--it seems even more apparent when Al Milgrom takes over the depiction of the character.

ZIRGAR said...

I don’t know if you noticed just exactly how well his name plays into your title (I’m sure you did, nevertheless…), but Dr. Jonathon Ohnn, The Spot, works out as Jonny Ohnn, The Spot = Johnny-On-The-Spot. I love corny wordplay like this. The character is throwaway, but the jeu de mots is priceless. Kudos to Milgrom and Trimpe for that much, at least.

Comicsfan said...

An excellent observation indeed, Zirgar! At first I thought, "what an odd last name for them to give this guy"--and then the character himself makes a point of shortening his first name out loud for us for no apparent reason. Quite a nice bit of fun they had with the reader.