February 1980: Amazing Spider-Man 204 – Or maybe Peter’s dating problems are actually Peter.

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Synopsis: Amazing Spider-Man 204 was written by Marv Wolfman with art by Keith Pollard and Pablo Marcos and opens with Spider-Man being caught up in a car chase between the police and an unmarked van, shots are being fired. Spider-Man gets involved, quickly disarming the people in the van and ending the chase by webbing the axle and removing it. As he leaves, the police arresting the people from the van, we see that he is being photographed by the Black Cat.

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She heads to the nearby museum after Spider-Man leaves and tries to rob the golden lovers statue. She is interrupted by a security guard and the alarm is raised, which brings Spider-Man and after a brief melee, Black Cat leaves, without the statue. It is clear though, that there is a mutual attraction with these two, stuck on opposing sides. The next day in his normal identity of Peter Parker, Spider-Man visits the Daily Bugle for no real reason I can see, save to show that Robbie Robertson is filling in for a missing J.Jonah Jameson and is kind of acting like Jonah, in a very non-Robbie way. We later see Jonah wander the streets, confused and without his memory, but found by Jonas Harrow (mad scientist extraordinaire) in a to be continued scene.

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At the Daily Globe (The newspaper Peter actually works for) Pete gets a gentle telling off from the boss about his attitude to co-workers. Peter decides to go home, ignoring his Spider-Sense and deciding to go on a blind date with ex-bully Flash Thompson, his lady Sha Shan and a mystery girl who he finds out is called Dawn Starr. He finds her attractive and she is very into him, but he learns she will be one of his students and he has to call it off on ethical grounds. Heading home, Spider-Man swings by the museum again and there’s another fight with Black Cat, who is trying to steal the statue again. This time the fight goes Black Cats way as she uses her bad luck powers to constantly slow Spider-Man down. She leaves and the next day steals a large ruby, one step closer to her Final Goal!

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Notes: This is a bit more like it. While not the greatest art, the Pollard/Marcos team has a great energy to it and the house-style of the characters brings you right into the story. It starts with a crime, has a central plot and several plot threads keep moving around as all elements of Peter’s life are looked out, without the Spider-Man parts being short changed. The Jonas/Jonah/Robbie plot is something I honestly don’t remember, but in a few panels I am intrigued. Peter’s dating woes continue, the car crash that is his romantic history just keeps on going and yet Peter never sees that the common denominator is him. Another great element of this is that during the Daily Globe scenes we are shown one of the great parts of the writing of Spider-Man, Peter is a bit of a d**k. He doesn’t get on with his colleagues and he’s very stand offish and self involved. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created a heroic character, but so deeply flawed that you don’t always like him. That’s Peter. He has his friends, but there are just as many people who don’t think so highly of him. Some of this is Spider-Man related, but not all. Spider-Man is one of those evergreen characters, because so much was done so right at the start, that it’s hard to mess it up. When we get to the 90’s you’ll find that hard does not mean impossible. This is a great comic from a great era and well worth looking up.


Next Time: Mechanical Madness, Drawn by Ditko.


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