July 1981: Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 59 – Or, You want people not to laugh, leave the monkey suit at home

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Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man was written by Roger Stern and pencilled by Jim Mooney and opens with the director and narrator of the documentary show ‘On the Trail’ talking about their next subject, Spider-Man. The narrator Felix Simon, wants new footage to keep the quality high, while director Morrie Toshiba is less sure, but he does call in film crew  Jack and Marty to get the footage. Jack is really not keen, but Marty jumps at the chance and says he can get the footage, before returning home to get some hidden clothing.

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In New York, their quarry Spider-Man prevents a pair of boy racers from killing an senior citizen, trying to cross the road, before heading to Empire State University to mope about his personal life. After ditching his friend Phil (who was only really trying to help cheer him up) Peter changes to Spider-Man to stop some mafia-looking types harassing an innocent teen Peter knows called Greg Salinger. Turns out, these guys are FBI and are legitimately questioning Greg. Greg walks away and from his thoughts is not quite the innocent teen Pete thinks he is. In the middle of all this, Abner (the Beetle) Jenkins has finished his new exo-skeleton and is keen to use it and it’s new onboard computer to analyse and defeat Spider-Man.

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Spider-Man is later swinging around for … reasons? And is spotted by Jack and Marty, who are following in a helicopter. Jack gets some great footage, but is suprised to see his sound guy dressed in a gorilla suit. Turns out Marty is Martin Blank, the Gibbon. (That’s ok, very few remembered him either) who in a fit of rage jumps from the chopper and attacks Spider-Man, seeking revenge for his previous defeats.

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Spider-Man, knowing Gibbon to be mixed up, but not inherently a bad guy, isn’t keen on picking a fight and uses his webs and a local rooftop water tower to keep him at bay. When that doesn’t work, he is forced to hit back and even pulling his punch, knocks the Gibbon flat. Intending to web him to the wall so that he can talk reason with the Gibbon, when this wall is knocked over by the Beetle, who has tracked Spider-Man down for his own revenge based reasons. Spider-Man is able to get the Gibbon clear, but is flattened by the wall and when he clambers free and tries to stand, he is face to face with the Beetle.

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Notes: The Gibbon was a bit of a one-note villain during the classic 70s run of Spider-Man. There were a lot of them. He was a bit odd looking and lanky and dressed up as a Gibbon to defeat Spider-Man and gain a little respect. Yup that is correct, in order to stop people laughing at him, he dressed in a monkey suit and attacked an experienced super-hero. His appearance here is fun and entertaining proving that most of Spider-Mans older villains are just messed up victims of circumstance. The subplot with Greg Salinger was interesting, knowing what will come out of that. (Foolkiller) and we get the usual Peter Parker self pity party, showing this to be a great all-round Spider-Man story of this time. Roger Stern writes all of the characters well, giving each their own voice and motives. Jim Mooney is much like Ross Andru an under-rated Spider-Man artist, who did a great job with a marvel house style story.

Overall I can’t really say much more than that, it’s one of those stories, if you liked it, well then there’s a lot more like it. If you didn’t not much can be done, a lot of decent Spider-Man stories of this time were like this and I personally like that.

Next Time: A city break in the mystical city of K’Un-Lun.

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