We’re back on the trail of the Hobgoblin. Problem is, as we’ve seen before, it’s not easy to find- and this time, the crime he begins investigating leads him to an even more powerful menace.
Just like “Confrontations” starts with a confrontation- Peter versus the results of his test, which aren’t posted, Dean Sloan popping up, then Lance Bannon tracking down Parker- and keeps going with that idea, you’ll find an issue based on interruptions, here. Nose Norton’s grooming is interrupted by a creeping Spider-Man, who’s interrupted also his plans to cash in on a secret item beneath his bed! Spider-Man’s going to interrupt its exchange, Frog Man’s – Frog Man!- then an interruption of the collar. This is what Spider-Man means by real consequences in the wake of Eugene’s bumbling heroism! And he would know about that! The gang interrupts the security wagon, and Spider-Man interrupts the pay-off- but again, a villain’s scheme has, at least for part one, paid off. It’s really Thunderball of the Wrecking Crew, and now he’s going to have nearly Thor-class power!
There’s a nice detail added to the Peter Parker subplot. There’s just this one lunch date and the main Spider-Man detective story, along with a third thread revolving around Frog Man’s interruption. The nice part is, Pete sits down with Aunt May and Anna Watson, MJ and Nathan come wheeling up. And when lunch is over, Pete asks May why she says she always thought he and MJ made such a nice couple. After all- that’s a plot dating back to Ditko! May quietly tells him “you’ve both lost so much...” He can’t ask more without an awkward scene, MJ being there. Did Stern have something in mind? There’s something about her sister- we know that from her daydream, last issue.
The Spider-Man subplot involves the Parker luck that causes Spidey to miss the dusk-activated security floodlights that illumine his form from the skylight above the table full of plans, maps Spidey had been photographing. That precedes the ruckus bringing Frog Man bashing through, springing around without control as the bad guys high-tail it. Frog Man’s appeared twice now in Marvel Team Up, determined and unskilled as before. This, is why Spider-Man hates working with others. He comes away, having inspired starry-eyed Eugene Patilo yet again with an artful leap and his assured nature. He’s thinking how the Black Cat also wants to partner with him, become part of a life he came into by accident. Now we’ve handily tied into both other Spidey titles, and away we go!
At least his crime photography approach pays off this time in tipping him to where the heist is going down. He’s got the maps and time tables, pictured. It’s not going to land him any Bugle bucks, though. Guess we can’t have TOO many things run smoothly! You could wonder if we’re heading towards the next Hobgoblin battle until the last pages impressively reveal an empowered Thunderball.
Another Monstrous Class foe’s stomping Spidey’s way: “And He Strikes Like A Thunderball!”
Rarely in the Stern run can Spider-Man hope to throw a punch that’ll save the day.
One reason is, he’ll face an immaterial Will O’The Wisp, or a Tarantula whose inhumane mutation he can’t stop. The Hobgoblin’s so evasive. The Stilt Man’s victory is really the one way Spidey can win, too. Black Cat’s up against her own demons more than physical opponents. But when it comes to physical opponents, never in all the years of Amazing Spider-Man were there more powerful enemies!
Once again, magnificent illustration, and Con Ed once more saves the day. Nothing from which to drop Thunderball, no handy building foundation in which to bury him, Spider-Man finds the one thing on Long Island that can match Thunderball’s power. Yes, he’s using a power plant again as versus The Mad Thinker, but this time his human opponent recognizes that he’s webbed cable to the crowbar, wiring it into the substation generators. But he’s tricking Thunderball into throwing his wrecking ball, and with an application of webbing, Spider-Man uses the enchanted weapon’s penchant for returning to its thrower to lay a circuit of electricity on him that blacks out the county! Too bad traffic’s stalled at horrendous rates. We get one last use of that “hands behind the head, resting” Spider-Man pose Romita enjoys, as he sits in the back of a pick-up truck joining the crowded turnpike. Single plot, action all the way- and surprise! Halfway through the issue, we suddenly meet “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man!”
It’s been a treat talking to y’all. A bit more about the Hobgoblin coming up, the best tour behind the scenes you can possibly get for the next era of Spidey, courtesy Ron Frenz himself, then probably some general commentary on Doc Strange, Cap, Hulk, Thor, and Spider-Man later in the year, in conversations with core Marvel Bullpen alum, David Anthony Kraft.