It’s another Conway/Andru/Esposito production. Spider-Man is swinging around, thinking he wants to get out of New York…
Gerry Conway’s Spider-Man is a just a jerk, man, sheesh. The TV show Spider-Man is out here pushing people around for is a special on The Man-Thing, the swamp creature that’s been sighted dozens of times in Florida. He thinks that if he can talk JJJ into sending him down there to cover it, he’ll get a free vacation. That is a very strange thing to think about confronting a muck monster, but this is a very strange Spider-Man. Also, more or less the plot of the first Lizard story. At The Daily Bugle, JJJ buys into the idea, and Betty Brant wants Peter to, you know, talk to Gwen, the terrified and confused person who loves him and recently returned from the grave. He’s still not interested, though, and instead makes some phone calls. First, too Dr. Curt Connors, aka The Lizard, a Florida resident that he wants to catch up with while he’s down there (Like Florida is so tiny). Then, I am impressed to see, he calls Mary Jane Watson. She’s excited to get his call, but then crestfallen when he says he’s going out of town.
Boy, that Peter Parker is all class. Goodness. That mess on Peter’s face appears to be a blob of ink, the printer must’ve gotten crazy for this copy. And I think that’s the first example of MJ’s facade breaking for a moment. Meanwhile, Curt Connors is a complete idiot. What a professional. Now a rampaging monster, he knocks out his concerned wife and runs off into the swamp.
Back in New York, Peter has suddenly decided to stop being a jerk and go talk to Gwen. He notes that, for some reason, JJJ “always pays his office people better.” I guess you have to explain randomly giving Betty a swanky address. When he arrives, Gwen says she doesn’t want to talk from behind a closed door.
That beat would be harder to sell if you were trying to keep the audience from ever thinking about the flow time like they have to now. The next day in Florida, some dude named Edmond Arnstead has come to the swamp to kill himself, and Man-Thing is being drawn to his raw emotion. Man-Thing is… one of the weirdest characters in the Marvel canon. His tagline is “Whoever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing.” So if you see the scary monster and don’t keep your nerve, things will only get worse. A whole page is devoted to this Arnstead guy’s backstory, how he started a company and it went bankrupt and now he’s lost everything and decided to end it all, and then Man-Thing makes it to him. But he’s not there to hurt Edmond, he’s there to fight an alligator that was about to hurt Edmond.
Right about then, Spider-Man has arrives in the swamp.
An unusually graceful Spidey for this art team up there, and a totally hilarious Lizard at the bottom. Spidey and The Lizard go a few rounds, with The Lizard getting the upper hand and spouting his usual about wiping out humanity so reptiles can rule the Earth, when suddenly it’s revealed we’re not far from the Connors home. Martha runs out and sees what her husband is doing to Spidey…
I live for moisture, too.
Unbelievable. Unbelievable! He just… bit his tail. This issue is wild. Elsewhere, Edmond is tailing Man-Thing, trying to figure out how he can get him back to civilization and monetize him, when all the reptiles in the area and Man-Thing himself take off in the same direction. Back at the Connors’ house, we learn The Lizard has sent out a mental command to local reptiles to come free him. It’s surprising that this worked on Man-Thing, some part of which is still human in there. But it did work, and so Man-Thing is sicced on Spidey.
While they’re scrappin’, the reptiles are chewing through the webs holding The Lizard, and then Edmond shows up.
Man-Thing turns on The Lizard, reacting to his rage, as Eddie and Martha start mixing up Curt Connors’ tried & true Lizard antidote. As Man-Thing fights The Lizard, the other reptiles begin attacking Spider-Man. Then Ed runs out with the antidote, but he trips over a snake and drops it.
And that’s that. In a mere 3 panels, the whole thing wraps up. Everyone goes home happy. The rest of the issue reprints ASM 21, and I’ll handle that some other time. There were 6 issues of Giant-Size Spider-Man, but the 6th one just reprints ASM Annual 4 (Wish I’d known that before I bought it… already having that annual), so this is the last appearance of this title. It provided some pretty unusual team-ups, but didn’t seem to do anything you couldn’t do in Marvel Team-Up other than the reprints. Not too surprising that this experiment didn’t last long.