And so, at long last, we come to it, the 2nd of my very oldest Spider-Man comics. The coverless copy of ASM 148 and this battered old copy of 180 are the 2 garage sale finds that got me started on all this as a tiny, tiny child. And what utterly bizarre points of entry. The 2nd-to-last installment of the absurd 70s clone saga, and the 5th and final part of the weirdest Green Goblin story before the mid-2000s. But, even so, as I mentioned on 148, these things totally fascinated me. Coming into a story in progress just gave them an air of mystery, let me wonder about all sorts of things I’d not know for years or even decades. Look at this thing. My ASM 148 was simply coverless, but this thing’s been the trenches. No back cover, front cover re-stapled on. Tears and creases, tape. This comic has given its all for entertainment. I salute you, ASM 180. I wish your contents were as strong as you are. So, yeah, ASM 148 and this were my entree into the world of Spider-Man, and without a cover, it was years before I noticed what number the other one was in the indica on the front page. I had no idea how these issues related to each other, but as they were both drawn by the distinctive hand of Ross Andru, they were definitely closer together in my mind than they really are. Let’s get into it, as Goblin, Spidey and Silvermane fall to their death in Radio City Music Hall, kicking things of with a coloring error that absolutely confused the daylights out of me as a child:
Spidey lost a pantleg somehow between the splash and here! It’s really unfortunate that “Spider-Man blue” is a mix of cyan and magenta, because that let this sort of thing happen to him all the time. I mean, he’s lost part of his sleeve on the next page:
Also, what’s with this Goblin having all these new tricks? Net ghosts and sonic frogs and what not. Makes no sense. So, here we have the seeds of Silvermane becoming a cyborg, though certainly not on purpose. Ol’ Silvio only appears in 1 more comic between this and far off TAC 69, one we’ve not covered yet. One more consecutive page:
This sort of thing is funny to me. “I can’t believe I’m putting on this costume!” I can’t either, dude, just grab the bag and get on the glider. Maybe bring the gloves, since they have zaps in ‘em. Why do you need the suit? Answer: This is a superhero comic from 1978. I really like the motion of Harry just popping that face on like a cap despite how silly it is. Elsewhere, JJJ gets a phone call from Robbie to tell him Spider-Man’s been kidnapped by The Goblin. Jonah gets pretty happy about the idea of Spidey being killed, but not “dance around the office” happy like he usually would, which is interesting. As for Spider-Man, he’s being flown out to, if you can believe it, the exact smokestack hew threw his clone into in Len’s first issue. This is Len’s last issue, so I guess he was going for symmetry. It’s kind of insane how much the clone saga and this location kept coming up in these 32 issues. This Goblin knows all about that, and thinks it’s fitting for Spidey to die like his clone. But, of course, our manwas faking, and flips to safety so they can start fighting.
Hard to imagine why this Goblin would hate Spider-Man so much, given his identity. Despite having JUST lost his bag of tricks, he throws some kind of razor-edged crescent moon, cutting Spider-Man’s web. Spidey thinks Harry has never sounded more insane, and it’s time to stop holding back and end this. So, next time Gobby swoops in, Spidey just socks him right in the mouth, taking him off his glider and catching him on a web, no problem. The goblin raves about how he’s not insane, and it’s time for the big reveal:
I tend to have a lot of questions about Andru’s art, but I have never questioned any choice more than pulling that mask off at the bottom of this page rather than letting you turn the page for the shocking revelation.
So, see, this is how I knew what happened in ASM 169 despite never reading it. And, like, consider the young me. I have seen the 2nd-to-last chapter of the clone debacle. Now this issue is surprisingly clone-heavy. Is this just what Spider-Man is about? Is this the only storyline? I may have been the only person not surprised when the clone business came roaring back in the 90s just because my warped view of Spider-Man history made it way, way more important than it really was. All because I got 2 weird comics first.
So the 2 Goblins get into it, and what follows is absolute nonsense. First they both manage to zap each other in the chest, with neither taking any damage. Then they collide in mid-air, falling off their gliders and, like, half a mile a roof, smashing into it, and NEITHER OF THEM GETS HURT! These aren’t superpowered villains! It’s just 2 guys in tights! They should be dead! Spider-Man notes “a fall like that should’ve broken every bone in their bodies!” as he swings down to get involved, but instead, he finds them having crashed through a window into the warehouse space below, still slugging it out. Absurd. Harry’s really whupping Hamilton, who says Harry knows the “sense of superiority” the Goblin gives you, “the almost limitless power.” I mean… No? Harry says he does know, tho…
The rampant overuse of “the most [adjective] [noun] of all!” at Marvel in the 70s has, perhaps, never been more stupid than this guy claiming his ink pen is, like, more dangerous than an atom bomb.
Aaaand that’s that. One hastily wrapped up subplot left and Len is out. His run was pretty bizarre. I’d rank it pretty low overall. His Spider-Man was even more self-absorbed and whiny than Conway’s (Though he, at least, didn’t think he was losing his mind every 3 issues), and new villains like Rocket Racer, Will O’The Wisp and The Hitman didn’t exactly set the world on fire. He did a lot of tidying up, really. Finished up the clone business, but kept revisiting it. Finished up Harry’s mental problems (Til DeMatteis, anyway). Finished up the Spider-Mobile nonsense. Brought back Doc Ock and Hammerhead (And The Tinkerer from all the way back in ASM 2). Kind of a strange bunch of issues, considered together. But, he’s off to do something else now. Rocket Racer, however, is not back next issue, as the typical delays and lateness of Marvel in the 70s cause ASM 181 to be a fill-in. But that’s for later. Now we have to roll back to the many issues of MTU and TAC that came out while this long story was running.