Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Unknown Spiderman Story

Ross Andru pencilled a bunch of Spiderman stories in the 1970s, starting with ASM #125 (October 1975). But did you know that he also drew one Spiderman story in 1968? Well, to be honest with you, neither did I until I stumbled across this issue in a used bookstore around 1976. Stan explains the circumstances here:

That Stan didn't want to burden Andru with the plot threads of the Spiderman series is pretty obvious. Nothing in the story places it tightly in any continuity of the time; this is a story that could be slotted in anywhere from about ASM 60-120 and nobody would notice that it was out of place. Harry and Peter are roomies, and Gwen is his girlfriend; that's about all we know.

We get the usual megalomaniac introduction:

Hey, I'll test my powers against Spidey and see if I'm as great as I think. He has some sort of mental ability to give Peter major-league headaches, and I mean that literally, not figuratively:

Fortunately, the crooks that Spidey has been following decide that discretion is the better part of valor, after a few efforts at killing off the wall-crawler, so he's able to survive the experience.

We learn a little about the villain of the piece. He had shown great ESP ability, and became a researcher on the topic. He considers contacting Dr Strange and the Ancient One, but decides they would be too difficult to locate (never mind that many people went to Dr Strange's Greenwich Village pad with their problems). He traveled to Africa, to learn juju, the art of taking control of an enemy's mind. Now he's determined to make the entire world fear the power of the Sorcerer (as he dubs himself). In an odd bit, he sends off a voodoo doll addressed to Spiderman, with this comment:

Meanwhile, Peter's headaches are so bad, that he sends for Dr Bromwell, who can find nothing medically wrong with him. So Pete skips out on a double date with Gwen and Harry and MJ. But later he feels an odd compulsion:

He arrives as Mardi Gras is getting into full swing, but finds himself entering a warehouse, where his destiny awaits:

Say what? What was the point of sending Spidey down to New Orleans to face an android locked in a crate? He turns out to be something like the Sandman, able to turn himself soft or hard at will. So we get pages of them fighting, with Peter having to deal with his headaches at the same time.

In the meantime, the Post Office has sent back the package as undeliverable, and the postman rings once:

Causing a deadly feedback which kills the Sorcerer and renders his android harmless.

Comments: Yechhhh! The story makes little sense. We can understand how the Sorcerer is able to affect Spiderman with his mental powers, but where did he come up with the android? Did he just buy it at Androids 'R' Us? The idea of sending a package to Spiderman seems weird, as well, and if the object was to let the police know that he had killed Spidey, wouldn't leaving a return address on the object be a little too good a clue as to where to find him?

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