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Longbox Junk Spectacular Spider Man #35

  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

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Welcome to Longbox Junk! It's the blog where I just keep on writing comic reviews nobody asked for!

 
Sorry about the delays again.  There's always a huge bump in business toward the end of summer when people who put stuff off for the past few months are rushing to get in some fun time with the kids before they go back to school.  It's just one of those strange things about hotels that the END of summer is one of the busiest times of the year.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
I felt like getting a little random this time out, so I basically generated a random number between 1 - 40 (the number of boxes I keep in my comic-cave) online. That got me one of my "S" boxes.   Then I closed my eyes and pulled out a comic.
 
And here we are.
 
Truthfully, I'm not much of a Spider-Man fan.  Don't get me wrong. . .a cool comic story is a cool comic story, and Spidey has some pretty cool stories.  I'm just not one of those guys who goes out of my way to collect massive full runs of the many Spider-Man titles.  Most of the issues I have, I've either gotten by accident as part of a larger lot, or they had a great cover that caught my eye.
 
This is one of those great cover issues.  I've never actually read this comic, but I have had it up on my rotating "Wall O' Covers" in my office several times.  So, now the question becomes: Is the story as cool as the cover?
 
Let's find out!

THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #35

Marvel (1979)

 
 
COVER: Carmine Infantino
 
LABYRINTH
 
SCRIPT:  Tony Isabella
PENCILS: Lee Elias & Mike Esposito
INKS: Mike Esposito
 
THE COVER:
 
Like I said above, I might not be a big Spider-Man fan, but I AM a fan of great comic covers. . .and in MY book, this is a great Spider-Man cover!  I mean, just LOOK at it! What's not to like?  Eye-catching contrasting blacks, reds and yellows. . .the hero in an iconic pose, leaping at the reader. THIS is a cover that delivers a nice punch of great Bronze Age art in the Mighty Marvel Manner!
 
So yeah. . .great cover.  Let's get inside and see what's going on with the story!
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale with the Spectacular Spider-Man, wracked with pain and falling, mid web swing. We see a mysterious figure who realizes that if Spidey falls to his death, he will be robbed of revenge.  
 
He releases the hold on Spider-Man's mind and the disoriented wall-crawler smashes through a window and into a building, only to be confronted by two police officers intent on arresting him!
 
 
As Spidey tries to reason with the police, the mysterious figure once again invades his mind, commanding him to kill!  Spidey manages to fight back the mental commands enough to avoid killing the officers, but the mysterious voice in his head demonstrates his ability to mentally control Spider-Man by forcing him to throw himself against walls!
 
 
Spidey, helpless to resist the mental commands, follows the voice in his head to an old neighborhood, and then to a run-down shack.  Inside that shack, he finally meets his tormentor. It's a foe that he had fought once before (in Amazing Spider-Man #138), now back for revenge. . .the mutant mindbender called MINDWORM!
 
 
As Spider-Man tries and fails to fight free of Mindworm, the villain gloats and gives Spidey (as well as the reader) a quick recap of his short-lived criminal career, brought short by the hero now helpless before him. . .
 
A psychic parasite who gained strength from draining the emotions and thoughts of those in his area, Mindworm had taken a large group of people to feed on until Spidey had fought and defeated him, leaving him unable to feed on emotions, which nearly killed him.
 
 
After their battle, Mindworm spent several months in the hospital close to death, but during that time, he had found the strength to increase his mental powers and escape custody!  With newfound energy, Mindworm was determined to have his vengeance on Spider-Man!
 
 
The villain's origin flashback monologue now at an end, Mindworm blasts Spidey out of a window, where the hero falls into a strange maze-like place.  Almost immediately, a woman rushes out of the shadows, she recognizes Spider-Man and cries out for help!
 
She introduces herself as Dr. Joyce Phillips, Mindworm's doctor at the time the villain escaped from the hospital.  Spider-Man tries to make sense of it all, but there's little time for conversation with his new companion as gigantic rats leap out and attack them!
 
 
It's a brutal, savage battle against the giant rats, but Spider-Man manages to win the fight and save the frightened Doctor from the oversized vermin!
 
 
With the immediate danger overcome, Doctor Joyce tells Spider-Man that she's not a medical doctor, but a psychiatrist who was trying to help Mindworm through his personality conflicts before he escaped.  
 
She recognizes the rats as one of Mindworm's mental traumas. . .he had been bitten by a rat as a child. She believes that she and Spidey are trapped in a labyrinth of Mindworms own neuroses!  
 
Further speculation on their strange situation is interrupted by a howling blast of wind that carries the two of them to parts unknown!
 
 
Spider-Man and the doctor regain consciousness only to find themselves confronting a grotesque blob-like creature!  
 
As it speaks with the voice of Mindworm and shouts it's hate of all mankind, Doctor Joyce tells Spidey that this is Mindworm's final embrace of inhumanity and alienation, and that they must help him before he is completely engulfed by madness!  
 
All Spidey knows is that he's finally in a position where he might actually be able to fight Mindworm and escape the prison of the villain's mind . . .
 
 
Unfortunately for Spidey, in the mental maze of Mindworm, he's at a disadvantage.  Mindworm sprouts tentacles and pummels Spidey.  Worse, the wallcrawler still doesn't have a way to fight against Mindworm's mental attacks!
 
Doctor Joyce shouts to Spidey that the only way he's going to be able to defeat Mindworm is mentally! If Mindworm is in Spidey's head, then THAT'S where he has to fight the villain!
 
 
 
And so Spider-Man opens his mind and is able to see some of what makes Mindworm tick.  He taunts the villain about his parents. . .accidentally killed with his powers.  An enraged Mindworm struggles against the truth, that his anger at the world is anger at HIMSELF!
 
In accepting the truth, Mindworm sees that he's still capable of being human, and in doing so, he defeats his greatest enemy. . .his own anger at himself.
 
 
The battle against Mindworm won, Peter Parker wakes up in an icy sweat in his own bed. . .it was all just a nightmare! OR WAS IT?
 
Peter suits up as Spidey and swings across town to the psychiatric hospital where Mindworm was confined after their original battle.  He's determined to get to the bottom of things.  Sneaking outside of Mindworm's window, Spidey is surprised to see Doctor Joyce. . .but she's just a nurse and not a psychiatrist.  
 
As he wonders just what is going on, Spidey is shocked to realize that Mindworm can read his thoughts as he invites Spider-Man into the room to ask his questions.
 
 
A calm and composed Mindworm tells Spider-Man that he never intended to drag the hero into his own internal struggle, but he's glad that it happened by accident.  
 
By fighting with Spider-Man, Mindworm was able to defeat his inner demons, but more importantly, he learned from Spider-Man that with great power comes great responsibility. . .and it's time to use his power responsibly.
 
Spider-Man is surprised by the turn of events.  He came expecting another fight, and discovered that he'd helped a villain turn the page from evil without even realizing it.  Taking the unexpected victory as it is, Spider-Man and Mindworm part ways peacefully.  All's well that ends well.
 

The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay, okay. . .not bad.  Not bad at all.  Let's break it on down!
 
I think I've mentioned a time or two that Tony Isabella is one of my favorite Bronze Age writers.  The thing I like most about his stories is that there's ALWAYS a little something to think about.  Even in this filler one and done Spider-Man comic, he takes an otherwise average superhero punch-up and throws an unexpected villain redemption ending at us!  Nicely done, Mr. Isabella!
 
Taken as a whole, the issue's story is decent.  Not really too memorable or groundbreaking.  A solid bit of  Bronze Age superhero storytelling.  Good for what it is, but ultimately nothing much to remember.
 
 But that ending. . .those last two pages.  A villain able to go into Spidey's head and taking the classic "With great power comes great responsibility" to heart and deciding to change his ways.  Now THAT'S a tasty and unexpected turn.  
 
On the art side of things, we have cover to cover of some good, clean Bronze Age artwork.  It might not be the GREATEST art out there, but it tells the story nicely and there's nothing wrong with it.  Like I always say. . .not EVERY comic has to be a masterpiece.  I'd rather have a good, solid piece of work than have someone try TOO hard to be different.  This is exactly the kind of art I want in a good old piece of superhero fun like this.
 

CONCLUSION

 
What we have here is a story that COULD have just been what it is. . .a filler.  But thanks to Tony Isabella, what we got was a little more meat on the bone than what I would have expected from a late 70s Spider-Man comic.  The ending of this story just tells me once again why Mr. Isabella is one of my favorite Bronze Age writers.
 
If you're a Spider-Man fan, a fan of Bronze Age superhero comics, or a fan of Tony Isabella (or maybe all three!), then I can certainly recommend this comic as a tasty little nugget of Bronze Age Longbox Junk gold.   From the outstanding cover, to the thoughtful ending, to the solid art throughout, there's NOTHING I can find to gripe about.  They can't all be winners, but this one is!
 
Up Next. . .
 
I like where going random took me this time.  I think I'll try it again.
In the box I go, what I pull, nobody knows!
 
Be there or be square.
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