Writer: Stan Lee
Illustrators: John Romita, Mickey Demeo
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Originally published: April 1970
The Kingpin Strikes Back!
Author: Stan Lee
Illustrators: John Romita, John Buscema, Jim Mooney
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Originally published: May 1970
The Secret of the Schemer!
Script: Stan Lee
Art: J. Romita, J. Buscema, Mooney
Lettering: Sam Rosen
Originally published: June 1970
I haven’t read any of these in awhile, so I’m excited to get going again!
In this issue we meet a new criminal, the Schemer, who is intent on taking over the city’s crime scene. Apparently there has been a bit of a power vacuum since the disappearance of the Kingpin, and the Schemer wants to fill the void. The Schemer’s not-half-bad plan is to use guerilla tactics to attack the Kingpin’s forces. Once their attacks begin, though, they run into a wee problem: Spider-Man. The whole situation freaks Spidey out a bit. The Kingpin is kind of a big deal, and anybody willing to tangle with him must have major cajones (big testicles).
If you’ll recall: the last time Spider-Man tangled with Kingpin, the crimelord escaped in a car driven by his mysterious woman, presumably his wife. In this issue we finally get a proper introduction to this woman, Vanessa. We learn that she and the Kingpin have a son together, Richard, and that he is missing in Europe, and possibly dead. A newspaper article about the incident implies that he may have even commit suicide, and Vanessa angrily blames the entire situation on the Kingpin and his life of crime. Kingpin (who I’m fairly certain still doesn’t have a real name at this point) is quite angry about this. His frustration leads him to stop hiding and return to the action of the underworld.
Back in his civilian life, Pete and the gang see Flash off for his return to Vietnam. With a completely uncharacteristic lack of jealousy, Pete watches Gwen (and MJ) give Flash a huge kiss goodbye — on the lips no less — without even exploding into a rage. Later, Harry and MJ go to watch Easy Rider. Awesome. THEN A TRUCK FALLS ON PETER AND GWEN!
Peter holds the truck off the ground, protecting Gwen, but she was injured in the fall. Besides Gwen’s injury, this is obviously a pretty bad position to be in – anybody seeing Pete holding a truck on his back might think something was up. Pete is able to prop the truck up with a parking meter until some cops and ambulances show up, so I guess that worked out. He also throws a tracer on the car that sideswept the truck, causing it to crash.
Unsurprisingly, the car in question was being driven by the Schemer’s men. Spidey tracks them down and attacks the crap out of them. Spidey’s able to take out all the regular hoods that are there, but the Schemer himself gets away.
When Pete goes to the hospital to check on Gwen, she’s pissed off at him. What else is new, though? AMIRITE?!
There was nothing particularly spectacular about this issue, but I still enjoyed it. Possibly because it’s just been awhile since I’ve read any Spidey, possibly because I just watched Spider-Man 2 and I’m in a mood for this kinda thing, possibly because it just actually was pretty decent.
At the beginning of the next issue, we learn that some unnamed source has a $5000 reward out for the Schemer. Could this mystery party be the Kingpin? Yes, but we don’t find that out until the next issue. In an attempt to find the Schemer, Spidey does a little breaking and entering and assault against on of the crime boss’s hoods. Unfortunately, he’s not able to get any info out of the dude, so he just goes moping around the city.
Also: it’s winter and snowing a lot, and Gwen’s birthday is coming up. Pete goes to visit the recovering Gwen, who is trying to decide whether to forgive him or not. She asks a couple of questions about the accident and Peter freaks out and leaves. That outta help her trust him.
Meanwhile, the Schemer is in his hideout: a car covered in snow. WTF?! That‘s his hideout?! And he supposed to be a major threat and potential crime lord? Talk about taking away any of this dude’s credibility. This is just about the lamest ever. The Schemer drives his hideout over the the Kingpin’s lair – an actual building – and attack’s some of the assorted henchmen he finds. The Kingpin is annoyed about this, and Vanessa is annoyed that he cares.
Spider-Man finds the Schemer’s mobile car/base and discovers that it:
- has a battering ram
- can go underwater
- can fly
The Schemer gets away again, then goes and breaks into the Kingpin’s house. Then something really weird happens. Vanessa looks into the Schemer’s eyes and gets hypnotized or something. Spidey shows up and annoys me by declaring yet again that he forgot how fast the Kingpin can move – just like he does every single time they fight. While the two are trading blows, both the Schemer and Vanessa disappear! Kingpin takes off after them, and Spider-Man is left alone with no resolution to his problems.
This issue was terrible compared to the last one. It was boring and it was poorly-written, in my opinion. Crap-fest! Let’s get this over with…
Wrapping up this arc is ASM #85. With a little bit of revisionism it turns out everybody was wrong and Vanessa is not gone. She is, in fact, fine and was hiding in the shadows (super believable, that). Meanwhile the Schemer is driving away in his
base car and crashes. Darn the luck, now he needs to go get parts to fix it. I can’t believe this is a plot.
Back at Peter’s place, Gwen and Captain Stacy drop by to ask him how he always manages to get such good photos of Spider-Man. Pete flips out again, totally not managing to keep his cool. His brilliant plan is to excuse himself and then show up as Spider-Man and ask for Pete. What the fuck?! Worst plan ever! Completely unbelievable resolution to the problem. Bahh!
Later, the Kingpin is relaxing with the newspaper. He finds it weird that there are photos of his fight with the Schemer taken within his own house, but he is distracted by what he sees in one photo – Vanessa helping the Schemer escape. Oh noes! Dude flies off the handle and looks like he’s about to wail on her. Luckily the scene changes before we’re forced to witness any spousal abuse.
Spidey catches up with the Schemer, captures him, and takes him to the address specified to claim the reward. Surprise of surprises, it’s a trap by the Kingpin. Spidey gets trapped and the Kingpin confronts the Schemer, who turns out to be the Kingpin’s son Richard. Big surprise. Well, maybe not for me, but it was for the Kingpin, who went into a mad shock and basically went catatonic. Spider-Man escapes and, instead of capturing any of the bad guys, he just leaves.
Another shit issue. This arc went downhill fast. What a shame.