The Last Battle!
Story: Gerry Conway
Art: John Romita
Art assist: Tony Mortellaro
Lettered by: Artie Simek
Originally published: December 1972
Hammerhead and his men bust into the house to fight Doc Ock, who runs into a secured control room. Eventually they get in there too, so Ock fights a bit and then runs off again.
Elsewhere in the house, Aunt May has knocked out Spider-Man but he is starting to come to. It’s bullshit that his spider sense didn’t warn him of Aunt May’s attack, and it’s bullshit that an elderly woman with a vase could knock him out. When he wakes up he needs to hold on to some curtains for support and says that his skull feels like it had a run-in with a Mack truck or a bulldozer. Really? From a vase wielded by an old lady? Come on, man.
Meanwhile, Gwen Stacy and Robbie Robertson are trying to track down Peter. Thanks to a tip from Ned Leeds, they head off towards the Westchester mansion where all the action is.
Back at the house, Spidey tangles with Hammerhead. That guy has apparently stolen something important from Dr. Octopus’s control room, but he takes off before we find out what. A headbutt from Hammerhead has apparently “snapped [Spidey’s] stomach-muscles” (WTF?) and aggravated his ulcer, so now Petey is in some pain.
This pain miraculously self-heals long enough for Spider-Man to fight Dr. Octopus who, we discover, is in love with Aunt May. Although Spider-Man is able to beat the crap out of Ock, May pulls a gun on him before he can finish things off. Startled by a police siren, May actually fires at her nephew. Fortunately her aim is off and Spider-Man is given a chance to escape.
The cops haul away all the baddies. As Octopus is being taken away in cuffs he asks May Parker to stay and look after the house for him. She accepts, and tells Pete and the gang that she won’t be returning to the city with them.
I still hate Gerry Conway. Why can he not handle simple things like maintaining continuity and consistent characterization? Do snapped muscles – something that sounds quite serious – really just feel better because you will them to? Would Aunt May really pull a gun on anyone, even Spider-Man? Would a conscious Doctor Octopus really agree to be lead away by the cops, while his mechanical arms were only a short distance away? So many plot holes and unbelievable developments – coupled with Conway’s infuriating narration – basically make this story impossible to enjoy. Unless you’re stupid.
Romita’s art is great as usual, so that also makes it slightly more tolerable.