The Amazing Spider-Man #187
Welcome once again to Ancient History and in these troubled times I once again bring you something topical! As we know those who forget history are doomed to repeat it! In these sickness filled days we peer back to winter 1978 in The Amazing Spider-man #187 by Marv Wolfman and Jim Starlin!
We open with Peter Parker being alerted to a mysterious shutdown of a nearby town under surreptitious circumstances. Obviously this is a prime scoop and our intrepid webhead sets out to find out what's what, running afoul of the star spangled avenger himself, Captain America!
After a brief customary fight Spidey slinks off into the night and Cap resumes his mission. Attempting to rescue a boy he runs afoul of Electro who has kidnapped the boy for ransom. After a brief fight Captain America reveals why the boy is so valuable to SHIELD, he's dying, of BUBONIC PLAGUE!! Electro, coughing, freaks out and taps into the local power grid hoping to burn the disease out of himself. Unfortunately in his panic he pushes to hard and short circuits himself, destroying the building in the process.
Ok, so full disclosure, I happen to love this issue regardless of current events, but a villain becoming hysterical and undoing himself in his panic seems to be a poignant message amid these troubled times. Panic only creates problems, stay calm haha.
I love seeing Cap and Spidey together and any story where Spidey blunders ass-first into trouble while Cap rolls his eyes is comic book gold in MY book. I love their dynamic and this might be THE best example of it I’ve seen. This issue is just jam-packed with content and characters which is damn impressive for a one-off story.
The use of Electro is genius in context, he isn’t immune to disease and it’s absolutely in character for him to juice up when he’s scared. Such a GREAT use of the character in this story. This era of Spider-man is one of my favorites starting following the original Clone Saga with Len Wein doing a decent length run followed by some Marv Wolfman written issues it’s not quite the dense somewhat hokey silver age Spidey but it’s also not the grimdark take on the character that became the norm in the 80’s and 90’s.
The pencils by Jim Starlin are spectacular with inks by Bob McLeod and colors by Michelle Wolfman, the fight scenes are vibrant and lively with almost Gil Kane level use of perspective and anatomy, damn impressive. Likewise scenes with heavy dialogue employ these insanely detailed close ups that are just so so good especially the fine detailed shading. The colors by Michelle Wolfman really shine in scenes with Electro firing up that glowing color scheme is really difficult to nail but she really got it. Likewise I love the way Captain America looks. Everything is just so perfect. Letters by Annette Kawecki are tight and clean with some really stellar use of sound effects throughout I love the sound effects for Cap’s shield, I’m a sucker for a good SPANG or BONG.
As for buying the issue the price wildly fluctuates with copies as low as $2-3 all the way up to a 9.4 slabbed copy for $100. If black and white newsprint is your jam this issue is contained in Essential The Amazing Spider-man vol 9, which is out of print but findable for a little over $30. Marvel Masterworks vol 18 is the only full color reprint I could find, it is stocked in abundance and runs $50 msrp.
Worth noting this takes place during the brief glorious period Godzilla was canon in the 616.
One of my fave one shot Spidey stories grab a copy if you don't have it.
ANCIENT HISTORY #23: IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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