The Amazing Spider-Man: The Deadly Designs of The Disruptor! (#117, 1973) – Gerry Conway, Stan Lee

3 out of 5

A pretty fallow time for drama in Petey Parker’s life – Aunt May is shacking up with Doc Ock, but that doesn’t merit much more concern than a check-in phone call; relations with Gwen, Mary Jane, and Harry Osborne all seem to be going swell. Otherwise, the worst thing that seems to be happening is an ulcer – stay away from those chili dogs, tiger!

On the Spider-Man side of things, it’s also pretty lame: “The Disruptor” shows up, threatening politician Richard Raleigh, and seeing as how he’s just a scene-chewing dude with a pew-pew gun and a mask – no special powers – it’s not such a curiosity as to why he wasn’t recycled at some later point past these first few issues in which he appeared. Maybe more threatening is his Frankenstein-type monster he has his scientist a-tinkerin’ on, but again, that’s just a brute – nothing S-Man hasn’t dealt with before, so not much of a cliffhanger. I suppose you could get caught up in the “mystery” of the Disruptor’s identity, but just take a guess based on the cast and there’s a good chance you’ll be right.

This stuff aside, Conway (and Stan Lee) keep the story pleasingly moving on with some fun dialogue and a good shuffling of scenes. The constant cutaways to Disruptor’s secret-lab dealings are silly, but it’s part of shaking the flow up, so we’re not stuck on one thing for too long. The best bits are probably with a wonderfully, proudly ignorant JJJ and an inquisitive Robbie Robertson; the “business” dealings between the two and Raleigh – who’s being covered by the Bugle, hence Parker’s and Jameson’s involvement – give Conway and Lee some moments to inject some light political / social commentary.

John Romita’s art is damned delightful here, with some crazy angles, great characterizations, and a surprising amount of detailing put into each panel – not something I tend to associate with this era of books.

Nothing special, but an acceptable time-waster.