A lot has changed in the world since 1967. Among many other things, women are treated with more respect and tolerance for racism is likely at an all time low. With that in mind, this story has some cringe-worthy dialouge that likely wouldn’t fly today.
While investigating a mysterious Idol that has been left on J. Jonah Jameson’s desk by an “unknown admirer”, Betty notices someone looking in the window. It appears to be an aboriginal man, or as Betty describes him, “a horrible creature”. Oh Betty.
A short time later, Jameson proves once again (see “The Witching Hour”) that he is very susceptible to hypnosis. Not unexpectedly, the Idol gift is not what it appears to be, and when it shines a light in Jameson’s eyes and gives him commands to steal from his own cash box and put it inside the Idol, he obliges.
At that moment, Spider-Man just happens to be in the neighbourhood and his Spider-Sense warns him that something is going on in Jameson’s office. That Spider-Sense is sure a handy thing. Can warn you of danger, even when you aren’t looking. It can allow Spider-Man to dodge fists and bullets and any number of potentially deadly attacks. As much as it has saved Spider-Man’s life on many occasions, I’m sure writers often find it a chore to deal with. Since Spider-Man can never be snuck up on or for the most part even hit in a fight, they often have to go out of their way to either find some way to dull his Spider-Sense (often with gas) or have him choose to ignore it for the needs of the many. Or they can just do what is done here and only have it work when it is convenient to the plot. Either that or boomerangs have some anti-Spider-Sense property that more villains (especially Boomerang) should take advantage of.
While Spider-Man is peeking in through Jameson’s window to try to figure out what is setting of his Spider-Sense, he is knocked from his perch by the aforementioned boomerang. When he recovers from his fall he heads back to Jameson’s office only to discover that “horrible creature” collecting the money that Jameson had earlier put in the Idol. After a short battle, the aboriginal manages to escape in a cloud of smoke.
The next day, Jonah is pissed that he got robbed and he knows that only he and Betty had a key to the cash box. Since of course he wouldn’t rob himself, he accuses Betty who is none too impressed and quits immediately, leaving Jonah without a secretary. He then shares the following very non-politically correct statement, “There shouldn’t be any women at all in this world, just children and men.” Oh Jonah.
Later, the Idol once again hypnotizes Jonah and sends him off to get the contents of the safe downstairs. While he is gone, the aboriginal man returns to wait for his loot, but Spider-Man is waiting for him. They tussle again and at one point Spider-Man taunts the man by whistling at him and saying, “Nice doggie. Nice doggie.” Oh Spider-Man. But the man has the last laugh as Spider-Man ends up knocked unconscious by one of those supernatural boomerangs.
When Spider-Man comes to he finds himself trapped in a burlap sack (really?) and a prisoner of one Harley Clivendon. Who? I have no idea. I initially thought “why not use Kraven the Hunter” in this situation, but the storyline doesn’t really jive with his usual modus operandi, so I was fine with “generic big game hunter villain who happens to be Australian.”
So, you have Spider-Man unconscious and you want to kill him, so what do you do? Shoot him in the head? Toss him out the window of a skyscraper? No, you tie him up and bring him back to your headquarters and wait till he is conscious before you explain your plan and then put him into an elaborate death trap that gives him plenty of time to escape while you head off on other business, because you’d have no need to watch and make sure he actually dies.
Needless to say, Spider-Man does escape and makes quick work of the Kraven wannabe because he never learned the valuable lesson we learned here today. The only way to top Spider-Man is with boomerangs.
Did I say the only way to stop Spider-Man was with boomerangs? Well, you can also stop him with femme bots and poisonous gas.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Spider-Man is investigating a series of robberies committed by the so-called “Phantom of Fifth Avenue”. No one can figure out how he is committing the robberies, so Spider-Man lays a little trap by hiding one of his spider-tracers in a mink coat that is sure to be a target. After placing the tracer, Spider-Man comes face to face with the Phantom, but it is the Phantom’s female android accomplice who takes Spider-Man out, because fembots and poison gas.
The Phantom leaves Spider-Man and the android uses her “shrink ray vision” to miniturize the contents of the display window she is in and place them inside a doll house that is about to be sent to the Daily Bugle for a toy drive. And why doesn’t the Phantom just wait 30 seconds and take the stuff? Or have the android put them in her purse until the coast is clear so she can bring them to the Phantom’s hideout later like the rest of the femme bots? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
When Spider-Man comes to and attempts to get back on the Phantom’s trail, his tracking device is not picking up the tracer he planted in the fur coat, it would seem because the tracer is now the size of a speck of dust.
At the Phantom’s headquarters, more and more fembots arrive with a variety of wares. The Phantom sends them over to the “deshrinkinator” or something, which just turns out to be a conveyor belt and the androids use their vision to reverse the shrinking process.
With this, Spider-Man’s homing device starts working again and he’s on the trail! One problem, the device is still in the mink coat which is still shrunk and now at the Daily Bugle. But for some reason, it is transmitting again.
Spider-Man follows the tracer to the Bugle and encounters the Phantom attempting to retrieve the dollhouse. This plan makes no sense. If the Phantom had some need to get something into or out of the Bugle, fine. But all the Phantom has done is make work for himself and now he has to break into Jameson’s office and steal the dollhouse containing the shrunken items.
After a battle with the Phantom at the Bugle, Spider-Man tails him back to his hideout where he faces off against several fembots. He never defeats them, but easily webs up the Phantom and takes possession of the conveniently labeled “Robot controller” he is carrying and shuts the fembots off.
A classic but somewhat silly episode, but at least they remembered the hyphen on the note! That’s two out of the last three stories to do so. Things are looking up!