One of the joys of reading these old Stan Lee-scripted issues is the weird blasts of creativity that comes when the creative team, say, doesn’t really understand how science works or just make up stuff. That led to a lot of classic Spider-Man villains that are still bothering the wallcrawler to this very day.
It also apparently gave the world characters I have never heard of like that weird man who taught himself to jump by living with kangaroos, and, for this issue, a bad guy I have never heard of called the Schemer.
Issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #83, April 1970
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Romita Sr
The Plot: The Schemer schemes against the Kingpin! And Spider-Man just happens to be there.
Commentary: Well, Peter and Flash Thompson seem to be getting along again, but that just means problems with Gwen later, and Peter even thinks about how he’s apparently against the Vietnam War now…or a lot of other people are and he’s non-committed. I was a bit surprised to see that particular thought balloon, but that’s all I have for that for now, so let’s get down to brass tacks with the Schemer.
This is basically Stan Lee Spider-Man Plot #7 where some mysterious underworld figure is bringing together the gangs to do crimes. First was Mr. Big, and he turned out to be a reporter working for J Jonah Jameson. Then there was the Master Planner, but that was just Doctor Octopus for some reason giving himself a new name. Then there was the Kingpin. Now, there’s the Schemer.
He may be the most ridiculous. He’s got that skunk-stripe in his hair, an orange cape and what looks like Jor-El’s hand-me-downs, and a high sense of his own importance that he probably hasn’t earned. Sure, he says he has plans, but he’s planning to take on the Kingpin. And since the Kingpin ran off with a woman who turned out to be his disillusioned wife Vanessa, well…
Kingpin isn’t even in town, but he sure does seem likely to come back, making him the Spider-foe I am actually getting rather tired of since he’s the one who keeps coming back more than the others. Where’s Frank Miller to make that guy a Daredevil foe when I need him? Wasn’t he working in comics in 1970? Wait, he wasn’t. That explains that.
Anyway, Spider-Man has to take on the Schemer, a man with a desk that shoots stuff. He seems…not very threatening, actually. And yes, the Schemer does get away, but with the Kingpin set to return and both of them having seemingly endless armies of nondescript goons at their disposal, I am sure Spider-Man will still be there to make most of these guys look like wieners.