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Amazing Spider-Man 165
"Stegron Stalks The City!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND February, 1977

LEN WEIN Writer/Editor

ROSS ANDRU Illustrator

MIKE ESPOSITO Embellisher

GLYNIS WEIN Colorist

JOE ROSEN Letterer

The web-slinger was heading home when his spider-sense began to tingle, and it has led him to drop through a skylight...

With the room in shambles, his attention is focused on two still-swinging doors, through which the guilty party must have fled... Into the darkness, Spider-Man makes his way, only to be struck on the chin! His assailant has a voice which sounds like a hissing tire, and the web-head rises to his feet...only to be kicked in the stomach! (Holy Days of Wein And Roses, Batman! What happened to his spider-sense, which unerringly guides him through danger?) With his insides churning like oatmeal, Spider-Man gives chase...

Exiting the dark room, the wall-crawler runs headlong into two SHIELD agents, who mistake him for an accomplice to the intruder, and open fire! Realizing that this run-down apartment building must be a SHIELD installation, Spidey uses his webbing to blind the two agents, and assures them that their boss, Nick Fury, knows him to be a good guy!* (Marvel Team-Up #13) Since the intruder has left, and since his costume doesn't need any bulletholes, Spider-Man swings out through a window... wondering why he can't mind his own business.

Curt Connors and his family are spending the holidays in mid-Manhattan, and the good doctor has just turned off the television to greet his wife and son, who have come home from shopping. He offers to help them with their packages, but Billy doesn't want his dad to peek at the present he bought him. The scientist rises, perhaps feeling guilty about asking them to leave sunny Florida for snowy New York, but the next moment finds him collapsing! With his wife and his son by his side, Connors tells them how he blew a generator while saving Spider-Man's life, and he has been suffering dizzy spells since then. While all this has been happening, there had been a persistent knocking at the door, but before Billy can answer... the door is knocked off its very hinges...

It is not a patient visitor who stands in the doorway, and who now seizes Billy... while Curt Connors recognizes the unusual being before him... one who should be by rights... dead! Martha is knocked to the ground, and Connors is thrown aside... by Stegron The Dinosaur Man! He has need of Connors, for in his lab, the scientist will find many stolen materials, and instructions for their use. In 48 hours, Connors is to follow the instructions or else Billy will be forfeit! As his wife helps him to his feet, Curt Connors sets off to work...

In an alleyway, Peter Parker has just finished changing back, and recalls how busy he's been with The Kingpin, The Tarantula, and Kraven The Hunter!* (The past two issues and the first issue of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man). As he walks out from the alley, he sees Flash Thompson ambling by... Hearing that Flash was heading for Mary Jane's, Peter is determined that Flash stop going after Mary Jane, and had thought that they had outgrown such rivalries in High School. Flash points out that he thought Mary Jane was a free agent, or so he had believed when she asked him out, and if he had known that there was something between the two of them, he wouldn't have cut in... because Peter's his friend! The former wallflower blushes and shakes hands with the former jock. Flash heads off to have some word with Ms. Watson, since he doesn't relish being played for a chump! As Peter walks down the stairs to the IRT, he slaps his forehead for reacting that way with a friend.

At the science wing of Empire State University, Dr. Marla Madison assures J. Jonah Jameson that she wants to aid him against Spider-Man since she feels that there's no place for vigilantes in New York City! (Holy Death Wish, Batman!) All that matters for the publisher of The Daily Bugle is that the deed is done! She places the psycho-cybernetic helmet on his head, and views the readings which show his agitation at the very thought of Spider-Man! When the testing has been completed, Dr. Madison tells Jameson that after a week, he will be able to face Spider-Man and defeat him!

Nighttime finds Peter walking with Mary Jane, and she tells him how Flash reacted when they met, that she is amazed that she managed to show up this evening. Peter wishes he could be sympathetic, but it seems to him that she's playing with people's emotions. Mary Jane doesn't know what to say. The two of them have changed since Gwen Stacy died... they became friends, and leaned on one another. When he was leaving for Paris, and gave her that kiss, it became something more, and she didn't know how to handle such a relationship. She had been a happy-go-lucky swinger... with no strings... no obligations... and no responsibilities.

The discussion continues, as they pass The Museum of Natural History for Hayden Planetarium... She wonders what will happen to them, as Ned Leed married Betty Brant... Harry Osborn and Liz Allen are growing closer... and Peter keeps ditching her to take some photos! As they take their seats for the Laserium, Mary Jane points out to Peter that their relationship has them going in circles. As the laser light concert begins, Peter and M.J. agree to let things take their course, while others in the audience would appreciate it if they kept it quiet. Now whispering, both are glad that they've had this chat, and Peter can see a light at the end of the tunnel... that is, until some idiot turns out the lights!

Blocks away, Curt Connors tells his wife not to call the police, and that their problem has to be solved another way. As Martha embraces him, Connors vows that Stegron will not hurt Billy, even if he has to... He sees his hand begin to change, but wills it not to, as he returns to work in the lab. At The Museum of Natural History, Stegron stands before the dinosaur exhibit, and fires a device, whose electro-magnetic field will reanimate the skeletal remains of creatures which once strode the land.

At The Planetarium, Peter tells Mary Jane that he has to go take some pictures again, and this time, she understands. Peter breathes a sigh of relief, and hopes that she doesn't remember that he didn't bring his camera. Stegron continues to fire the device at other dinosaur skeletons in the exhibit, while Peter changes into costume, and hears the approach of something heading his way...

Turning the corner, Spidey spots the skeleton of a Brontosaurus going down the stairs, and at him! Any theory that he's dreaming are squelched when the dinosaur attempts to take a bite out of him! His agility gets him out of harm's way, only to find out that there is a veritable army to contend with! He wonders if they are chasing him or are running blind, and decides that either way, if he doesn't get moving, he'll be squashed!

As the wall-crawler leaps to the ceiling, the dinosaurs crash through the lead-glass entrance-way. Fortunately, there's no one to witness this, and only Spider-Man watches as they head for Central Park. As he wonders who is controlling them, his spider-sense begins to tingle, and he knows that there's someone behind him! This and his quick reflexes enables the web-head to avoid the swinging tail of Stegron!

BROK! Spidey uses both of his legs to grab onto Stegron, and drive him into a nearby wall, while complimenting The Dinosaur Man on his appearance. Stegron still finds the wall-crawler to be as insolent as ever, as he swings his tail once more... Spider-Man grabs The Dinosaur Man by the tail, and hurls him against the wall once more! A right cross meets Stegron's jaw, while Spidey wonders how The Dinosaur Man managed to survive being sunk in the harbor* (Marvel Team-Up #20).

As Stegron swings at Spider-Man, who evades the punch, he tells the wall-crawler how he willed himself into suspended animation... until the current brought him to shore. (Holy Avengers #4, Batman!) From the wall, Spidey delivers a left cross, knocking the leaping lizard off his perch, while being unimpressed at the story of his apparent demise. Stegron lifts up a piece of debris above his head, for he sees himself as the ruler of The Dinosaurs, but Spider-Man returns Stegron's favor of a sore stomach by giving him one of his own! This causes the debris to fall on Stegron's head, and the control-console to be dropped! Spidey races for it...

SKRA-DAK! The Dinosaur Man's tail has flailed once more, bringing down the pillars onto the wall-crawler! A short time later, the web-slinger manages to extricate himself from the rubble, while Stegron has made his exit...

At the lab, Curt Connors is undergoing a bizarre transformation, brought about by the stress of working under great pressure! (Holy Cratchit, Batman!) Ever since the generator exploded, Connors had felt his insides changing, and now he knows why! (Holy Comics Code, Batman! How did Len slip this one past them?) His missing arm has begun to regenerate... taking on reptilian characteristics, and his whole boy soon follows suit! The transformation has ended, with Curt Connors gone, and The Lethal Lizard in his place!

The cover to Amazing Spider-Man #165 has Stegron using his tail to knock Spidey into the jaws of a dinosaur skeleton, with the wall-crawler given enough time to sound off on the situation before he becomes dinner!

In Christmas, 1976, a kid could wish for The Six Million Dollar Man action figure, his mission control center, and his critical assignment arms (laser arm, neutralizer arm, and oxygen supply arm), while joining Kenner's Bionic Action Club, with autographed picture of Steve Austin and decal. (Holy Majors event, Batman! Doc Connors could use one of those arms!)

Writer/Editor Len Wein gave Spidey some snappy patter and unusual foes to fight during his time on the title.

Ross Andru and Mike Esposito gave readers a tour of New York City via web-slinging. As they had done with an amazon, they made Spider-Man a favorite read of mine in the '70s... even teaming him up with a certain Kryptonian from another company!

In 1976, Joe Rosen was lettering by hand, and his work made the book enjoyable without being intrusive, and actually accentuated the action.

There are footnotes galore in this book, but lately there doesn't seem to be that many, as sadly, they are going the way of letter pages.

Another gift in 1976 was "Bring On The Bad Guys," which told the first tales of Dr. Doom, Red Skull, and The Green Goblin. Other books were the Marvel Comics Memory Album For 1977, The Mighty Marvel Comics Strength And Fitness Book (With Spidey stretching, Hulk lifting dumbbells, and Medusa doing some yoga! Geez, shouldn't Reed be the one stretching?) The Mighty Marvel Fun Superheroes Fun Book, where all you needed was a pencil was by Owen McCarron, and also ran as a title in 1979 - 1981.

Like a certain nuclear physicist, Curt Connors also believes in wearing purple pants.

I was about Billy's age when I read this story, and it made me a fan of Spidey, Stegron, and The Lizard. A very Merry Christmas read it was!

Peter Parker has helmet hair, resembling either Elvis or William Shatner. Flash Thompson could be mistaken for Steve Trevor, but Andru and Esposito gave some fine art in all seriousness.

J. Jonah Jameson tries on a cybernetic helmet, which looks like it was made from a lobster. Andru and Esposito's Jameson was especially menacing, with an evil gleam in his eye and a smile which would make a certain freelance photographer shudder.

Some Superhero Merchandise for sale included Mego Marvel Action Figures (of which I had a few), Milton Bradley's Marvel World (complete with Daily Bugle, Avengers Mansion, The Baxter Building, and Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum), wrist-watch radios, and a web-shooter, which fired a suction cup with string attached (I had a lot of fun with it back then).

Some pages are dedicated to the relationship between Peter and M.J. by Len Wein, and I really miss this period in their lives, whereas today, it seems that their marriage is doomed. All I can say is "Arrrgh!" "Nuff said.

Has anyone actually attended a laserium?

In 1976, there was a movie called "One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing," which starred Jon Pertwee, among others. There were scenes of dinosaur skeletons moving through the city, if I remember correctly.

During Tom Baker's time as Dr. Who, there was "The Android Invasion," which had a character known as Stegron, and who planned to replace the world with androids so that he and his race could live on Earth. It wasn't explained why the world they fashioned as a testing ground couldn't have been a settlement instead, as it fooled Sarah Jane and The Doctor for a time.

It seems that Michael Crichton would be the ruler of the dinosaurs, as Jurassic Park brought them into the limelight in books and onscreen.

Interesting that Spidey and The Connors take Stegron's appearance in stride. I bet he wouldn't be noticed on the subway, and that his protruding tail would cause the doors to jam.

In the '70s, the panel of Spidey punching Stegron on page 26 was used for a poster of Spider-Man, appearing on the bottom, while the rest was a painted image of the character.

Spider-Man would find himself buried beneath some rubble again in Peter Parker, The Spectular Spider-Man #13, I believe. We all recall the classic Silver Age story by Lee and Ditko, where he remembers losing Uncle Ben, and is determined to get the antidote for Aunt May from The Master Planner's men.

I hope that Martha Connors has given her husband some more pairs of pants as a Christmas present... that and some more turtleneck sweaters.

Steve Chung
"Stegron Stalks The Review!"