Ah, let’s talk about Spider-Man again everybody. Last time I wrote an article about him it was a zany story about Spidey being handcuffed to J Jonah Jameson for 24 hours, and was just some silly fun. This time though, we’re getting into some hardcore weirdness. This story is so wonderfully odd, even more than you would think from the title of the article and the cover of the story. Yeah, Doctor Octopus, one of Spider-Man’s greatest villains, marrying his Aunt May is a pretty insane premise for a story, even one from the mid 70’s, but trust me, it gets even more insane. Which doesn’t even seem possible, but it does.
Now, let’s get through a little backstory first. For several issues before the story really got going it was established that Aunt May had been working for Doctor Octopus as a housekeeper in the mansion that he was hiding out in. Aunt May had no problem working for a clearly insane man with robotic octopus arms, and never really even brought that tid bit up to Peter. He barely seemed to care about her new job (possibly because it was right around when Gwen Stacy was killed) and it took an embarrassingly long time for him to even realize she was working for a supervillain in the first place. And once he did, he didn’t really do much to convince her to quit, and that trend continued when she basically moved in with Ock. I guess Peter just had better things to do than worry about that.
The actual story about the wedding is mainly in issue #131, but it starts in #130, which doesn’t have that much plot, but does feature one of the stupidest things in a Spider-Man comic before he gets there. Things start off with Peter stopping some thugs that work for a then-unnamed villain, but when he tries to get some info out of them they’re killed remotely. So Peter moves on from the murder he witnesses and goes swinging to the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four. He breaks into Johnny Storms room, because Johnny apparently agreed to make a car for Spider-Man, so they go down to a garage and we’re introduced to the most pointless accessory Spider-Man ever had (except the giant mech he had in the Japanese TV show from the 70’s). The Spider-Mobile!
So Johnny and Spider-Man test out the crazy rocket-powered dune-buggy they made, and we learn that Peter Parker doesn’t know how to drive, so it’s mainly just him wildly swerving around on the side-walk. Peter then takes a break from attempted vehicular manslaughter by being Peter Parker for awhile, which is when he gets a call from Aunt May, who attempts to chat with Peter, maybe about some life-changing news, and he just kind of blows her off to talk to Mary Jane and hangs up. He talks with MJ for a bit, and then heads out to be Spider-Man. But as he’s driving around, stopping crime with the web-fluid canons that are mounted on it he comes across the secret villain from earlier, Hammerhead! Now, in case you don’t know who Hammerhead is, he’s bonkers. He’s a gangster with a flat, titanium head that he uses to fatally head-butt people. He also dresses and talks like he’s Jimmy Cagney. So that’s great. He and Spider-Man have a fight where Hammerhead smashes up the Spider-Mobile a bit. With his head. Hammerhead then knocks Spider-Man unconscious…and just leaves him in a heap of garbage? I guess. Spider-Man wakes up hours later to find police getting ready to ticket the Spider-Mobile, and a letter with Aunt May’s name Hammerhead dropped. He grabs the letter and speeds off in his dune-buggy to go to an awkward Daily Bugle Christmas Party. And while he’s at the party he decides to check that letter that a supervillain had with his beloved Aunt’s name on it. And wouldn’t you know, it’s something ominous. They don’t tell us what it is yet, but it’s enough to freak Peter out, because he figures it’s also what Doctor Octopus is up to, she he swings out to the house Ock is living in, only to find this going on.
Oh yeah. Everything is right about this panel. The fact that Doctor Octopus flat out has his tentacles out, they got a priest, his goons are there as guests, Spider-Man creeping outside the window, how happy Aunt May looks, and best of all the title of the next story “My Uncle/ My Enemy!” But remember what I said earlier, this story gets even more crazy, because just wait until we find out why Doctor Octopus is marrying this septuagenarian.
The next issue starts off right where the last one ended, Spider-Man awkwardly peeping through a window, and opens with him thinking about what he should do. While he’s pondering whether to sneak in or just smash in, someone else shows up to ruin the wedding. Hammerhead comes crashing through the doors with his own goons, and sadly he’s not there to also marry Aunt May, he’s there to get rid of Doc Ock and his goons and kidnap Aunt May. Ock and Hammerhead have a brawl in the house before Ock escapes with Aunt May, running out into the snowy yard. And since Spider-Man is still out there, he decides to try and stop Ock by leaping at him. But Ock just punches Spider-Man out of the air with one of his tentacles, and sends Spidey flying, giving him enough time to bring Aunt May to his plan B. A secret under-ground helicopter hangar!
Yep. Spider-Man just said “dig it.” I think I mentioned this last time, but I really love the insane way that Spider-Man writers think teenagers talk. Anyway, Spider-Man hangs back again and watches Hammerhead’s men try to shoot down the helicopter before getting in their own chopper. He hitches a ride on the bottom of Hammerhead’s copter, and flies off with them to the final destination, and the whole reason for this marriage scheme. Spider-Man listens to Hammerhead talk to his men inside the helicopter, and basically learns that Hammerhead has no idea where they’re going, or what they’ll find there, he just found out about some lawyer trying to give Aunt May an inheritance she didn’t know about, and decided to take whatever it was from the old lady. Which makes Peter realize that Doc Ock clearly is after this inheritance too, and was hoping to have half of it, as is his husbandly right. So what’s the inheritance? Money? Nope! It’s a Canadian island housing the world’s most powerful and sophisticated Nuclear Breeding Reactors! That’s right, Aunt May is now the proud owner of a nuclear power plant, and Doc Ock wanted to marry her to gain control of it to take over the world. Guys. I love comics. So the helicopters land on the island, and we get another crazy fight scene where Spider-Man is basically just in the way in the battle between Doc Ock and Hammerhead. But Spider is able to take care of Doc Ock for a little bit, and uses the time he gets from knocking him out to get Aunt May to a safe distance. And then, instead of stopping the two supervillain in the powerful Nuclear Power Plant, Spider-Man decides to fly away in a jet, which he can fly, and bring Aunt May back to New York. But as he’s flying away, we check back inside the power plant, and see that the plant is way more unstable and dangerous than Doc Ock thought it would be, and cautions his men to be careful. And just on cue Hammerhead comes busting in, and charges Doc Ock like a damn bull, leading to this.
Yep. Doctor Octopus, Hammerhead, and several unnamed goons just exploded in a fiery nuclear explosion, and Spider-Man is mocking them. Stay classy Spider-Man. And that’s the end. We see Spidey fly Aunt-May home, and the issue ends with some relationship drama with MJ, but that’s not really what we’re here to talk about. This story is so fun and emblematic of the times. Comics have always been crazy, and had insane stories, but I really think that the 70’s were a special time of insanity. Now, I know I was a little harsh about Spider-Man and his actions in this article, but I really do love him. Yeah, Peter maybe should have been more on the ball with the whole “Aunt May living with a known Supervillain” thing, but oh well. And I did make fun of the fact that he flies away with Aunt May rather than stop the villains, but that really is something that I love about Spider-Man. He’s so loyal, and while his whole deal is that he learned to never let people abuse their powers, and to always stop criminals if he has the chance, the exception to that rule is to always help Aunt May. He has done some crazy things to help Aunt May over the fifty years he’s been around, and I really love that about him. But the real star of this story is Doctor Octopus. I love him. I know a lot of people see Green Goblin as his archnemesis, mainly due to the aforementioned Gwen-killing, or maybe Venom (which I don’t understand, I really can’t stand Venom) but for me Doc Ock is the best. I love him as a villain, and he’s definitely my favorite Spidey villain. Mainly for stuff like this. No other Spider-Man villain (and probably no other Marvel villain) would come up with such a crazy plan. He literally wooed and tried to marry and old lady to get the nuclear power plant that she doesn’t even realize she owns. How far was he going to go with this whole thing? They don’t really say, so maybe he was going to kill Aunt May as soon as they were legally married, but I like to think that he was at least going to wait a while, and just be married to Aunt May. That may not be as weird as taking over Peter’s body for two years, but it’s pretty close.
the Amazing Spider-Man #131, “My Uncle…My Enemy?” was written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Ross Andru, 1974.
Categories: Marvel Madness
Has anyone ever answered the questions of who gave Aunt May this interesting inheritance or why she was the one to get it? What’s a seventy-year-old woman going to do with a nuclear facility anyway?
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I feel like it was a long-lost uncle, like the beginning of a Scooby-Doo episode.
And of course, the Superior Spider-man story line adds a new level of insanity to this comic. It certainly doesn’t help they decided to reference it in Doc Ock’s memories when Spider-man is trying to figure out how to stop him.