Sunday, April 19, 2009

Retro-review Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-man #52 (March 1981)

"the Day of the Hero Killers!'. that was a quite a title. Written by Roger Stern, it's a dense emotional story and the end of the original White Tiger.

Basically a para-military organization run by Gideon Mace (who has a mace for a hand!, really) has declared war on superheroes, and the first casualty left for dead on the steps of the Daily Bugle is amulet enhanced karate powerhouse White Tiger.

Fortunately for White Tiger he is disposed of at the feet of his pal Peter Parker. And after a brief moment on the street and an appearance by J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie, is heralded to the hospital where Peter begins to agonize over the potential loss of his friend, as he reflects on the continuous losses in his life, Gwen, Uncle Ben, etc...

After a brief conversation with gruff insightful Harlem PI Nathanial Alexander Blackbyrd, Pete decides to go hunt down Mace. And he takes down the Mace handed culprit and his military thugs lickity-splitz. It's no contest, except in a fury of gunfire the thugs gun down their own leader.

Spidey can't take it any more and smacks them silly. He gets back to his friend for some more emotional insights about some of the choices and problems with being a hero, and in Tiger's case, the almost drug like addiction to the amulets, which he gives to Blackbyrd to return to the Sons of the Tiger to safe keep. Hector Ayala moves on boards a bus, to a new normal life.

It's a fun story overall and less about the action, seriously, this Gideon Mace can't even be imagined to be a threat to Spidey, who easily disposes of him. But you get some good old school emotional exploration in a very dense script.

The art was handled by Rick Leonardi, and although I read the issue long ago, hadn't realized he was drawing comics way back to the early 80's. But here he is. It's not the trademark Leonardi, who's distinctive style is easily recognizable to long time comic fans. It's a little raw and awkward, some of the poses and choices of PoV are a little odd. And the inks are pretty much a sign of the times, heavy lines and thick dark brush strokes that was common in the 70's and early Eighties. Still you get the story in classic comic book form, but all together really unremarkable.

The cover is a nice graphic by Frank Miller and Wiacek...even here, you can see Miller was drawing in traditional comic style of the time.

All in all it's a good read, and glad I got see the only White Tiger worth mentioning in comics again, I miss him. 7 out of 10.


  1. That was a powerful comic! I remember to have a spanish reprint with a Hulk story as a back-up.

    I was relatively new to Spiderman and this story shocked with its violence and drama, I was 12 or so. I had never heard of the White Tiger but I feel sorry for him instantly.

    Also you can feel Pete´s indignition when he goes againts the Mace´s army and Gideon himself later. Great comic!


  2. White Tiger was awesome to me. The 70's era martial arts family of characters rocked. White Tiger, Iron Fist, Master of Kung Fu, Sons of the Tiger were tremendous.

    And you are right, Stern did get that across with Pete big time.