He’s been a foe, a friend, and for a while, he was even Spider-Man himself. Get ready for the power of… The Prowler! Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Amazing Spider-Man #78 awaits!
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #78
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: John Romita/Jim Mooney
Inker: Jim Mooney
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Editor: Stan Lee
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 15 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: 160.00
Previously in Amazing Spider-Man: Things have gotten complicated for Peter Parker. His best friend Harry is dating Mary jane Watson, and Gwen Stacy, his own would-be girlfriend is acting oddly, even spending time with Flash Thompson, though he hasn’t really discovered the truth of their interactions. And while he’s focused on his love life, another situation is brewing: The people of New York City have started… to like him?
Of course, this issue isn’t really about Peter at all.
Meet Hobie Brown. Even though he’s a talented inventor and machinist, he’s been forced to take a job washing windows to make ends meet. His lady-friend, Mindy, convinced him to take some of his designs to this boss, only to find the head honcho disinterested in spending more money, even for safer gear. After an angry interaction with J. Jonah Jameson (who dressed him down for day-dreaming on the job), Hobie decides to take matters into his own hands.
Sadly, though Hobie is smart, he decides to take the shortcut to success, choosing to be a super-villain so that he can bring “himself” in and reap the rewards. John Romita’s art throughout this next sequence is just beautiful, making even the odd green/purple colors of the costume work.
With his new identity locked and loaded, Hobie sets out to his target, a rich idiot who deserves to be robbed. Who better than Jonah Jameson, the man who just humiliated him and cost him his window-washing gig? Of course, what Hobie doesn’t know is that Jameson has a certain Mr. Parker on his payroll…
Parker and Jameson have a particularly unpleasant interaction this time, with old square-head berating Peter for not bringing him photos of Spider-Man recently, and Peter storming out. He’s so angry, in fact, that he doesn’t realize at first that his Spider-Sense is tingling, signaling danger.
Their battle gets complicated next issue, with Peter throwing himself out a window (!!) to protect his secret identity. The Prowler has never been a huge part of Spider-Man lore, but he eventually became a trusted ally, even working as Peter Parker’s stand-in Spider-Man during his time running Parker Industries. Though a popular rumor claims that a then 13-year-old Romita Jr. created The Prowler, but Romita Sr. maintains that he just took the name from his son, with the costume being revamped from an unused villain from the short-lived 1968 Spider-Man magazine. Either way, Amazing Spider-Man #78 is an example of why everyone loves sixties Lee/Romita Spidey, with melodrama, powerful art, endless cycles of plots and subplots and a hard-luck hero at its center, trying to do the right thing, earning a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars overall.
I was really disappointed when The Prowler’s post- Clone Conspiracy solo book was cancelled, as I think Hobie Brown has tons of untapped potential just waiting for the right creator to capture it.
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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #78
This issue is mostly about The Prowler, rather than Spider-Man, and it really sells the new character as impressive, and Romita's art is really good. It's easy to see why this run is legendary.