Saturday, June 17, 2006

Great Moments In Comics' History: Amazing Spider-Man #147

Former comics writer, and current "supervising producer" for Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Gerry Conway's 38 issue run on Marvel's The Amazing Spider-Man stands out not only as some of the finest work of Conway's career, but as second only to the 106 issues penned by the character's creator, Stan Lee, as the highpoint of Spidey's career in the comics. However, he is also responsible for what I consider to be the greatest unintentionally funny line ever to see print in a super-hero comic book.
He wrote this memorable bit of dialogue in ASM #147, toward the end of his run. In that story, entitled "The Tarantula Is A Very Deadly Beast," Spidey and the titular villain engage in a brawl through the streets of New York City that eventually spills on to a crowded city bus. Despite two super-powered lunatics pummelling the crap out of each other right in front of him, the driver of the bus appears not to notice anything out of the ordinary taking place as he calmly requests the combatants to move to the rear of the bus and emotionlessly reminds a clone of Spider-Man's dead girlfriend that she forgot to pay her fare when she boards.
Finally, an exasperated webslinger can take no more, insisting that, "Mister, you can't be real! Nobody behaves like you do---NOBODY!"
Finally acknowledging Spidey's presence, the man pulls off his "bus driver" mask to reveal another mask, with impossibly large protruding ears, underneath--the mask of Spider-Man's nemesis The Jackal! As he does so, the villain proclaims,"Nobody 'real' does act the way I do--(And here's the funny part..)--Because no one 'real' is THE JACKAL!"
I first read that story back when it was originally published in 1976. I was ten years years old and took such things much more seriously than I do these days, thus I failed to see anything even remotely funny about that particular panel. Re-reading the story as a somewhat more jaded adult some two decades later, I was struck by the utter absurdity of it and simply cracked up laughing, as I continue to do to this day every time I read it.

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