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BRONZE-AGE FLASHBACK: Spectacular Spider-Man 24 (November 1978)

July 26, 2003

Regular readers of this column probably already know that, with regard to super-hero comics, I'm stuck in the '70s. I still read the occasional "new" super-hero title, but I find that most "modern" takes on the genre are laced with too much cynicism, extreme violence, and an overall tone of depression that I choose to avoid. These are my own personal preferences, my own tastes as a comic book fan. I'm not judging whether today's comics are good or bad. It's a matter of personal taste is all.

And speaking of personal taste, I thought I'd dig out one of the first comics I purchased back in my teen years. From November 1978, it's Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man number 24...

Never let it be said that comics do not mirror their time of publication. Case in point, issue 24 of Spectacular is entitled "Spider-Man Night Fever," and if you don't immediately recognize the film title being spoofed you're either very young or you don't watch a lot of movies.
Bill Mantlo, one of my favorite comics writers of the 70s, scripted this tale that pitts our web-slinging hero against the Hypno-Hustler. I'm a bit suprised the character wasn't dubbed the "Black-Hustler" since it seemed to be a popular trend to denote African American masked characters in the comic book world with the qualifier "Black" (e.g., Black Goliath, Black Lightning, Black Panther).

The Hypno-Hustler has a rather simplistic modus oprendi:

"It was disco magic the day I discovered that the soothing sibilance of a little-known backup band called the Mercy Killers perfectly complemented my mind-numbing hypnotic abilities!"

Good Lord, why did Bill have to beat me to this one?

It happens that Peter Parker, along with his peer group, are shake-shake-shaking their collective booty at the Beyond Forever disco on the same eveing the Hypno-Hustler chooses to begin his oh-so-notorious career in crime. Soon, all within the night club are under the Hypno-Hustler's mind control, at which point his three Mercy Killer associates strut their groove things across the lighted disco floor collecting wallets and jewelry from the club's patrons. The "fight" between Spidey and his guitar-slinging adversary is kind of short (as one would hope) and I don't consider it a spoiler to announce that Spidey is the victor.

I'm not sure if the Hypno-Hustler was ever featured outside of this comic, though I've often thought a Hypno-Hustler/Disco Dazzler mini-series would be money in the bank...

Next: New Fiction.

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