From the back cover
"Granted amazing, arachnid-like abilities by the bite of an irradiated spider, Peter Parker has vowed to protect his fellow man! In this volume: The return of the diabolical Doctor Octopus! A side trip to the Savage Land that time forgot! The first-ever appearance of Morbius the Living Vampire! The death of Captain George Stacy! Plus: the wall-crawler's climactic battle with the grinning Green Goblin!"
Caveat: possible spoilers in this review.
The fifth volume of The Amazing Spider-Man shows Peter Parker maturing, in fits and starts, and sports some experimental – for the series – storylines and backdrops for the webhead to explore and fight in. There is less adolescent melodrama and less roll-your-eyes filler issues, making this one of the better entries in this series. Even the oddball issues that do not work, and there are a few, have something interesting in them, something that later issues build upon in a more effective way.
The artwork continues to be, well, amazing. Vol. 5 is worth owning, and includes a section with diagrams showing how Spider-Man’s web shooter and belt-camera work, as well as Doctor Octopus’s tentacle harness – interesting, well thought-out stuff. Be warned that this graphic novel ends on a cliffhanger note. Followed by Vol. 6
“And Death Shall Come!” (#90): In this carry-over storyline from issues #88 and 89, Spider-Man is still battling Doctor Octopus, a.k.a. Otto Octavius, resulting in the death of a major character.
“To Smash the Spider!” (#91): Sam Bullitt, a corrupt politician, tries to exploit the death of police Capt. Stacy, Gwen Stacy’s father. Bullitt does this by framing Spider-Man for murder.
“When Iceman Attacks!” (#92): The frosty X-Man, believing Spider-Man responsible for Capt. Stacy’s death, tries to bring the web-slinger to justice.
“The Lady and – the Prowler!” (#93): Hobie Brown, a.k.a. the Prowler, comes out of retirement to try his hand at capturing Spider-Man, still thought to be a killer. [The Prowler was last seen in issue #87.] Meanwhile, a grieving Gwen Stacy struggles with a decision – whether or not to stay in New York City, or move to London, England, with her distant relatives.
“On Wings of Death!” (#94): Spider-Man’s origin story is recounted. Also, the Beetle is back, with the intention of stealing something mysterious. While doing this, he kidnaps Aunt May!
“Trap for a Terrorist!” (#95): Peter Parker flies to London, England, to look for Gwen Stacy. While there, he tangles with terrorists.
“. . . And Now, the Goblin!” (#96) – “The Goblin’s Last Gasp!” (#98): Norman Osborn remembers his criminal past as the Green Goblin – as well as secret identity of Spider-Man. The Goblin’s mission this time: to kill his arachnid-enhanced foe. While this is happening, Osborn’s son (Harry) struggles with drug addiction, and Peter Parker’s separation from Gwen Stacy reaches its conclusion.
“Panic in the Prison!” (#99): When rioting prisoners take their warden hostage, Spider-Man swings into action. This roll-your-eyes filler issue has a remarkably upbeat finish – if only all hardened criminals were so innocent and agreeable!
“The Spider or the Man?” (#100): In one of the more boneheaded and bizarre issues, the web-slinger – seeking to rid himself of his super powers – drinks an untested laboratory formula. He has an issue-filler dream, and mutates in a theme-consistent way.
“A Monster Called Morbius!” (#101) – “Vampire At Large!” (#102): Panicked by his mutation, Spider-Man goes to the Everglades in Florida to see if Curt Connors – sometimes the Lizard – can help him undo his boneheaded experiment in the previous issue. The situation is exacerbated when a vampire (Michael Morbius, also called Morbius) shows up, sparking a three-way battle between Spider-Man, the Lizard [a transformed Curt Connors] and Morbius.
This is Morbius’s first appearance in this series.
“Walk the Savage Land!” (#103) – “The Beauty and the Brute” (#104): J. Jonah Jameson leads an expedition into the Savage Land, a beneath-the-earth realm located in Antartica. The reason: Jameson wants to publish a series of stories about a mysterious monster said to be there. His fellow travelers include Robbie Robertson, Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy.
While they are there, another monster – Gog, an oversized reptilian alien – snatches Gwen and escapes into the prehistoric forest. Spider-Man, with help from Ka-Zar and his sabretooth tiger (Zabu), goes after Gog to rescue Gwen. The giant reptile is not the only threat to Gwen, it seems: Gog is the pet of Kraven the Hunter, a villain familiar to the web-slinger and Ka-Zar. . . These issues were especially fun and out-there for this title.
“The Spider Slayer!” (#105) – “Spidey Smashes Thru!” (#107): Dr. Smythe, who has built a new arachnid-like robot, is once again hired by J. Jonah Jameson. Their goal: to kill Spider-Man. Dr. Smythe also appeared in issues #25 and #58.
On the friends-of-Peter Parker front, Harry Osborne – fragile in his recovery from drug addiction and longing for Mary Jane Watson – returns home. So does Flash Thompson, back from the Vietnam War – and it seems he is afraid of something, though he won’t say what. Not only that, his yen for Gwen Stacy, Parker’s girlfriend.
“Vengeance from Vietnam!” (#108) – “Enter: Dr. Strange” (#109): Flash Thompson is kidnapped by Vietnamese monks, who hold him responsible for the death of their leader. This prompts Spider-Man to save Thompson, with unexpected help from Dr. Strange, who has additional information about the monks. This is Dr. Strange’s first appearance in this comic book series.
“The Birth of. . . the Gibbon!” (#110) – “To Stalk a Spider!” (#111): Spider-Man meets the huge, ape-faced Martin Blank, a.k.a. the Gibbon, and tries to discourage Blank from embarking on a superhero career. Blank, who has low self-esteem, takes this the wrong way and is manipulated by Kraven the Hunter [thought dead at the end of issue #104] into joining forces with the vengeful hunter – Kraven is still raging against the web-slinger about previous defeats, as well as the death of his friend, Gog.
“Spidey Cops Out!” (#112) – “They Call the Doctor Octopus!” (#113): Peter Parker, worried about the disappearance of Aunt May, considers – for the zillionth time – quitting the superhero gig. His self-pity session is interrupted by the accidental reappearance of Otto Octavius, a.k.a. Doctor Octopus, who was laying the groundwork for a new criminal scheme while fighting a turf war with Hammerhead, whose head-shape and attitude reflect his moniker. This is the first appearance of Hammerhead in this comic book.