Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #49-52 (1980-1981)

spider-man white tiger

Roger Stern introduces a series of White Tiger backups, with art by Denys Cowan, culminating in the end of Hector Ayala’s role as White Tiger in #52. 

They’re fine, but nothing you’d miss by skipping.  Except for the first Stern/John Romita, Jr. collaboration.  They’d work together later, on Stern’s epic Amazing Spider-Man run.

The most continuity-significant event of these issues is that Aunt May gets engaged to Nathan Lubensky, who will gain increasing prominence as a side character.

As for the tights-and-fights elements of the story: The villain formerly known as Power Man (Erik Josten) takes on a new identity as The Smuggler, but he is significantly less powerful.  He’s still strong enough that it takes Spider-Man almost an entire issue to take him down, though.  

This bleeds issue #49 over into issue #50, where Spider-Man fights aliens and Mysterio.

I’m not sure I like John Romita, Jr.’s Mysterio.  He’s very muscular.  I think Mysterio should be a skinny nerd.

This is really two separate stories, but they begin and end halfway through #50, so I had to combine them.

Now, back to White Tiger, who has the better story across these issues. Issue #52 teams Tiger and Spider-Man up, but before we get there White Tiger is beaten nearly to death by Mace.

Then we get to #52…

This cover, by Frank Miller, is one of my all-time favorites.

The issue resolves the White Tiger backup stories from issues #49-51, wherein the hero’s family was murdered by Gideon Mace, who was trying to take down White Tiger because he doesn’t like superheroes and for some reason he thought he’d start with White Tiger.  The idea of a reverse-Punisher is cool, but, really?  You’re starting with Tiger?

Tiger’s not dead, but he’s hurt.

So Spidey fights Mace.

It ends with White Tiger giving up the magic amulet that gives him his powers.

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