The Punisher Hits Manhattan! (Sensational Spider-Man TPB pt. 1)

What I Remember:

Doctor Octopus hatches a plan to poison five million New Yorkers and it’s up to Spider-Man to team with an unlikely ally, The Punisher, to stop him!


Vital Stats:

Sensational Spider-Man Trade Paperback, Chapter 1 “Spider-Man: Threat or Menace”* originally published in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15 from 1981


Script: Denny O’Neil

Penciler: Frank Miller

Finished Art: Klaus Janson

Letterer: Jim Novak

Colorist: Bob Sharen

Editor: Tom DeFalco

Editor-In-Chief: Jim Shooter

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Publication Date:

1988 (For the Trade)

Cover Price: $5.95

Re-Collection Price: Beaten Up Original


What Happens:

The editors of the The Daily Bugle are putting together the front page of the next day’s paper and deciding which story is going on the front page. J. Jonah Jameson wants another anti-Spider-Man story but Editor “Robbie” Robertson nixes it because circulation drops whenever a story with an anti-Spidey story. They wait and see how a story covered by Ben Urich and Peter Parker develops.

We cut to the Punisher, on a rooftop, planning on ridding the world of a bad influence. Inside the building, Peter is taking pictures of a guru who claims to have the Dim Mak, the death touch, where he puts an assistant into a coma and if he doesn’t return the subject to life they will die in three days.

Looks like the story developed.

As the Great Turhan begins “sending negative energy” to a young girl, Peter Parker’s Spider Sense goes haywire and Turhan is shot! Peter changes into Spider-Man and chases down the killer.

Ah, the convenient plot device, the "Mercy Bullet."

He meets up with the Punisher and the two battle it out with Punisher shooting out Spidey’s web shooters and shooting him with a Mercy Bullet that won’t kill.

"Hey Boss, have I got a story for you!"

Spider-Man, in no shape to fight, leaves the scene and sees the girl being hauled off to the hospital. Meanwhile, Ben Urich calls into the Bugle with his story and a new front page is put together:

Turhan lies in the morgue, his valuables are collected for evidence, except for his ring, which police can’t get off his body. The coroner decides to take it for himself but upon touching the ring, keels over.

This is one of my favorite panels ever. It would be even better silent, but Doc Ock is known for his verbosity.

Punisher enters and discovers the body, confirming the ring is the source of the death touch. He begins to take it off when he’s attacked by the tentacles of Dr. Octopus who leaves Punisher lying and takes the body.

The mystical art of binge-drinking.

Spider-Man begins investigating Turhan’s brother. He hangs him from a ceiling fan and questions him. Spidey learns that they were supposed to deliver the poison but went into business for themselves with the death touch and that the supply was supposed to go to Pier 43 that night. Spidey heads to the morgue for the ring only to discover that the body was stolen! Ben Urich once again calls the Bugle offices and the front page is re-plated to:

A long walk off a short pier.

At Pier 43 Punisher meets up with another brother who drops the container into the water. Punisher dives in to retrieve the poison, but he is too late.

The Mayor receives a call from Dr. Octopus that he’s planning on murdering 5 million New Yorkers.




Punisher breaks in but is captured by Doc Ock and used as a test subject!

Spider-Man bursts in and is immediately filled in on the situation by the Doc Ock. He exits leaving Spider-Man to work on an antidote while a groggy Punisher attempts to take him out. His antidote saves Punisher. Peter Parker calls in another story. The front page changes again:

Spider-Man gives the antidote to Turhan’s victim and Jonah decides to run the story. He heads down to the press to watch the printing. Dr. Octopus captures a worker and tries to add the poison to the ink, but Spider-Man intercepts after realizing the only way to kill  five million people is to poison the entire readership of The Daily Bugle!

The power of the press!

A battle ensues and Spider-Man saves Jameson and catches Dr. Octopus’ tentacles in the press! He wallops Doc Ock for added measure.

Punisher escapes from his webbed prison just as cops arrive, but he won’t fight the law, so he allows himself to be arrested. Jameson changes the front page one last time:

Have to give credit where credit is due.

Robbie suggests that alerting the public that their ink was nearly poisoned is not the best way to keep readership, so they squash the whole story and the front page that is finally run is:


Continued After Ad: No Ad this week! Check out the original cover!


Worth Re-Collecting?

Absolutely, this tale is extremely well done and the idea of using the front page of the newspaper as a storytelling device was perfect. It gives us a glimpse into the newsroom as a story is breaking, where you’re trying to tell the most complete story but also up against a hard deadline or it won’t get to readers by morning. It’s a problem that doesn’t have the same urgency today, as follow-ups can easily go on the website.

I thought Miller and Janson’s art was superb and their version of the Punisher looked menacing, but not cartoonish. I also enjoyed that like the shark in Jaws, Doc Ock was rarely seen except for the tentacles.

I thought it was interesting how Punisher could easily beat Spider-Man in a one-on-one battle but in an unconventional fight Dr. Octopus made short work of him repeatedly and Spider-Man had to save the day.

It was also a nice touch that Jonah went to the press to watch the paper get printed, it’s a great way to show that despite all of his blowhard-ness he still takes his duty to inform the public seriously, underneath it all he’s still a journalist.

This is one of my favorite Spider-Man stories ever, this trade is one of my favorite Spider-Man books ever. Pick up these stories, the trade is on ebay for $3 and the two annuals are about $11 or $12 each. These stories are a must-have for a Spider-Man fan.

Next Issue:

Reminds me of my elementary schoolyard.

Trapped behind the Iron Curtain, the Hulk takes on a Bear! It’s the debut of the Soviet Super Soldiers in The Incredible Hulk #258 by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema! See you next week!


Back Cover: