The Mystery of Spider-Man's 'Cataclysmic Climax'

This is the first installment of "See the Meaning," which is a feature where I provide the context behind notable out-of-context comic book panels!

Our first installment explains this rather bizarre panel that makes it sound like Spider-Man is into some freaky stuff...

This panel originally appeared in an old issue of X-Men, way back in the year 1967. X-Men #35, to be precise (by Roy Thomas, Werner Roth and Dan Adkins). This was during a period where the X-Men were dealing with one of the most notable fizzled out villains in X-Men history - the group known as Factor Three. Factor Three was being built up as a major threat and they were the main villains of the X-Men series for a YEAR from 1966-1967. They were cloaked in mystery and when the storyline was finally resolved, it all turned out to be an alien plot by some guy calling himself the Mutant Master. Thomas clearly wanted to move on to new stuff, so he wrapped up the Factor Three story, "graduated" the X-Men, gave them new costumes and killed of Professor X.

However, during the year-long Factor Three story, some notable things occurred, including the introduction of Banshee, a powerful mutant that Factor Three captured and forced into servitude for them. The X-Men freed him. However, later on, Factor Three captured Professor X!

This was back in the day when the X-Men were still mostly incompetent when Professor X wasn't around to tell them what to do, so when they were trying to find their leader, they didn't really know WHAT to do. They had Banshee flying around Europe looking for Factor Three's base and in X-Men #35, Banshee finds a base, as well as a powerful mechanical spider!

Banshee went to go warn the X-Men about the spider, but passed out before he could get much more than a vague warning out there...

In the mother of all coincidences, Peter Parker somehow decided to ride his motor bike up to Westchester County (this makes no sense, but eh, just go with it) at precisely the same time that the X-Men were being warned about the spider!

Like I said, the X-Men without Professor X were not the brightest folks in the world, so they think that they are somehow being warned about Spider-Man.

Spidey, meanwhile, ends up being attacked by the spider-robot, who confuses him for the X-Men. He manages to defeat it...

But then the X-Men show up and the robot has been destroyed, so Spider-Man is the only "spider menace" that they see, so the four male members of the team (with Marvel Girl back at their base, trying to figure out other ways to contact Banshee. She ultimately succeeds and tells the rest of the group after they had already been fighting Spider-Man for a while).

So the fighting ends, but not before Spider-Man falls into some water and then threatens to cream the X-Men...

So there ya go, that's the context that you've all been looking for!

I'm sure that there are plenty of other great examples of this sort of thing, so feel free to drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com if you have ideas for future installments of See the Meaning!

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