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That Time the Chameleon Impersonated J. Jonah Jameson for Months!

Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at brianc@cbr.com).

Reader Aaron T. wrote in to ask, "I was looking back through some old comics of mine and I remembered the storyline from Spidey in the 80's where, for several months, Chameleon kidnapped Jonah and impersonated him across all the Spidey titles. I've only got a couple pieces of that saga, notably the issue of Web where the entire issue is Jonah's failed attempt to escape imprisionment. Any chance you could discuss it at some point? Info on it is practically non-existent online. I genuinely have no idea why Chameleon was doing that, how Spidey pinged to what was going on, what issues Jonameleon appeared in, etc."

This is a bit unusual, questions-wise, but sure, Aaron, why not?

In the 1980s, Gerry Conway famously took over writing duties on both Batman AND Detective Comics, turning the two titles into essentially one bi-weekly comic book. When he returned to Marvel in the late 1980s, he first became the writer on Spectacular Spider-Man but then he took over Web of Spider-Man and in one of the more unusual decisions, Conway took that same approach to Web and Spectacular, writing the two books as if they were one bi-weekly comic book. The reason that is so unusual is that they were both secondary titles to the MAIN Spider-Man book, Amazing Spider-Man, so it was so odd to see a guy write two books at once, but they were the SECONDARY books.

In any event, in Web of Spider-Man #50 (by Conway, Alex Saviuk and Keith Williams), J. Jonah Jameson is thrilled that the tabloid photgrapher Nick Katzenberg came in with photos of Spider-Man supposedly stealing jewelry from a rich guy. Jameson finally was able to prove Spider-Man was a crook!

He was in a very good mood, even kissing his secretary, Glory Grant, on her cheek!

Them he was attacked...

Later, Peter Parker brings in photos clearing Spider-Man of the crime, but Jameson is not interested. He is also making Peter's Spider-Sense tingle...

We find out why when Jameson returns home and reveals that he is not really Jameson, but he is really the Chameleon!

He travels to Washington D.C. in the next issue (Mark Bagley on pencils) to make his pitch for being made the head of crime in New York City....

We then see that he is using the Daily Bugle as a source of information on his rival gang lords...

He also is doing everything he can to smear Spider-Man.

In Spectacular Spider-Man #151 (by Conway and Sal Buscema), Spider-Man accosts Jameson...

But Jameson turns it into a new headline...

Web of Spider-Man #52 had a great cover...

In the story (guest art by Frank Springer and John Romita Jr), Chameleon taunts the captive Jameson...

When he leaves, Jameson begins to think back to his early days as a reporter...

Jameson tries to escape, and as he does so, he keeps thinking back (the flashback story is really well handled by Conway)...

Jameson finally escapes his chains by essentially tearing at his flesh until they can slip the cuffs. He drags himself to the elevator but he is shocked to see Chameleon had returned to pick up a briefcase he had forgotten!

Jameson is now chained all the way up and locked in a closet, but he has escaped once and he figures he will again...

In Web of Spider-Man #53 (pencils by Bagley), Jameson continues to set off Peter's Spider-Sense, but he thinks it is because he is so anti-Spider-Man again...

Later, Chameleon makes a partnership with Hammerhead...

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