AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. “Once More With…”
There are some interesting threads on this forum, already, covering issues of Marvel’s early series – ‘re-reading’’ of the Avengers and Journey into Mystery/Thor and so on and there was quite a good issue by issue thread on the Invaders around too, until it caught up with the present.
What is more rarely discussed are the later periods when these series were in full flow and while perhaps less iconic still number among them some classics… The examination of the Avengers from #101 onwards gets a credit here.
I therefore present to you an issue by issue critique/discussion forum for one of these mainstay Marvel titles.
Not beginning at the very debut – as others have that covered well – but (and I hope I don’t step on anyone’s creative toes here!) – I would like to pick up the Amazing Spider-Man title after a watershed/bookend issue provided an opportune point at which to begin …
Issue #50 featured that classic moment in Peter Parker’s life when he first thought he couldn’t go on and yet eventually realised he just couldn’t possibly give up being Spidey.
“Spider-Man No More!” draws breath for the title before it races on into it’s next phase – less discussed than the Ditko issues and the early Romita ‘End of the Green Goblin’ stuff the next issue builds on those early foundations and catapults our hero and the title to the second half of it’s first century of publishing and its next phase of greatness…
So, after “Spider-Man No-More!”
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With feeling…!”
Or…
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility…!”
Or…
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With in-depth discussion and critique…..
Or…
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN . “Once More With…”
…”With #51 (08/67)…..

Come back soon……

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Reading the Marvel Tales reprint years after having read the original death of Gwen and aftermath issues, I had a sense of deju vu reading this even knowing Conway was following Lee's lead about about two and a half years apart.  Big difference tho' with Lee adding politics into the mix with the shady law & order guy, reflecting on one of the big factors of U.S. politics in the late '60s & early '70s, with Nixon & Agnew having played up "law & order" in their election campaign.  Of course, Lee couldn't have known when he wrote this story that within 4 years both Nixon & Agnew would be out of office for their less than lawful activities.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #92 (01/71)

Writer Stan Lee Penciller Gil Kane

Inker John Romita

Cover art John Romita

"When Iceman Attacks"

Don't get me wrong - it's not a bad John Romita cover but I can't help but be disappointed that Gil Kane didn't get the cover duties this issue - his Iceman is a wonder and this Iceman is just kind of okay.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to say here is that Gwen's blouse is coloured as yellow with green leaves on the cover but all green inside (in my copy). Shame.

So, after last issue's cliff-hanger iof Gwen and Bullit discovering Spider-Man in Peter Parker's apartment we get Spidey dragging Gwen out the window...

"I've got to do something drastic -- to make sure they never suspect that Peter Parker is Spider-Man!"

-Admittedly it's a split-second decision - but it's not likely to endear Spider-Man in Gwen's affections co soon to her blaming Spidey for her father's death is it?

Oh - I love the lettering of the name Iceman in the title - so much more 'Ice-like' than the cover don't you think?

Spidey's plan is to make Gwen believe it was actually her he was trying to connect with , not Peter- "I didn't go to Parker's apartment to see him -- I was following you!"

While Spidey struggles with Gwen on the rooftops Bobby Drake is on a date at street level and decides to save the day...in fact, he's remarkably angry as he ices up..."Okay, web-head! You're a big man with a helpless female-- but let's see how you do against -- Iceman!!"

Let's not forget that Iceman appears here in that strange period when the X-Men were not being published and the members were being trialed on their own.

This coulkd have been a springboard for a solo-series....(?)

Iceman versus Spider-Man errupts across the rooftops as Gwen is 'rescued' Spidey retreats and Bullit takes credit by expertly making it seem t hat Iceman was working for him.

Bullit's campaign seems to eb gathering pace but he takes J Jonah Jameson's removal of the Daily Bugle's endorsement very personally and actually takes armed goons with him to confront Robbie and Jonah.

They make it clear both to Bullit and to us that Bullit is hiding his true political - racist, facist - tendancies from the public but theyt intend to expose him.

(Racist? Bullit actually compounds calling Robbie a 'black man' with calling him..."Sambo" ! Blimey!)

Peter watches Bullit kidnapping the Editorial team, changes to Spider-Man and follows the bad guys but then...

"ICEMAN Again!"

So the two good-guys battle each other again and we get treated to a montage of Iceman's abilities - as if auditioning for his own series?

"The way he travels-- making an ice-bridge as he goes -- I never saw anything like it!" -and so on.

Spider-Man tries to explain what is really going on to the young mutant but it takes overhearing the bad-guys threatening our supporting cast before Iceman teams up with him.

"It's Iceman! He's smiling! He heard them! He's with me now!"

With webs and Ice combined our heroes free the captives and defeat the goons.

Bullit is then seen giving a major political speech...interrupted in dramatic fashion by Spidey and ...um...Icey...(?)

"Sam Bullit is a liar-- and a crook!" they declare and when Bullit lets it slip that he left his henchmen to kill Joe Robertson...it's all over for Bullit and all his support walk away from him.

It's a squashed ending but it's a powerful one.

I liked this issue, made a classic by Gil Kane's perfect rendering of Iceman which I really think is underrated and second-to-none. Yep - for me it outshines even Neal Adams work.

Was it this issue that inspired Iceman joining Firstar to co-star with Spider-Man in the 'Amazing Friends' cartoon?

This is one of my favourite ever 'X-Men' appearences - along with Marvel Team-Up #4 from this same period --now that's another beauty!

A real stand-out issue in my mind. Anyone else?

Come back...

 

 

I think they were trying their best to use their big star to promote new series, and it never worked. Black Widow's series only ran a few issues, Inhumans didn't last much longer, and Iceman never got started. Not sure why they thought if the X-Men didn't sell well enough as a team to keep their series from going to all reprints, why would any of them be popular enough to solo?

Always felt the cover really jumped out. But then I've always considered this time period the best when it came to comic book covers.

It seems like there was a lot of Spidey's supporting cast almost figuring out who he really is back then. Not surprised Gwen's dad figured it out. Excuses like "I was in Peter Parker's apartment because I was looking for his girlfriend" might have fooled Harry and MJ, but you don't get to be a captain on a police force taking everything at face value. Just the fact an apparent geek with little photographic skills can repeatedly scoop top photographers on a guy that's often many stories off the ground sounds fishy if you think about it. Once you start thinking "Peter Parker must have some kind of special deal going with Spider-Man" it's not too big a jump to "Maybe Peter Parker is Spider-Man!"

Hmm...

I always found the Bullitt story to be a bit of a letdown right after the death of Captain Stacy. I think I kind of felt it wasn't the sort of thing I wanted to see Spider-Man deal with, not to mention Gwen's reaction to her father's death.

I guess I just didn't like it very much. It just felt like a letdown.

That may be why Iceman's in the issue.

Bullit seemed very one-dimensional to me AND reminiscent of the Richard Raleigh nasty politician character that we'd seen before.

New ground did not feel like it was being forged - so soon after the groundbreaking death issue.

You are right Randy



Randy Jackson said:

Hmm...

I always found the Bullitt story to be a bit of a letdown right after the death of Captain Stacy. I think I kind of felt it wasn't the sort of thing I wanted to see Spider-Man deal with, not to mention Gwen's reaction to her father's death.

I guess I just didn't like it very much. It just felt like a letdown.

A stray thought I just had...I always used to wonder exactly how Iceman got around back then. Sure he created the ice slides, but he was also frequently depicted as sliding up the slides. How did that work, could he negate gravity when was touching ice?

I'm sure the gigantic melting ice slides also endeared him to the NYC populace as well.

Perhaps some sort of clinging power like Spider-Man that only worked on ice?

I think they said somewhere it quickly fades away once he's no longer in contact with it. Seems like Spidey's webs would some sort of residue left behind when them fade away. Like finding chewing gum all over sidewalks.

Randy Jackson said:

Hmm...

I always found the Bullitt story to be a bit of a letdown right after the death of Captain Stacy. I think I kind of felt it wasn't the sort of thing I wanted to see Spider-Man deal with, not to mention Gwen's reaction to her father's death.

I guess I just didn't like it very much. It just felt like a letdown.

I read that one a while ago. I didn't get into comics in earnest until Ross Andru and Mike Esposito were the regular Amazing Spider-Man team, so all of the stories from this era I have only seen in reprints. 

I didn't like the story much because I don't like ham-fisted bigots very much. 

They may have given us an uninteresting villain so he wouldn't take the scene from Iceman, who was the character we really wanted to see in this issue.

I haven't doubled-back to check, but seems in this era ASM featured a guest star about every six months, more often than that sometimes, and not all of them had a new series to promote although I recall reading Bullpen Bulletins indicating they were considering giving Iceman a solo series.  Of course, it wound up being the Beast who got the brief-lived solo series, albeit with a serious make-over.  Anyhow, with this issue Lee is really upping the angst for Peter, making Gwen hate his alter ego even more.

I found the Bullitt two-parter had good points and bad points.  Bullitt himself was a bit too cartoony.  I don't think a cop that got kicked off the force would have much chance at any political office, and it certainly didn't help that he made no effort to hide the fact he had hired goons on the payroll.  It also stretched believability for me that he would openly confess in public that he ordered Robbie killed.  But I think he worked best bamboozling Gwen and the public in general with his "law and order" refrain.

Jonah's reversal of his support of Bullitt was great to see.  It was less than a year ago that Jonah made a deal with Electro in issue #82 to go after Spider-Man, consequences be darned, and put an entire studio audience of people in danger.  No repercussions for that either.  Here, when Robbie has shown him proof of what Bullitt is really like, Jonah drops his endorsement.  How refreshing.  How many times has Jonah ignored reality in front of his face, blinded by his hate of Spider-Man?  And remember, after Stacy's funeral at the start of #91, Jonah had promised he was going to make Spider-Man more hated than ever.  Some good character growth.

I liked Iceman guest-starring and I agree with the theory this was a test run for him.  I think that might have gotten off the ground if this was a different type of story.  If maybe there was a costumed super-villain and Iceman was instrumental in defeating him, readers in 1970 may have responded better.  Bullitt made him look dumb at the start by making people think Iceman worked for him.

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