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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I thought the Giant Sized issue with Dracula was ok.  I think it was a good idea not to have Spidey and Drac interact and that Peter having a chance encounter with him instead worked fine.  I don't think think having the doctor turn out to be female was a clever twist even in 1974 and that reveal was inconsequential anyway.  The plot was a bit too convoluted - a doctor who has a cure for a rare disease that Peter needs for Aunt May won't fly and won't let the cure out of her sight, so she's travelling on a slow moving ship (weren't people already dying in the U.S.?), and Dracula wants the cure for some unexplained reason.  Feels like someone thought Spidey and Dracula in the same comic was a great idea and throwing the story together was more difficult.

IMO, calling them Specials instead of Annuals (I think in both major companies) was a decision made when the larger books were selling very well. They wouldn't have to explain why it was called an Annual if they chose to produce more than one in the same year.

I think that DC's later decision to number their Specials as part of the normal book's numbering was driven by another problem. I'm not sure about other states, but California originally didn't tax periodicals. They DID tax Annuals or Specials. This probably caused a few readers to complain. Also, if DC said that the book was part of the normal run of numbering then they gained a cushion in their production schedule. This became unnecessary when all newspapers and magazines became taxable at a later date.

I seem to have lost the next issue too. Did they wink out of existence when Marvel lost the rights? I do remember Spider-Man suspected the woman in the story of being a criminal and said Doc Savage didn't suspect her because back in the 1930s it would never have occurred to a man that a woman was a crook. While I don't remember any from the few books I've read, I'm sure Doc ran into some crooked women in his 181 novels.

If I recall correctly, while Doc certainly ran into a number of crooked women during the course of his adventures, he was blind-sided by most of them, not because he couldn't imagine a woman being a crook, but because of his professed utter inablity to "read" woman and gage their character or motives.

Ronald Morgan said:

I seem to have lost the next issue too. Did they wink out of existence when Marvel lost the rights? I do remember Spider-Man suspected the woman in the story of being a criminal and said Doc Savage didn't suspect her because back in the 1930s it would never have occurred to a man that a woman was a crook. While I don't remember any from the few books I've read, I'm sure Doc ran into some crooked women in his 181 novels.

Ronald Morgan said: 

I do remember Spider-Man suspected the woman in the story of being a criminal and said Doc Savage didn't suspect her because back in the 1930s it would never have occurred to a man that a woman was a crook.

Here's a 1930s woman who definitely was a crook.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma_Barker

I believe you may be thinking of World Color Press in Sparta, Illinois.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worldcolor#Comics



Dave Elyea said:

At the time inn question, weren't all American comic books (except Charlton's, since they had their own printing press, which is why their stuff looked a bit different from everything else) printed at the same plant? I could swear that back in the day, I knew the name of the outfit and the midwestern city it was based in, but I'm drawing a blank right now.

One of Will Murray's books went the other way, with Doc suspecting a strange woman that keeps lying about who she is and what she's up to. At the end it turns out she's an investigator for his company and kept lying to him because she had no idea Doc was her boss and her immediate superior had told her not to trust anyone.

A few late thoughts on ASM 134 & 135:

- The Tarantula is not very interesting.  Aside from the spiky boots, he has no powers, so he should not give Spidey much trouble.  Certainly not as much as he gave Spidey in this story. 

- That said, I think if Gerry Conway had stuck around a few more years, he would have pushed the Tarantula as Spidey's arch foe.  Conway took Norman, Doc Ock, and his own creation Hammerhead, among others, off the table.  Not to mention he gave this new rogue a very detailed origin (which had nothing to do with the main story).

- Keeping the air of mystery around the Punisher was the right move and I agree helped ramp up his popularity.  Readers are going to take notice if a new character keeps appearing along arguably marvel's most popular character.  I'm not sure why Marvel referred to him as a villain here, though.  And if the Tarantula was his main target (and Punny knew he was all about deception and double crosses) why in the world did he think Spidey was in cahoots with him?

Because Conway made the character fit the story he wanted to tell rather than have the story fit the character.  Certainly, among comics writers, Conway wasn't alone in making this all-common gaff and it's somewhat excusable in that the Punisher was still fairly new at the time and he'd already been played for a chump previously by the Jackal so readers couldn't expect the Punisher to be all that wise although he at least seemed capable of learning from his mistakes and I don't recall that particular plot twist being used again (being fooled a 3rd time would have just confirmed that Frank Castle was an idiot).

I think Tarantula is mostly remembered because the Punisher was in his first appearance.

The Tarantula also showed up in the first isuse of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, written not so coincidentally by Gerry Conway.  I have my doubts about the Tarantula ever showing up in a live action film or tv show -- I'd expect those spiky shoes would make it difficult to walk on most steps or stairs and he's just the sort of villain Spidey should ordinarily be able to mop up within a few panels.

Regarding the Punisher being called a villain, I think he was originally presented as a vigilante* who was not playing with a full deck. He was not considered heroic in those early stories. Later, since he sold comics, they presented him as a hero not playing with a full deck.

*one who takes the law into his own hands, not one who performs citizens' arrests like most superheroes.

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