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 agree with your assessment of this issue, Richard, very problematic and I don't recall Flash, MJ, or May ever making any reference to having been kidnapped by Harry in later issues.  Of course, for all they knew Peter had been kidnapped too, but there's no follow-up to that aspect of the story.  The only real follow-up by Conway in the remainder of his run is Peter having to find another place to live and temporarily staying with,of all people, Flash!  I wonder if the CCA would have objected if Conway had Peter moving in with MJ or if there was any behind the scenes contemplation of that.

Was rather clever to have Harry reveal Peter is Spider-Man but appear so deranged that no one believes him, although to anyone paying attention it would have been rather curious, with Peter having made the claim himself about 5 years previously (in our time, maybe less than two years before in Marvel time) and having been unmasked by Dr. Octopus while wearing a Spider-Man costume while in high school (and there was no genuine reason for anyone to assume that Spider-Man couldn't be about the same age as Johnny Storm or the X-Men).  Of course, that brings up one big problem with the police not believing Harry could possibly be the Green Goblin because he was "too young".  The Green Goblin, as depicted in his earliest stories, did not become a public figure until well after Spider-Man had made his debut and as with Spider-Man there was no valid reason to assume the Goblin could not have been a high school kid at the time.  Yes, a clever ending but only because the police made some invalid assumptions and made no follow-up investigations, such as interviewing Peter's friends and aunt who had been kidnapped and linking those kidnappings to the murder of Peter's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy.  And there had to have been witnesses to both Spider-Man and the Green Goblin being at the scene of the murder and perhaps even seeing the Goblin knock her off the bridge and Spidey's failed attempt to save her.  Also think of the thoughts Robbie Robertson had, knowing that just after Gwen's death, Spider-Man comes asking about warehouses owned by Norman Osborn and shortly afterwards Norman winds up dead, with evidence that both Spider-Man and the Green Goblin were involved.  Robbie had to have known he was sitting on a bombshell of a story and the pieces wouldn't have been that difficult to put together as he also would have known there were previous links between Norman and the Green Goblin.

Seems MJ had a lot of opportunities to figure out Peter was Spider-Man after she actually became a supporting character, so why say she already knew before he even met her? Some people are far too obsessed with the idea she must be his perfect mate even before he knew she existed.

Wondering when Mindworm was coming up. This was the first totally disgusting character I ever saw in a comic, and I definitely say it's a down.

Richard Mantle said:

…. the smashed window does not look like Spidey just came through it at all due to his webline.

The webline is already inside the room. I wonder if the shattered window was added for effect after the cover was drawn. That would explain the mistake. If he shot out the web after going through the window and then he and the Goblin have a back-and-forth conversation there is no way the glass should still be in midair.

Ross Andru has more fun with his rendition of the Green Goblin inside as we open with a spooky Goblin attacking a delivery truck and stealing a mysterious canister before we catch up with Spider-Man searching for Harry.

Of course the Goblin gasses the drivers into unconsciousness rather than killing them. He’s only crazy when they want him to be. What truck carrying something radioactive would have huge lettering saying ATOMIC on its side?

Unsuccessful again he changes to Peter and meets virtually all his supporting cast, doing that 'we're all one big family' soap-opera schmaltz those Americans are so fond of. (Ducks and runs) visiting hospitalised Mary Jane.

I was struck by the absence of Anna Watson. Either Mary Jane or Aunt May should have mentioned her and explained her absence. No one present seems to wonder why it took so long for Peter to show up. He was there for the explosion, too, and someone should have wondered if he was unconscious somewhere.

The police not believing the truck drivers' description of their assailant, Spider-Man checking and finding pumpkin pieces all pointing to the truth that it was indeed the Goblin is just so much filler - no mystery here, move on.

The police never heard of the Green Goblin? It’s hard to believe that detectives haven’t looked at the truck and found the remains of GG’s gas bomb before Spidey got there. Apparently they know radioactive material was stolen but no one is there except two uniformed cops?

Harry/Goblin has kidnapped three of Peter/Spidey's closest friends, put them all under threat of a possible bomb, in separate locations, - only one bomb is real and he won't get to save more than one in time!

Two captions, one after he leaves the hospital and one after visiting the truck, both say “72 minutes” have passed (is this Conway’s lucky number?). So in 2 hours and 24 minutes the Goblin kidnapped all three people and set them up in three different locations spread widely throughout Manhattan, which is 23 square miles. Assuming he had everything else set up ahead of time, Goblin was still moving fast. Not as fast as Spidey, however. The Goblin tells him he has 6 minutes to save the one next to the real bomb. Spidey then finds out he needs a new web cartridge, tracks one down and detects one of the spider signals (Which one? Dumb luck?), gets there and throws the “small shaped-charge clean fusion nuclear bomb” into the river. (So since he stole it, Goblin learned how to use this fictional bomb and armed it, unless we are to believe they were transporting an armed nuclear device in an unguarded truck). It should have used up Spidey’s 6 minutes just to obtain the web cartridge. Why a nuclear device? A stick of dynamite with a timer would have made more sense.

The most annoying thing about this choice of victims however is that there is just NO WAY the victims would not have deduced Spider-Man's identity!! Maybe not Aunt May I'll grant but MJ and Flash? Come ON!

I guess Spidey, using the spider tracers, could find MJ and Flash at his leisure, though they don’t address that. Good thing Crazy Harry wasn’t Lying Harry and had set up some kind of bomb next to all three people. As for no one wondering why Peter’s family and friends were kidnapped by Harry and rescued by Spidey, I guess they wrote it off as Harry being crazy.

Why Aunt May? - "I just hope I was right in my guesswork -- that Harry's 'most dear' meant Aunt May--" it works out for Spidey, "FOOOM!" but the logic is hardly convincing.
(Aunt May has had a good life, Flash and Peter aren't that close and MJ a damsel-in-distress - it's the adult/chivillarous/heroic choice. - MJ.)

Is Aunt May still the one who is “most dear” to Peter or is it that he decided that she is the one Harry thinks he would choose?

Fred W. Hill said:

.... I don't recall Flash, MJ, or May ever making any reference to having been kidnapped by Harry in later issues.

He may have kidnapped Aunt May and Flash outside of the hospital but he pretty much had to grab MJ in the hospital. If they were all knocked out when they were kidnapped that explains why they might not remember anything. It doesn't explain how no one apparently witnessed the kidnappings, especially MJ's from inside a crowded hospital. To include everything it would have required a continued story.

I wonder if the CCA would have objected if Conway had Peter moving in with MJ or if there was any behind the scenes contemplation of that.

The CCA had given ground on drugs, vampires and werewolves but I don't think they would have allowed shacking up at the time.

Robbie had to have known he was sitting on a bombshell of a story and the pieces wouldn't have been that difficult to put together as he also would have known there were previous links between Norman and the Green Goblin.

It's been speculated that Robbie figured out Peter's secret, as Captain Stacy had before him. He chose to keep this to himself because he knew Peter was a good person.

Some comments:

  • It's entirely possible that the police never thought that Spider-Man was a teenager as Peter did act "older" when in costume, I think only the Fantastic Four had a suspicion that Spidey was fairly young.
  • Why would anyone think that the Green Goblin wasn't still around? The public and police had no idea that Norman Osborn was the Goblin, thanks to Peter.
  • Harry might not have truly wanted to kill any of Peter's friends. The only one bomb out of three might have been a sadistic ploy or a remnant of the sane Harry trying to give Spider-Man a real chance to save his target.
  • Possibly MJ, Flash and Aunt May were kidnapped, not by a costumed Green Goblin, but by Harry in his regular clothes which would explain how easily he did it. Only then would they realize how disturbed Harry was.
  • They would also explain his madness as a combination of his father's death and drug addiction.
  • I never got why Jonah showed up at the hospital. It was out-of-character for him and I never thought he even knew MJ as more than a passing acquaintance.
  • But it would have been really awkward if Harry thought that the person "most dear" to Peter was FLASH!!

Philip Portelli said:

It's entirely possible that the police never thought that Spider-Man was a teenager as Peter did act "older" when in costume, I think only the Fantastic Four had a suspicion that Spidey was fairly young.

That's my take. He didn't call himself Spider-Boy and was pretty powerful. No reason to think he was a teenager.

Possibly MJ, Flash and Aunt May were kidnapped, not by a costumed Green Goblin, but by Harry in his regular clothes which would explain how easily he did it. Only then would they realize how disturbed Harry was.

If MJ was being discharged, this would work. There needed to be a time lapse after the hospital scene. Harry could have approached all three of them individually and told them Peter was hurt, followed by incapacitating them.

The first Spider-Man cartoon showed him disguising his voice in costume, an idea that goes along with Peter noting in the comics that the mask makes him sound different. Of course I don't believe any later series went along with that idea. Seemed like the FF figured out right away that he was about Torch's age, though, and he made no attempt to convince them otherwise.

I warned you this day was coming! Back on July 30, 2015 (see p. 49 of the “And There Came Another Day” discussion), I told the tale of my non-comic book-reading brother who came home from college one time with two comic books. One of them was Avengers #127, and the other was… Amazing Spider-Man #137. At last the story can be told! I never did get Around to asking him how he happened to come across those two comics, and now it’s too late.

#137 was my first new issue of the main series since #73. (My next would be #150.) I didn’t have a clue that Gwen Stacy was dead, and probably wouldn’t have cared all that much had I know. I knew of Gwen, of course (from old issues of Marvel Tales), but he was with Mary Jane in the stories I was familiar with. It didn’t surprise me at all that MJ was one of the three, and it surprised me only a little that Aunt May was another (I was close to my grandmother at the time). I was too young to have a girlfriend at the time, but I would probably have chosen my grandmother over her if I had.


Another of life's mysteries solved.

Thanks as always Jeff.


Jeff of Earth-J said:

 At last the story can be told!

Believe it or not, Amazing Spider-Man #136-137 were my first issues of that title! I had several Marvel Team Ups and Marvel Tales but never the main book!

So all my knowledge of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn came from the flashbacks!

And one more thing: did the police know that it was Harry that planted the bomb at Peter's apartment and almost killed Mary Jane? Or is that case still open?

If he was revealed to have done this, then it would make his next appearance really suspect!

I think I have mentioned that my Spider-Man experience came as weekly reprints in black and white in Britain  and at the time they were reprinting this particular phase of Amazing, they were in the middle of an experimental 'sideways' reproduction of two which stretched the original covers strangely when made into the weekly cover necessitating sometimes quite extensive changes to that original cover.

For instance -

 this cover didn't get too much of a change.

But look at the subtle changes here - especially Flash and MJ's background appearnces - AND - the web-through-the-window actually works here!

Marvel Tales 114, April 1980

Really only a few small changes - a word balloon moved, the ceiling (?) is now half yellow, the coloring is the window has changed, and Spidey's web is almost out of sight - but makes for a much improved cover imo.

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