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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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #143 (04/75)
Writer – Gerry Conway                Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Frank Giacoia                   background inks - David Hunt
Cover art – Gil Kane & John Romita
 

  “... and the Wind Cries: Cyclone!"


Gil Kane and John Romita tag-team on this cover and I can see both's influences.
Cyclone is hardly a unique villain or powerset so maybe not much promise for this issue.


The splash is nothing new either as we see Spider-Man web-swinging in the rain - what is most interesting is another 'hallucination' Spidey feels he having - of that-female-he-does-not-dare-name. (Interesting and subtle this not being named as it actually increases the feeling of paranoia Peter's feeling.)


Spidey slips into Jonah Jameson's office, finding him having left for Europe as we saw at the end of #142 and so by way of chatting up ex-girlfriend Betty Brant he meets up with Joe Robertson who reveals Jonah is being held for ransom and he wants Peter to go to Paris France with him.


Peter gets an official 'Leave of Absence' from his college for his French trip (yes, Professor Warren gets another innocent speaking role. Clever.) ...and so.....
"Bingo! I'm OFF!"


Surprisingly and dramatically centre-stage, Peter and MJ have probably their most important encounter -- ever.
"Why do you always call me Tiger?"
"Why do I -- ? Oh Peter -- I call you Tiger 'cause you're NOT!
Now, C'mere, Tiger, and kiss m-- Mmmmmmm."

"Something happens.
....and neither he nor she will ever be the same."


 "Far... freakin' out."

It IS a watershed moment and it's significance is huge.

The rest of the issue find us in Paris and Spider-Man swinging past the Eiffel Tower is iconic.


Robbie gets attacked by costumed heavies and we learn by flashback there's been a long trail past all the Paris landmarks.
I'm sure Andru got a thrill drawing  these but they feel a bit 'product-placement' for me.


The issue ends with Robbie joining Jonah as a captive of the bad guys and the chief bad guy revealed to be a Whirlwind-wannabee - the Cyclone!


For once the motive behind the plot - money- is not too convoluted and there is nothing much to dislike about it but the Cyclone feels a tired villain and the Paris set feels forced.


This issue is all about 'that kiss'.


Just the right time for the mystery hallucination to hit next issue.


Come back...

It would have been nice if they included a French super-hero!

Mary Jane has been fighting her feelings for Peter for a long time, wondering if he would move on after Gwen's death or if he could move on after Gwen's death. Either way, her feelings for Peter scared her and left her with much self-doubt.

Richard Mantle said:

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #143 (04/75)
Writer – Gerry Conway                Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Frank Giacoia                   background inks - David Hunt
Cover art – Gil Kane & John Romita


Gil Kane and John Romita tag-team on this cover and I can see both's influences.
Cyclone is hardly a unique villain or powerset so maybe not much promise for this issue.

Didn't quite live up to his advance billing on the bottom of page one: "Featuring possibly the most bizarre super-villain in the annals of Spidey-dom", did he?  Unoriginal and a boring costume to boot.  Meh.


The splash is nothing new either as we see Spider-Man web-swinging in the rain - what is most interesting is another 'hallucination' Spidey feels he having - of that-female-he-does-not-dare-name. (Interesting and subtle this not being named as it actually increases the feeling of paranoia Peter's feeling.)

I'm very impressed with how Gerry Conway developed this subplot.  The misdirection with blaming (the 2nd) Mysterio is brilliant.

Spidey slips into Jonah Jameson's office, finding him having left for Europe as we saw at the end of #142 and so by way of chatting up ex-girlfriend Betty Brant he meets up with Joe Robertson who reveals Jonah is being held for ransom and he wants Peter to go to Paris France with him.

Hmmm.  I find it very interesting Robbie is bringing along a Bugle photographer who won't be taking any pictures.  It's not spelled out but clearly Robbie won't be contacting the police about Jonah's kidnapping.  While Spidey goes to some lengths to keep him unaware Peter Parker AND Spider-Man are both in Paris, I think Joe Robertson asked Peter to come along on the trip for a reason.  There's been many hints over the years that Robbie, like his friend Captain George Stacy, figured out Spidey's secret identity.  My own theory is that like a certain police commissioner, Robbie knows, and keeps it to himself for the greater good.


Peter gets an official 'Leave of Absence' from his college for his French trip (yes, Professor Warren gets another innocent speaking role. Clever.) ...and so.....
"Bingo! I'm OFF!"

More smart writing by Conway - keep Miles Warren in front of the readers almost every issue.

Surprisingly and dramatically centre-stage, Peter and MJ have probably their most important encounter -- ever."Why do you always call me Tiger?""Why do I -- ? Oh Peter -- I call you Tiger 'cause you're NOT!Now, C'mere, Tiger, and kiss m-- Mmmmmmm."

"Something happens.
....and neither he nor she will ever be the same."


"Far... freakin' out."

It IS a watershed moment and it's significance is huge.

Not gonna argue.  Undeniable.

The rest of the issue find us in Paris and Spider-Man swinging past the Eiffel Tower is iconic.


Robbie gets attacked by costumed heavies and we learn by flashback there's been a long trail past all the Paris landmarks.
I'm sure Andru got a thrill drawing  these but they feel a bit 'product-placement' for me.


The issue ends with Robbie joining Jonah as a captive of the bad guys and the chief bad guy revealed to be a Whirlwind-wannabee - the Cyclone!


For once the motive behind the plot - money- is not too convoluted and there is nothing much to dislike about it but the Cyclone feels a tired villain and the Paris set feels forced.


This issue is all about 'that kiss'.

Agreed - great recap and your take on this issue is spot on, in my opinion.


Just the right time for the mystery hallucination to hit next issue.


Come back...

Richard Mantle said:

Spidey slips into Jonah Jameson's office, finding him having left for Europe as we saw at the end of #142 and so by way of chatting up ex-girlfriend Betty Brant he meets up with Joe Robertson who reveals Jonah is being held for ransom and he wants Peter to go to Paris France with him.

Peter’s thought balloons indicate he suspects Jonah of being behind the Mysterio attacks of the last two issues. I don’t remember anything that would have made him think that. Now that I think about it, I agree with John Dunbar that Robbie was making sure Spider-Man was available in Paris.

Surprisingly and dramatically centre-stage, Peter and MJ have probably their most important encounter -- ever.
"Why do you always call me Tiger?"
"Why do I -- ? Oh Peter -- I call you Tiger 'cause you're NOT!
Now, C'mere, Tiger, and kiss m-- Mmmmmmm."
"Something happens.
....and neither he nor she will ever be the same."

This is a great scene, followed by MJ kidding him and Peter laughing out loud. I don’t think we had ever seen Peter actually laugh before.

Robbie gets attacked by costumed heavies and we learn by flashback there's been a long trail past all the Paris landmarks.
I'm sure Andru got a thrill drawing these but they feel a bit 'product-placement' for me.

It’s a strange choice that they have a flashback showing the earlier events in Peter’s and Robbie’s Paris trip instead of just showing them in the order they occur. I could understand it if the action was beginning the story and then showing the flashback but showing this out of order makes no sense.
Following the attack, Spidey knocks Robbie out (!) to avoid his seeing Spider-Man is in Paris. If he doesn’t want anyone to see Spider-Man is in Paris maybe he should have worn a temporary costume to disguise the fact.

 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #144 (05/75)
Writer – Gerry Conway                Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Frank Giacoia                   background inks - David Hunt
Cover art – Gil Kane & John Romita
   “The Delusion Conspiracy"


Gil Kane and John Romita again collude on the cover, it is as simple as it is beautiful and dramatic. There is a clear reason why it was chosen as the cover of the collection I'm now reading from.


Probably one of the most important covers EVER in Marvel history!?

The story may develop massively here but other than one page featuring Aunt May, the actual cover events only take up the last page/cliff-hanger, the rest of the issue follows up last issue's lacklustre Cyclone story.


Remember?, We're in Paris and we get a flashback sequence that reminds us that now both Jonah AND Robbie have been captured  by Cyclone and his gang.
Peter gets a note instructing him to wait for orders in his hotel room so takes the opportunity to catch up by phone with Aunt May.
We get a heartwarmingly jolly scene with May and Anna Watson discussing their young relatives relationships, (and jogs memories) and then...."Nothing can change the past -- least of all, for poor Gwen."...May gets a shock!
"Anna -- Anna, I -- I must be going Insane--! It can't-- can't be-- that girl--"


It is another remarkably well performed scene, Conway and Andru have been delivering a wonderfully understated mystery and continue that vein here, May collapses believing herself to have lost her mind for real, at last and the one panel that proves she isn't is underlit and wonderfully normal but clearly showing us what May sees.
One panel but it is as devestating to we the informed reader as it is to May.
Perfect storytelling.


We segue back to Peter in Paris and he is attacked by Cyclone-goons,  passing ransom instructions.
Spider-Man travels Paris by night (more tourist shots of the sights by Andru) and we hear Cyclone's, (equally lackluster), origin until Spidey fights back.


Of course there's a few 'au contraire's and 'merci bien's along the way (never seems right unless Batroc is in the room!) along with a full-page spread of the windy villain but it isn't long before Spider-Man defeats this bad guy...um...with a big fan blowing the other way. (!)


Honestly, that's it.


NO, neither Spider-Man nor Conway's finest hour...I guess his real creative juices are concentrating on the sub-plot..?


Spidey covers Peter's absence by using a hidden remote-controlled-tape-recorder from the belfry as he frees Jonah and Robbie - a Batman-utility-belt solution.
"Why you costumed creep! I've half a mind to--"
"Right On Jameson. You've got half a mind!"


By the close of the issue we build to the real crux of this book and that cover as Peter reminds us how close he and Mary Jane have declared themselves by that kiss... before...

"--I don't know how to explain, Peter-- -- upstairs-- your apartment--!"
...and there she is!
"GWEN? You're -- ALIVE--?"
I must praise the construction of this scene/panel also - foreground Peter opening the door to the mystery - with Gwen in full centre stage and in a timid, nervous, demur conservative pose that to me immediatly harks back to and contrasts with Mary Jane's famous 'Tiger/Jackpot' introduction so far ago.

This is not the happy-go-lucky-MJ but is it the love of Peter's life?
Oh the humanity!


Regardless of you're view of where the storyline goes next or the ridiculous events that spiral out of here for decades to come...this is a powerful momentous scene.
This is good comics again.


Come Back...

Richard Mantle said:

It is another remarkably well performed scene, Conway and Andru have been delivering a wonderfully understated mystery and continue that vein here, May collapses believing herself to have lost her mind for real, at last and the one panel that proves she isn't is underlit and wonderfully normal but clearly showing us what May sees.
One panel but it is as devestating to we the informed reader as it is to May.
Perfect storytelling.

Leading up to May’s faint, Conway did a nice job of honoring continuity by discussing not only Gwen’s death but how Peter was initially avoiding meeting Mary Jane and how please May and Anna are that he and MJ are getting closer.

Spidey covers Peter's absence by using a hidden remote-controlled-tape-recorder from the belfry as he frees Jonah and Robbie - a Batman-utility-belt solution.

It is a good idea to establish that Peter and Spidey are “both” in Paris.

Regardless of you're view of where the storyline goes next or the ridiculous events that spiral out of here for decades to come...this is a powerful momentous scene.This is good comics again.

It was nicely done. Cyclone and the kidnapping were basically there to set up Peter returning to the big surprise. Otherwise it would have been half an issue instead of two issues.

Thanks again Richard,

I do like reading your views of my views - always interesting to see if we are broadly in agreement or not about the real depths of each issue.

Again - thankyou for playing.


Richard Willis said:

Richard Mantle said:

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #145 (06/75)
Writer – Gerry Conway                Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Frank Giacoia                   background inks - David Hunt
Cover art – Gil Kane & John Romita
   “Gwen Stacy Is Alive... And Well...?!"


Gil Kane and John Romita again  produce a well balanced cover between their styles and indeed the entire creative team continues on an even keel..."All This -- and Gwen Stacy too!"

Quite an imposing Scorpion here, not one of Spidey's top tier enemies though eh?


We open straight at last issue's cliff-hanger with Peter sat on the steps outside his apartment having opened the door on Gwen (?) and a (just-for-Peter) vision of Spider-Man tormenting him that he is now... "Crackers. Crazy. Nuts."


In a well structured recap Peter brings readers up to date as the panels tighten up on his anguished face and he gets (justifiably?) angry at..."You "GWEN STACY" -- The Only Girl I Ever LOVED-- A Girl Who Was KILLED Months Ago By The GREEN GOBLIN!" - leading Peter to storm off, deciding this woman is/must be -- "--An IMPOSTER!"


It is a very powerful scene and considering readers would have waited a month to see it a welcome confrontation.
(Anyone else find it interesting that he refers to Gwen as 'the ONLY girl he ever loved' - not merely the FIRST girl....still not accepting the Mary Jane relationship?)


Confused and desperate Peter takes to his webs and short of any other idea, goes to visit Aunt May - still very ill in hospital.
We also see Max Gargan being released as a 'model prisoner' from his jail term and yet still returning to his Scorpion identity, in which he commits a bank heist.


Peter relaxes as Aunt May improves and dreams a reminder to all readers of how Gwen Stacy died and events since -- "That's what I call a nightmare."


Spider-Man hears of the Scorpion's return and (via a sideways continuity link to MTU 33(!) ) eventually catches up with him.
A full size page is a bit wasted here, not the most dynamic of panels IMHO.


The fight and we are reminded that the Scorpion was last defeated by Captain America (#152 - I recommend that appearance!). The battle rages across a building site and ends - surprisingly - by Spider-Man being defeated by being flushed into a concrete mix.  The mix does not solidify like it might have if the hero was holding the villain but by the time Spidey gets out, the Scorpion is gone!


We close the issue at the hospital where supporting cast allow Ned Leeds to speak the voice or reason and he announces to Peter that... "This Is The REAL Gwen Stacy!" who hugs Peter in tears...and Mary Jane looks on.
"--there are two Gwens Stacys, identical in every way! One is dead -- The Other One Is ALIVE."


Not a bad issue, confronting and still prolonging the agony over the origin of this second Gwen, wonderful emotion from Peter, a pretty lackluster plotpoint for the involvement of the Scorpion and the defeat of Spidey is not capitalised on or even commented on much.


As a continuing-the-mystery or even deepening it this is a good middle-chapter.


Any thoughts anyone?


Come Back...

Richard Mantle said:

Quite an imposing Scorpion here, not one of Spidey's top tier enemies though eh?

I always thought Scorpion was pretty tough. Looks like he’s in the next movie.

In a well structured recap Peter brings readers up to date as the panels tighten up on his anguished face and he gets (justifiably?) angry at..."You "GWEN STACY" -- The Only Girl I Ever LOVED-- A Girl Who Was KILLED Months Ago By The GREEN GOBLIN!" - leading Peter to storm off, deciding this woman is/must be -- "--An IMPOSTER!"

It was believable that Peter first, momentarily, doubted his senses and then reacted angrily.

(Anyone else find it interesting that he refers to Gwen as 'the ONLY girl he ever loved' - not merely the FIRST girl....still not accepting the Mary Jane relationship?)

Without checking back, I think he recently referred to Betty Brant as the first girl he loved.

We also see Max Gargan being released as a 'model prisoner' from his jail term and yet still returning to his Scorpion identity, in which he commits a bank heist.

The large suitcase containing his Scorpion suit appears to be the same one he walked out of prison with. I guess if he used an AK 47 instead of a scorpion suit to commit crimes they would have handed it back to him.

Scorpion, blinded by webbing, tells Spidey he could tell where he was by hearing his breathing behind his mask. Since when does he have enhanced hearing?

We close the issue at the hospital where supporting cast allow Ned Leeds to speak the voice or reason and he announces to Peter that... "This Is The REAL Gwen Stacy!"who hugs Peter in tears...and Mary Jane looks on.
"--there are two Gwens Stacys, identical in every way! One is dead -- The Other One Is ALIVE."

So Ned tells Peter that, in the short time he was chasing the Scorpion, they had time to not only check her fingerprints but apparently dig up Gwen’s grave and verify she’s still in it. The fingerprints part bugs me because clones (except in comics) wouldn’t have the same fingerprints. I’ll be happy to belabor the point if anyone cares.

Do scorpions have enhanced anything? Are a bunch of these characters running around without using their powers because nobody's checked to see what they can do?

Don't remember what was going on back then, but #145 was my last issue until after this series was over, and I don't recall missing Gwen much back then. Just how big was her death back in those days, before modern day nostalgia took over?

I just looked back at ASM #20, Scorpion's first appearance. No mention of his gaining enhanced hearing.  

Ronald Morgan said:

Do scorpions have enhanced anything? Are a bunch of these characters running around without using their powers because nobody's checked to see what they can do?

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