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 meant to say more about the Shocker, Richard.

I tend to forget he wasn't a Lee/Ditko creation. Like you, I always liked the look and I always felt he had potential to be in other heroes rogues galleries too but he seems destined to stay C list. 

Richard Willis said:

I always liked the Shocker. His brown and yellow outfit looked good and I thought he was the best Spidey villain created post-Ditko.

Amazing Spider-Man #152 (01/76)
Writer - Len Wein - Editor Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Mike Esposito & Frank Giacoia Background inks - David Hunt
Cover Art – Gil Kane & John Romita
   “Shattered by the Shocker!"
Another great cover this time by Kane & Romita, glad to see the Shocker on the cover this time and I always like to see the story title on the cover!


Inside and this definatly is the second-of-a-two-parter as the water rises around Spidey's neck as we left him last issue.
I love the fat rats milling about.


Spider-Man tries to move some rubble but fails and eventually ends up underwater. (Any one else reminded of the web-bubble he made for himself (and Jonah) back in the #50s...? I would have liked a nod to that scene here.)
Eventually Spidey escapes through the sever pipeflow into the river.
This wasn't too suspenseful really and his determination to survive for "all the people who depend on me--" was pushing it a bit too I feel.


Wein does remember that as he began this sewer-search Peter dropped all his clothes from helicopter height so needs to return home to change before he can re-appear at Jonah's party where he left MJ. I do like this point, this is the reality of super-heroics and secret-identities. Well done Mr Wein.
We return to the party as JJ is biding the goers farewell and still panicking over his objets d'art. He manages to protect his "price-less antique decanter!".
Peter arrives spouting his photo opportunity story only to discover MJ left without him. The door slams and the decanter falls!! It is another well paced well presented comedy moment that carries over from last issue's set-up and while I usually don't like comedy let alone slap-stick - it all worked really well.


We cut to a sub-plot where a vagrant laments his lot in life searching through rubbish bins (trash-cans to you Colonial types) until confronted by an unseen adversary and runs away in fear. The only clue we really have is his declaration, "I'm not responsible for what happened to you -- I'm Not!"
Did anyone reading this for the first time possibly imagine the story that would unfold..?


Next day at college canteen Peter is given the cold shoulder by MJ as he chooses his meal from meager choices, "I'll write my congressman about this!"
"Wouldn't help buddy. He won't eat that junk either!"


Peter ends up sitting with Flash Thompson and newly returned Harry Osborn who we learn is now going to lodge with Flash and... loves the food Peter doesn't!
"I think I've just Lost My Appetite!"
"Gee, thanks. You're a real Pal Pete."
Why am I finding these humourous scenes so acceptably funny. Great characterisation.


Next we see a TV broadcast where the Mayor plays a cassette tape (look it up...it was downloads before....oh nevermind.) from the Shocker demanding One Million Dollars or he'll blackout more than his name across the city. Credit to the hard-arse (hard-ass?) Mayor - he refuses!

"Gotta say This much -- the man's got Guts!"


Spider-Man checks out possible places the Shocker may hit and finds the Mayor has detailed cops to cover them but he starts at his closest plant - where he recently fought Shang-Chi (Giant-Size Spider-Man #2) (I like that sort of continuity.)
There he notices the cop is unconscious and so realises the Shocker must be inside...


Big dynamo machines are inside the plane, like we see on the cover...


The Shocker attacks and even Spidey notes he used the same tactics during thei fight last issue. (The Shocker uses his shock gauntlets to shock.... not a great repetoir eh?)
More Cops arrive and valiantly battle the Super-villain giving Spider-Man time to recover, web the Shocker's feet and pull him upside down.


Unfortunately the Cops think Spidey could be in league with the Shocker and so distract everyone fighting allowing the Shocker to escape the webs.
The extra-strong Shocker punches our hero towards the whirling blades of the dynamos and... ... he manages to web himself a brake.
"I'm gonna look stupid walking around for the next few weeks with a Crew-Cut!".


Spider-Man then actually webs down the shocker's thumb-triggers preventing him from being able to turn them off - resulting in the Shocker shocking himself around the walls with no control, until he knocks himself out.
"Sonuvagun. so that's what happens."
It's quite a clever way of defeating the bad-guy and with him left for the Cops to collect our hero swings away from this issue.


All in all a nice ender to last issue's opener with some memorable and wll pitched scenes inbetween.
I found myself noticing the Shocker spoke a bit 'posh' "I've heard just about all the Inane Babbling I want to hear!" etc - where I always think of him as more a 'shaddapa ya yakkin' type but maybe he always has I'm not sure.
Lovely art as usual and as mentioned when we opened, I do like seeing a cover fitting the action of the issue.


Next Issue "The most Offbeat Spidey Shocker of the Year... The Longest Hundred Yards!"


Now that one may spark some memories..?


Come Back...

ACK! I haven't read #51 yet! And I'm going to be on vacation all next week. Tell you what... I'll get caught up in September.

A decent issue. Two things jumped out at me. 

The "security guards" with the helmets seem like they are intended to be motorcycle cops. Otherwise, why are they wearing motorcycle helmets if they're walking around a facility? I think the artist intended for them to be police but they didn't want to show Spidey beating up on police.

The other thing was that the Shocker bouncing off the walls at the end seemed like it likely would kill him.

I read #151-152 this morning so i won't have to wait until September to post after all. I don't have anything in particular to say about #152, but the "smokestack scene" in in #151 is an iconic moment... one that will come back to bit him in the @$$ before too long. The "Clone Saga" of the 1990s had an explanation for how "Ben Reilly" could be alive when the clone was incinerated in the smokestack, but I don't remember all the ins and outs. (Essentially, it was yet another clone.) When Bill Mantlo introduced Carrion (the clone of Miles Warren) in Peter Parker, his original intention was for him to have been the clone from the smokestack, but that idea was nixed for whatever reason.

This issue seems a perfect time to mention Marvel UK's interesting adaptations of original covers. Reprinting in black and white with two pages side by side a selection of Marvel titles weekly with roughly half an original issue each week. As Spider-Man was the head/title strip he got cover billing which often meant a new cover was commissioned. When the original cover was used - Iike here - it has to be adapted/stretched out to fit the format - creating some interesting and unique pictures. It may be because this is how I saw them originally but sometimes I think the UK-tinkered covers are superior!

Amazing Spider-Man #153 (02/76)
Writer - Len Wein - Editor Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Mike Esposito Background inks - David Hunt
Cover Art – Gil Kane & John Romita
  “The Longest Hundred Yards!"
Kane and Romita make for a perfect team for cover art don't they? This is a wonderful composition and for once I should credit the colourist (Glynis Wein?) the graduated blue of the sky is gloriouis.
"The Deadliest Hundred Yards!" shouts the cover.


Spider-Man begins this issue on a patrol where he picks up on a morse-code S-O-S from a taxi and dispatches the taxi-jackers while, unfortunatly, causing a great deal of damage (including doors falling off) to the cab.
It's (I think) supposed to be light-hearted/comedy but you've got to feel sorry for the cabbie haven't you? (Just me?)


Next day and the light-hearted/comedy continues as Peter tries to make-up with Mary Jane (after leaving her at Jonah's party last issue) and Flash and harry watch them argue.
There is a good twist here with Peter, fed up of apologising/making up stories tells MJ he's had enough, "That sure doesn't sound like the Mary Jane Watson who declared allout war when she thought she was losing me to Gwen Stacy!"
"Peter... I Lied."
"Lied?"
"Uh-Huh"
"About what?"
"About you. You are worth fighting for."
Hopefully this is a watershed moment for these two. Again.


This issue's storyline then gets going proper as Ned Leeds arrives and invites them to a meeting/interview he's having with an ex-football star (that's American Football - not Soccer- ok?) who is now a 'Bigshot Computer wizard'. As Peter knows more than him re computers, he goes along to help.
The incongruous combination of computer expert and ex-sports star is necessary to this story both for plot but also for location as we meet this guy at an empty sports stadium.


Bradley Bolton recounts the story of his last failed game before he quit sports and became a scientist and we get a flashback sequence where Bolton ran through the opposing team, dodging and weaving before getting to the goal-line and holding the ball so tight "they finally had to pry it from my fingers!" - just short of the line! He had failed. He quit. He became a nerd.

He also married and had a daughter.


A note arrives and Bolton races off, arranging to finish Ned's interview at the college 'Homecoming Dance' that evening.
We then learn Bolton is being blackmailed by a villainous mobster called Paine. (They're never called 'Sunshine' are they?) to hand over the final component of a computer created with a Dr Armstrong Smith (apparently referencing Daredevil issues). Paine refers to his employer but never by name. (It's the Kingpin naturally)
Paine reveals he had kidnapped Bolton's daughter and kills a little bird as an example of how fragile she is. Nasty man.


Later, at that dance Ned and MJ are dancing, Peter cuts in - annoying MJ yet again as it's Ned he wants to speak to! "Ouch. back in the Doghouse again!"
He does make up and dance with her though, "After all Tiger -- This is Our song."
"'Kung-Fu Fighting' is Our song?" - now that IS funny

!
Bolton leaves, Peter follows by handing MJ over to dance with Harry Osborn.
"Hi guys. Mind if I cut in?"


Bolton picks up a briefcase and returns to the stadium in the dark where he intends to exchange the goods for his daughter. Paine tries to run off with little Mindy though and Bolton snaps!
As Paine's men actually open fire Bolton recreated his flashback sports-field run from earlier, avoiding bullets as he dodges and weaves exactly as he had before - eventually grabbing hold of his daughter ball so tight "they will have to pry her from his fingers!"


Spider-Man makes short work of the thugs and then Paine as he believes Bolton had been shot to death.
He then realises Bolton is still alive who's only concern is for his daughter who he had saved.
"Yeah Doc, you made it -- The whole Hundred Yards. Touchdown."
It is a bittersweet ending and touching.


This whole story feels like it was developed for another medium and then adapted into the Spider-Man continuity. If feels 'based on a short story by...' should have been credited somewhere.
I first came upon this story (heavily edited I think) in a British Marvel Hardback Annual (can't remember which sorry) and as a one-off done-in-one story it had quite an impact.
The panel for panel recreations of Bolton then and Bolton now is such a visually clever and powerful idea that the young boy I was when I first read this was so impressed by - I'm still impressed now.


Next issue "The Sandman Always Strikes Twice! Be Here!"


Come Back...

This time I can't add to your observations on the story.

ASM #153's Spider's Web letters page was replaced with the following two columns to explain confusion and questions about the Jackal/Clone story.

Richard, I share your confusion over the light-hearted "comedy" concerning the cabbie. Spider-Man was a right arsehole in this scene. The next day he even reflects, "I did my public a great service and had a few chuckles in the process." Yeah, by possibly destroying a man's livelyhood and potential sole source of income. Jerk.

This story has two similarities to the daredevil stories I just read. First,the footbal star turned white collar worker (Torpedo the insurance salesman) and, more directly, the worldwide computer network of habitual criminal offenders.

I've got to say, I really hated the main story. It's a very "writerly" "neat idea." there's no way in hell a man can run 100 yards down a football field with absolutely no cover and at least three machine guns firing at him and make it the whole way... even if he did die of his wounds in the end. 

This one is out of continuity on Earth-J AFAIAC.

Amazing Spider-Man #154 (03/76)
Writer - Len Wein - Editor Penciller - Sal Buscema
Inker - Mike Esposito Background inks - David Hunt
Cover Art – Gil Kane & John Romita
 The Sandman Always Strikes Twice!"
For a Kane and Romita cover this looks much more Romita than Kane to me. Rare cover appearance for the Sandman's jazzy costume that I really liked but seems no-one else ever did!


For some reason this cover (and the whole issue infact) reminds me of the recent Shocker appearance, not sure why, maybe it's the background look as if we're in the same factory/plant etc..?


The issue opens (without Ross Andru! Sal Buscema is a solid enough artist but their contrast is evident immediatly) with Spider-Man coming across a mugging and stopping it but being really violent in doing so - very stressed at the death, last issue of 'a friend of mine' - which would have been more believable/acceptable if we'd have ever seen Bradley Bolton before last issue.


Meanwhile the Sandman (in his original striped top look) is sprung from his prisoner transport by henchmen in the same uniform as (the Kingpin's) goons working for the bad-guy Paine last issue.

As he is whisked away to meet the (so far unidentified) boss (it's the Kingpin already!) we again catch up with the shadowy derelict we've seen before who mugs a passer by trying to get cash for booze. He reacts to an unseen threat, "No--Not Again! He can't have found me Again!" and runs off without the money.
"I tell ya-- this city gets Crazier every day!"


We cut back to the Sandman who has been reunited with his technical/jazzy costume (last worn in MTU #2 chronologically) by the boss - smoking a cigarette in a long holder - who-could-it-be-? (It's The ....oh, you know don't you.)
"Man I ain't word these threads in a while. Where'd ya Get 'em?"


Laser riffles in the wall convince Sandy to obey the mysterious boss and agree to recover a technical gizmo he wants...


Later, on his patrol Spider-Man picks up a signal from an old Spider-Tracer and ends up at a warehouse manned by the same uniforms and finds the Sandman waiting for him.
They fight their usual fight - annoyingly Spidey does the webbing-the-villain's-eyes trick which is just oh-so-painfully old! Spidey covers Sandy in webbing but is surprised by the webbing just collapsing empty to the ground (really? Sandman disolves into sand...a surprise..?). Once away from the webbing Sandman reforms and knocks Spider-Man out.


Spider-Man recovers to find himself strapped to a Cryogenic Converter (freeze-machine) but rather than be frozen Spidey flips his trap over, freezes his bonds and escapes.
Sandman uses the special buttons on his jazzy suit - "this outfit lets me mix different chemicals with my sand--" and creates an oil slick that slips our hero up.
Sandy then also slips on it and Spider-Man flicks the freeze-ray back on as Sandman slips into it's trajectory... and gets frozen solid!
"Anybody interested in Sandman-On-A-Stick?"


It's a comedy ending to a knockabout battle - that I don't think works too well - and diminishes the drama of the following scene where the frozen Sandman has to be lowered gently to the ground incase he breaks up.


Bottom line is, Sandman is defeated, the background reason for Sandman trying to trap Spider-Man is not really explained and the big boss behind it remains a secret.

Not sure why these sub-plots are dragging out.

Not sure why Sandman was used here either. This all feels like the Shocker story kind of re-treaded.
It all feels kind of filler-padding and with the 'guest-artist' I do wonder if this was an inventory story slotted in originally destined for elsewhere..?


Next Issue Move over Columbo!.(blah...blah...)... "Whodunit!"


Come Back...

Sandman uses the special buttons on his jazzy suit - "this outfit lets me mix different chemicals with my sand--" and creates an oil slick that slips our hero up.

I now remember that Sandman's Kirby-esque suit allows him to mix things with his sand. Still don't like it.

I agree it's not much of a story.

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