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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As with your Avengers discussion, I find myself one issue behind. (I read Spider-Man #156 over the weekend.)

“(kind of like a foreshadowing of a Mirage - or am I reading too much into it?)”

Uh… that one.

“Aunt May catches the bouquet - hmmm...? Remember when she nearly.....?”

Now that’s foreshadowing (the return of Doc Ock).

“JJJ shows actual emotion.”

He also cast a really strange reflection in the mirror, which stays still when he moves.

“As for this issue, it was at tad pedestrian really.”

Yeah, this one never gets reprinted in those “Marvel Weddings” specials.

I have to question Mirage’s tactics. There were, what. Five different wedding going on at this venue on that day? He moved from one hall to the other, robbing the guests one party at a time. What stopped the victims of the earlier robberies from reporting the crime while he was committing the others? Lack of cell phones?

I’ll try to read #157 before you’re ready to post #158.

Amazing Spider-Man #158 (07/76)
Writer - Len Wein - co-Editor Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Mike Esposito Background inks - David Hunt
Cover Art – Gil Kane & John Romita Marv Wolfman - co-editor
     “Hammerheard Is Out!"
"Got to break free of Doctor Octopus -- before the ghost of Hammerhead murders my Aunt May!!" - don't you find it strange that we're about to have a 'serious' discussion of the contents of an issue that has THAT line on the cover?
Really? The GHOST of Hammerhead about to commit PHYSICAL murder..?
(Maybe she'd just be scared to death but even so..."


Anyway, Gil Kane back on the cover pencils and Doc Ock is looking powerfully muscular. I love the twisting arms - shades of Macfarlane to come!


Inside and we pick straight up from last issue with Spider-Man freefalling to his death with nowhere to snag a web.
Andru loves distorted figures (reminds me of Frank Robbins sometimes) and this is a great splash page design.


What Spidey does manage to do is web himself up a web-hanglider and glide to the city where he leaps to a bumpy (well 'Bwhomp!"-y) landing in a dumpster.
No, how the web knows when to be a solid and when to be a web-line etc isn't explained but it is achieved with a typical Spider-aplomb.


Later we catch up with Peter at his (newish) still unfurnished apartment where he repairs his costume and gets a visit from new neighbour Glory Grant,
"Hey, love the way you've furnished this place." - always liked Glory and this introduction phase was probably why - they never did alot with her though did they?


Mary Jane also arrives, wondering why Peter isn't searching for his missing Aunt as she's been left with a big hole in the wall of her home (nice continuity point - I like that.) Peter covers by saying his aunt is away but fine and splits after being called to the Bugle.


At the Bugle Robbie info-dumps that the Bugle's competitor has a new publisher who gets a name (so he'll become important I'm guessing) K.J.Clayton a previously unknown who's making waves. Robbie wonders if Peter has been headhunted by the competition, Peter assures him he's not in the market and JJ goes through a temporary secretary as Betty's on honeymoon.
I miss this kind of supporting cast day-to-day exploits - we don't need evil-relatives or such eachtime we catch up with the crew do we?


News comes in of Doc Ock holding a hostage and off goes Peter. (This is a bit of a surprise - why exactly was he not really worried about Ock and May - is it just that he honestly believes he wouldn't harm her?)
Actually Ock is at laboratory complex, surrounded by the authorities and is indeed treating May fine.


We are clued in on Ock's current plan, Hammerhead's ghost had reminded them that an atomic explosion caused his current condition and scientist Ock decided he'll try to recreate those conditions to reverse-engineer the effect - or rather blast what's left of him even further to oblivion.


Ock is ready, Hammerhead manifests and Spider-Man arrives...the gang's all here!


Predictably, Doc Ock and Spidey battle, with innocent Aunt May (as usual) caught in between them.
Spidey tries to wreck Ocks equipment.
"What--?!?"
"Don't you recognise it, Ockie? It's that ever-popular standby-- the "Webbing-In-The-Glasses" Trick!" - favourite-panel-ever!!


Hammerhead's ghost threatens May so a temporary truce is declared and they fix the equipment/experiment. - No, they don't just get her to safety they play scientists/nerds while she is menaced..!
Hammerhead runs into their 'trap'....with glee!


He knew....(so did you didn't you..?) ... "It worked! It Worked" I'm back in the land of the Living! Hammerhead Is Out--"
(No, not that sort of 'out'.(?))


"No! It's not possible --! Dear Heaven what have I done?"
It's a glorious cliff-hanger, completely loony but strangely compelling!
Great art, great pacing, 'that' panel that references all those other battles and... come on, it's Ock and Spidey. It's class!


Next Issue, (are you ready for this....see what they've done..?) "Arm-In-Arm-In-Arm-In-Arm-In-Arm-Arm with Doctor Octopus!"


Come Back...

Later we catch up with Peter at his (newish) still unfurnished apartment where he repairs his costume and gets a visit from new neighbour Glory Grant,
"Hey, love the way you've furnished this place." - always liked Glory and this introduction phase was probably why - they never did alot with her though did they?

I think she becomes Jonah’s secretary at some point (when Betty becomes a reporter?). I almost hate to bring it up, but Mary Jane normally reacts with jealousy to another young woman being near Peter. Not this time.

News comes in of Doc Ock holding a hostage and off goes Peter. (This is a bit of a surprise - why exactly was he not really worried about Ock and May - is it just that he honestly believes he wouldn't harm her?)

Pretty sure that Peter had no idea where to look for them and had to wait for word.

He knew....(so did you didn't you..?) ... "It worked! It Worked" I'm back in the land of the Living! Hammerhead Is Out--"
(No, not that sort of 'out'.(?))

This somewhat annoying phrase (and issue title) seems to be recalling the movie Hammersmith Is Out (1972), which starred Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. An odd choice.

"No! It's not possible --! Dear Heaven what have I done?"
It's a glorious cliff-hanger, completely loony but strangely compelling!

Can’t wait to see how a ghost (if that’s what he was) can be converted to a human. And how would Hammerhead, a simple thug, know this would happen when scientists Doc Ock and Peter Parker didn’t know?

Mary Jane might not have been hostile to Glory but when I read it, it seemed like she went all "Yellow Alert" when they met.

Also Glory Grant replaced Betty Brant as JJJ's secretary??  Was Paula Prant or Trudy Trant on the waiting list?

Never understand why Hammerhead being "out" was so dangerous! He was unarmed and alone. His power was that he had a built-in crash helmet! Either Spidey or Doc Ock could take him down with ease!

Crap, now I'm two issues behind.

Amazing Spider-Man #159 (08/76)
Writer - Len Wein - co-Editor Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Mike Esposito Background inks - David Hunt
Cover Art – Gil Kane & John Romita Marv Wolfman - co-editor
  "Arm-In-Arm-In-Arm-In-Arm-In-Arm-Arm with Doctor Octopus"
Kane and Romita on the cover again and it's a full on fight scene - a bit sparse on the background detail but otherwise this is pretty mush what we've been building up to in the last few issues and "Hammerheard Is Comin' Thru! This time not even Death will stop me!!"
(As a Britisher I cannot tell you how much the spelling 'Thru" upsets me!)


That title is a blast and we open as we left off last issue with Hammerhead's ghost not a ghost anymore! (How his ghost had clothes and how his clothes were reconstructed along with him and whether the science of all this actually really works are questions I refuse to ask...just enjoy the comicness of it all.)
Doc Ock info dumps for late arrives and Hammerhead goes with him being 'Out of Phase' to explain the science. That'll do fine for me.


Spider-Man punches Hammerhead's metal head reminding everyone what makes Hammerhead unique as the fight is on!
There is a glorious (pure Ross Andru!) moment where all three pause taking in the injuries inflicted by each other and then...all three collapse!!
Another Conway gem beautifully illiustrated.


As various gang factions stake a claim to the building Spidey is the first to wake up, "It looks like I'm the first one to wake up!". See.


Hammerhead's gang battle the troops guarding the place and it all gets cramped and complicated.
Oh - "Anesthetic bullets" being fired...a tip of the hat to the comics code/Stan's sensibilities? - not sure if I needed anything to be made of it. YMMV


Hammerhead manages to grab frail Aunt May and uses her as a hostage (Of course he does.) and he makes his getaway leaving Ock and Spidey having to work together in their common goal of saving her.
Ock grins and seems quite happy with the team-up where as Spidey is a tad more reserved, "Okay, I'll work with you Octopus-- but I won't shake your hand! I'm liable to catch something contagious!"
is it just me? I'm feeling so many parallels with the Superior Spider-Man stuff - Dan Slott seems to have written both very similar to these characterisations IMHO.


We do get an interlude, a mysteriously masked mechanic and his hefty apprentice 'Toy' is seen doing some serious rebuilding work for the offstage Kingpin (no spoiler there it is kind of obvious!) and the newly restored Spider-Mobile is unveiled!!
It still looks ridiculous but in a warm fuzzy cosy way now don't you think?


Spider-Man and Doc Ock race past the Bugle window, together (So reminiscent of the Superman Spider-Man Treasury I thought) sending Jonah Jameson into his usual rant giving mixed orders to his current temporary secretary who quits with remarkable aplomb. Another comedy moment that does actually work and makes me smile.


The proper action picks back up as Spidey and Ock steal into an old Nightclub that seems to be Hammerhead's HQ. Ock throwing arms full of knives against the chefs in the kitchen is great to see.
Aunt May is not accepting Hammerhead's hospitality and before he is about to slap her face our heroes arrive. Secret switches reveal sliding walls and armed gang members from both sides and the fight is on again.
We are reminded that Hammerhead's entire office is a revolving room which spins away. Spider-Man worries about the hired help as Doc Ock tries to head off Hammerhead.


Again flying off in his stylised helicopter Hammerhead gets trash cans thrown at his by Ock which fouls the rotors and sends the copter into an explosive crash!!


Spider-Man escapes the room to find unconscious May (thankfully she wasn't on Hammerhead's helicopter!) and as Doc Ock prepares to fight for May sirens announce the authorities and Ock decides to run away instead, "But someday-- Doctor Octopus Will Return!"


So, okay, we don't know if Hammerhead is dead, we don't know if he's just 'out-of-phase' again and we don't know where Doc Ock is going or what his next move will be. we still don't know how Aunt May is going to fix that hole in her wall but this was a neat enough ending for the three characters that we opened the issue with.
Pure hokum but somehow entertaining and not slipping into silly slapstick.
This whole storyline feels like a 'guilty-pleasure'.


Next Issue and I fear that fine line may be crossed as we get "My Killer, The Car!"

However-- --I'm going with the continuity of the Masterworks I'm reading from and the Official Index and going to cover - Amazing Spider-Man Annual #10 next - the Human Fly one...


Come Back...

Doc Ock info dumps for late arrives and Hammerhead goes with him being 'Out of Phase' to explain the science. That'll do fine for me.

I guess other people who’ve appeared to die from atomic radiation and/or blast are just “out of phase.” Maybe they’ll be back some day, too.


Oh - "Anesthetic bullets" being fired...a tip of the hat to the comics code/Stan's sensibilities? - not sure if I needed anything to be made of it. YMMV

I note that the cop is very concerned that his enemy fell off the roof. The enemy who had a hand grenade (WWII version) on his belt and was firing real bullets at the cops.

Spider-Man worries about the hired help as Doc Ock tries to head off Hammerhead.

I don’t expect Spidey to be the Punisher but isn’t this a little too saintly regarding people trying to kill you?

Spider-Man escapes the room to find unconscious May (thankfully she wasn't on Hammerhead's helicopter!) and as Doc Ock prepares to fight for May sirens announce the authorities and Ock decides to run away instead, "But someday-- Doctor Octopus Will Return!"

Over the years, Stan and the writers who followed him would have a world-beating villain fighting powerful heroes only to run when the police were coming. I guess this was their way of saying they couldn’t be accused of disrespecting the police.

Next Issue and I fear that fine line may be crossed as we get "My Killer, The Car!"
However-- --I'm going with the continuity of the Masterworks I'm reading from and the Official Index and going to cover - Amazing Spider-Man Annual #10 next - the Human Fly one...

Unfortunately, my CD set of ASM doesn’t include the Annuals. I’ll have to see if my memory brings the story back to me.

Thanks for your thoughts Richard.

The Human Fly annual is a mystery to me - I honestly don't think I have ever read it as I was still dependant on British reprints for the originals and I don't think they fitted it in their continuity.

To put Spider-Man battling someone named the Fly into perspective (beyond "the spider and the fly" reference), Archie/Mighty Comics/Red Circle's heroic the FLY (later Fly-Man) created by Joe Simon and drawn by Jack Kirby in 1959 battled the evil SPIDER SPRY who could have been a hunchback. He would then be known simply as "the Spider" and resembled Lex Luthor.

Of course, the story goes that Joe Simon's original concept would have been called "the Silver Spider" and later Jack Kirby would emulate the character in his version of Spider-Man until Steve Ditko gave us the Web-Head we all know and love!

I’ve read #157-159. Now I’m caught up!

“(so he'll become important I'm guessing)”

Well, not exactly… ;)

“However… I'm going to cover - Amazing Spider-Man Annual #10 next”

I was going to ask you about that.

I’m still waiting for the Wein/Andru run to really click with me.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #10 (1976)
Plotter - Len Wein -Editor Scripter - Bill Mantlo
Penciller - Gill Kane Inker - Frank Giacoia (p1-12, 14, 17-20, 23,26) & Mike Esposito (p13, 15-16, 21-22, 24-25, 27-35)
Cover Art – Gil Kane & John Romita
   "Step Into My Parlor..."
That's a familiar cover isn't it Phillip?


Always love Gil Kane's Jonah.
The Annual opens with Jonah Jameson and Joe Robertson discussing the Bugle's competitor the Globe and it's recent scoop regarding the White Tiger - linking into Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #22.


Peter arrives and explains how it's JJ's fault photos have not been forthcoming as he doesn't like photos of Spider-Man looking good and several villains are locked up!
This gives JJ an idea - which worries Robbie and Peter.


Spider-Man intervenes in a police siege where a thug group are holding people hostage.
Eventually the girl is saved and the ringleader gunned down by the police....


JJ enlists the aid of the scientist brother of the guy that created the Scorpion many moons ago and this time JJ wants a new subject to be given the powers of Spider-Man - all the better to beat him with.


Mad scientist meets mad gunman and using flies instead of spiders Rick Deacon becomes... the Human Fly! "I-- I've become a Fly! A Human Fly!" - but NO - Not that Fly. (The one that had his own series is not this guy!)


"...Said The Spider To The Fly!"
Jonah is called back to mad scientist central only to find said scientist dead.
The buzzing Human Fly takes Jonah as a hostage spurring peter and Robbie to try to save JJ.

"Robbie-- Don't! You're no Spider-Man!"


The Fly sets up a battle with Spider-Man for the life of Jonah and while a crowd look on their fight begins.
Spidey wins, of course and humiliates the Fly and webs Jonah to save him - with Peter turning in action photos that Jonah refuses to print. Peter counters with 'realistic' mugging photos and collects cash.
It's a pretty simplistic storyline to be honest and while the artwork is nice and crisp and clearly Gil Kane there is a familiarity here not just confined to rehashing the Scorpion plot.


The Human Fly is not fleshed out much and dispatched in a run-of-the-mill manner.
Nothing is bad here but nothing is very fresh or vital or interesting either...which may explain why I really cannot remember ever having read this Annual although I'm sure I have done maybe a few times..?


The most interesting part of this book is the 'Next Issue' advert being replaced with a promise of the imminent arrival of a "Second senses-shattering mag! It's called... Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man!!"
Now that is a milestone to come... until then we return to Amazing Spider-Man #160...


Come Back...

“Always love Gil Kane's Jonah.”

I like Ross Andru, but gil Kane was a refreshing change.

“The Human Fly is not fleshed out much and dispatched in a run-of-the-mill manner.”

The “Human Fly” seems like such an obvious choice it’s a wonder Stan Lee and Steve ditko didn’t do it in the first place. (Maybe too obvious?) Anyway, there was nothing really special in the execution, and the costume was uninspired.

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