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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After all these years, I still remember that annual for the lame art!

I know I've read this story several times, but even reading the description just now I only recall Spidey realizing to his embarrassment that he's gotten into the middle of a film the Torch was making. I think there was some reason mentioned at the end why the movie was never finished or released.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN  #53 (10/67)

Writer – Stan Lee – Co-Plot-John Romita – Penciller

Inker – Mike  Esposito

Cover Art – John Romita

“Enter: Dr.Octopus!”

It looks a simple cover, but there are some clever aspects to it.

The lighting is quite ingenious and experimental for it’s day, look at the shadowing on the rooftops and credit to the green background for the Spider masthead which adds greatly to the attack of Dr Octopus green from the left of the cover.

I love it and it was notable enough to be taken as the trade cover for the newest Marvel masterworks paperback too.

Inside and we pick straight back up after last issue (making the Annual’s continuity place debatable) as Spidey reads the Bugle’s spin on the battle with the Kingpin and the death of Frederick Foswell in #52.

It’s business as usual then as Spidey argues again with JJJ and his support cast highlight Flash’s worship of Spidey, Harry’s growing frustration at the ways of his supposed best friend and Gwen and Peter arranging their first date.

We get an early portentous appearance of Professor Warren  “I never realised you were so agile son!” – Was this – and the later science trip - the beginning of Warren’s interest in all things Peter and Gwen??

We are also reminded that Gwen is a science major in the college too.

Indeed the softening of Gwen continues apace here, her physical features are softening and she is shown smiling far more than the stern sassy face she used to get, without a doubt Gwen is becoming the clear leading-lady for our audience.

So, science credentials checked we get a publicity conference for a new invention the ‘Nullifier’ (no, not the ‘ultimate nullifier of FF fame…this is your bog-standard nullifier!).

Upon its unveiling Doctor Octopus steps up attacks and steals the gadget.

Spidey intervenes and a fierce battle ensues ending with Spidey webbing Doc’s glasses (again? Really?) retrieving the nullifier and placing a spider-tracer on the escaping villain.

Doc Ock begins and fights half this battle with a green cloak – very evil villain – before discarding it.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the two parts of this fight were drawn at different times and the cloak was forgotten and so had to be written into the plot to explain it being missing later..?

Maybe I’m looking too deep again?

We get a flashback explanation of how Ock survived his last seeming-death at the end of the ‘Master Planner’ storyline.

I digress, - other than the classic artwork sequence depicting Spidey’s strength and determination - I never really cared for the Master Planner storyline. It seems to have a reverence in some quarters that I don’t share. I think it was anti-climatic, confused and unsatisfying. I mention it here due to the flashback page and of course this thread started after the story but…

Despite having his glasses webbed up again Ock shows he’s not completely stupid and actually locates the Spider Tracer – how refreshing!

Peter explains away his absence to Gwen and we learn that Aunt May has advertised a room for rent at her place to make some extra money. – That might be important…next issue!

Doc Ock prepares an explosive trap for Spidey who doesn’t quite fall for it.

We get a beautiful Silver Age example of the Marvel attitude as we the reader get an opportunity to ‘add your own impassioned sound effect!”

So, we close the issue with Doc Ock thinking he’s killed Spider-man and planning to find an ‘innocent’ hideaway to plan his next move to steal the nullifier and Spidey vowing to find him…

…oh and we get a bit of a clue as we get a ‘Next Issue!’ panel showing Doc Ock meeting Aunt May!!

Imagine having to wait another month…!

This issue begins one of my top-five Spidey stories ever.

I just love all of this period with the continuing story arc being a relatively new feature to comics in the day and, to me, what set Marvel apart from the rest.

Ock is shown to be a formidable enemy, perhaps not as ‘feared’ as the Green Goblin, but just as dangerous and clearly just as bloodthirsty – he revels in the fact that he may have killed our hero.

Over the years Ock has, in many ways, proven he is the Superior Spider enemy!

Come back…

When I started reading comics in 1979, Norman Osborn had been dead for 6 years, and the Hobgoblin wouldn't debut for 4 years,  In between, we got 2 Goblins - Harry (who was insane and / or on drugs I think, but got better) and Dr. Bart Hamilton (died at the end of his story, never came back).  Little wonder I have always considered Doc Ock Spidey's arch-foe.

One might make an argument the Annual could fit between #52 and #53, but since it was terrible (and gives the impression it sat in a drawer for a long while), I won't do that.

Agree that this four-parter is one of the best Spidey stories ever.  Looking forward to your review of all of it, Richard.

Pepper Potts had a similar transformation in Tales of Suspense. In her first appearance she was an overly freckled shrew that seemed to be in the comic just to yell at Happy Hogan.

Perhaps this cover is why for years there was a belief that Marvel than Stan hated the color green. He says he has no idea how it started, but maybe he said something like "too much green" and was misquoted. I remember there were several colors like this around this time. An Avengers cover with the Black Panther fighting the Sons of the Serpent was all blue and Iron Man fighting his LMD was all yellow/orange.

Richard Mantle said:

We get an early portentous appearance of Professor Warren “I never realised you were so agile son!” – Was this – and the later science trip - the beginning of Warren’s interest in all things Peter and Gwen??

In light of his future Jackal-ness, it really looks like he's angling to be close to Gwen. He was probably pretty sure that his "bring a friend" invitation would cause Gwen to be there. They must have had something sinister in mind for Warren even then. His comment about Peter's agility climbing the rope fits with the perception that Peter had no athletic ability.

…this is your bog-standard nullifier!

Being born in England, I appreciate this phrase, though I haven't seen it used in this way before.

Despite having his glasses webbed up again Ock shows he’s not completely stupid and actually locates the Spider Tracer – how refreshing!

A scientist like Otto should have developed a coating for his goggles after the first time. Maybe Romita, who was plotting, wasn't aware this trick was used before. Rereading this, it seems that making the tracer in the form of a spider is really unnecessary and makes it more noticeable. Why would he want to make something he's trying to conceal more noticeable?

Ock is shown to be a formidable enemy, perhaps not as ‘feared’ as the Green Goblin, but just as dangerous and clearly just as bloodthirsty – he revels in the fact that he may have killed our hero.

I think it's been pointed out before that Ock was generally considered Spidey's greatest enemy at that time. The switch occurred when Norman killed Gwen.

Otto did develop a coating for his glasses in the 1967 cartoon, so it should be turning up in the comics.

Ron M. said:

Perhaps this cover is why for years there was a belief that Marvel than Stan hated the color green. He says he has no idea how it started, but maybe he said something like "too much green" and was misquoted. I remember there were several colors like this around this time. An Avengers cover with the Black Panther fighting the Sons of the Serpent was all blue and Iron Man fighting his LMD was all yellow/orange.

I didn't locate the two covers you mention, but here are seven others that have one or two colors with nothing being colored normally. Oddly, the FF and Thor covers are from the same month. All the others are spread over a year or so. I don't think the Doc Ock cover fits this category as actual colors are used for the characters.

As for Stan not liking green, maybe this explains why Flash Thompson's Army uniform and General Ross' and Glenn Talbot's Army uniforms in the Hulk comic were always colored blue. U.S. Army regular dress uniforms were green from the late 50s until very recently. Now they ARE blue, like they were in the 18th and 19th centuries. Maybe they saw the future.

I will argue quite strenuously that there never was a switch, and any perceived shift began when Norman "got better".

--Randy Jackson, President of the "Norman Osborn stinks like a big ol' Goober-Head Society".



Richard Willis said:


I think it's been pointed out before that Ock was generally considered Spidey's greatest enemy at that time. The switch occurred when Norman killed Gwen.

The only sign of a switch before Osborn came back to life I saw was him turning up in the first episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (complete with a comic book adaptation of that episode) years after his death.

Not completely blue or yellow/orange as I remembered but pretty close:

 

 

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