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……

Views: 16436

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Rather amazing how Frank Miller really transformed the Kingpin from a rather 2nd tier Spider-Man baddie (at least compared to Dr. Octopus and the Green Goblin) to the top tier Daredevil baddie.  Miller took all the elements that were already there but just made Wilson Fisk more believable as more of a behind the scenes mob boss who also loved his wife and had politicians and other people from many walks of life on his payroll and ready to do his bidding when called on.  Miller made the Kingpin more human but also much more terrifying. After all, he thoroughly screwed up Matt Murdock's life without even directly confronting him in a way he never did to Peter Parker, at least not in any Spider-Man/Kingpin story I ever read.

The cover is signed "D.C. + J.R." on the Kingpin's jacket. I don't happen to know if Cockrum was designing covers for Marvel at this point (late 1976) or just drawing them. Here's an image of the original art.

#157 was the first issue with a cover barcode box.

With his signature on the original it looks like Cockrum claims credit for the majority of the cover but I still don't see his work leaping out at me.

Amazing Spider-Man #164 (01/77)
Writer - Len Wein - Editor Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Mike Esposito Background inks - David Hunt
Cover Art – John Romita
   "Deadline!"


John Romita solo work on this cover and while it's not horrendous, it is painfully simple and derrivativly dull.
"Within seconds you'll be DEAD!" is quite thrilling though and goes a way to explain this issue's title.


We open where we left but this time with the mystery man in the other bed/trap openly revealed to be the Kingpin's son Richard - the Kingpin's plan being to somehow siphon off Spider-Man's 'life-force' and transfer it to Richard.


Spidey opens us up into a flashback plot detail as he asks how the Kingpin changed from catatonic in ASM#85 to this issue's main villain.
Kingy explains Richard had tried to make daddy proud by taking over Hydra but ran afoul of the Red Skull. After the Fifth Sleeper, Captain America and the Falcon all played their part the seemingly dying Richard was taken away by worried Kingpin. (All this in Captain America's own title and a good run it is to - referenced as #148 here.)


As Spidey is about to lose his life he desperatly asks -why him - to delay things further to which the Kingpin replies - "Frankly, Web-slinger-- does it really matter now?" - which I love, clearly our crime-boss is bored with the exposition!


Mrs Kingpin, the elegant, nay beautiful Vanessa enters and asks if their son would really like to be saved after the sacrifice of another but Wilson won't listen.
"Then there is nothing more to be said."
"Nothing at all, I'm afriad."
"Oh come on, -- say anything! I'm not particular!"


The button is pressed and we're into Bride-of-Ultron territory!
Soon, Richard wakes fit and well and is taken away by his mother and Spider-Man.... is set free..!


As a by-the-by Kingpin mentions how he was behind recent issues events and Spider-Man realises that he's very weak and that effectively he has been drained and has only a few hours left to live!
Spidey is dumped in an alley where he just avoids falling in front of a truck - played for semi-laughs but genuinely tense.
He manages to get home, changes to Peter and when Glory Grant visits he appears dreadfully ill.
"--Better wrap yourself in this blanket before you catch your Death!"
"I-Im afraid I already have."


Peter cuts out and seeks help from the only Doctor he can trust - Doc Conners.
"H-Hi, Doc, s-sorry to... Drop In on you ... like this..." he says as he , literally, drops in!. - Great panel!


The good Doc puts our hero in a rejuvenating chamber (what you haven't got one?) which while it helps, backfires and blows up in the Doctor's face! (We all know that's going to lead to a transformation back into the Lizard soon...don't we?)
The cure is not enough and the Doc makes up a hand-syphon for Spidey to reclaim his life-force with and off he goes...as the Doc looks a little green around the......


When Spider-Man finally catches up with the Kingpin family at the docks, he's all but wiped out again.
Wilson and Richard are having a difference of ethical position as usual and Spidey zaps Richard - instantly taking back his own strength!
(It is like, two panels, - I know it's pretty obvious it was going to happen but I could have stood less Spidey-searches the city and more Spidey-reacts-to-the-return-of-his-power for perfect pacing of this issue, it feels choppy.)


There is a good length battle between the Kingpin and our hero in and around scaffolding and dockside equipment until up high a swinging grapple hook knocks the Kingpin from a height. He holds on but refuses help from Spider-Man and his weight causes the wooden framework he's on to shatter and he falls into the water.


Of course Spidey searches but he cannot find the Kingpin anywhere. Mrs Kingpin takes control and announces a truce. She explains that Richard will live and she is kinda-grateful for that - "You stole my husband away from me tonight, Spider-Man -- but you gave me back my son!"
She takes Richard away and the issue fades out.


Vanessa has a style and grace about her I've always liked, this puts her in charge of the Kingpin's forces and perhaps we'll see more of her in that role...?


Kingpin vs Spider-Man is never particularly engaging a fight as if he's using his powers properly I don't care how surprisingly fast Wilson is - Spidey should wipe the floor with him.
When he was later turned into a nemesis for Daredevil I could always find their fights a bit more acceptable due to DD's lack of super-strength etc.


So, the effects of Spidey being life-force-drained were neatly shown and Glory Grant gets another appearance but otherwise this is ASM-by-numbers even down to the foreshadowing of another Spider-Man Vs Lizard encounter soon....
How soon...?


"Next Issue: The Dinosaur Man is back from the dead and neither the web-slinger -- nor Dr Curt Connors-- may ever be the same! Be here when... Stegron Stalks The Streets"


Come Back...

We open where we left but this time with the mystery man in the other bed/trap openly revealed to be the Kingpin's son Richard - the Kingpin's plan being to somehow siphon off Spider-Man's 'life-force' and transfer it to Richard.

Even without remembering the previous appearance of Richard Fisk, it had to be him. Who else would Kingpin care about this much?

Spidey is dumped in an alley where he just avoids falling in front of a truck - played for semi-laughs but genuinely tense.

The two old ladies (Daily Bugle readers) jumping to the conclusion that the staggering Spider-Man was drunk was amusing.

He manages to get home, changes to Peter and when Glory Grant visits he appears dreadfully ill.

Another brief use of Glory Grant, still pretty much a cypher.

The good Doc puts our hero in a rejuvenating chamber (what you haven't got one?)….

Yeah, he just happened to have one handy.

When Spider-Man finally catches up with the Kingpin family at the docks, he's all but wiped out again.

Actually, they mention that this is the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is a restricted U.S. Navy facility, even though we never see a single sailor. Stan tells us at the top of the letters page that Ross Andru was a “stickler for detail” and that he was given special permission to photograph and sketch the facility.

Wilson and Richard are having a difference of ethical position as usual and Spidey zaps Richard - instantly taking back his own strength!

Richard Fisk is lamenting the supposed death of Spider-Man, “a man’s death on my conscious.” Odd coming from someone who was running Hydra.

Of course Spidey searches but he cannot find the Kingpin anywhere. Mrs Kingpin takes control and announces a truce. She explains that Richard will live and she is kinda-grateful for that - "You stole my husband away from me tonight, Spider-Man -- but you gave me back my son!"

As many bad guys (sans corpse) as are thought to have died, Spidey shouldn’t have jumped to the conclusion that it was all over. I think that in the past Vanessa was trying to get Wilson Fisk to give up crime. Now she seems ready to take over and almost ready to have Spidey killed.

Kingpin vs Spider-Man is never particularly engaging a fight as if he's using his powers properly I don't care how surprisingly fast Wilson is - Spidey should wipe the floor with him.

Well, in this case Spidey is underpowered and weakened.

Amazing Spider-Man #165 (02/77)
Writer - Len Wein - Editor Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Mike Esposito Background inks - David Hunt
Cover Art – John Romita & Frank Giacoia
   "Stegron Stalks the City!"


John Romita is inked here by Frank Giacoia and there is more life to this cover (if you pardon the obvious!)


This cover and the entire concept - dinosaur skeletons coming to life and being hungry - seems much more a DC concept than a Marvel one but lets ride with it eh?


One last word on the cover - why is Stegron standing on a wooden table?


Inside and we open as Spider-Man drops in on the splash page and a laboratory with knocked out uniformed guards/scientists hidden in an apartment block. After being kicked by an escaping unseen figure Spidey realises he's in a secret SHIELD installation and leaves.


What was going on there? Who was the mystery man...?


We cut to a sweet family moment for Dr Curt Connors, who we met last issue and knew we'd revisit soon didn't we? His home is invaded by...Stegron!
(Well okay, yes, the title and the cover had given it away but it's trying to be a dramatic entrance!)
Stegron kidnaps Curt's son Billy and gives Connors 48 hours, using instructions in his lab to do what he's told and Billy will live.


Spidey changes to Peter who reminds us that he now stars in two titles each month. He confronts Flash Thompson for trying to steal Mary Jane from him - Flash turns the tables and embarasses Peter out of his tirade, "After all, Pete-- You're my friend, aren't ya?"
"I Am? Yeah... I guess I AM!"
It's clear, Peter needs to tell MJ what he feels not rail against the few friends he has...

"Dumb, Parker! Dumb! Dumb! DUMB!"


At Dr Marla Madison's University office Marla explains to Jonah Jameson that while she agrees to go after Spider-Man it's because of the challenge not the glory. She puts a 'psycho-cybernetic helmet' on him and they begin plotting our hero's end!
"Now that's the cheeriest thing I've heard all day!"
This is obviously early days for JJ and Marla but it's interesting to note how she's happy to blur the lines between nice and not so nice in the pursuit of science.


We then enter one of the most perfect pages of sequential art (IMHO) as Peter and MJ go for a walk and chat over their relationship - it's atmospheric, it's dynamic but pedestrian, it is obviously cold and windy and fairly deserted and I just love this page!


The bottom line from the heart-to-heart is that MJ doesn't quite know (yet) how to react to their relationship getting as deep as it seems to be heading after Gwen and that kiss before Paris.
They settle down for a laser light show with things hardly settled between them, "Yeah-- Give us a break, okay? Finish the Soap Opera at home!".
then the lights went out.


As Connors and his wife work in the lab, Curt feels his Lizard-transformation looming...


Back at the Natural History Museum (!)... Stegron zaps the dinosaur skeleton exhibits with a ray-gun of some sort and his master plan (and the cover) takes shape...(If he could make something as incredible as this - what does he need Connor's to do for him in the lab?)


Having explained themselves to each other MJ is understanding as Peter runs off telling her he's going to take photos...to change to Spider-Man. (New status quo/temporary explanation of why MJ doesn't work out Peter's secret..?)


Spider-Man is attacked by animated dinosaur skeleton (I know, it's a crazy ridiculous plot but it's taken seriously and so just about kind of works..if you let it.)
The Skeletons escape the museum and Stegron reveals himself as they fight.


We readers of ASM haven't met Stegron before - it was MTU #20 when our hero fought him so we get a link to that and a throwaway explanation that he dropped his metabolic rate to that of suspended animation to escape his seeming demise in that issue.


As an end to their fight Stegron brings the roof down on Spidey. He climbs out fairly easily (he braced himself before impact don't you know!) but Stegron and the dinos are gone!

(Easily hidden. - Really?)


The issue ends with (We knew we were going there didn't we?) Curt Connor's succumbing to the stress and transforming into the Lizard - who vows vengeance against Stegron!


So, we're setting up a Stegron Vs Lizard battle with Spidey between them and I quite like that idea - the dinosaurs are just window-dressing and as I keep saying - suspend your disbelief and roll with it and we'll get through this together!


Next Issue "The War of the Reptile-Men!"


Come Back...

One of the most memorable final panels of all time! If this didn't make you want the next issue, nothing will!

Richard Mantle said:

This cover and the entire concept - dinosaur skeletons coming to life and being hungry - seems much more a DC concept than a Marvel one but lets ride with it eh?

I can’t help but think that dinosaur “skeletons” are actually rocks that used to be bones. Not that skeletons can come to life…..

Inside and we open as Spider-Man drops in on the splash page and a laboratory with knocked out uniformed guards/scientists hidden in an apartment block. After being kicked by an escaping unseen figure Spidey realises he's in a secret SHIELD installation and leaves.

Spidey refers to the raspy voice of the unseen figure as sounding like 1940s actress Tallulah Bankhead. This sounds like something Stan would have referenced, but it turns out that Spidey probably saw her ten years earlier on the Batman TV show.

The bottom line from the heart-to-heart is that MJ doesn't quite know (yet) how to react to their relationship getting as deep as it seems to be heading after Gwen and that kiss before Paris.

I also liked the panels depicting their walking conversation. After Flash talked to her about his being strung along and used by her, she was realistically receptive to Peter’s arguments. It helped that she was very fond of Peter, though not yet a love with him. Her game-playing isn’t hard to believe because, in our early twenties, most of us are not yet fully mature.

I take issue with The Lizard characterizing himself (itself?) as "the most powerful being to ever walk the earth."

Philip Portelli said:

One of the most memorable final panels of all time! If this didn't make you want the next issue, nothing will!

All villains have delusions of grandeur!

Notice how Stegron was drawn like a sinister reptile man while the Lizard is almost cute! I know that the Lizard MEGO figure came out in 1975. Maybe that prompted Marvel to try a more "heroic" approach.

Richard Mantle said:

 One last word on the cover - why is Stegron standing on a wooden table?

I would never have noticed that! I think it's supposed to be a platform the curator uses to work on the skeleton, and the artists placed Stegron on it to place him at the level of the skeleton's head. I don't actually know what a curator standing on a platform by a dinosaur skeleton would do, but Cary Grant's character uses one in Bringing Up Baby.

Amazing Spider-Man #166 (03/77)
Writer - Len Wein - Editor Penciller - Ross Andru
Inker - Mike Esposito
Cover Art – John Romita & Frank Giacoia
"War of the Reptile-Men!"


John Romita composes a brilliant cover here, Spidey, the Lizard and Stegtron, christmas, decorations and snow! Wonderful!


Note here, no 'background inker' listed in the Official Index for this issue and actually the backgrounds are vague/non-existent to a degree here.


I must also say I love the splash page here too, Ross Andru draws Spider-Man almost crouching out of the way to leave the stage to the symbolic Stegron standing over the city - it's a powerful image.


Spidey swings to a sudden confrontation with the newly transformed Lizard who manages to escape down the sewers... due to heavy traffic.


Spidey goes on to meet Mrs Curt Connors who updates how Stegron had kidnapped their son Billy and triggered the Lizard's change.


Elsewhere at the University Marla Madison puts J Jonah Jameson in his place - and his cigar out - before unveiling a/her new Spider- Slayer!
"Marla, my dear, I take back everything I was thinking about you!"


At Mary-Jane's apartment the Spidey-gang meet for a Christmas party, hear via telephone that Peter can't make it (!) and then celebrate Liz Allen and Harry Osborn's engagement announcement.


Back in the sewers little Billy watches on as Stegron zaps dinosaur-skeletons and the change into flesh and blood! (It's allegedly temporary but...)
The lizard arrives and they start fighting as the dinosaurs escape into the city.
(Yes, it's very convoluted, it's dinosaurs in New York at Christmas !)


Eventually Spider-Man tracks the two reptile-guys down and a three-way fight begins.
Spidey webs a cure down the Lizard's throat but can't stop Stegron getting away with Billy (again!)
Spidey pursues while Dr Connors gets busy...
(Mercifully) Fairly quickly Spider-Man manages to swing and grab Billy to safety from Stegron off the neck of a T-Rex. (It makes for a good visual I guess.)


As they bear down on our hero, the Dinosaurs' temporary-life wears off and the skeletons collapse inert.
We learn it was a new gizmo Curt Connors had quickly built that zapped them back to death.


In the snow Spidey tries to find Stegron who is under a bridge losing strength as he gets colder and colder...eventually slipping into and beneath, the icy water..!


The epilogue has Spider-Man delivering a present to the Christmas celebrating Connor's family and finally, the city and presumably we the readers!
"Merry Christmas New-York -- You Great Big Shiny Apple you!
And God Bless us... Every One!"


It's a convoluted chase/fight designed to cram those dinos into the Christmas scenes but it does it with style so it's not an awful issue by any means - just a bit forced IMHO.


I have to say - Ross Andru draws wonderfully realistic snow both fallen and falling.


Next Issue "Something on the Wind!"
Come Back...

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2020   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service