John Dunbar re-reads AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (AF 15, ASM 1-50)

We have a wonderful thread, started by Richard Mantle, that examines the Amazing Spider-Man starting with issue #51.  I don't know why it took me so long to realize we don't have a thread that covers Spidey's beginning to the point where Richard starts.

Spider-Man is hands down my favorite Marvel hero and I love the early stuff.  Peter Parker felt like an outsider in high school.  He had girl troubles and money troubles.  I think a lot of us could identify with him when we were teenagers; I know I certainly did.  Those first 50 issues of Amazing, plus the Annuals and Amazing Fantasy 15, are among the cream of the Silver Age.  Outstanding artwork from Steve Ditko and John Romita.  Unforgettable dialogue from Stan Lee.  A fantastic rogues gallery and a wonderful supporting cast.  Just terrific, terrific stuff.

Join me, won't you?

Views: 4682

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

In Peter's defense, this early the only characters that could imitate powers back then were the Skrulls and the Carbon Copy Men, and he probably wouldn't have known about them. On the other hand he should have at least considered the Chameleon as a possible phony Spider-Man.

Mysterio is probably the ugliest guy Ditko ever drew. In the 80s attempts were made to make him more normal looking, even giving him blond hair in at least one story.

John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

All of the kids at Midtown High have turned on Spidey, except for Flash Thompson.

They’ve always consistently had Flash on Spidey’s side.

At home, May Parker can tell something is bothering Peter and asks if he is worried about making the mortgage payment as their savings are almost gone (!).

This is more in line with future stories. Earlier they had Aunt May paying rent for her house.

Jonah is arrogant as always, even though he should be smart enough not to blindly trust Mysterio. He knows nothing about him, Mysterio (like Spider-Man) conceals his true identity, and he wants money from Jonah for defeating Spider-Man and giving the Bugle an exclusive interview afterward.

I think it’s consistent with what follows later. Jonah is so much against Spider-Man that when he hears someone say they can defeat him he talks himself into believing everything they say.

Some of Mysterio’s tricks are a little harder for me to swallow than they were when I was 15. The one that’s hardest for me to buy is his knowing about, let alone understanding and defeating, Peter’s spider sense. It’s not like Spidey has given a lot of ill-considered interviews like Superman and given his enemies too much information.

Good point about the spider-sense, Richard.  Seems Stan routinely forgot that there was no reason for Mysterio or the Green Goblin or any of Spidey's other enemies to even know that he had a spider-sense, never mind how it worked, but then Stan and other writers also routinely forgot how the spider-sense should rationally work, warning Peter of any danger from any source.  So having scenes in which the the spider-sense fails to warn Peter because the person attacking him happens to be Aunt May or Professor Warren were absolutely ridiculous.

Ronald Morgan said:

In Peter's defense, this early the only characters that could imitate powers back then were the Skrulls and the Carbon Copy Men, and he probably wouldn't have known about them. On the other hand he should have at least considered the Chameleon as a possible phony Spider-Man.

Good point (and I had forgotten this) - this isn't the first time he was impersonated!  Spidey definitely should have wondered about the Chameleon (who will show up in a few issues, btw).

Mysterio is probably the ugliest guy Ditko ever drew. In the 80s attempts were made to make him more normal looking, even giving him blond hair in at least one story.

Do you mean Mysterio had the ugliest costume, or that he was ugly in his civilian ID?

Ugly in his civilian ID. As a kid his face scared me much more than his outfit. His costume is unique and unforgettable. I suspect it would have been used for an interdimensional demon (except it wouldn't have been a costume then)  in Dr. Strange if Ditko hadn't already used it here.

Richard Willis said:

John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

All of the kids at Midtown High have turned on Spidey, except for Flash Thompson.

They’ve always consistently had Flash on Spidey’s side.

A brilliant bit of characterization, consistent from the start.  That's the kind of detail that made ASM a great book - even the supporting cast got lots of attention.

At home, May Parker can tell something is bothering Peter and asks if he is worried about making the mortgage payment as their savings are almost gone (!).

This is more in line with future stories. Earlier they had Aunt May paying rent for her house.

Paying a mortgage versus paying rent in earlier issues is a minor inconsistency, really.  What I was astounded by was that an adult was having that kind of conversation with a high school student, and in a passive aggressive way.  Of course, Peter is going to get stressed out - as far as I can tell, he's the breadwinner in the family.

Jonah is arrogant as always, even though he should be smart enough not to blindly trust Mysterio. He knows nothing about him, Mysterio (like Spider-Man) conceals his true identity, and he wants money from Jonah for defeating Spider-Man and giving the Bugle an exclusive interview afterward.

I think it’s consistent with what follows later. Jonah is so much against Spider-Man that when he hears someone say they can defeat him he talks himself into believing everything they say.

Some of Mysterio’s tricks are a little harder for me to swallow than they were when I was 15. The one that’s hardest for me to buy is his knowing about, let alone understanding and defeating, Peter’s spider sense. It’s not like Spidey has given a lot of ill-considered interviews like Superman and given his enemies too much information.

Definitely consistent with past and future behaviour from Jonah, just rather dumb on his part.  He has such a blind hatred of Spidey that he overlooks Mysterio comes to the table with the same characteristics as Spidey, being a masked crimefighter with a secret identity.

Some of Mysterio's tricks requires the reader not to think about it too hard.  When he first appeared at the Bugle and disappeared in the cloudy mist, he more or less walked away through a busy newsroom off panel.  Likewise, when Spidey goes to meet him on the bridge in their first encounter, he just materializes in a cloud of mist.  I guess he could have been hiding behind a girder.

I totally agree about Mysterio knowing, let alone being able to jam, the spider-sense was very questionable.

Also,it occurred to me that stunts and special effects are performed for cameras, not real time viewers. Like you said, don't think about it too much.

Also, in the most recent issue that was tackled in Richard Mantle's ASM thread, ASM #128, when Peter meets Dr. Clifton Shallot, aka the third Vulture, his spider-sense should have been triggered, in my opinion, but was not.

Fred W. Hill said:

Good point about the spider-sense, Richard.  Seems Stan routinely forgot that there was no reason for Mysterio or the Green Goblin or any of Spidey's other enemies to even know that he had a spider-sense, never mind how it worked, but then Stan and other writers also routinely forgot how the spider-sense should rationally work, warning Peter of any danger from any source.  So having scenes in which the the spider-sense fails to warn Peter because the person attacking him happens to be Aunt May or Professor Warren were absolutely ridiculous.

Yep, I loved Mysterio's costume, plain as most of it is but that fishbowl mask and cape give it a weird impact.  My own nominee for ugliest villain face would have been Paste Pot Pete as depicted in his first appearance by Kirby and which I caught in one of the issues of Human Torch from the mid '70s (reprinting both Golden Age Torch tales as well as Johnny Storm's solo outings from Stange Tales.  Funny that even before he got a name change, PPP's face got a makeover to go with a new costume so he appeared more normal and to my knowledge there was no explanation as to why he looked so different, such as claiming that he wore a mask earlier on.  

 -- Fred



Ronald Morgan said:

Ugly in his civilian ID. As a kid his face scared me much more than his outfit. His costume is unique and unforgettable. I suspect it would have been used for an interdimensional demon (except it wouldn't have been a costume then)  in Dr. Strange if Ditko hadn't already used it here.

If Roy Thomas was writing it at the time he probably would have tried to explain it. At the time they probably didn't get any letters about his face so they ignored it.

Some people shouldn't have facial hair. Paste Pot Pete is definitely one of them.

Someone did try to explain why the Puppet Master changed from his weird original appearance, when he suddenly went back to it.

A really extreme change happened to the Watcher. He went from a Kirby big-headed creature with relatively small arms and legs to a huge fat guy, still by Kirby. Many artists are set in their ways, but Jack clearly had no problem trying new ideas with old characters.

Another example, not by Kirby, would be the way Pepper Potts changed while Don Heck was drawing her.

Amazing Spider-Man 14 (July 1964)

 "The Grotesque Adventure of the Green Goblin!"

Written by Stan Lee (The poor man's Shakespeare)

Illustrated by Steve Ditko (The poor man's Da Vinci)

Lettered by Art Simek (The poor man's rich man)

Cover by Steve Ditko

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In a shadowy underground lab, an unknown man (his face is ridden from the reader) is putting the finishing touches on a device he calls a flying broomstick.  He dons a garish purple and green costume and tests out his invention, declaring it a success.  He leaves on the flying broomstick and goes to a hotel to meet with the Enforcers - Fancy Dan, Montana, and the Ox.  He introduces himself as the Green Goblin, and offers them a deal - do as he says, and they will get revenge on Spider-Man for sending them to jail several months before (ASM # 10).  Sometime later, a movie producer in Hollywood is trying to come up with a new hit, as he hasn't had a big success in years.  The Green Goblin flies in thru his window and suggests a movie with Spider-Man, the Enforcers and himself in it.  The producer sees dollar signs and thinks he'll get Tony Curtis or one of the Beatles to play Spidey.  The Goblin offers a better idea - the real Spider-Man.  The producer is doubtful but the Goblin promises to deliver.

A few days later, Peter is outside at school when he hears a radio report of a strange green-garbed figure on a broomstick that has been flying over Manhattan for the past hour.  He changes to Spider-Man to check it out.  Minutes later, he finds the Green Goblin, who tells him movie producer B.J. Cosmos wants him to star in a movie and is waiting to meet him at the Ritz Plaza Hotel.  Spidey goes to the hotel and Cosmos offers him $50,000 to star in "The Spider-Man Story", where he'll be fighting the Enforcers and the Green Goblin.  Spidey agrees, under some conditions - no interviews, no publicity, no sight seers on set, and no phony romances with starlets.  He signs a contract and Cosmos tells him to be in Hollywood by the end of the week.  The Green Goblin has been watching all along, and thinks to himself that neither Spidey nor Cosmos knows his true intentions, and for Spidey his trip to Hollywood will be a one way journey.

The next day, Peter visits Betty Brant at the Daily Bugle.  He's about to tell her about his trip when Jonah interrupts and tells Peter he is sending him to Hollywood to get photos from the movie set.  Peter was hoping Jonah would do that, but Betty is upset, saying Peter can't wait to meet starlets.  She's actually upset at Peter for walking Liz Allan home from school recently.  At home, Aunt May is not exactly thrilled about Peter's trip but agrees to let him go.

A few days later in Hollywood, Spidey is impressed with Cosmos' make-up people, as he thinks the "actors" really look like the "real" Enforcers.  The crew goes to New Mexico to start filming, and the Goblin and the Enforcers suggest to Spidey they go off and rehearse their fight scene.  They attack and Spidey says they aren't following the script, and then his spider-sense (finally) goes off.  He realizes these are the real Enforcers!  They attack him but he manages to hold his own and evade them.  Then the Green Goblin attacks and Spidey says he's likely the brains behind this caper.  The Goblin is flying overhead and tossing stun grenades at Spidey, and it takes all of his speed to avoid them.  The Enforcers attack again and overwhelm Spidey for a moment.  They are all atop him but don't realize he's playing possum.  He sends them flying and then uses his webs to whip up a dust storm to get a breather from the villains.  However, the Goblin has a great vantage point from the sky, as he'll be able to see Spider-Man when he emerges from the dust cloud.

Back in New York, Peter Parker is on the minds of several people.  May Parker writes her nephew a letter, expressing concern that he is getting enough sleep and vitamins.  Liz Allan wonders if any of the kids have heard from Peter, and she and Flash have a tiff over it.  At the Bugle, Jonah tells Betty that Peter better bring back some good pictures and not waste his time dating Hollywood glamour girls, which causes Betty to worry that he might.

In New Mexico, the Goblin sees Spidey enter a cave, and signals the Enforcers.  The villains push a boulder over the entrance, thinking they've trapped Spidey.  However, he webs up Montana and Fancy Dan, then is attacked by the Goblin.  Spidey manages to trap him in a corner with some webbing, but the Goblin uses his broomstick to burn the webs.  Ox attacks Spidey but gets knocked out after a brief skirmish.

The Goblin is free again and hurls a stun-bomb at Spider-Man.  Spidey dodges it and smoke fills the cave; when it clears, Spidey finds himself face to face with none other than the Incredible Hulk!  The Hulk lunges at Spidey, thinking he is another enemy who wants to capture him, as a delighted Green Goblin watches from a safe distance.  Spidey thinks he can't dodge the Hulk forever and leaps on his back.  He tries to use his webbing on him but the Hulk tears it apart easily.  Spidey tries a knockout punch but the Hulk is unfazed.  Using his speed and agility, Spider-Man gets away from the Hulk and runs into the Goblin again.  They tussle on the flying broomstick and an exhausted Spidey feigns being hurt and the Goblin is fooled into thinking he has won.  Spider-Man watches the Hulk leave the cave.  He grabs the Enforcers and turns them over to the authorities.

Sometime later in Hollywood, one of the movie crew tells B.J. Cosmos the film shoot has fallen apart - Spidey and the Goblin disappeared, and the Enforcers got arrested.  However when Cosmos hears the crew didn't look for Spidey or the Goblin because the Hulk was seen in the area, Cosmos gets a new inspiration - a Hulk movie!  Just then, Spidey comes in the window, looking for his money, and Cosmos tells him no movie, no pay, although he does give him enough expense money to fly back to New York.  Peter decides to take the bus and give Aunt May the difference.

The Green Goblin also returns to New York.  His plan was to defeat Spider-Man and organize a world-wide crime syndicate, with the Enforcers as his lieutenants.  He didn't think Spider-Man could defeat all three of them.  He also thinks choosing the Hulk's stomping grounds was his biggest mistake, as it ruined his plans.  He feels a career in crime is difficult because you can't think of everything.  He changes out of his costume, with his identity still hidden from the reader, into a business suit, and vows to strike again when he gets an opportunity.  Peter Parker realizes he is dealing with a dangerous foe and must never let his guard down.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My rating: 9/10

This is a pretty significant issue of Amazing Spider-Man.  Not only is it the debut of arguably Spider-Man's greatest foe, it's also his first ever meeting and battle with the Hulk,  And of course, the first appearance of the Green Goblin's, er, "flying broomstick".  OK, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

The Goblin looks a bit silly, when I think he is meant to be scary, but as a super-villain there's nothing silly about him.  He's cunning and he is a planner, and if that's not spelled out enough during the course of the story itself, there's the bookends of the tale.  Steve and Stan go out of their way to let the reader know this guy is not just another rogue of the month.  Hiding his identity (which reportedly they had not decided yet) is clever; throwing a suit on him is a subtle way of saying that when this guy, whoever he is, is not the Green Goblin, he is a respectable member of society.  And unlike Fred Foswell (The Big Man), he's too smart to get caught right away.

But the flying broomstick is ridiculous.  In a few panels, he's sitting on it but he mostly is somehow hovering a few inches above it.  In one panel Spidey grabs onto it with his gloved hands.  Maybe I'm wrong but my thinking guess is contact with it would result in a severe burn.  Thoughts on this?

Another thing that bugged me was the wonky use of Spidey's spider-sense.  How did it not go off like a four-alarm fire when Spidey first meets the Goblin?  Or on the movie set with the Enforcers being there?  They could have had Spidey ignoring it ("this Goblin guy looks silly / those are just actors") but for it not to go off at all, until it does, is a flub.  Anyone want to take a crack at explaining that away?

The Hulk appearance is quite interesting.  It comes a few months after the legendary Avengers / FF crossover and a few months before his strip in Tales to Astonish begins.  I would guess it was the final test of how well the Hulk would be received as a solo star again.  This appearance was a great showcase for him.  He's dangerous but just wants to be left alone.  And Spidey has no business exchanging punches with old Greenskin, as he learned the hard way!

It hasn't been long since we last saw the Enforcers, and we will see them again before long.  This should have been their farewell in my opinion.  Although they work together well as a unit, they are not much more than colorful henchmen, and clearly not a match for Spidey.  That the Goblin thought they would make good lieutenants is surprising, as every indication is given that he is a meticulous planner.  I would have expected him to use them as cannon fodder to fully test Spidey and study him closely in a battle.

The soap opera aspects are on the back burner a bit.  The most significant thing is Liz Allan seems to be falling for Peter, although he doesn't seem interested.  However, he has been walking her home from school lately, which causes tension between Peter and Betty.  Aunt May and Jonah are used sparsely here, which I find a bit disappointing.

The cover is a bit busy and crowded, but still excellent.  Steve Ditko rarely did a bad cover in the early days.  I wonder though, if readers were starting to take a "yeah, right" view of the cover blurb hyperbole.  Last issue it was Mysterio described as "the greatest villain of all for ol' Spidey!".  Now it's the Green Goblin, "the most sinister, most dangerous foe Spidey's ever fought!".  Gobby will, eventually, live up to the hype; Mysterio, not so much.

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