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?

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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.

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