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: 5144

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

In the Nicolas Hammond show it allowed him to see what was happening to people miles away. I think it even sometimes showed him the future. An alternate reality Spider-Man's powers worked that way in a story.

In I think #9 JJ thinks to himself "I'm robbing him! These pictures are worth a fortune! But I deserve it! Because he's a fool!"

The thing with the Spider-sense is that, unlike Daredevil's radar-sense, which only provides him with information about his immediate physical surroundings, there has always been a clear "psychic" component to Peter's power:it not only detects things around him, but it also responds to the intent driving those things--if MaryJane is running up behind him to give him a hug, it doesn't go off, but if someone else is running up behind him to tackle him, it does.  Further, the sense responds to things that aren't actually physically dangerous to Peter that he consciously worries about anyway (even tho the sense itself seems to be entirely sub-conscious), so that when Aunt May, who bears him no ill-will and poses no physical threat, is approaching Peter's bedroom door, he has enough warning to hide his Spidey suit before the door opens.  For that reason, I'd always figured that those incidents where Spider-Man would look for a foe by swinging around town and waiting for his Spider-sense to go off were a case of Peter thinking that, if he makes himself a visible target, either the foe he's looking for will try to attack him, and set off the sense, or even just be so overwhelmed with hostile thoughts at the sight of him that the sense will pick up the hostility.  It's also possible that, if the sense is able to tell that it's bad for Peter if Aunt May catches him in mid-costume change, it might also have an increased sensitivity towards anyone that has attacked Peter recently, or even habitually, and just go off in their proximity.  Or not.

It's smell-based. It responds to people whose smells show them to have hostile intent or to be evil. That's why it didn't react to Aunt May when she hit him with a vase (the smell just registered as Aunt May), doesn't work when he has a cold, and acts independently of his vision.

This explains why he can sometimes use it to track things down, how he dodges attacks (he smells them coming!), and how spider-tracers work (they're a kind of stink-bomb). When Aunt May approached his room while he was in costume she registered because he was afraid she'd do that and smelt her coming.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 1963)

"The Uncanny Threat of the Terrible Tinkerer!" (2nd story)

Story - Stan Lee / Art - Steve Ditko / Lettering - Art Simek / Coloring - Stan Goldberg

 

Peter's teacher introduces him to a Professor Cobbwell, and asks if Peter would be interested in helping Cobbwell over the weekend.  Peter knows Cobbwell is an expert in electronics and gladly accepts.  The professor asks Peter to pick up a radio for him at a repair shop.  Flash teases him afterward for not wanting to do fun things, but Peter stands up for himself and tells Flash he is happy to jump at the chance to work with such a brilliant man.

The next day Peter heads out, wearing his Spider-Man costume under his clothes, as he almost feels undressed without it.  The radio is at the Tinkerer's Repair Shop, and Peter remarks that it is an offbeat name for the place.  He meets the owner, who introduces himself as "The Tinkerer", and Peter thinks the man could have stepped out of Grimm's Fairy Tales.  The Tinkerer goes to retrieve the radio, and suddenly, Peter's spider-sense goes off, from "odd electric impulses".  However he is unconcerned as he thinks the Tinkerer is not dangerous.

The Tinkerer goes to his dungeon-like basement to get Cobbwell's radio, which is being worked on by a green-skinned alien.  The alien says he has inserted a special device, just like what has been done with several other radios for "special" customers.  It's all part of a secret plan.  The Tinkerer gives Peter the radio, and only charges a dime for fixing it.  Peter is in disbelief at this, but the Tinkerer says he likes to give out bargains so customers keep coming back.

Peter tells Cobbwell about the low charge, but Cobbwell dismisses it, saying that's why he took the radio to that shop in the first place.  He has Peter get to work, but soon Peter's spider-sense is detecting the same electrical impulses as he felt before at the Tinkerer's shop.  He waits until Cobbwell leaves, then examines the radio and finds the device implanted by the aliens.

Peter changes to Spider-Man and returns to the Tinkerer's shop.  He finds the basement and sees the Tinkerer and the aliens discussing their plan to conquer Earth.  The devices in the radios allow them to spy on military leaders and other powerful people.  An alien approaches him from behind but his spider-sense warns him in time.  Now that he has been discovered, the other aliens attack as well.  They try to capture him but he easily avoids them, and mocks them for it.  But the Tinkerer manages to knock him out with a ray gun.  They put him in a unbreakable glass cage, and then decide he must die because he is the only one who knows their plans.  However, Spidey frees himself by shooting a web through a tiny air hole, and hitting the control panel, which opens the cage.

The aliens try to re-capture him but he knocks one into another, and this causes the second alien to fire his gun into the control panel.  A fire erupts and the aliens flee.  Spidey tries to capture the Tinkerer, and then as the smoke gets worse, tries to get him away from the fire.  But the Tinkerer fights him off and gets away; there is so much smoke Spidey can't see him.  Now choking because of the smoke, Spidey escapes through a roof as a fire alarm sounds.  A passerby wonders if Spider-Man started the fire! Meanwhile, the aliens destroy all of the spy devices by remote control and leave Earth.

Peter returns to Dr. Cobbwell's lab and examines the radio, finding it perfectly normal now.  Cobbwell returns and tells Peter he saw a spaceship.  Peter asks him what it looked like, and as Cobbwell describes it, he convinces himself people won't believe him and will think he's just another absent-minded professor.  Peter thinks he knows how Cobbwell feels, because if he didn't rip the Tinkerer's mask off, he might not believe it himself.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My rating: 6/10

This story is merely okay, nothing spectacular.  There's a lot of little things to like - Peter telling Flash off, Spidey quipping at the aliens, and the passerbys assuming our hero set the fire.  I'm glad Peter isn't intimidated by Flash's bullying.  Spidey with the quips in the midst of battle is classic, of course.  Average folks jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst of him is likewise well tread territory.  It's nice to see such storytelling devices this early on.  Also good to see the spider-sense used the way it should be, imo - someone sneaking up behind and tries to kill him, but he's warned in time.  

(EDIT: I forgot about the first use of spider-sense in the story - Spidey detects "odd electric impulses" from Cobbwell's radio.  Blehh.)

The downside is the plot feels pretty creaky to me.  I'm sure Marvel cranked out hundreds of "aliens try to conquer the Earth" stories just like this one in the 50s and 60s.  The plan to put spy devices in radios must have taken years (if not decades), waiting for military types and the like to bring their radios in for repair.  And what was the deal with the Tinkerer?  Just one of the aliens, or a traitor to the human race?  Leading the aliens, or just working with them?  That's unclear, and it's a weak point of the story.  In any event, I didn't find him very interesting. 

In the early 80s, this story was retconned, the aliens were actors filming a movie - and one of them was Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio.  I forget what the Tinkerer's role in the movie was.  He would stay in limbo for 13 years before reappearing in ASM 159.

So many aliens all over the Marvel Universe, and somebody decides these guys should be fakes. Why? Too soon in his career for Spider-Man to meet space aliens.

Since it took years for him to turn up again I guess very few people found the Terrible Tinkerer very interesting. Like Space Phantom (another villain debuting in a second issue) they were tossing out new bad guys a lot in those days, and apparently if one didn't catch on with the readers after one or two appearances they were gone. (Or dumped into groups of losers like Plantman and the Eel.)

There weren't that many aliens around by AS-M ##2 and they were beaten too easily to taken seriously unlike the Toad-Men or the Stone Men from Saturn.

The aliens' hidden lair was a basement!

I think that they wanted the Tinkerer to be the guy who built the suits and weapons of the, shall we say, less intellectual villains.

I believe there was a story showing he had been doing that all those years we didn't see him.

The two villains introduced in ASM #2,  the Vulture and the Tinkerer,  were two of the ugliest characters ever designed by Ditko. And I mean that in a good way

Goodman was afraid DC would drop their distribution if they looked like they were copying them too closely, so the FF and Hulk looked like monster comics at first. The Vulture looked like a monster and the Tinkerer was a mad scientist. Spider-Man apparently especially worried him because he was clearly a superhero, so having him fight monsters (Doc Ock in #3 and Sandman in #4 look like monsters, and the Lizard in #6 really was a monster) might have helped calm him down and keep him from talking about cancelling Spider-Man again. It does seem a bit odd though this issue that Ditko gives us not one but two mad scientists that are both old men, especially since he didn't usually make his villains old.

Amazing Spider-Man 3 (July 1963)

"Spider-Man versus Doctor Octopus!"

Story - Stan Lee / Art - Steve Ditko / Letterer - John Duffy

Cover by Steve Ditko

Late one night, Spider-Man foils a robbery by three crooks.  He uses his Spider-Signal - a light that comes from his belt buckle, shining an image of his mask on a wall - to announce his presence.  He makes short work of the criminals and webs them up for the police, and finds himself almost wishing for an opponent that would really give him a challenge.  He will soon get his wish!

At an atomic research center, a brilliant scientist named Otto Octavious is conducting experiments using radiation.  His co-workers have dubbed him "Dr. Octopus", due to the device he wears while working.  It is a harness that fits around his torso and has four mechanical arms attached to it.  The arms can extend and also grasp things with the pincers on the ends of them, controlled by dials on the harness.  This allows him to work safely with radiation from a distance.

Octavious feels that others fear radiation, but he alone made it his servant.  However, something goes wrong and there is an explosion.  Octavious is caught in the blast and has absorbed a lot of radiation.  Doctors have determined he has permanent brain damage, and they cannot remove the device he was wearing, it has grafted to his skin.  After being in a coma for several days, he wakes up, demanding to be allowed to return to his work.  A doctor tells him he must rest.  However, Octavious convinces himself everyone else is jealous of his brilliance and wants to keep him from his work.  He becomes enraged when he sees bars on the window of his hospital room, thinking ...

The fools!  No one can hold Doctor Octopus against his will!  No one!

He decides to break the bars, and his mechanical arms now respond to his thoughts.  He rips the bars off the window easily, as the arms have great strength.  Octopus believes he is the supreme human being on Earth.  Meanwhile at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson tells Peter he wants pictures of Octopus, even though no one is allowed to enter the private hospital where he is being treated.  All his other photographers have failed, but Peter never has, although Jameson can't imagine how he does it.  Peter replies by reminding Jonah of their agreement (Jonah can't ask him how he does it) and arrogantly tells him to have a check ready for when he brings back pictures of Octopus.

Peter changes to Spider-Man and heads for the hospital.  Again he thinks about how he would like some real competition.  When he gets to his destination, he sees one of Octopus' arms through a window.  Inside, Octopus is holding a doctor and two nurses prisoner and is doing some experiments.  The doctor tries to stand up to him but Octopus grabs him and is about to harm him.  Spider-Man bursts through a glass window and challenges Octopus.  At first he ducks the arms, but one does strike him.  He dismisses it as "lucky" and webs two arms together.  He grabs the other arms and struggles to hold them, and then Octopus snaps his webbing, which has never been done before.  Octopus uses his arms to grab each of Spidey's arms and legs, making him helpless.  Octopus taunts and slaps him, and then throws him out the window.  Spider-Man has been defeated!

Octopus leaves the hospital and goes to the atomic research center where he used to work.  He eludes the guards and soon takes over the entire facility.  The military are stymied and don't know what to do.  Meanwhile, Peter is despondent after losing the battle, and when Jonah calls, he tells him he couldn't get pictures of Octopus, and won't be able to get any more.  Aunt May wonders why Peter is so unhappy and offers to help him, but he says he will solve his problems on his own.  At school, some girls tell Peter the governor has asked the Fantastic Four to try to capture Octopus.  They are away, but the Human Torch is going to see what he can do.  He is going to address the school at an assembly, as he has used his flame a lot recently and needs a few days to let it get strong again.

The Torch does a few demonstrations with a small bit of flame and then gives the students a pep talk.  He tells them that when things ever get tough, never give up.  Even the FF have had some defeats but they always come back and never say die.  Peter feels like the Torch is almost talking to him directly, and that he is absolutely right.  Peter thanks him, although Johnny seems more interested in the girls who want his autograph.  

Peter changes to Spider-Man and goes after Octopus with new determination.  He hopes to take him by surprise but Octopus has cameras everywhere in the plant.  He attacks with some weapons but Spider-Man evades it all.  Realizing Octopus can see him, he crawls on the ceiling, staying out of camera range.  Octopus goes out to find him.  Meanwhile, Spider-Man finds a chem lab and quickly mixes up a formula to use against Octopus, and puts it in several test tubes attached to wiring.  He goes in search of him; Octopus attacks from behind but his spider-sense warns him in time.  He manages to get one device of wiring and tubes around two mechanical arms but drops the other after a free arms hits him.  The chemical fuses the two arms together, which Octopus says he can easily take care of after disposing of Spider-Man for good.  He grabs him but Spider-Man webs up his glasses and Octopus can't see, although his arms pull Spider-Man closer to him.  Octopus manages to get his glasses off as Spider-Man grabs his free arms, and Spider-Man knows he has only one chance to win.  He lets go of the arms and knocks out Octopus a split-second later with a punch to the jaw.  He uses a huge amount of webbing to bind up Octopus, and leaves him for the authorities, who he has alerted with the Spider-Signal.

Afterwards, Spider-Man heads for a hotel and uses his spider-sense to find someone.  It's the Torch, who has been told by a doctor that his (previously unmentioned) virus is gone and his flame is up to full strength.  He's ready to go tackle Octopus, when Spider-Man comes in through the window.  He tells him that Octopus has been captured, and it's thanks to the Torch.  Also, Spider-Man might have been finished if not for the Torch, so additional thanks for that.  Spidey says "so long!" to a thoroughly confused Johnny Storm.  The next day at Peter's school, the Torch demonstrates his full powers .  Flash says the Torch and Spider-Man are his idea of real heroes, and snidely asks Peter "why don'tcha watch and see what a real man is like, bookworm?"  Peter says he'll tell him why someday, and he'll really enjoy it, too.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My rating: 9/10

Another great Ditko cover.  The use of shadowing is perfect, making a reader wonder what is going on with Dr. Octopus.

This is the first book-length story, and it's a barn burner.  We get another great villain who will be a major part of Spidey's rogues gallery, along with his origin.  Yes, I know, it's another "radiation can do anything" bit but there was a lot of thought put into it as Otto is a well fleshed out character before his accident, and also after when he has turned evil.  I've always liked him better than the Goblin as Spidey's arch enemy.  There are common threads in Spidey and Ock's origins, and but for a few twists of fate, each could have had the other's role as hero and villain.  Ock was always dangerous and his stories were memorable - he'll unmask Spidey, form the original Sinister Six, be the Master Planner, enlist an amnesiac Spider-Man as his partner, and arguably be responsible for the death of George Stacy.  There was a lot of mileage in the Goblin when his identity was unknown and he kept getting away, but once Peter and the readers knew he was Norman Osborn, his story was more or less over if you ask me.  He was cured of being the Goblin and forgot he knew Peter was Spider-Man; it strained credibility for him to revert to being the Goblin and knowing Spidey's ID and forgetting again, being cured again; let's just say I think it was a mistake to bring him back from the dead in the late 90s.

The story here has a great message of arrogance being your downfall.  Peter is just way too cocky and pays a price for it.  It won't be the last time a pep talk from an unlikely source puts the steel in his spine.  I liked it that once he got his resolve back that Ock was still dangerous and not an easy opponent to defeat.

Other thoughts -

- I never really gave it much thought before but Aunt May is a minor character is these early stories.  We see little of her and more of Jonah and especially Flash.

- Speaking of Jonah, he is completely reasonable again in this story, which is kind of boring. I like him more being an antagonist than just someone who doesn't care for Spider-Man.  And no mention of Now Magazine, just the Daily Bugle.

- Speaking of Flash, the very last panel of the story is the start of him being Spider-Man's #1 fan while he is Peter's #1 nemesis at school, a brilliant idea.

- I really groaned at the Torch segment at the end.  It went on too long and would have been a lot better if Spidey has razzed him a bit, although I get the gratitude for the pep talk.  You probably guessed I didn't like using spider-sense to find the Torch and the bit with the doctor telling him his virus was gone doesn't jibe with the earlier part, where he said he had used his flame a lot and needs time for it to build up again.

- Then again, using his spider-sense like that has been done a few times now, so maybe it has to be considered legit to use it to locate a person.

- Is this the first use of the Spider-Signal?  I think so.  It feels superfluous to me, somehow.

- Peter always seemed to be wearing a suit and tie as his everyday attire.  In the last panel, other boys are wearing shirts and sweaters.  Would a suit make Peter stand out as a teen in the early 60s?

- This is the first time Spidey bursts through a glass window, which he will do a lot over the years.  Has it ever been explained why this stunt doesn't slice him to ribbons?

I believe this is also the story where Spider-Man first makes his utility belt, and a second webshooter (pretty sure he'd only had one until now.)

They ask the FF to stop Dr. Octopus, but can only get one of them, and he goes around telling people his powers aren't working? If this was Strange Tales that would have gotten him attacked by Doc Ock while he was giving out autographs.

If he can detect people with his spider sense why did he come up with the signals? To boost distance, or was that power unreliable?

Once the Green Goblin knew who Spider-Man was, every appearance was the same story over and over. How many times could he remember then forget then remember everything? Now it seems like almost everything that happens to Spider-Man has something to do with Osborn. Osborn was the big villain in the 90s cartoon and Doc Ock was one of his flunkies. In comparison, in the 60s cartoon, after catching the Goblin, Electro, and the Vulture, Spidey deduces they must have a secret boss because none of them are smart enough to be the leader. (It turns out to be a villain original to the series, Dr. Noah Body, an invisible man.) Interesting the show back then didn't consider the Goblin all that bright (although then again they also had Mary Jane a blonde bubblehead and the niece of Captain Stacy.)

I remember being told not to wear a suit (no tie though) in the early 70s so I wouldn't be bullied.

Ron M. said:

I believe this is also the story where Spider-Man first makes his utility belt, and a second webshooter (pretty sure he'd only had one until now.)

There's no sequence showing him making anything, the signal, and the belt for that matter, just show up.  I hadn't noticed if this is the first time we see a second webshooter, I'll have to check.

They ask the FF to stop Dr. Octopus, but can only get one of them, and he goes around telling people his powers aren't working? If this was Strange Tales that would have gotten him attacked by Doc Ock while he was giving out autographs.

If he can detect people with his spider sense why did he come up with the signals? To boost distance, or was that power unreliable?

I'm not sure when the tracers first appear, but I think it's soon.  Maybe the dialogue will explain it.

Once the Green Goblin knew who Spider-Man was, every appearance was the same story over and over. How many times could he remember then forget then remember everything? Now it seems like almost everything that happens to Spider-Man has something to do with Osborn. Osborn was the big villain in the 90s cartoon and Doc Ock was one of his flunkies. In comparison, in the 60s cartoon, after catching the Goblin, Electro, and the Vulture, Spidey deduces they must have a secret boss because none of them are smart enough to be the leader. (It turns out to be a villain original to the series, Dr. Noah Body, an invisible man.) Interesting the show back then didn't consider the Goblin all that bright (although then again they also had Mary Jane a blonde bubblehead and the niece of Captain Stacy.)

Yeah, good point about the Goblin stories after ASM 40.  Same set-up, same resolution, unless you kill him off - Norman had to remember everything again, be insane again, and not reveal Spidey's ID while he was the GG, and then go back to sanity and forgetting things to resolve the story.  I think later this was retconned so that Norman always remembered everything and was evil, not insane, all along, maybe in the Loeb and sale mini-series, Spider-Man Blue.  He just chose to pretend he didn't remember.  But my recollection is that after ASM 40, Norman is a good guy, is nice to Peter and Harry, gave Jonah a hard time when he was being a buffoon, and even helped Spidey against Kraven.  The lead-up to Spectacular Spider-Man 1, for several issues, is Norman's memories coming back.

I remember the Goblin in the 60s cartoon being a loser.  He and the other villains would be in jail in full costume, mask included, zero exploration of his back story.  Oh, and Dr. Noah Body was the laziest animation ever.

I remember being told not to wear a suit (no tie though) in the early 70s so I wouldn't be bullied.

That's what I would think.  Peter wearing a suit is like putting a giant target on his back, imo.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Groups

Latest Activity

Richard Willis replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"Neal only inked this (over Curt Swan) but the result is gorgeous."
25 minutes ago
Lee Houston, Junior replied to The Baron's discussion Tennant and Tate to Return to Doctor Who for 60th Anniversary Celebration
"From what I've heard, the first episode of Doctor # 14 is supposed to also serve as the series…"
3 hours ago
Lee Houston, Junior replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"As previously mentioned (page 1382), I have no idea exactly how many times Neal Adams riffed his…"
3 hours ago
Jeff of Earth-J replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Swamp Thing
"ISSUE #25 - "The Sleep of Reason..." This issue's title comes from Francisco…"
5 hours ago
Philip Portelli replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Swamp Thing
"Look up Brandon Tenold Swamp Thing on youtube! It's a hoot!"
6 hours ago
The Baron replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Swamp Thing
""This video isn't available anymore""
6 hours ago
Philip Portelli replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Swamp Thing
""The Anatomy Lesson" became the first major "Everything You Know Is Wrong"…"
6 hours ago
Jeff of Earth-J replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Swamp Thing
""This is my first reading of these issues." I'm glad to have you participating! If…"
6 hours ago
Richard Willis replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Swamp Thing
"As I mentioned previously, I had purchased the several TPB editions that cover the Alan Moore run…"
7 hours ago
Steve W replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"Late '68 and Adams started drawing for Marvel as well as DC (the first artist to work on…"
9 hours ago
Richard Willis replied to Steve W's discussion Comical Comic Cuts
10 hours ago
Philip Portelli replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"I guess that Neal wanted to draw the monster a lot more than the Teen Titans!"
12 hours ago

© 2022   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service