Tag Archives: Spider-Man

Amazing Spider-Man #34, Mar. 1966

asm034Amazing Spider-Man #34, Mar. 1966

Scripted and edited by: Stan Lee
Plotted and illustrated by: Steve Ditko
Lettered and relished by: Sam Rosen

three-stars

Hooray, it’s Kraven the Hunter, back again from his exile in Europe! Actually, he already came back and fought Iron Man, briefly. To be honest, it was more of Iron Man punching Kraven once, defeating him for good. It was pretty embarrassing, and I’m sure a guy with such a touchy attitude as Kraven is going to spend the rest of his life hunting down the Avenger!

Kraven returns to wreak vengeance on his arch-foe: Spider-Man! He… forgot about Iron Man, I guess. Must’ve been a pretty solid hit. Anyway, Kraven comes up with a brilliant plan: He dresses up like Spidey and starts pestering J. Jonah Jameson, not necessarily threatening him, just bugging him in public enough where it gives JJ enough ammo to turn him into a public menace in the pages of the Daily Bugle. It’s honestly a pretty good plan.

The real Spider-Man finally decides to do something about it and follows Kraven to an abandoned building, where he’s set up traps to defeat his foe. He also has some sort of jungle gas that nullifies Pete’s spider-sense! Unfortunately, Kraven just isn’t up to the physical test of fighting Spider-Man, and ends up getting his shit kicked. Once captured, he fesses up to the Spidey imitation, because he promised Spider-Man that he would if he was beaten. Now there’s a classy villain.

There’s relatively little Peter Parker drama in this issue, except that he FINALLY realizes that everyone in his college class hates him because he’s been distant recently while worrying about his aunt’s health. It’s nice to have a straightforward super-fight issue after the last couple super dramatic ones, the only thing I regret is that Kraven gets so easily beaten after his clearly well-thought-out plan. I just feel bad for the guy. Oh, and also we learn the reason Spider-Man ended up doing all those cameos on the Electric Company in the 70’s:

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Amazing Spider-Man #33, Feb. 1966

Amazing Spider-Man #33, Feb. 1966

Script and editing: Stan Lee
Plot and illustration: Steve Ditko
Bordering and lettering: Artie Simek
Reading and enjoying: That ol’ web-spinner– You!

This is an iconic issue in Spider-Man history. This is the kind of thing that people write scholarly papers about (I have literally read a couple that were about this issue, so I’m not being hyperbolic for the first time in history). It’s beautiful heroic storytelling, the type that a lot of people didn’t believe the medium was capable of doing previous to this. Stories like this are why the Silver Age of Comics is an interesting and important era, and it’s part of the reason I’m doing this whole thing in the first place.

Last issue, Spider-Man got stuck under a huge piece of machinery after a fight with Dr. Octopus. Exhausted, hurt, and in a seemingly impossible situation, Spidey thinks about his aunt’s illness and the cure he’s here to get for her, as well as how he felt when he was responsible for his uncle Ben’s death. He knows that he was given his powers for a reason, and that giving up after all he’s gone through is not an option. With a herculean effort, Spider-Man lifts the machinery above his head and manages to escape the flooding underwater base.

On his way out, he’s stopped by a group of Doc Ock’s henchmen, but Spidey is too tired and wounded to dispatch them with his usual flair. He almost gets knocked out by these street-level thugs, but fights wildly with every last ounce of strength. Spider-Man is so tired that he doesn’t even notice he’s beaten the goons until after they’re all on the ground and he’s still swinging wildly around. He manages to get the serum to Dr. Conners and he gets it to Aunt May and she gets cured and Peter Parker finally goes to bed.

It’s a pretty emotional story and it manages to trick the reader into actually worrying about Spider-Man being defeated before he can finish his task. That’s part of what makes Ditko’s run so impressive, Spidey fails every once in a while, and there are some serious repercussions when he does. At this stage, it’s plausible to believe that he could just collapse at any point and not be able to save his aunt in time. Of course he doesn’t, the good guy wins, but it’s got the perfect amount of tension that it tricks you long enough that you buy into it. It’s good shit.


Amazing Spider-Man #32, Jan. 1966

Amazing Spider-Man #32, Jan. 1966

Script & Editing by: Stan Lee
Plot & Illustration by: Steve Ditko
Lettering & Kibitzing by: Artie Simek

Damn, this is one emotionally-charged comic book. Watching Spider-Man get angry and going berserk on all the small-time crooks he comes across is something completely different than normal. I mean, most of the time when he gets mad it’s because he made a fool out of himself in front of a girl or J. Jonah Jameson stiffed him on a payment or something, and that’s more of an inner fuming than anything else. He gets fucking PISSED in this ish.

Aunt May is in the hospital and is very weak, and it turns out it’s because she somehow got some radioactive particles in her blood. How could that have happened? Maybe back when Peter Parker gave her a blood transfusion, and look, bub, he’s got radioactive blood! Well, that sucks, Pete is pretty much directly responsible for his aunt’s sickness. He gets the idea to call in a favor from Dr. Curt Connors, whom he saved from being the Lizard a while back. Connors orders some radioactive isotope that he needs in his serum, but it gets hijacked by the Master Planner’s gang.

So now Spider-Man is pissed. The Master Planner’s guys have been bugging him for a while now, and he doesn’t exactly know where they are. He starts tearing through all the crooks he can find near the waterfront, where he’s pretty sure the gang’s hideout is, but none of them know the Master Planner’s deal, either. After a couple days of this brutal interrogation, Spidey finally stumbles across their hideout and just beats the shit out of them. He finally meets the Master Planner, who turns out to be Dr. Octopus, but fights him off with such ferocity that Doc Ock just runs away. Unfortunately, Spidey causes a cave-in in the underwater base and gets trapped under a huge piece of metal.

This is the lead-in to one of the most famous Spider-Man moments, which’ll be in the next issue, with Spidey stuck under this piece of metal. It’s just this hugely powerful thing, this superhero being trapped and slowly drowning, knowing that his beloved aunt is dying because of him and the cure sitting mere feet away from him. This is why people love Spider-Man.


Amazing Spider-Man #31, Dec. 1965

Amazing Spider-Man #31, Dec. 1965

Masterful script by: Stan Lee
Magnificent artwork by: Steve Ditko
Mellifluous lettering by: Sam Rosen

I’m not really sure what the lofty title “If This Be My Destiny” is referring to here, but whatever. In this issue, Peter Parker starts college at Empire State University, where he meets some characters named Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn, neither of which will eventually become hugely important in the franchise.

On Pete’s first day of college, his elderly and frankly creepy Aunt May falls ill and has to be hospitalized. The doctor’s don’t have a diagnosis yet, but they suspect that it has something to do with her ridiculous age. Seriously, she must’ve been like thirty years older than Peter’s parents of which she is supposed to be a contemporary. Anyway, he’s worrying about her so he ignores his new classmates and they hate him instantly.

On the Spider-Man front, he fights some random lackeys a couple times who keep talking about working at the whim of some clown named “the Master Planner”, who keeps not accounting for Spider-Man. Is he as bad at planning as the Mad Thinker? I guess we’ll find out next issue!

I’m not sure if a guy “giving Gwen Stacy a tumble” means something completely different in the 60’s, or if it still doesn’t mean that nowadays and I’m just being filthy. In either case, what a great way to introduce Gwen Stacy, a girl who eventually falls off a bridge and dies!


Amazing Spider-Man #30, Nov. 1965

Amazing Spider-Man #30, Nov. 1965

Heroically edited and written by: Stan Lee
Homerically plotted and drawn by: Steve Ditko
Hastily lettered and bordered by: Artie Simek

The villain in this issue, “The Cat Burglar” or just “The Cat”, is a bit of a throwaway villain. He’s not really interesting in his own rights, but putting him as just another guy for Spidey to try and stop works well at this point in the overarching story. I’ve noticed that since Steve Ditko started taking over the plotting for Spider-Man, there’ve been a lot more common thugs and gangsters than there have been super villains. Interesting.

A cat burglar– excuse me, THE cat burglar, breaks into J. Jonah Jameson’s office and cleans out his safe. In response, JJ announces that there’ll be a $1,000 reward for the first person to catch the thief, and the idea of having him have to pay Spider-Man for the capture just appeals to Peter Parker so much he makes it his top priority.

At least, it starts that way. He gets distracted when he learns that Betty Brant was been proposed to by Ned Leeds, the other guy who’s been trying to woo her besides Petey. He decides to tell her that he’s Spider-Man so she’ll marry him instead, but before he can she blurts out that she hates Spider-Man and adventure and just wants a dull life. It finally hits Pete that it just wouldn’t work out between the two of them, and sullenly leaves her alone. Oh, and he helps the cops catch the Cat Burglar, but because the police bring him in, JJ doesn’t have to give out any reward money.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that Spider-Man’s sense of humor is fully developed at this point. He’s always been a guy who makes fun of his enemies while fighting them, sure, but that’s true of just about EVERY superhero that Stan Lee writes. By this point, Spidey has evolved a different sense of humor about himself and his enemies, and it’s much more… I’m not sure what a good for it would be. Cutting? It’s a little crazier, and it feels like he’s actually kinda venting instead of just light-heartedly poking at foes. Which makes perfect sense! Peter Parker’s life is nothing but shit, so when he’s Spider-Man he gets to feel powerful and be the guy in charge of the situation.