“The Menace of…Mysterio!”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
Synopsis: The issue begins with a bombshell: Spider-Man’s turned to crime!
Everyone is in shock! J. Jonah Jameson has his old Spider-Man editorials reprinted “So everyone can see how right I was!”. Peter sits alone in a classroom and comes to the conclusion that he may be becoming a “split personality?? Like Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde?”. Back at home, Peter keeps dropping dishes! Aunt May comments that he must be worried about something, like their swiftly dwindling mortgage. Peter goes to bed and manages to fall asleep, but wakes up in the morning to discover that Spider-Man has committed yet another crime! Peter, as Spider-Man, decides to drop in on a psychiatrist and we get this profoundly uncomfortable panel:
Spider-Man wisely leaves before the doctor can take advantage of him (haha) and Peter ends up at the Daily Bugle. Peter, in an incredible asshole move, snaps at Betty Brant and she’s surprised and hurt. Peter goes to Jonah and asks him for an advance on some photos so he can help with the mortgage. Jonah tells him no dice unless he reveals to him how he gets those great action shots. Peter leaves, switches to Spider-Man, and is nearly killed by a lynch mob! He switches back to his civvies and is chased down by Liz Allan, who flirts with him. Flash shows up and Liz continues to blow him off. Back at The Daily Bugle, the GOB Bluth of Spider-Man foes makes his dramatic first appearance!
Mysterio declares that he is Mysterio and gives Jameson some written instructions…THAT DISAPPEAR BEFORE HIS VERY EYES.
Peter sees the notice in the paper and Spider-Man meets Mysterio on top of the Brooklyn Bridge. Mysterio attacks him and his tricks make it so that Spider-Man can’t even land a blow.
Spider-Man flees, taking comfort in the fact that atleast he knows he isn’t crazy. The next day, Mysterio gets a parade!
Peter, Flash and co watch the parade, but Flash isn’t convinced that Spider-Man’s a crook. At The Bugle, Mysterio arrives for a meet and greet with the staff and Peter manages to slip a spider-tracer onto his cloak. Betty and Peter run into each other and Peter takes off quickly to nab Mysterio. Betty worries that he may be seeing another girl! Spider-Man tracks Mysterio to a “TV Movie studio”. Mysterio disorients and beats Spider-Man again and he takes the opportunity to monologue:
Mysterio was the imposter Spider-Man the entire time and his seemingly magic illusions were gimmicks he created. Spider-Man reveals he’s been recording him this entire time and punches Mysterio so hard HE FLIES INTO THE STUDIO.
The two fight through the studio until Spider-Man beats him. He grabs his camera and Mysterio, dropping off the latter at the police station along with his tape recorder. Jameson finds out he was wrong about Mysterio and walks back to his office in shame. He discovers Peter’s photos on his desk and cheers up, but a fed up Spider-Man arrives and once again tells off Jonah for slandering him.
Peter comes across Liz and Flash discussing Spider-Man’s innocence and has a laugh at his high school nemesis and his devotion to his super-hero alter ego.
- You know, I forgot how awesome Mysterio is. Ditko’s design just kicks ass and totally plays to his weirdo-strengths. Stuff like the almost constant fog and the eyes on the suit just give off this weird, otherworldy vibe. Lee writes him as this scene-chewing asshole magician and it’s just great.
- Another important thing about this issue: Liz and Betty get new haircuts!
- The thing that really struck me about this issue was how…different Ditko’s art looks. I can’t quite place it, but it feels more detailed. There’s way more close ups, I feel. It’s not bad, just…different. Chalk it up to evolving art styles.
Final Thoughts: Fun villain, fun issue, a classic for sure. Tomorrow: The Enforcers! The Green Goblin! AND The Hulk! Let’s do this!