The Spider-Man Challenge: Monday through Friday, I read a Stan Lee-written issue of Amazing Spider-Man and write crap about it.
Look, I’m going to level with you guys. The mailman brought an enormous stack of cheap tpbs (reviews forthcoming) and the Mattel Peter Venkman figure (review definitely forthcoming) to my doorstep today, so it’s because I love you all so much and that I haven’t retreated into my hermit crab shell and spaced out. But, because I should, because it’s THE RIGHT THING TO DO, and because I promised I would, I bring you today’s issue of Spider-Man.
“Duel With Daredevil”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
Synopsis: Our issue starts off with Aunt May bugging Peter about calling Mary Jane Watson. Peter says he already has a girlfriend and Aunt May more or less calls him a square.
He switches into Spider-Man and gets some fresh air in the city, and is happy to forget about his problems by beating on some nearby robbers. The hoods threaten a blind man standing in their way and Spider-Man swings down and takes them down “like a task force!”. The two men get to talking:
The blind man walks into an alley and opens his suit to reveal that he’s actually the costumed crime fighter Daredevil. Using his enhanced senses, he makes some observations about Spider-Man:
Daredevil decides to head back to the offices of Murdock and Nelson, where his alter-ego of Matt Murdock is a lawyer, and uses the trip to helpfully explain to the reader his powers: His sense of hearing, smell, and taste are enhanced to a super-human level and can even “see” the shape of objects with his “radar-like” perception. He changes back to his alter-ego and greets supporting cast members Foggy Nelson (Holy crap Silver Age Foggy is skinny) and secretary/love interest/future-junkie/love interest Karen Page. Foggy and Karen invite Matt to the circus, but he declines out of his secret love for Karen. The focus shifts over to a New York arena, where The Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime are preparing for a big show. The Ringmaster, still sore from his defeat at the hands of The Hulk back in his first appearance, decides to advertise that Spider-Man will be there to draw a crowd (Note: The Ringmaster is apparently an idiot -Max). Peter sees the ad and decides to show up and do the charity show, figuring it’ll give him some good publicity. Peter tells Jonah he’s going and Jonah tells him to get lost and tells him not to take any Spider-Man pictures(“maybe if I stop writing about him, that publicity hound will go to some OTHER city”). Betty invites Peter and Aunt May over to her place for a spaghetti dinner, but Peter has to decline. She sees his circus ticket fall out of his pocket and, as with every issue, becomes upset and accuses him of seeing another girl.Back at the law firm of Nelson & Murdock, Foggy discovers that Spider-Man will be performing at the circus and Matt decides to join them. Later, Peter notices Matt walk by him at the circus and wonders why his spider-sense is going off, but he brushes it off and gets ready. The Ringmaster tell his stooges to stall the audience until it fills up. Spider-Man comes out and everyone cheers, much to his surprise. He does tricks for the audience and Karen Page wonders how Matt can even appreciate the show. The Ringmaster is surprised to see Spider-Man actually there, but decides to go ahead with the scheme and uses his hypnosis hat on the arena, Spider-Man included.
The only member of the audience not hypnotized is Matt, who quickly changes to Daredevil and confronts The Ringmaster. Ringmaster panics when his hat doesn’t work on Daredevil and orders Spider-Man to attack him. The two fight through out the big top and Daredevil holds his own until he is able to grab the Ringmaster’s hat and use it on Spider-Man.
Spider-Man thanks Daredevil for saving him and they take on the entire Circus of Crime. Daredevil notices that Spider-Man has everything well in hand and uses the opportunity to change back to Matt Murdock.
Spider-Man finally chases down The Ringmaster, who tries to hypnotize him again, but is Spider-Man closes his eyes and sock him in the face. He takes the hat and uses it to undo the hypnosis and we get this awesome panel:
The issue ends with the police arriving, Matt giving The Ringmaster his card, and Spider-Man notes that between Betty getting angry and Aunt May’s nagging, “fighting for my life was the most fun I had all day!”.
- Not much to say here, really. This is the first time Spider-Man and Daredevil team-up and it’s cool to see where their longstanding friendship emerged from. Daredevil as a 60’s character is pretty mind blowing when you realize he’s one of the first super-heroes with a physical disability. No matter what anyone says, I love that yellow costume. It’s got character.
- The Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime are great, D-list villains and they’re perfect for stories like this.
- Spider-Man makes an off-hand reference to Thor in this issue, which I thought was a nice little touch. Marvel really perfected the idea of shared continuity and it feels so natural because of stuff like this.
Final Thoughts: Pretty straight-forward, fun issue and a very good team-up comic. However, tomorrow’s comic is the first Spider-Man annual, featuring The Sinister Six and, man, it fucking rules.