The Spider-Man Challenge Day 8: Amazing Spider-Man #7

The Spider-Man Challenge: Monday through Friday, I read a Stan Lee-written issue of Amazing Spider-Man and write crap about it.

Spider-Man hates old people and old people hate Spider-Man

“The Return Of The Vulture”

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Steve Ditko

Synopsis: The Vulture poses as a model prisoner to gain access to the prison machine shop, rebuilds a rough version of his flying harness and escapes. Peter Parker over hears this during gym class and fakes a headache to investigate. Spidey attempts to use his patented magnetic inverter again, not realizing The Vulture has adapted his new suit to overcome it. He catches the wall-crawler by surprise and leaves him on a rooftop with a sprained arm.

SMACK

Peter arrives home, but narrowly avoids Aunt May by sticking to the ceiling. Later, at The Daily Bugle, A skeptical Betty Brant teases Peter about spraining his arm in a “volley ball game”. Jameson calls Peter into his office to discuss some Vulture photos, only for the real Vulture to show up and demand the payroll. Peter slinks off and makes a sling out of his webbing before swinging back into The Bugle to confront The Vulture. The two fight through the Bugle’s offices all the way down to the printing presses. The fight spills out into the sky, where The Vulture attempts to drop Spider-Man, only to be foiled when his wings are pinned with webbing. Spider-Man saves them both with a timely web-parachute. With The Vulture taken care of Jameson calls Spider-Man over (he thinks to apologize), but instead yells at him for the damage to his offices. A fed-up Spidey webs his mouth shut. Sneaking back in the office as Peter Parker, he finds Betty sitting behind a desk. When asked where he went, Peter sheepishly responds he hid in a closet and that he’s “just not the heroic type”. Betty says neither is she and that’s what she likes about him. The two sit together while a silent Jameson fumes.

Observations:

  • This issue goes by really quickly, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It keeps a good pace and feels less sluggish than some of the previous stories.
  • I feel like this issue does a great job of fleshing out The Vulture. He’s entirely motivated by money and, to a lesser extent, revenge on Spider-Man. This isn’t the most original motivation by any means, but The Vulture’s straightforwardness as a character is one of the things I dig about him. No tragic backstory, he’s just a miserable old asshole.
  • Easily the most homoerotic imagery of any Spidey story yet:

Here

and here

...and here

Climax

  • This issue has the ¬†first “Peter hides on the ceiling to avoid someone in his daily life” which becomes a recurring element in the comics, even showing up in the first movie.
  • Jonah getting his mouth webbed shut is priceless.

The rage...the anger.

  • Lastly, the Betty/Peter dynamic in this issue completely made the issue for me. I’ve always felt that Lee did a great job creating a bittersweet, realistic romance between them and I’m excited to reread it. It’s one of those things that, to me, makes silver-age Marvel so great. From Lee’s dialogue to the Ditko’s layout, the last panel is just perfect:

Final Thoughts: This is actually the first issue of Spider-Man I ever read, I’m pretty sure I owned a reprint of this. This is a brisk, fun issue and it’s always fun to see an issue where everything goes Peter’s way. Tomorrow, ¬†“A SALUTE TO TEENAGERS”. I’ll leave you with some proof of Peter Parker’s undeniable love for Queen:

This is a man who owns the VHS, Laserdisc and DVD of Highlander.

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The Spider-Man Challenge Day 3: Amazing Spider-Man #2

“AHH A HANDFUL OF FEATHERS NOOO!!”

In this issue, Spider-Man fights the elderly!

“Duel To The Death With The Vulture!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Steve Ditko

Synopsis: Daring super-villain The Vulture embarks on a series of daring heists in broad daylight. As no one can get a good picture of the flying crook, Peter seizes the opportunity. Fight ensues, Spider-Man gets tossed in a water tower and retreats to come up with a plan. Using a “magnetic inverter”, Spidey defeats The Vulture and manages to snap some pictures for J. Jonah Jameson. The issue ends with Peter paying off a year’s worth of rent for Aunt May and The Vulture in prison, plotting revenge.

Observations:

  • The Vulture is a character that writers in general aren’t sure what to do with. In the 90’s, tried to de-age him and currently we’ve got a completely new guy rocking the moniker. I think this issue demonstrates why he’s such a great natural foe for Spider-Man. The Vulture, along with The Chameleon, is the start of the series of predator-themed villains that make up the Spidey rogues gallery. He’s got a FANTASTIC look to him, great design on Ditko’s part. And a croneish old man is the perfect adversary for the fun and youthful Peter Parker.
  • It’s fascinating to me that Spider-Man doesn’t even think about, you know, stopping The Vulture until he gets attacked. Stan Lee knows how to write teenagers.
  • Even though he came up with his web shooters back in AF#15, I feel this issue (both stories, really) is the first real demonstration of Peter’s scientific¬†ingenuity, which I feel is a great aspect to the character that’s underutilized frequently.
  • Jonah’s back, though I hadn’t realized that the Daily Bugle hadn’t showed up at this point. Funny that they keep NOW magazine and use it later on as mag that Ms.Marvel edits. This is also of course the start of the working relationship between Jonah and Peter, though the whole “anonymity” thing is kind of weak, I’m glad it’s dropped later on.

“The Uncanny Threat Of The Terrible Tinkerer”

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Steve Ditko

Synopsis: While working as a lab assistant for “famous electronics expert” Professor Cobbwell, Peter Parker discovers that a local repairman and junk merchant (know only as “The Tinkerer”) is actually conspiring with aliens to steal military secrets (Cold War!). Spider-Man goes to investigate, gets captured, escapes, wrecks some dudes, gets left holding a mask of The Tinker’s face. Weird story all around.

  • Can we just talk about the design on The Tinkerer? It’s wonderful.Definitely one of Ditko’s best character designs, totally underrated. Love those eyebrows.

  • The aliens in this issue really feel out of place, which is probably why Wikipedia tells me they were retconned to be costumed henchman (one of them was even a pre-Mysterio Quentin Beck, even!). It’s even stranger that The Tinkerer went on to become if not a popular villain, then at least a well-used one.
  • With this issue, it seems like Lee’s finally cemented Spider-Man as a straightforward hero, even though he just seems to kind of stumble into trouble instead of patrolling.
  • For some reason, I expected Peter to have ditched the glasses by now. How does he see when he’s wearing the mask? Maybe it’s a Clark Kent thing, like he doesn’t actually need them?

Final Thoughts: A solid issue. The Vulture portion’s stronger than the Tinkerer story, but the run’s moving along nicely. Tomorrow’s the first Doctor Octopus story and it’s real good. Be there.

Gaaah