The Spider-Man Challenge Day 13: Amazing Spider-Man #12

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

KISS HIM JONAH

Synopsis:                                                                   PREVIOUSLY

"Special insert: Spider-Man blows!"

After a brief recap, our issue begins at the offices of the Daily Bugle. Spider-Man’s there to dish some payback on Jameson for his negative coverage and Betty Brant arrives in the nick of time to get her old job back (her replacement quit in a huff). Spider-Man changes back to Peter to talk to Betty and Jameson curmudgeons him out of the office. Meanwhile, Doctor Octopus is on the road:

Your helicopters. ALL OF THEM. They belong to Doctor Octopus.

Doc Ock is committing a string of crimes as he makes his way through the country, hoping to attract Spider-Man, but with no luck. He decides to head to New York and find him. Back at home, Aunt May feels Peter’s forehead and notices it’s alittle warm.  Later, at Midtown high, Peter overhears Liz and Flash reading the newest Bugle anti-Spider-Man article and, after bickering with Flash, we get this gem:

Shut up Peter

Peter heads back to the Bugle, when suddenly Doc Ock shows up and starts messin’ up the place. Octavius kidnaps Betty and tells Jameson to print a challenge to Spider-Man to meet him at Coney Island and to send a photographer to take pictures or the girl dies. Jameson decides to cover the battle himself first hand and sends Peter as his photographer. Spider-Man arrives, but feels inexplicably weak. He attacks Doc Ock, but loses badly.

Unprofessional

And then THIS HAPPENS

Everyone's dumber in comics

Doctor Octopus leaves to find the “real” Spider-Man and everyone just assumes Peter  was “posing” as Spider-Man. Peter goes to the hospital and is told he has a 24 hour virus. A police officer takes him home and Peter rests/yells at himself in his dreams.

THE HEART, PARKER!

The next morning, Peter feels great! Aunt May somehow found out about what happened and scolds him for dressing up like “that DREADFUL Spider-Man!”, but Peter lies to her and throws out a bundle of rags he claims are the costume. Peter arrives at school and everyone’s talking about what happened. Flash rags on him, but Liz Allan is genuinely impressed and even goes so far as to dump Flash on the spot. Doc Ock is furious for being made a fool and unleashes some dangerous animals from a zoo. Liz tries to walk home with Peter, but he escapes while she’s distracted by Flash. He changes into Spider-Man and stumbles onto the escaped animals and, one by hone, rounds them up. Doc Ock continues on his destructive tantrum and Spider-Man shows up to fight him, now at full strength. The fight leads into an empty sculptor’s studio and some knocked over chemicals lead to a fire. The fire rages out of control and Spidey has to flee before he can rescue Octavius. Luckily, some firemen pull him out and deliver him to the police, with Octavius complaining that the fight wasn’t fair. Peter “shows up” and Liz invites him to a party, but, in a display of profound dickery, tells her off and leaves to find Betty.

burnt

Observations:

  • This issue marks the first time Spider-Man is unmasked and, I have to say, everyone refusing to believe he’s Spider-Man is pretty genius. I also like that it had some consequence, even if  it was just having Liz now be a romantic interest for Peter.
  • This is the first use of what becomes the standard Doc Ock costume. Boring, but I can see why they used a simple to draw/color green onesie.
  • Betty sure got over her brother pretty quickly, huh?
  • That Billy Graham line will never not be funny.

Final Thoughts: This is a really solid issue and one that’s pretty needed after the heaviness of last issue. The escaped animal bit felt like filler, but it wasn’t terrible or anything. The highlight of the issue is definitely the unmasking and it alone makes this issue pretty important continuity-wise. Monday: Be there for the first appearance of Mysterio. Will there be fog machines? It’s pretty likely.

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The Spider-Man Challenge Day 4: Amazing Spider-Man #3


THE PENETROCOILS OF PROFESSOR RAPETOPUS

With this issue, Lee and Ditko began to focus on longer, more detailed stories in place of two shorter ones.

“Spider-Man Versus Doctor Octopus”

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Steve Ditko

Synoposis: Brilliant Atomic Researcher Otto Octavius, developer of an incredible set of robotic arms, is horribly injured in a radiation accident. Because of the accident, a brain damaged and deranged Octavius discovers he can mentally control his metal appendages (now welded to his body). Taking the nickname his coworkers had teased him with, “Doctor Octopus” takes several members of the hospital staff hostage. Charged by J. Jonah Jameson to get snapshots of Octavius in the hospital, Spider-Man arrives on the scene and, after a brief fight, is left humiliated and, for the first time, defeated.  Doctor Octopus leaves and takes control of a nuclear plant while Peter Parker mopes.

:/

The Governor decides to send in The Fantastic Four’s own Johnny Storm to take down the multi-limbed mad man. However, since he needs a few days to charge his flame, Storm gives a lecture to Midtown High. This gives Peter the confidence he needs to once again confront Octavius. In a showdown at the nuclear plant, Spider-Man runs through a gauntlet before finally reaching his multi-armed foe. Using a combination of punches, webbing, and a quickly developed chemical that fuses his metal arms, Spidey emerges victorious and ends the adventure by thanking a confused Human Torch.

Observationss:

  • I think the choice to go with one story over two smaller stories makes for much better stories, mostly because Lee/Ditko are able to flesh things out when they have the space to do so.
  • This the first appearance of Doctor Octopus, obviously. He really is one of the great Spider-Man rogues, awesome gimmick, dynamic characterization, and a challenging threat. I like how Doc Ock’s evil comes from brain damage and that his plan is so simple and short sighted because of it. To me, the best Doctor Octopus stories are the ones where he’s motivated by pride instead of money or anything like that. That he’s a bad guy because he thinks he’s better than everyone else isn’t maybe the unique when you look at Doctor Doom or Magneto, but it really works for the character.
  • Looking at this issue again, it’s crazy that after so many attempts at a “realistic” Doctor Octopus costume, no one thought to try something like his white uniform here instead of the boring trench coat ensembles seen in the movies and several comics. It looks good and, frankly, ages really well.
  • The Spider-Light or whatever it is so hilariously dumb. So he just stands on top of buildings, pointing his crotch at buildings until the police arrive? I like it better when he leaves a note personally, but THIS is gold:

    Criminals fear Spider-Man's thunder.

  • Man, Peter Parker is just a sad sack for the bulk of this issue. It’s a testament to Lee as a writer though that he continues to show him as a very human super-hero. You didn’t see this kind of protagonist self-doubt over in Justice League of America, certainly.
  • Ditko deserves some serious credit here on art. He really makes use of Doc Ock’s arms, they’re always doing something. The end of the issue fight sequence is easily the best one to date and Ditko draws the heck out of it.
  • So wait, they decide to wait for a few DAYS to send in the Human Torch because he’s got some kind of virus? The government was content to leave a literal mad scientist in charge of a nuclear reactor until one dude got well enough? Yikes.
  • This is the first issue with a letter column and the 60’s era Marvel letter columns are pretty amusing. They’re either super-positive or incredibly harsh. What always surprises me is that there are generally a pretty good number of letters from women.

Final Thoughts: This is a great issue and you really get the sense that Lee/Ditko are getting comfortable as storytellers here. Tomorrow: One of my personal favorites, Sandman. Be there.

Nothing is as humiliating as the pimp hand of a tubby scientist