The Spider-Man Challenge Day 2: Amazing Spider-Man #1

Spider-Man's real power is Spirit Fingers.

The try-out issue being a success, Marvel launched an ongoing Spider-Man series the following year.

“Spider-Man”

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Steve Ditko

Synopsis: The first story spends a couple pages recapping the origin before launching into the main plot. With no one to provide for his aunt, Peter tries to make some money by doing Spider-Man shows, only to find himself blackballed by publisher J. Jonah Jameson. When Jameson’s astronaut son is stuck in a malfunctioning space capsule, it’s up to the web slinger to save him.

Observations:

  • This issue features the first appearance of two major Spider-Man supporting cast members: Continual pain in the ass J. Jonah Jameson and John “Future Space Werewolf” Jameson. I remembered John being in the issue, but I hadn’t realized Jonah had had such a major role.
  • Probably because of the first movie, but I had completely forgotten that Peter tried to keep doing showbiz stuff after Uncle Ben died.
  • This, more than the previous issue, is really the first appearance of the “Classic Parker Luck”, the idea that the universe constantly shits on Peter Parker for all the good he does. Here, despite saving his son, J. Jonah Jameson still villifies Spider-Man in the media, to the point that even (DRAMATIC IRONY) Aunt May hates that “awful Spider-Man!”.
  • Ditko’s art is coming along nicely, he comes up with a consistent “look” for Peter and Aunt May. The capsule rescue portions are probably the highlight of the issue for me.
  • I really love how much of a downer some of the first few issues of the classic Marvel stuff is; Tony Stark thinks he can’t removed the Iron Man suit or he’ll die, Ben Grimm can’t change back to his human self, and here, Peter Parker legitimately wonders if he’s better off as a criminal. I LOVE that element, if nothing else, you can see why people went ape-shit when stuff like this and Fantastic Four came out. You didn’t see that sort of depth in other comics.

“The Chameleon Strikes!”/”Spider-Man Vs The Chameleon”

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Steve Ditko

Synopsis: Peter decides to try to get a paying gig with the Fantastic Four, only to get framed by Russian collaborator The Chameleon. Spider-Man ends up fighting both of them and leaving pissed, even after The Chameleon’s scheme to steal military secrets is foiled.

Observations:

  • This story features the first real Spider-Man villian (well, unless you count J. Jonah. And I guess technically Spider-Man’s fought John Jameson a few times later…whatever). The Chameleon is one of my favorite Spidey foes, but really, most of the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man bad guys are pretty great. A good gimmick that allows for some interesting plot maneuvers.
  • The Fantastic Four’s appearance here is pretty important. It’s not the first time established Marvel characters showed up in another characters book (that probably goes to the appearance of Namor in Fantastic Four #4) but you can really feel a cohesive “universe” being put together here, which is, in my opinion, one of the strongest aspects of classic Marvel. I dug how Lee/Ditko don’t take the easy way out here and have Spider-Man and the FF become friends or resolve their differences or something. It just ends with Spider-Man running off and the Fantastic Four feeling bad about the whole thing. When you look at how their relationship has developed since then, it makes their later professional relationship/friendship seem really organic.
  • Again, the issue ends with some uncertainty about whether Spider-Man’s going to actually become something dangerous. Lee was really writing some groundbreaking stuff here.

Final Thoughts: Amazing Spider-Man #1 is really the proper start to the Lee/Ditko run and it does a great job of establishing elements that really “make” Spider-Man. Thoughts?