Young vs. Old Part II: Spider-Man and the Terrible Debut of the Tinkerer

Well well! So teacher’s pet is gonna help the nice little doctor with some experiments this week-end, eh? While us other dumbheads waste time having dates and livin’ it up – FLASH THOMPSON

Journey Into Marvel – Part 83

Extremites, the Tinkerer’s, the antagonist of the B-Story in the second issue of Amazing Spider-Man, conflict is the same as the Vulture. It is based on age.

Zzzaaap. Zzzap

Zzzaaap. Zzzap

It is difficult to assign an overarching villain in Spider-Man comics because there are so many antagonistic characters. J. Jonah Jameson, who is often more comedic, functions as a foil to the escapades of Spidey.

Flash Thompson is the one antagonist Spider-Man can never combat because his opposition is with Peter Parker and not the alter-ego. If Peter ever made a move to defeat Flash this would somehow cross a line. Flash is an annoying little twerp and he’s confusing to me. Stan Lee writes him all over the place. His motivations are unclear. In this story Flash harasses Peter for being chosen for the apprenticeship but also because he — Flash — was not chosen. He’s both jealous of Peter and intimated by him. Within in panels he calls science both ‘too cool’ for Peter and also ‘a lame/boring pursuit.’ He is opposed to Peter in anything he does. I guess, this makes sense because high school bullies, and I had a few, never make sense.

Stan Lee describes the Tinkerer, in both caption and dialogue as a ‘kookie character.’ He’s a little man that works on mechanics all day and resembles the sort of old man you might see in an illustrated Grimm’s Fairytale. With the help of some incognito aliens he is designing a listening device that he puts into all the radios that he works on — his clientele is a collection of the best minds of New York City — to gather intelligence for the alien race. Just what these aliens intend to do with this information is unclear. Stan never explains it and it’s just expected that reader doesn’t question why aliens are there. By this point a Marvel reader would understand that thousands of alien races are invading the United States every month.

Aliens stand in for ‘Red Paranoia.’ Go to one of my many other articles on this topic for a more in depth look.

Spider-Man senses something is not quite right with the old man. Hell, he looks so very off because Steve Ditko knows how to draw a villain. The bulk of the story is given to the hijinks of Spider-Man as he leaps out of the way of the aliens to who try to catch him. Peter uses his extra senses to dodge punches and magnetic weapon. This story introduces the concept of the ‘spider sense’ which would figure as a major plot point in most later issues.

Sidenote: Peter Parker’s extra sense had been shown before in earlier issues but this the first time Stan actually gives it the moniker “spider sense.”

During this fight there’s some great humour; when the aliens decide to use that tried and true tactic of rushing the hero. Spider-Man mocks them for this tactic calling it  ‘the oldest trick in the book.’ It’s moments like this that show that Stan Lee knew he was not the greatest writer in the world and used to humour to make to diffuse criticism. I applaud him for that.

The mask.... what?

The mask…. what?

The ending of the story is the most troublesome part.  Spider-Man holds up a mask that resembles the face of the Tinkerer. We were never shown his de-masking and I guess we are to assume that the Tinkerer was an alien as well. I don’t know why this ambiguity was written in. Ambiguity leads to a character being used again in the future, I guess.

Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds.

Story I Read:The Uncanny Threat of the Terrible Tinkerer” (Amazing Spider-Man #2 May 1963)

Rating: 1 out of 5 (Would have been 0 but I appreciate the humour)

Pros: Steve Ditko’s art is even better.

Cons: This story makes little sense. It’s rushed and insignificant. Lots of over used tropes.

Next Review:The Red Ghost And His Indescribable Super-Apes!” (Fantastic Four #13 Apr. 1963)

Last Review:Duel to the Death With The Vulture” (Amazing Spider-Man #2 May 1963)


About Julian Munds

I possess a degree in Theatre and Drama from the University of Toronto. I own my own theatre company called Snobbish Theatre. We focus our work on new versions of classics.

Posted on June 30, 2015, in Marvel, Spider-Man, Tinkerer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. The aliens in this story were later retconned into human criminals who were only disguised as aliens to confuse the authorities. Which I guess makes a certain kind of sense, considering how many actual aliens were already hanging around on Earth. I’m trying to recall, but I think one of the “aliens” in this story was later retroactively revealed to be Mysterio shortly before he began his career as a fishbowl-headed supervillain. And the Tinkerer has shown up more times than I can count over the decades, supplying al sorts of criminals with sci-fi gadgets & costumes.

  1. Pingback: Young vs. Old Part I: The Debut of Spider-Man’s Vulture | THE EXTREMIS REVIEW

  2. Pingback: Monkeying Around On The Moon: The Fantastic Four and the Space Race | THE EXTREMIS REVIEW

  3. Pingback: A more recent discrimination: Old Age | From guestwriters

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