Category Archives: Spider-Man

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

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Young vs. Old Part I: The Debut of Spider-Man’s Vulture

Nothing I like better than taunting my enemies! – The Vulture.

The Vulture vs. Spider-Man

The Vulture vs. Spider-Man

Journey Into Marvel – Part 82

Extremites, Spider-Man’s age defines him. Most of his early conflicts centre around some disparity with age. This  is clear in this story where Vulture, Spider-Man’s first super powered villain, debuts.

Like Vulture, J. Jonah is out of step with the youth and wants to see their kind erased from the face of New York. His outrageous vendetta against Spider-Man is unexplained; it just is. In last issue Spider-Man saved his son from certain death. He should be grateful to him. Peter Parker decides to sell pictures of Spider-Man to triple J.  Peter Parker is in this game for personal gain. Read the rest of this entry

How the Debut of Amazing Spider-Man Signalled a Coming Change At Marvel

Journey Into Marvel – Part 61

The Official First Spider-Man

The Official First Spider-Man

Extremites, up until now — aside from the tangent into 1963 when I couldn’t find the early issues — we’ve been progressing through the Marvel universe chronologically. The Marvel Universe doesn’t work like this. Some issues and stories occur before each other; regardless of date. This is why Amazing Spider-Man #1, which is issued March 1963, happens here even though my last review was issued December 1962.

SO TO SPIDER-MAN! Read the rest of this entry

Spider-Man: The Amazing Geek Fantasy

Journey Into Marvel – Part 43

The fateful spider bite that gave Peter Parker...

The fateful spider bite that gave Peter Parker his powers. Amazing Fantasy #15, art by Steve Ditko. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Extremites, I am sure you were like me: when you suffered the endless torture that was adolescence: you secretly wanted to be a superhero. You wanted to stretch out those gangly mismatched arms and smack those bullies into their own stupefaction. You wanted to clobber their asses. You wanted to uh…. Iron their uh… man.

Well, maybe not the last one but you get my point.

Teenagehood was hard. Especially for those who found themselves on the wrong side of high school. You know, the side that never gets a romantic partner or seems to become victimized for the clothes they wear or their affinity for reading or, in my case, my love affair with the theatre.

Probably, like me, you found your solace in realms of fantasy. Naturally, this need for fantasy led to comics. I assume it led to comics because you are here.

However, I don’t think comics were originally intended as ‘escapes for the disenfranchised teen.’ Take a look at Batman: he’s a rich playboy who gets all the girls and then goes on murderous rampages at night. That’s a character that is hard to sympathize with and one that doesn’t necessarily reflect those who read him. Sure, his parents are dead, and that’s sad, but his house is gorgeous and women love him.

What about Superman, his alter ego is a nerd, right?

No. Wrong.

Clark Kent is a character Kal-El puts on. He’s not really a marginalized person. Clark is just a person who looks nerdy because of some glasses. He’s just an alien pretending to be nerdy.

You’ll find these problems throughout the comic book medium. Unless, of course you have already encountered Spider-Man.

When Spider-Man debuted, in 1962, he was a wholly original super character. There was no direct DC counterpoint to Pete Parker as there had been, up to this point, with most of the new creations at Marvel. Pete was incredibly unique.

If you have followed this series on the regular you will have noticed that I often claim that the Human Torch is a forerunner to Spider-Man. This is accurate in regard to the fact they are both teenagers, and young sarcastic men, but it is inaccurate in regards to their social standing. Johnny is a popular daredevil type that functions as a kind of class clown, whereas Pete is a “bookworm.” He’s a young man who, rather then socializing, prefers to study his quiet pursuits. Naturally, this makes him the butt of anti-intellectual bullies like Flash Thompson.

Reading Spidey’s debut I am surprised to see the similarities of Johnny Storm to Flash.  He’s brash, thinks he is the most interesting guy in the room and also smarmy as hell. Flash is introduced in the first panel accosting Peter because a girl invited him out to dance. This is uncalled for abuse, not unlike the relentless abuse Torch hurls at Ben Grim in every issue. Torch is a bully. Flash is a bully. This is important.

The originality of Spider-Man

The originality of Spider-Man

What sets Peter Parker apart from the rest of Marveldom is that he understands what it’s like to be the little guy in the room. The guy that everyone picks on just because he dares to both think differently and be different. This explains why, after Pete gets bitten by a radioactive spider, he doesn’t immediately go on either a rampage or a justice fuelled quest. Rather, he becomes a wrestler to make some cash. Peter seeks out both applause and recognition for being ‘amazing.’ This is the ultimate goal of one who is marginalized in the teenage world, at least it was for me. Peter just wants to be loved, I just wanted to be loved.

In other articles, I have also suggested that the Human Torch’s solo adventures served as a kind of experiment to the youth oriented Amazing Spider-Man. That is not entirely correct, either. This debut predates the solo Strange Tales features, but it is not an official solo debut. Though Stan Lee and Steve Ditko intended for Spidey to be a bimonthly feature, they never thought that he would get his own focused title. He was meant to head the Amazing Fantasy title. Because of this story Spider-Man inspired a major fan response that led Marvel to pick him up on to a bimonthly solo title.

His sudden popularity stems from two aspects of the debut: first, the inherent relatability of the character and, second, his originality.

Out of the already presented heroes: Hulk and Fantastic Four — Ant-Man doesn’t count because his debut was not intended to be an origin story— Peter Parker is most like the readers.

Sure, I am generalizing some here, as there were plenty of readers who were both adult and female, but the nerdy male was a huge buying crowd, especially for the still niche Marvel comics. Peter Parker is a reflection of those readers. He is not always defined by idealism, like Superman or Batman, and he has a penchant to be petty. Notice the selfishness when Peter uses his newfound abilities to make cash before using it for good. It is not until he suffers his own  variation on the Batman origin story that he realizes the great power he possesses.

The Uncle Ben vendetta motivation that fills the bulk of this story; but, unlike the later retellings, Ben’s death is given one passing panel where a police officer describes how a criminal killed him. The vagary of the narrative is the result of an ethics code of the period that meant the story could not show death unless it be of an alien or some other clearly nonhuman character.

The Uncle Ben story is what makes Spider-Man so very original. Peter Parker causes Uncle Ben’s death. It’s an indirect causation, but it is causation none-the-less. This is what separates Peter from Bruce Wayne. Little Bruce did not make Joe Chill kill his parents. Spider-Man allowed a criminal to pass him by who later went on to kill his beloved Uncle. This is unique among the superhero world, thus far, and that, wrapped up with Spidey’s relatability, turned Spider-Man’s rather unassuming debut into a massive fan explosion.

There we have it.

Spider-Man is now on the scene and I can finally talk about the early days of the Marvel Universe, accurately.

Extremites, rather then continue to do what I have been doing in this series, jumping ahead to issues further in the Silver Age and off setting that by returning to the issues I missed early on because of my inability to find them, I am just going to continue ahead with these missed issues and finish them before going into 1964

Don’t be annoyed if I cover some familiar territory. I promise I’ll get to Daredevil, eventually, but it’s wrong of me to ignore the work of 1962/ Winter 1963 for more popular characters like X-Men and Daredevil.

With that I leave today’s journey here.

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

Story I Read:Spider-Man” (Amazing Fantasy #15, Aug. 1962)

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5.

Pros: The excellent realness of Peter Parker, the coherent simple storyline, the unexpected originality.

Cons: Flash Thompson feels two dimensional because he is. This remains a problem for the next many Spider-Mans.

Previous Review:The Terror of the Toad Men” (The Incredible Hulk #2, July 1962)

Upcoming Review:The Stone Men From Saturn” (Journey Into Mystery #83, Aug 1962)

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Preview: Peter Parker Returns in “Amazing Spider-Man #1”!

Felicity Jones to play The Black Cat in Amazing Spider-Man 2

This movie is becoming extraordinarily full of characters. I hope that this overload of characters will not hamper a good character driven story.

Why Spider-Man is the Only True Hero of the Marvel Silver Age

Journey Into Marvel

By: Julian Mundslizard04

Journey Into Marvel is nearing the turning of 1963/64; so I thought, in this article, I’d take a moment to make a couple conclusions about how the superheroes of the Marvel Silver Age are shaping up.

Being about 90 issues in to Marveldom, I have become grossly familiar with the Fantastic Four, Thor and Ant-Man; begun to crack the iron shell of Tony Stark; witnessed the limping survival of the Hulk and been introduced to the X-Men. Some of these heroes, namely Ant-Man and the Fantastic Four, have become tiresome to discuss on an issue to issue basis, some still manage to surprise me, like Thor, with their evolution. Tony Stark had a terrible haphazard debut but has recently become one of the best reads.

There is one character, however, that exists on a different plain of quality. One character that is not a mishmash of tired stereotypes and B-Movie sensibilities. That character is our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man: Peter Parker.

Spider-Man’s stories read so differently. They are extraordinarily rich in character development, heart, and political commentary. It is no wonder that today when you say ‘Marvel,’ most will reply ‘Spider-Man.’

Why is this?

Why is this outlaw, sardonic, teen nerd so clearly the best Marvel superhero?

This issue sheds some light into that.

A while a go, I wrote an article about when Human Torch faced the Eel.

In that issue, Torch sacrificed himself by flying astoundingly high to allow for the safe detonation of a nuclear weapon. This was so astronomically hight an altitude, that his flame would be snuffed out and thereby send him plummeting to his death. Torch sacrificed himself for the good of an hospital of orphans. So far this is the most truly heroic thing I have witnessed in my Journey Into Marvel.

Most of Marvel’s issues are match ups; where the hero faces off with an antagonist of the month. The issues are little more then wrestling tournaments.

Spider-Man’s early issues followed that theme, but as time went on, his stories became more varied. Often they are centered around Pete learning some lesson that shapes how a hero should act.

This is unusual in a world of brash creatures like Thor and the Fantastic Four that just destroy threats.

In this issue, Stan goes one step further and has Pete leave New York to help a supposed villain.

The Lizard is one of the quintessential Spider-Man villains. He’s not really a villain in the standard sense. More similar to corrupted force. He’s corrupted by his own scientific genius. Lizard is a an accidental creation, not unlike Bruce Banner/Hulk.

Having lost his arm, Dr. Curt Connors used his scientific skill to distill the essence that gives some reptiles the ability to respawn a lost limb. When he uses this reptile concoction on himself, it works, but it goes too far turning Curt into a reptile human hybrid. Being a mutation, Curt escapes into the tropical environment of the Everglades to hide from all the world. The reptilian corruption slowly morphs him into a more and more animalistic monster. ASM6_pnls

Peter, hearing of this creature, convinces J. Jonah Jamieson to pay his way down to the Orange State. Parker’s goal is to defeat the monster. When he gets there, and after some research, he discovers the Curt is just the victim of an experiment gone awry. So after meeting the abandoned Connors family, Spider-Man devotes his time to finding an antidote to cure Curt of his malady. That is the major point of the story. It chronicles Spider-Man’s attempts as he makes the antidote.

Spider-Man sacrifices his own life to help another. Curt is not thinking clearly, as the Lizard side is corrupting his human thoughts, making him extraordinarily dangerous. Peter decides to put himself in harm’s way.

There are many moments in this story when Spider-Man is nearly defeated.

Pete doesn’t need to do this. He doesn’t need to help this forlorn Doctor. But he does.

There is no return here for Spider-Man. He just does this because it is what a hero should do. His actions embody that old Uncle Ben mantra: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

What makes this an even greater act then what the Torch did, is the actuality that Torch’s action still came from a selfish place. He caused the Eel to threaten the orphan hospital with boastful claims about his being better then that criminal. So really, Johnny had to clean up his own mess when he challenged a clearly unhinged criminal.

Pete didn’t have go to Florida to interfere with the Lizard. After his first encounter with the Lizard, he also didn’t have use restraint in an effort to  research why the Lizard exists. Furthermore, Spider-Man doesn’t have to spend his time finding a cure. These are all selfless acts.

Spider-Man, through all his sardonicism and teenage arrogance, is actually a altruistic hero.

Why does Stan draw the distinction between this character and the other heroes of Marvel?

Perhaps, it is because in Pete’s life he is victimized and is very much not the bully.

He is able to see the motivations behind the victimization of the marginalized, which as I mentioned two days ago in my discussion of the Porcupine, is a major trait of supervillains. Perhaps, Spider-Man is what good guidance could do to a supervillain.

Human Torch is, at the end of the day, a bully. Just examine how he treats Ben Grimm.

Story I Read: “Face to Face with the Lizard!” (The Amazing Spider-Man #6 Nov. 1963)

Rating: 5 out 5

Pros: Just a wonderful adventure. All the characters are fully fleshed out. Curt Connors is wonderfully sympathetic and compelling. Pete’s final battle with Curt, as tries to force The Lizard to take his antidote is very well thought out.

Cons: Some of the art is rudimentary and the Lizard’s visage changes a lot. J. Jonah Jamieson is a jerk (not really a criticism, just a statement. It needs to be said.)

Preceding Review:The Porcupine” (Tales to Astonish #48 Oct. 1963)

Upcoming Review:Human Torch Meets… Captain America” (Strange Tales #114 Nov. 1963)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 teaser — now with 63% more amazing!

I am very excited for this!

blog into mystery

As someone who didn’t think the first Amazing Spider-Man was a total waste of time, but was less than enthused with the angsty elan of a skateboarding Peter Parker having fun beating people up — amongst other things — I can say that the above trailer for the senses-shattering sequel looks like less of the same (if that’s an actual phrase).

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And the New Amazing Spider-Man 2 Trailer is Here!

The trailer for Spidey is here! Looks very Ultimate!

Killing Time

Behold the first trailer for AMS2 in all its glory.  Brace for geeking in glorious HD!
Amazing Spider-Man 2, Electro, Rhino, Green Goblin, Spider-Man

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Spider-Man vs. The Human Torch: Who’s the Alpha Dog?

Journey Into Marvel

The Story I Read: “On The Trail of the Amazing Spider-Man.” (Strange Tales Annual #2 Oct 1963)

STann2_SpideyTorchSomething that a lot of modern comic book nerds, like myself, forget, when we look back at the work that was created in the Silver Age, is that these comics were originally intended for preteens. This explains the rather juvenile writing style and the, usually, clear three act structure. Violence, though prevalent, bends more to the slapstick then to the homicidal. Likewise, the characters were child friendly and accessible. Marvel went one step further and created two characters that were the readership’s ages or just a little older. Spider-Man and the Human Torch are around the same age but they couldn’t be more different. Where Human Torch is often brash and pig-headed, Spider-Man is logical and empathetic. Yet, both are written with a sardonic edge and both have pretty terrible tempers. Naturally, they are the perfect partners for each other and this issue pairs them up in flamboyant fashion. The pairing shows much more then their similarities with each other but also who is the alpha-hero between the two.

As I have said countless times before, the Human Torch is the flagship character of this period. He is cross sold through out all issues and the way his name is held in reverence by the contemporary characters borders only on the messianic. But as a character he, and this may just be me, is wholly unlikable. He’s self involved, arrogant and a fame whore. Not to mention, he’s also a bully. Mr. Storm does not deserve to be the central Marvel spirit and the readers were showing this in the way they spent their coin.

Spider-Man has only been featured in a monthly publication for two months as of October 1963, yet he has surpassed all preceding heroes. I believe this was because of two factors. One, Peter Parker is the victim of bullying rather then the bully, and, two, he possesses that beloved sardonic quality of Johnny but he also wears his empathy on his sleeve. Human Torch rarely ever has given a second thought about any of his team mates or sister. Just look to the preceding issue of Strange Tales for example of this narcissism.

Strange Tales has become less the solo exploits of the Human Torch and more of a place for him to headline a story with great cameos. To put a decidedly large cherry on the sundae, this annual features the first cross over for Spider-Man. He’s been visited by others in his publications but never cameoed in someone else’s. Fittingly, there is a heavy theme of competition. Stan Lee was entirely aware that these two characters were constantly being compared.

The competition begins when the one off villain, who’s look is vaguely reminiscent of Batman’s Penguin, frames Spider-Man for a jewelry robbery. As everyone in

Spider-Man and Torch duke it out!

Spider-Man and Torch duke it out!

the city has been trained to think Spidey is an outlaw, the city including Jonny, believe the worst of him. When Peter seeks out the only guy who can help clear his name who happens to be Torch, Jonny misreads this overture as an attack and and epic battle ensues. Perhaps, misread is too kind a word. What really happens is Torch sees the Spider and attacks without thought. This sudden rush to judgement is directly related to an earlier moment in this issue when he was musing too his sister Sue, who would win in a fight against him. Torch has a jealousy toward Spider-Man that Peter does not return. Peter has a great amount of respect for the Torch, although I can’t fathom why.

The first half of the story is dedicated to the wrestling match between the two and it is wonderfully entertaining. Torch’s wildly inconsistent and highly malleable powers are destroyed by Spider-Man. Jonny flames up and Peter dashes out of the way. It almost ends in stalemate until Pete comes up with a ‘freeze web.’ When Torch gets caught into this web his fire is instantly extinguished long enough for Spider-Man to explain how he was wrongfully accused. The ingenuity of Parker beats the hasty arm flexing of Torch.

This tipped balance is further shown in the ending when the Fox is finally taken down. Peter uses his Spidey-sense to suss out the many hidden lairs that the Fox had placed around the city. When the both of them finally catch up to the thief, Spider-Man and his senses, take the Fox down single-handedly. Torch doesn’t do anything but watch.

Wait a minute…. this is Strange Tales: Human Torch’s solo adventures, how can the ‘guest’ save the day? More importantly, why did Stan Lee write it this way? Perhaps, this is the moment Spider-Man unseats Torch as the flagship character. Spider-Man is the new edgier Torch and perhaps, Torch works better as a sidekick. Certainly, Torch is much better as a part of the Fantastic Four team. He is much too brash and prickly to lead his own adventures, not to mention he is kind of boring. Torch has no internal struggle going on, he sees evil, he wants to torch it. Spider-Man has a constant struggle between what is morally right and what he wants. This is why he is compelling. What an important turning point. Torch has a lot to learn from Spider-Man and as a duo they are fantastic.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Pros: The exciting match between Spider-Man and Torch, The surprise ending, and smart writing.

Cons: The derivative Cobblepot like villain, the lacklustre takedown of the Fox.

Preceding Review:  “The Terrible Traps of Egghead” (Tales to Astonish #112 July 1963)

Upcoming Review:The Icy Finger’s of Jack Frost” (Tales of Suspense #45 Sept 1963)

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