May 8, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #17

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Each Wednesday, Ben and Duy will look at a Spider-Man issue from the very beginning, in chronological order, and answer questions for various categories, inspired in large part by one of our favorite podcasts, The Rewatchables by The Ringer. Our goal is to make it to Amazing Spider-Man #200. Will we make it? Grab your Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus or crank up your tablet to Marvel Unlimited, and then tune in every Wednesday to find out!

by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

The Green Goblin and the Human Torch crash the inaugural meeting of the Spider-Man Fan Club. Spider-Man runs from the fight after he learns that Aunt May has suffered a heart attack.


BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • The Vulture: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Doctor Octopus: 4
  • Electro: 2
  • Kraven the Hunter: 2
  • Mysterio: 2
  • Sandman: 2
  • Green Goblin: 2
BEN:  This is the fifth Human Torch appearance, and the second Aunt May heart attack.

DUY: Johnny Storm has shown up more times than any villain!

BEN: I think this proves Johnny is his true love.

DUY: That's actually a ship. It's called Spideytorch.


BEN: Reading these again, I hadn’t realized how prevalent Johnny Storm was in these early issues. It reminds me that it is one of my favorite friendships in comics.

DUY: The Betty/Liz rivalry is aging really well for me at least in terms of entertainment value. Peter not really being interested in Liz, except for the fact that Liz actually likes him, trying to actively avoid her when he's with Betty...

BEN: You know he has to like Liz having a crush on him. Here’s a girl he’s probably known most of his life and has ignored him the whole time, and she’s the most popular girl in school.

DUY: Another thing that just aged well, superheroes just running into each other. The Daredevil one so far is the only one that's really seemed forced.


DUY: Why in the hell does Green Goblin have a frog for a weapon?


DUY: The random burglars that want to break in is... random. Not only that, but why wouldn't they just find another house to burgle? Like maybe the one that doesn't have the mass of people inside it.


BEN:  I never noticed this, but it was pointed out in a fan letter in issue #21 that Peter never puts his shoes back on while he tries to quell Liz’s suspicions over Peter never being in the same place as Spider-Man.

DUY: That's a great touch. The issue's last panel is so emblematic of Spider-Man. Nice shadow work by Ditko too. It's gotta be this, for me.


DUY: The Goblin officially won, so he officially wins this issue.

BEN: Goblin appears 3 times in the span of 10 issues. I haven’t seen that many printed fan letters even speculating on who he is, so I wonder if Ditko just liked him.

DUY: He hasn't really lost either. I think at this point he's probably got a good case for being the top villain. It's still Ock at this point, but he's working his way.


DUY: So I've mentioned before that the Electro one was the first Ditko I ever read. This is actually the fourth — it went Electro, then I found the Classics version of Amazing Fantasy, and then I saw another reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #1. I read these things cover to cover, even though I as a kid hated Ditko's art and thought the writing was primitive. But that's a part of the appeal too, just the sheer energy and power of it.

BEN: Truthfully, the art is much more crude than I remembered, but it works toward the overall quirkiness of it. I remember when he did Speedball for Marvel many years later I thought the art was awful (not realizing who Ditko was yet) so I don’t really know why it works here and not later. I don’t think it can be underestimated how fun the stories still are. Even if the writing and art are dated, they’re not boring, which is why they keep getting remade and redone.

DUY: I want to point out that if this had happened today, we'd get tons and tons of message board complaints about how Spider-Man doesn't give up. I think that's kind of the nature of serial fiction. People act "out of character" all the time in real life, and it's those moments that contrast and define the moments when they do act in character.

BEN: Peter would never risk anything and everything for his Aunt! #sarcasm

DUY: In the "Was Goblin supposed to be someone we know" category, why would Ditko go through all the trouble of hiding his identity while showing him to us if he meant him to not be anyone we knew?

BEN: It would be a huge letdown to tease it out this much and have it be a stranger.

DUY: That's it for Spider-Rama this week.

BEN: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

DUY: —for telling us we aren't the only ones.

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. See you next week!

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