May 15, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #18

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 entire city believes Spider-Man is a coward, and he can’t prove them wrong without risking leaving Aunt May all alone.


BEN: I know all the villains made cameos in this issue, but I'm not counting those in our villain appearance count, which is now:
  • The Vulture: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Doctor Octopus: 4
  • Electro: 2
  • Kraven the Hunter: 2
  • Mysterio: 2
  • Sandman: 3
  • Green Goblin: 2
DUY: The writing is on the wall for Dr. Octopus' time at the top of the food chain. In an early panel, he says, reacting to the news of the Goblin beating Spider-Man, "The victory should have belonged to Dr. Octopus!" Yeah, it should have, but it didn't. It belonged to the Green Goblin. And that's a microcosm of their spots on the Spider-Man rogues gallery, or what will be their spots.

BEN:  This is the sixth Human Torch appearance, and the first full appearance of Anna Watson, though she's referred to as Watkins.

DUY: Sticking with "Watson" over "Watkins" is a smart move.

BEN: First time Peter quits being Spider-Man.

DUY: First time Aunt May isn't useless, convincing him not to give up and that Parkers are made of grit.

BEN: First unnamed appearance of Ned Leeds.

DUY: Second time Flash Thompson has impersonated Spider-Man. First time in a Spider-Man comic that the Statue of Liberty is explicitly named as Johnny and Peter's meeting place. That's just going to be a tradition. And it's the second appearance of anyone resembling this kind of hairstyle, Sandman being the first. Norman and Harry Osborn will have it too.


BEN: Stan and Ditko were getting more confident in continuing a storyline from one issue into the next. A far cry from the early issues having two separate stories.

DUY: I really like the quick shots of characters reacting to news items. Really highlights the feeling of that shared universe.


BEN: This entire comic was a bit of a chore to read.

DUY: Were newspapers ever really to the point that their publisher's face would be used to advertise on outdoor ads?

BEN: Even if they weren’t, Jameson is the type that would.


DUY: So Kraven and the Vulture are just out of prison now, in costume, not really doing anything, right? Also, wasps and spiders may be natural enemies, Janet Van Dyne, but it's not like Warren Worthington and Matt Murdock hate each other.

BEN: Janet was trying to impress Hank with a science tidbit.


BEN: He calls the one on the right "upside-down Flashdance":

DUY: The way Steve drew Jameson smiling is forever going to amuse me.

BEN: Jameson probably freaked people out more when he smiled then when he was screaming at them.

DUY: Apparently Ditko drew him this way because they were getting fan complaints that Jameson (and Aunt May) were too exaggerated. Stan wanted him to rein it in, and then he.... did this instead. He's quoted in the Blake Bell book (Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko), that there were a lot of reader comments that Stan wanted to implement, but he ended up doing the exact opposite thing, because if fans thought Aunt May was too frail and that Jonah was too harsh on Spidey, it meant that what he was doing was working. There's something to be said in there about not giving the fans what they think they want. And why do we want those things as fans, anyway? Do we want less conflict?

BEN: There’s that story of Stan telling them to reverse the Gwen Stacy death (spoilers) because of fan backlash, so I can see that being true.


BEN: Oddly enough, I’m going to say Spider-Man. There’s no way any other superhero could pull off a story like this. Reading these comics again has reignited my love for Spider-Man, to the point that even a subpar comic is still worth reading because of him. That says to me that the story almost doesn’t matter, as long as the writer and artist get the Spider-Man formula right. Spider-Man may be the perfect superhero character.

DUY: Honestly, for me, Jameson. This is a quintessential Spider-Man arc, and it showed what he meant to the people around him. But no one owns it the way Jameson owns it. I'll put it this way — if this were a film, everyone would be talking about how the Jameson actor stole all the scenes. And since we're talking about reigniting love for a character, I want to take this moment to plug the Spider-Man PS4 game, which I will now call the greatest superhero game of all time.

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

DUY: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

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

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