Jun 19, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #23

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 wants control of Lucky Lobo’s mob, and Spider-Man is caught in the middle!


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: 3
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime: 2
BEN:  This is the First time Peter has to wait for a wet costume to dry. Coincidentally enough, I was just thinking about him washing his costume earlier today, and how they used it as an excuse to switch back and forth between the classic and the black costume. I didn’t remember that this was yet another bit created by Stan and Ditko.

DUY: Spider-Man has had more high-tech costumes recently, and given who he is, it totally makes sense. But I'll always have a soft spot for him just trying to fix and clean his cloth costume the way we do regular clothes. I came into comics when Peter was alternating costumes. I liked it; why shouldn't a superhero be allowed to wear costumes? Now it's just a normal thing he does. In the Far From Home trailer, he has three different costumes on.

BEN: The Green Goblin finds Spider-Man’s banter confusing, which will eventually become an intentional bit of mental warfare on the part of our hero.

DUY: It's very possible that this is the first appearance of Norman Osborn, as a man with this design shows up multiple times until Norman actually appears and is named. I know Ditko just really, really likes that hairstyle, so it may be a coincidence, but I'd like to think he was planting seeds.

BEN: I’m going with planting seeds, it seems too coincidental. We like to make fantastic stories for why things happen, like the Stan and Steve split, but it’s much more likely Steve was mad about not getting any of the merchandising money.

DUY: The counterargument against planting seeds is that was pretty rare for the time. But Steve was... not a conventional person.

BEN: I think you can dismiss that based on them keeping the Goblin’s identity a secret in the first place.


BEN: All the elements of my favorite era of Spider-Man comics can be traced back to this single issue. When I was a kid, I was obviously more interested in the colorful super villains, but it was the combination of them with the gangs and mobs that made up the Roger Stern and Tom DeFalco runs. Specifically, the Hobgoblin wanting control of the gangs, and a masked mob boss like The Rose. Amazing Spider-Man #10 started that history of a secret villain in disguise taking over the underworld, and this continued off of that, now with an established villain attempting to do the same. Spider-Man stuck in the middle of a New York gang war adds a semblance of realism that works much better for me as an older reader. It’s a real life danger. That really helps provide a solid foundation underneath all the masks and goblins.

DUY: There's the crime stuff, and newer readers might be surprised to know that Peter was the original Marvel crime guy (I'm going with Marvel as the brand as established in 1961 with the FF), but there's also the teenage romance that just kind of makes sense and shows how flawed our characters are. Peter sees a letter from Ned. He talks to Betty and tries to fish it out. He gets neurotic. He leaves. Betty remembers she forgot about the letter.

BEN: Most aspects of the Spider-Man comic were revolutionary, but the romance was very much a ‘60s juvenile take. "Ned likes me, I have no choice but to consider him!"

DUY: It's so dumb. And fun.


DUY: Also, I'm pretty sure Ned is going for an underage girl here.

BEN: Ned's a bit weird.

DUY: There's no way at all that anyone, let along J. Jonah Jameson, would rehire a man who tried to frame him. Aunt May spends all her time worrying about Peter, but Peter shows up and Aunt May's not around and he worries about her just as much. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree — even if they're not actually blood-related.


DUY: Aunt May hoping Peter gets enough exercise seems off. It seems to me that she'd rather have him not exercise at all.


DUY: The composition of this, the contrast of their color schemes, and the fact that it's Spider-Man chasing the Green Goblin, all make this panel for me.

BEN: Peter pausing to call Aunt May becomes a trope.


DUY: The Green Goblin. The only reason Spider-Man wins in this issue is because Goblin won too much. That makes him the biggest winner.

BEN: He needs all the victories he can get with that hair.

DUY: Ditko's fascination with that hair is an article in itself.

BEN: I know it’s probably a visual flair type of thing, I doubt it was supposed to be representative of a hairstyle. It just got weird because every subsequent artist copied it.

DUY: It probably is visual representation. The way Norman is depicted in the PS4 game, if you were to draw that in a more abstract way, would resemble his comic hairstyle.

BEN: Wait, what if he did it purposefully, as a visually distinctive hint?

DUY: I'd be morewilling to buy that he did it as a visually distinctive hint if Sandman didn't have the exact same hairstyle.

BEN: I forgot about Sandman.

DUY: I think what's weird to me is that "Norman" is there up until his reveal, but these appearances are never mentioned.


DUY:  Let's take a moment to appreciate the pinup at the end. He has five supporting characters. It would balloon over the years, and his supporting cast is and has always been one of his strengths, but it's weird to think of a time when he had five regular supporting cast members, and that already probably is a lot for the time.

BEN: Betty goes against the established superhero model at the time, by eventually not being his “true love” ala Lois Lane.

DUY: I might give it to this one just for kicking off the silly bonuses, like "How Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Create Spider-Man!" Enjoy!

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.

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