Jun 26, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #24

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!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #24
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Spider-Man sees a therapist named Dr. Rinehart, who turns out to be his old enemy, Mysterio, master of illusion!


POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • The Vulture: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Doctor Octopus: 4
  • Electro: 2
  • Kraven the Hunter: 2
  • Mysterio: 3
  • Sandman: 2
  • Green Goblin: 3
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Ringmaster and The Circus of Crime: 2
DUY: Peter gets angry here about the Ned thing. It's issue 24. I think this is when him just snapping all the time, building up to issue 33, really starts.

BEN: I read the Ditko biography, and his high school classmates said that Peter Parker was basically him. So I wonder if there was a bit of “if I could go back and do it again,” in Peter telling people off, or it just reflected his growing frustrations at the time he was working on the comic.

DUY: Wow, I wonder if his classmates saying he was basically Peter is a compliment.

BEN: If it's an exact translation, then no.

WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: I remember the desk on the ceiling being an appealing visual to me as a kid.

DUY: Yeah, Spider-Man walking into the office and it being upside down is pretty trippy. But also, a woman saying she doesn't really hate Spider-Man, but she'll think up a reason just to get in the papers, kind of predates all of reality television.



WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN: I know I’ve had to have read this comic before, but I remembered almost nothing about it. And yet, I still knew it was Mysterio the whole time. Basically from the cover alone.

DUY: Me too. I knew it was Mysterio, and absolutely nothing else about the comic.

NITPICKS

BEN:  Instead of wondering if you’re crazy, maybe assume it’s the guy that’s played optical tricks on you before. You have an established villain that does this kind of thing.

DUY: Jameson saying "I've hated him for years!" I know we weren't strict about any sliding timescale back then, but this comic came out in 1965. Jameson's first appearance is 1963. When he says "years," he means a maximum of two years.

BEN: Maybe three. When he unmasked in Civil War, Peter said he was 15 when the spider bit him. He’s a senior in high school by now. Also, I’m pretty sure newspapers used to validate sources before printing their statements, but this is The Daily Bugle after all.

FAVORITE PANEL

DUY: It's Spider-Man walking into the office.

BEN: Yep.



DUY: But I want to point out this one too. I know that some readers struggle with the idea that a character is lying, but I love how for a character like Jameson, it's just so obvious. "All I'M doing is publishing the result of an absolutely impartial, unbiased newspaper survey! La dee dah!"



BEN: You’d have to be pretty dense not to understand Jameson’s duality.

WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: How can the winner of this issue be anyone other than Flash Thompson? Mysterio tries to pull one over on Jameson and Spider-Man. Jameson has enough journalistic integrity to investigate Mysterio, and then instantly regrets it. And Flash Thompson goes around the entire issue defending Spider-Man and gets the last laugh in the end.

MYSTERIO

BEN: It’s comforting to consider that even in a universally praised and highly influential run as Ditko’s Spider-Man, there are still some absolute clunkers in the mix.

DUY:  I actually don't think it's a clunker so much as just a weird issue. Mysterio has, as I've said before, seemed to be the single most purely Ditko villain, at least until the mask comes off. Images like the hallucinations or the upside-down office are more at home in a comic like Dr. Strange than a comic like Spider-Man. I do think there's something to be said for the fact that Mysterio just never really broke out of the third- or second-tier mold, and in fact was best as a Daredevil villain for one storyline. There's not only something missing from him; it's also just a mismatch. In a world where some characters can cause actual hallucinations, he's strictly low-tier.

BEN: In Daredevil he was more of a psychological manipulator, than an optical illusionist. That would be a better track for him. But he absolutely must keep the fishbowl.  As we’ve seen from the trailers for Far From Home, the fishbowl absolutely works in live action.



DUY: It's so comic accurate too.

BEN: I love how confident the movies are now. There is zero chance they do the fishbowl in 2006. In fact, Bendis tried to get rid of the fishbowl with Ultimate Mysterio (who incidentally had some alternate dimension angles to his storyline).

DUY: Dan Jurgens tried getting rid of it too, in the 90s. But by the second time he used Mysterio, he had put it back. It's just too iconic. And weird.

BEN: Mysterio is a villain I always forget how much I love until I read these old comics again. It seems like they always get hung up on the practicality of his “powers” now.

DUY: He's a highlight in the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon too. He overwhelms Peter's senses so Peter has to do that thing where he closes his eyes and relies on his spider-sense.

BEN: You need an artist that’s good at psychedelic imagery, which is why his Bronze Age run wasn’t very good.

DUY: Is it safe to say Quentin Beck has never been actually defined? I feel like his personality changes with each writer, and even his overall visual look changes. Only "Mysterio" is consistent, but Quentin is whoever the story needs him to be.

BEN: I certainly don’t remember what his deal is.

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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