Jul 10, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #31

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!

Except, in honor of the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home this past weekend, we went daily for Spider-Rama last week and will continue to do so this week! So tune in every day until Friday at the same time for your daily dose of Spider-Man retrospectives! We'll be back to our regular Wednesday schedule next week.

by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Aunt May falls sick, and to save her, Spider-Man has to deal with the mysterious Master Planner! Also, Peter goes to college!


BEN: First appearances of Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, and Professor Miles Warren. First mention of the Master Planner.

DUY: Peter's first day at Empire State University, and Aunt May's third serious health condition in THIRTY-ONE ISSUES. Anyway, Spidey uses his scientific knowledge to filter out the gas.

BEN: So, so much gas.


BEN: I like Gwen Stacy getting angry at Peter brushing her off over and over.

DUY: The fact that Peter is basically the same person in college as he is in high school, once his aunt is in danger -- he pays no attention to anyone else. And obviously it backfires on him. He's self-absorbed and has a guilt complex, since at this point he's even saying he doesn't give enough time to May. He dedicates all his spare time to finding money for her!
BEN: Obviously a landmark issue in the history of Spider-Man comics. The beginning of the classic Master Planner Saga, which remains a fan favorite to this day. Peter begins college and (sort of) meets Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn, two major characters over the course of the franchise.

DUY: You know it's going to be big because not only do they say so in the splash, but they dedicate the issue to the reader, in the cover. To your point a couple of issues ago, this is his first issue in college, and it's dedicated to "the great new breed of Marvel reader," which was probably college students.

BEN: You made it a point to highlight the pin-up of his supporting cast in the back of an issue a while back. Most superhero books would have stuck with Betty, Jameson, Flash, Liz, and Aunt May as a roster and been happy with that. But Spider-Man kept adding, with Gwen and Harry here, and eventually MJ, Robbie, and Joe Robertson.

DUY: The only one they really write out is Liz, right? I don't remember if Betty and Ned stay on for long.

BEN: I feel like he sees them around the Bugle, but I can’t remember. Then at some point he stops meeting new people and all his friends begin dying off.

DUY: Here's a fun fact: the Spider-Man original graphic novel Parallel Lives very heavily plays on this story. Parallel Lives is about the evolution of the relationship of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. At this point, they haven't even met yet. That's how much of a landmark this story is.


DUY: The fact that Parallel Lives exists.

BEN: There’s an old issue of Deadpool where they insert him as Peter Parker into a Romita Spider-Man comic, and he keeps making fun of how lame Harry Osborn looks, speaks, and acts. So ... Harry Osborn is my answer.

DUY: I remember that Deadpool comic. That was fun. And yes, that hair. So much the hair.

BEN: Was there ever a time period where Harry would have been popular?  I guess he is rich...

DUY: Something that hasn't aged well: any mention of radioactive poisoning.

BEN: And the phrase "given me a tumble."


BEN:  Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis might be gas, at this point. Every villain has hit him with some indeterminate toxic vapor as of late. And how many tests does it take to discover someone has radiation poisoning in their blood?

DUY: Dr. Octopus has only ever run into Spider-Man, but as he pulls off the biggest caper of his career, he "never expected to run into him."

BEN:  I’m pretty sure you can go a whole day at a large college without seeing anyone you know, much less repeatedly seeing the same group of people.

DUY: Also I'm fairly sure if I were in a new environment and I knew one guy from high school, I'd actually talk to him just to relieve some anxiety.

BEN: Are you referring to Flash or Peter?

DUY: I think both actually. Especially since at this point there have been multiple instances of them covering for each other or at least seeing the other one's good side.

BEN: Especially now that Flash doesn’t have his high school buddies to impress. And before we end this section, I’ve always wondered how one builds a secret lair underwater.


BEN: His one true love.

DUY: Yes. Let's prepare for the hate comments now.


DUY: Let's see, Harry sucks, Flash is just being Flash, Peter's being mopey, Aunt May is dying.... so the answer is Gwen Stacy. It's almost by default, but she comes on so strong here that it's a wonder how she's reinterpreted by later creators later on.

BEN: I didn’t want to say Gwen because we already know I’m in the bag for her.

DUY: Don't worry, I said it for you. I wonder if Gwen was an attempt to take the Liz archetype and give her a stronger personality.

BEN: I’ve heard it said before that she was based on Stan’s wife.

DUY: If that's the case then the two of them must still be talking at this point, right? But we already know from the last issue that at this point they weren't talking.

BEN: She probably evolved into that after Steve left.

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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