Aug 14, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #38

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

In Steve Ditko's final issue, Spider-Man fights a guy named Joe.


BEN: First appearance of Joe Smith.
    DUY: You'd think Joe Smith was a one-time appearance, but no. He even fights Captain America in Cap's 246th issue.

    BEN: Second (shadowed) appearance of Mary Jane Watson. Second full appearance of Norman Osborn.


    DUY: Joe becoming an actor after all that is..... pretty realistic.

    BEN: To be fair, I think he becomes a stuntman.


    BEN: Joe Smith, the only Ditko villain that keeps the Looter from being the worst of the bunch.

    DUY: In the age of Google, the character name "Joe Smith."

    BEN: Another couple pages of only sound effects. It really seemed like they were coasting as a team at this point.

    DUY: So did Ditko get fired before he finished the cover? The pose is directly from an interior panel.


    DUY: My biggest nitpick is that this is Ditko's last issue. Specifically that this is Ditko's last issue.

    BEN: I wish I could remember the source, but another theory I’ve read about Ditko’s departure was that Martin Goodman, the owner of Marvel Comics back then, wanted him gone. Goodman had become increasingly frustrated with Ditko’s behavior and how angry Peter Parker was being portrayed. Stan was stuck in between the two. Allegedly this page of Peter berating the very readership Marvel was catering to, was the last straw. Goodman wanted him off the book.

    DUY: There's something different here though — Peter can't be told he doesn't want to save the world, he does it on a daily basis. Another thing, Stan could have saved this with dialogue if it was such a problem.

    BEN: That’s what I thought as I was reading it, why didn’t Stan fix it? If that was indeed the problem.

    DUY: Could it be possible that Stan didn't think it was a problem, but Goodman did after publication?

    BEN: That could be it. There’s also the other theory that Ditko was mad about not getting any cut of the burgeoning Spider-Man merchandise market. That’s not as glamorous, but is simple enough to be true.

    DUY:  Yeah, I can imagine Ditko simply being, I do X% of the work, I bring in X% of the fans, I should make X% of the money.

    BEN: There’s the saying that all disagreements between NBA players are because of money or women, and I don’t think a woman’s affections was the conflict here. But regardless of why it happened, this is obviously Ditko’s last comic of the character he co-created. I think it was actually a good time for him to go from a purely creative standpoint. For him, and the character.

    DUY: He should have left before. And by "before," I mean "before creating Joe Smith."

    BEN: Frankly, he should have left at #33.

    DUY: Ideal, but #37 would have been fine too.


    BEN: Haha, so random:

    DUY: I'm going to miss Ditko's action sequences so much.


    DUY: No one wins in this issue, because it's just a huge shame that 3 of the last four Ditko issues are clunkers. And all following his peak, mind you.


    DUY: Since Ditko is gone from this point on and he'll never draw Spider-Man again, even in crowd shots (except for that zine he drew to show he should be credited as co-creator), let's rank his 5 best and 5 worst creations who aren't Spider-Man.

    1. J. Jonah Jameson
    2. Dr. Octopus
    3. Green Goblin
    4. Gwen Stacy
    5. Flash Thompson
    1. Joe Smith 
    2. The Looter
    3. The Molten Man
    4. The Cat
    5. Aunt May

    BEN: Going purely by Ditko’s 41 comics, and not what came after. I'm going by volume of terribleness for my worst rankings.
    1. J Jonah Jameson
    2. Gwen Stacy
    3. Flash Thompson
    4. Liz Allen
    5. Doctor Octopus
    1. Aunt May
    2. Harry Osborn
    3. The Molten Man
    4. Ned Leeds
    5. Joe Smith

    DUY: You are ranking Gwen way too high here.

    BEN: She's feisty!

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

    BEN: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

    DUY: Yes, thank you, Steve Ditko—

    BEN: —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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