Jan 6, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #56

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 #56
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.

Spider-Man has amnesia, and Doc Ock uses it to convince him that he's not just a master criminal, but also his partner!



POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • Doctor Octopus: 9
  • Green Goblin: 7
  • Sandman: 4
  • Kraven the Hunter: 5
  • The Vulture: 5
  • Mysterio: 4
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Rhino: 3
  • The Lizard: 3
  • The Kingpin: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Electro: 2
  • The Ringmaster: 2
  • Scorpion: 2
  • Molten Man: 2
BEN: First appearance of Police Captain George Stacy, Gwen Stacy's dad.


DUY: It is interesting that despite Ditko not talking to Stan at this point, they're still using his artwork for the upper left corner on the covers.


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: I think at this point Romita has finally captured Jameson. He kinda looked like a caveman early on.

.

DUY: Also, I think the cover would have gotten me to buy this off the rack.

BEN: Certainly.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN:  If every thought and instinct is telling you not to help Ock, maybe listen to them.

DUY: Yeah, I think amnesia storylines are a tough build to begin with. But Peter having the instincts to not do bad stuff and then just doing bad stuff because he "has no other choice" is pretty ridiculous.



BEN:  If you know Aunt May is the worst, why go tell her Peter is missing?

DUY:  I hate Aunt May so much.


NITPICKS

BEN: Captain Stacy must have been in his 40s when Gwen was born.

DUY:  I think the May-December romances were a thing of Silver Age, even Bronze Age Marvel. Hank Pym I think was said to be around 20 years older than Janet. Reed and Sue too.

BEN: Still better than Terry Long.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN:  Thop!



DUY: I always like web backgrounds:



WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: I dunno, this issue was pretty bad, not even because of the execution, just the premise itself. I guess I give it to Jameson again. Three panels and he owns it.

BEN: Gwen Stacy.

WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: Arthur C. got back to us on last week's exchange regarding Mary Jane Watson and how her possibly knowing that Peter Parker was Spider-Man would affect her perception of him. He writes: "Wow, thank you guys for your response. Totally didn't expect it. And for your reply. It was fair and considerate." To which I say, "We get so few comments (i.e, close to none), we may as well. Comments are welcome, everyone!"

BEN: Arthur also writes,  "I have issues with the idea of MJ knowing Peter somehow affects her relationship with Peter because it veers into Silver Age Superman-Lois baggage (i.e. the fact that Lois liked Superman over Clark implied she was some lower person, the kind of mentality that Harvey Kurtzman shredded in the '50s itself in Superduperman)".

DUY: Again, we're not saying that her knowing he's Spider-Man would make her a lower person, just that that knowledge would change her preconception of him.

BEN: Even if you believe that she was scared to meet him, that knowledge still affected her opinion of him.

DUY: Arthur continues,  "it kind of smacks of M-W Complex in terms of contrasting MJ with Gwen and so on, even if Gwen Stacy showed vastly more skin in Spider-Man comics in the first 200 issues than she did (as will be evident when you cover Roy Thomas' bonkers Savage Land stories)." This is actually a fascinating point because the preconception of most fans who have not read these issues (and really, for the two of us, this isn't our first time doing a read-through either, especially of the first 150 issues or so) is that Mary Jane was more showy, more self-confident, but there are multiple instances where Gwen outdoes her in those aspects that are, quite understandably, forgotten or not mentioned in flashbacks now.

BEN: Mary Jane appears so little that I really question the myth that fans preferred her so much more. (Keep in mind we are far ahead of what’s been posted and have read long stretches of comics with little to no Mary Jane.)

DUY: I might have preferred her more during the Endless Gwen Crying Streak. Because there was so much crying.

BEN: Maybe in a “why isn’t MJ around?” way.

DUY: MJ is Poochie?

BEN: Arthur goes on with "Let me say, that the first 616 Spider-Man comic I read (the first Spider-Man story I read was the newspaper) was Untold Tales of Spider-Man #16 at a library, by Kurt Busiek and it uses Parallel Lives to explore MJ in Peter's early years. It was a great story well told and I liked it and ultimately on re-reading the stories, it works out well. This will be evident when you guys get to ASM #87 (which sets of the second great stretch of Lee-Romita's years, which lasts until #98) which is probably the most psychologically nuanced story that Lee wrote post-Ditko, in terms of nailing down impostor syndrome and other issues."

DUY: I want to say I love Untold Tales, but even then I didn't like that particular issue, even if Busiek and Oliffe did execute it to the best of their ability. And, I suppose it's okay to pull the curtain back a bit - we're so far ahead on Spider-Rama that we're actually at the issues you mention, so... I won't respond to the rest of that here; so you can keep reading weekly... or check back in like, 31 weeks or something.

BEN: And he continues with "And again, the epilogue of ASM#122 works better if she knows since MJ knows fully well what she's getting into by staying with Peter, especially because of Gwen's death. There's a lot of courage there." I don’t really see it as courage, it’s compassion. The idea that she would think ahead and know what’s she’s getting into by staying makes it worse, instead of simple compassion for a friend.

DUY: Yeah, Arthir and I are going to have to agree to disagree there, as it works infinitely better for me if she doesn't know and she chooses to stay despite not knowing everything in Peter's head, despite the fact that he just lashed out at her. But again, more will be divulged when Spider-Rama gets to #122...sometime in 2021. Arthur ends with a correction for our trivia section, "Green Goblin's appearances should be 8, not 7. Green Goblin appeared in ASM #47, so you should tally that up, and correct it. Doc Ock hasn't won yet (and ultimately he would lose...since resurrection, Norman has become the Spidey villain with most appearances, and in overall Marvel villains is behind only Doom and Magneto).
ASM#47 is a kind of proto-'Untold Tale' where Lee retconned Goblin's connections to Kraven in a status-quo where Norman had amnesia. Goblin shows up in the opening splash panel and then the panel after that. Small appearance but it's brand new Goblin material."

BEN: Just in general we have to make judgment calls on certain things involving the villain count, and in this case because the Goblin only showed up in one panel in a flashback scene, and the rest of it was Norman, we chose not to count it. (We'll be employing the same rule with the Jackal when he shows up.) Also, we're only counting appearances as a Spidey villain, so Norman's non-Spidey appearances since 1996 wouldn't be counted.

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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