Feb 26, 2020

Spider-Rama: The Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1

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 John Romita Sr. and Jim Mooney

In this special double-sized black-and-white issue, Spider-Man must contend with a politician, Richard Raleigh, who has created a superhuman to menace New York to make himself look good in the mayoral race. And in a back-up tale, the origin of Spider-Man is retold.


DUY: In 1968, publishers were trying out comics magazines and this is the first Marvel tried, which counts as the first Spider-Man spinoff (unless you count the Amazing annuals) and the first to hold the Spectacular name. (We'll get to the Spectacular series eventually.) This was just an experiment and would last two issues.

BEN: First Jim Mooney work on Spider-Man. First full retelling of Spider-Man’s origin.

DUY: Although it will never be revealed explicitly, this particular sequence is probably more important than it lets on.

BEN: How so?

DUY: I'm assuming George putting together that Peter is Spidey was a gradual process and didn't just happen overnight. It is revealed sometime in the 90s exactly when he put it all together, but I'm sure it was a process. Peter disappearing and then Spidey fighting the bad guy is too much of a coincidence for him to not take note of.

BEN: It makes sense he’d be looking at it differently than the kids too, since he’s a detective. Same with Robbie as a journalist.

DUY: In the backup retelling the origin, it adds a scene to Peter's origin where, after getting bitten by the spider, he runs into a couple of bullies and throws a punch. Peter lets the burglar go before he gets on TV. Probably doesn't make that much of a difference, but it's the exact opposite from later interpretations, like Ultimate Spider-Man or the Sam Raimi movie, where he would let the burglar go because he wanted to spite the promoter. What exactly is the point of this revision?

BEN: They probably couldn’t think of too many places to expand the most perfect story ever produced by mankind.

DUY: Wait till Bendis does it 33 years later.

BEN: What if... Uncle Ben had a ponytail?

DUY: What if... Spider-Man's origin took five whole issues?


BEN: The art looks great. I don’t know if that’s because of Mooney inking, or because Romita was putting all his effort into this instead of Amazing Spider-Man.

DUY: You know I'm not the biggest fan of Romita's art, but it looks so good like this with the graytones. I could really stand more black and white comics having graytones. Compare this to the black and white Essential volumes and they're worlds away..

BEN: Essentials are basically coloring books.

DUY: Artistically speaking, it must be Mooney's inks, because Bill Everett tries the graytones in the second story and it's not the same.

BEN: I can definitely see Mooney’s style specifically on Gwen. And speaking of Gwen, here's MJ taking digs at her.

DUY: JJJ is supportive of Raleigh, and Peter is instantly suspicious. That kind of behavior applies today to politicians, still. The ending of the main story is really good. Raleigh dies, it's his own fault, and JJJ is too stubborn to even consider the fact that he might be wrong about him. That's somehow so close to how people are actually like, whether it's 1968 or 2020.


BEN: It should be clear to anyone Raleigh is evil.

DUY: Did that age well or badly? Because Donald Trump is still president, and it was the most obvious thing that he was evil.

BEN:  Shhh.

DUY: In 1968, this was fine. In 2020, it's "Nobody can move like that... except Spider-Man, the other Spider-Man, Nightcrawler, and probably some mutants we've never heard of."

BEN:  “Nobody can move like that, except 17 other known super humans!” Not as catchy.

DUY: It does not age well that all the women in the story are so easily taken in by Raleigh. Not Gwen so much, but everyone else. The only ones skeptical are Peter and George Stacy.

BEN: Don't be jealous.


BEN: I don’t agree with John Byrne about much, but saying RR would be too awkward.

DUY: I think my biggest nitpick is the fact that this is the most predictable plot ever. You know from the start that the villain is a plant by Raleigh.

BEN: Yes, but you didn’t know he had a cyborg superhuman controlled by remote control.


BEN:  Heh heh, polish my button, heh heh.

DUY: This panel is my favorite, since it makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

DUY: Artistically, though, this one is amazing.


DUY: I'm not sure who the biggest winner here is, but I know who loses, and that's the "Comics were never political" crowd. It's literally about being discerning of the officials you elect.


BEN: So this has to be somewhere around where we are, with all the Osborn setup, and Romita is obviously busy doing something else.

DUY: But Peter gets along with Gwen here, so it has to be before the brainwashing stuff.

BEN: Oh, the Goblin shows up in the second issue.

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.

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. See you next Wednesday!

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