Apr 30, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #90

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Every day until the end of April, 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 #90
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee, Gil Kane, and John Romita Sr.

Spider-Man devises a way to have Doctor Octopus lose control of his arms. It succeeds, but in the process, Ock knocks over a chimney, which causes the death of Captain George Stacy!



POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • The Kingpin: 12
  • Doctor Octopus: 12
  • Green Goblin: 8
  • The Vulture: 7
  • Mysterio: 6
  • The Lizard: 5
  • Kraven the Hunter: 5
  • Sandman: 4
  • Electro: 3
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Rhino: 3
  • Professor Smythe/Spider Slayer: 3
  • Man Mountain Marko: 3
  • Silvermane: 3
  • The Chameleon: 3
  • The Schemer/Richard Fisk: 3
  • The Ringmaster: 2
  • Scorpion: 2
  • Molten Man: 2
  • Shocker: 2
DUY: It didn't take long for Ock to reclaim the top spot, as he's now tied with the Kingpin. They'll be tied for a while, but I think by virtue of Ock's killing of George, Ock clearly is the top Spider-Man villain at this point.

BEN: George gets a great death here, but I can’t say I ever cared all that much about the character.

DUY: He's kinda redundant with Robbie around.

BEN: To the point that they were often shown brainstorming together.

WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: George dying ages well, I think, even if there's no build-up for it whatsoever. It's one of those things that raises the stakes, which I feel at this point in Spider-Man history was sorely needed.

BEN: Killing a character was more abrupt back then, which made it more real and effective. Now they have to market any death six months in advance. And here we see Peter using his brain for the first time, since when, Ditko?



DUY: It's definitely the first time I can remember in a while.

BEN: I love Romita, but I can’t say action storytelling was a strength of his. There’s already been a noticeable difference with Kane.

DUY: I guess, I just hate his polygonal faces.

BEN: I wonder how busy Romita was as art director and if that’s why he kept leaving the book for small stretches, but he also didn’t want to leave permanently, leading to arguably the most bland run in the history of the series from #50-something to now.

DUY: Don't forget, as art director he also sometimes just flat-out redrew stuff.

BEN: I don’t think he was giving his full effort is what I’m thinking, leading to too many instances where Peter luckily finds the one person that can help him lots of times.

DUY: Oh, you mean in terms of actually telling a story. Yes, I agree, those last twenty issues before the Natasha issue felt pretty lazy to me.

BEN: Even the Stone Tablet Saga was overblown.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

DUY: Come off the melodrama, Peter, George is not the "second best friend" you've ever had.

BEN: Who is?


DUY:  Flash.

BEN: Also, he's dying, at least call him your best friend. Give him that much as he fades away.

NITPICKS

BEN: Are we to assume his tracers are much tinier in “real life” and not immediately noticeable?


DUY: It's not really a big deal or anything, but anyone who's been reading the book for a while could easily tell from the cover who dies. There's only one male supporting character with that hairstyle and that fashion sense, and if it weren't a supporting character then they wouldn't have hidden his face.

BEN: A message to all fictional moms and dads, please control your children near dangerous life-threatening situations.


DUY: Seriously, why is the child there?

BEN: He’s way too young to be outside on his own.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: Mine:



DUY: Here is a weird example of an image going over two pages, but not taking up the entire spread. We don't see this often:


BEN: That's because it was a half-page ad spread below it, a weird thing they were doing in the 70s.

WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: Octavius exponentially raises his stock as Spider-Man's top villain, and he gets away. So Ock wins..

BEN: Peter gets half the blame for killing George. I’m not usually into the logic leaps he takes to claim responsibility for tragedies, but this time it really was partly his fault.

DUY:  It really is. He did not think that plan through. Why didn't he just go back to his original arm-fusing formula from way back?


BEN: Because the arms being wildly out of control was much better?

SO WHEN DID GEORGE KNOW?



BEN: So with the Hobie dressed as Spider-Man plan having just happened three issues ago, how did George come back around to knowing Peter’s secret? Was it a shot in the dark as he was dying, or could he tell that Hobie was clearly a different person?

DUY: I think he knew. He had a thought balloon during the Hobie stunt that said it clears Peter, and he was grateful, but he wasn't disbelieving or anything. Like it could easily be interpreted as, good, Gwen can sleep easily.



BEN: If you approach it as him already knowing, he would definitely notice every difference between Hobie and Peter in the Spider-Man costume; size, build and voice.

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 tomorrow!

Apr 29, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #89

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Every day until the end of April, 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 #89
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee, Gil Kane, and John Romita Sr.

On the rooftops of New York City, Spider-Man fights Doctor Octopus!



POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • The Kingpin: 12
  • Doctor Octopus: 11
  • Green Goblin: 8
  • The Vulture: 7
  • Mysterio: 6
  • The Lizard: 5
  • Kraven the Hunter: 5
  • Sandman: 4
  • Electro: 3
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Rhino: 3
  • Professor Smythe/Spider Slayer: 3
  • Man Mountain Marko: 3
  • Silvermane: 3
  • The Chameleon: 3
  • The Schemer/Richard Fisk: 3
  • The Ringmaster: 2
  • Scorpion: 2
  • Molten Man: 2
  • Shocker: 2
DUY: In all seriousness, has Ock (or anyone) at this point actually been seen killing anyone?


BEN: As you mentioned last week, this is Gil Kane’s first issue as penciler, and he’ll be remembered as one of the more significant Spider-Man artists by virtue of some all-time classic stories coming up. Romita inks him, so the change wasn’t immediately as obvious as it might have been, but you can definitely see Kane’s style peeking through.

WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: The college students protest for environmentalism, still relevant today. In 2011, when this would be taking place in the sliding timeline, this Ralph Nader reference is still relevant.


BEN: The fight scene is noticeably more dynamic with Kane as the artist.


WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

DUY:  Somehow Ock decided to change into his costume, which is never a good idea.

BEN: Green and yellow spandex has aged the best!


NITPICKS

DUY: Is anything more inconsistently treated to the benefit of the plot as Spider-sense or the lack thereof?


BEN: What are the statistical odds you could run into a person you know in New York City, while also walking oblivious past the other person you’re thinking about at that very moment? You really should have seen him standing next to that trash can in a skintight green costume a few moments ago.


FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: Mine:


DUY: A very effective splash page:


WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY:  Ock, I guess, wins this one, by virtue of actually winning (seemingly) the fight.

BEN: As a kid, I always had a difficult time reconciling Ock’s lack of powers with him being a credible threat, but sometimes you just have to go by what’s on the page. In the pages of Spider-Man comics, Ock is one of the few villains to consistently beat him in a fight.

DUY: It's easy to reconcile for me as long as his physical body is actually away from Spider-Man. But he does do some athletic poses during this stretch of issues that's really straining my disbelief suspension.

BEN: Maybe he’s got Otis-level athleticism.


DUY: No way. Scientists aren't athletes.

BEN: Batman 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.

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

Apr 28, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #88

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Every day until the end of April, 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 #88
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee, John Romita Sr., and Jim Mooney

Doctor Octopus' range of telepathic control over his arms has gotten so far that he's able to control his arms from New York to break him out of a prison in the midwest, at which point he hijacks a plane with a foreign diplomat named General Su.



POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • Doctor Octopus: 10
  • Green Goblin: 8
  • The Vulture: 7
  • Mysterio: 6
  • The Lizard: 5
  • Kraven the Hunter: 5
  • Sandman: 4
  • Electro: 3
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Rhino: 3
  • Professor Smythe/Spider Slayer: 3
  • Man Mountain Marko: 3
  • Silvermane: 3
  • The Chameleon: 3
  • The Schemer/Richard Fisk: 3
  • The Ringmaster: 2
  • Scorpion: 2
  • Molten Man: 2
  • Shocker: 2
BEN: I don’t often give Ock credit for killing, uh, the character he’s about to kill. In a Norman killed, uh, that character, way.

DUY: Okay, here's a weird bit of trivia. John Romita Sr., quintessentially known as the Spider-Man artist from at least when Ditko leaves until Todd McFarlane comes aboard, stops drawing the series after this issue. He hands it off to Gil Kane, who then draws what would become a key set of issues. Romita then comes back for #93-95, but then leaves again and Kane takes over again from #96-99 (a historical set of issues), and #100-105 (a landmark set of issues). Romita then gets back on for #106-119, then gives it back to Gil Kane... and #121 and 122 end up being the biggest issues in the history of the series up to that point, and stay the biggest issues in the history of the series for... a very, very long time. I guess what I'm saying is, Gil Kane owes his entire Spider-Man legacy to John Romita's bad timing.

BEN: And I was about to prematurely give Romita props for coming back for this storyline.

DUY: I wish he stayed, because I don't actually like Kane's draftsmanship.

BEN: His human people aren't great.

DUY: They look robotic.

WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: The arms look sort of cool on their own.



DUY: Oh yeah, Gwen is smart too. I forgot.



BEN: I like her confidence there.

DUY: We really do get hints sometimes of Gwen having the potential to be a great character on her own, but 90% of the time it's always just about her feelings for Peter.

BEN: I don’t know why I’m amused at him continuing to hold the flight attendant.



WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

DUY:  Okay, so this issue is pretty good, and I guess the depiction of Asians is the thing that ages worst, but I have to say, it's nowhere near as racist as I'd have expected from 1970.

BEN:  He literally has a Fu Manchu.



NITPICKS

BEN: Ock controlled his arms from New York to Chicago?

DUY: How did he control his arms so specifically as to know exactly how to attack Spider-Man?



BEN: Spider-Man said they were attacking anyone in their way.

DUY: But so specific as to go for his wrists? To go for a building? It's that advanced?

BEN: Apparently!

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: I can tell you least favorite:



DUY: Creepy. Mine:


BEN: Was Acme the default gag company in all fiction?

DUY: It's even the name of the detective agency in Carmen San Diego.


WHO WON THE COMIC?

BEN: Gwen!

DUY: Yeah, okay.

DOES MILES WARREN KNOW?

BEN: So does Miles Warren know?


DUY: We can't just do a category for everyone knowing!

BEN: Why not?

DUY: Because it's ridiculous!

BEN: That's why it's funny.

DUY: No one will laugh at that!

BEN: Business as usual!

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 tomorrow!

Apr 27, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #87

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Every day until the end of April, 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 #87
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee, John Romita Sr., and Jim Mooney

Peter Parker is really sick (not from Coronavirus) and is convinced he's losing his Spider-powers, so he reveals his secret identity to the gang. Of course, his powers aren't really gone, so how does he get out of this?


POINTLESS TRIVIA

DUY: This is the second issue, after Amazing Spider-Man #12, where the flu has turned Peter basically powerless. And he doesn't make the connection between the last time, so he overreacts and unmasks (last time Ock unmasks him). Anyway, it's established that a powerful enough illness makes his powers weak. We won't see this often; most of the time an "illness" is a cold.


BEN: In summary, you’re sick Peter, relax. And this is usually the first issue included in the death of George Stacy collections. Uh, spoilers.

DUY: Whaaaaaaat.

WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: I would 100% have bought this issue based on the cover.

BEN: Absolutely. Also, splash pages were more rare, and therefore more impactful:


DUY: That splash page being a non-action one too kind of highlights the whole issue. There is zero fighting going on in this issue, and that's actually kind of nice, after a giant stretch of nonstop action (and not all of it being good). And also, a Hobie Brown appearance:


WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN: So Peter never learning from his mistakes is charitably because Stan and John planned on a regular turnover of readers aging in and out of comics so recycling old plots would be okay, or Stan having a terrible memory.

DUY: But you'd think knowing you have college-age readership would discount the first option. Wouldn't you then try writing for long term? And it can't be the second option, because they explicitly have a flashback to #12 here.

BEN: Then why is Peter so dumb?

DUY: If May were your parental figure, don't you think you would grow up just a bit overdramatic and paranoid?

BEN: Point.

NITPICKS

DUY: If your powers are malfunctioning, maybe don't wall-crawl.



BEN: How does he see in that web mask?

DUY: I'm usually an optimist about humanity, but there's no way this doctor isn't at least curious about taking off his mask. and also, the pickiest of nits, but how did Peter ever get this ripped?



BEN: Doctors do take a vow to do no harm.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: Mine:


DUY: And with this panel, Hobie Brown, AKA The Prowler, has established he's smarter than most of the Marvel Universe.




WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: Brown makes a quick appearance, establishes he's smarter than the rest of the Marvel Universe, establishes he's athletic enough to make people believe he can be Spider-Man for a panel or two, and throws off George Stacy for the moment. So Hobie Brown.

BEN: Easily Peter’s best plan ever. But yeah, Hobie in a landslide. though there’s no way he shouldn’t know Peter is Spider-Man now, on account of him wearing the exact same clothes as earlier. "I’m going to cover my face but not my yellow sweater and green pants. You talk to me in such a way that is obviously to convince everyone in the room I’m not Spider-Man."



DUY: Okay, maybe he's not that smart.

DOES GEORGE STACY KNOW?

DUY: You'd think no, because of the Prowler, but George's dialogue comes off as performative, as if he's helping "Spider-Man" with his script. That "revelation" is as obvious as it would be to a police captain of his abilities. And his thought balloon has nothing to do with the stunt proving Peter isn't Spider-Man — it's about Peter being cleared, and him being happy for Gwen.


COULD MARY JANE HAVE REALLY KNOWN?

BEN: It will eventually be retconned, down the line, that Mary Jane will have known Peter Parker was Spider-Man from the night Uncle Ben was killed. But if she did know, super harsh.


DUY: Well, I gotta say, among everyone else, she's taking it the most in stride.

BEN: It’s not definitive proof she doesn’t know, but it is proof she’s a jerk.

DUY: Let's say she's trying to deflect off the possibility that she knows. Is it really any worse than Spidey pretending to threaten Peter in front of Gwen and George?

BEN: Certainly there are nicer ways to do so.

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 tomorrow!

Apr 26, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #86

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Every day until the end of April, 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 #86
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee, John Romita Sr., and Jim Mooney

The Black Widow is here! And she debuts her classic costume!



POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: I cannot say with certainty I’ve ever read any of the comics between the Stone Tablet Saga and this one.

DUY: First appearance of Black Widow's skintight leather catsuit costume, which would be her classic, iconic costume.



DUY: Which must have been inspired by Emma Peel's costume from the TV show Avengers:




WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: A Woody Allen reference has, surprisingly, both aged pretty well in terms of recognition, and aged pretty badly given everything we now know about Woody Allen.


BEN: Stan wasn't joking about this.



DUY: Obviously Natasha's costume has aged really well, considering that they've tried changing it a few times and they keep going back to it, and it is a major improvement over her previous costumes.


WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

DUY: Stop calling them "Females", Peter! Stop it!



BEN: Ignoring the sexist first part, the second part is a really weird thing to say. Ugh:


DUY: "She feels you're keeping something from her!" Well, yeah. You are.

BEN: Argh!



BEN: Please Peter, give up your only source of income:


DUY: She isn't wrong though, he could literally work anywhere else.


NITPICKS

DUY: So is Anna Watson, like, May's maid now?


BEN: What could Anna possibly be getting out of that friendship?

DUY: A brand-spanking new maid uniform, that's what.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: Mine:


BEN: Too pervy? Fine, this one:


DUY: Look at Marvel back in the 70s, blatantly putting women in protagonist positions, and blatantly saying the guest appearances are a cash grab:


WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: This entire comic was a preview of Natasha's new featuring in Amazing Tales, so the Black Widow wins.

BEN: Or do we win?

DUY: Also, it's Amazing Adventures, so either some renaming happened, Stan forgot the title of something. Again.



BEN: Hey, he was older then than I am now, and I can’t even remember why I went to the kitchen sometimes.

DOES GEORGE STACY KNOW?

BEN: Yes, yes he does.



DUY: You know exactly why he's looking at you that way.

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

DUY: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

BEN: —for telling us we aren't the only ones.

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