May 6, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man Annual #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!

This week, we're pulling double duty because we skipped Spider-Rama last week due to Avengers: Endgame taking over everything.

by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Spider-Man loses his powers, but must find a way to defeat six of his deadliest enemies, with Aunt May's and Betty Brant’s lives hanging in the balance.


BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • The Vulture: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Doctor Octopus: 4
  • Electro: 2
  • Kraven the Hunter: 2
  • Mysterio: 2
  • Sandman: 2
BEN:  This is the fourth Human Torch appearance, and it’s established that Doctor Octopus has telepathic control of his arms even when they’re removed from him.  "Proportional strength of a spider" is used several times in the back-up material. It’s revealed his webbing dissolves after one hour. And finally he remembers Uncle Ben and recaps his origin!

DUY: It takes them 16 issues and an annual for them to remember that he's responsible for Ben's death!

BEN: That’s over a year of publishing time, probably two years considering Amazing didn’t start out monthly. It’s funny how integral and influential his origin is remembered, and the creators didn’t even play off it directly at the beginning.

DUY: He even uses the phrase "partially responsible" here. It's just going to get heavier and heavier over the decades. And people get mad at me when I say that this is guilt, but a definition of guilt is "a feeling of shame or regret as a result of bad conduct," and another is "feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy." That's Peter Parker to a T. He channels that into a sense of responsibility, but the core of it is a feeling of guilt.


BEN: The cameos by the rest of the Marvel superheroes added a little bit of extra specialness to the story. Made it seem like a real event.

DUY: The entire idea of just crossing paths really quickly with the other heroes is great. It's really a contributor to the shared universe thing and I wish the movies would just do it. Thus far it's only really happened with Ant-Man and the Falcon, and Dr. Strange in Thor: Ragnarok.

BEN: The full page splashes have the desired effect, especially considering they weren’t common back then.


BEN: The spark of sexual attraction between May and Otto taking place before our very eyes.

DUY: Every single goddamn thing about Aunt May. Good God, she's a terrible stereotype of the worrying parent.

BEN: You can’t even imagine putting Marisa Tomei in this scenario. Though that would make Ock’s boner more believable.


BEN:  I used to think the villains fighting him one at a time was a stupid idea, but I can see how they each might want to be the one to defeat him alone. Still, it’s not as intimidating as all six at once.

DUY: Fighting him one by one is so dumb, because Kraven at the very start flat-out says they should all team up and he'd have no chance. Also, Kraven is part of the team, but the Chameleon isn't. That only makes sense in the sense that it doesn't.

BEN: Also, he used his spider-sense to read the damaged notecard?


BEN: Mine is this:

DUY: I love how JJJ is becoming more and more of a comedy act. But this one is mine:


DUY: Spider-Man for this one. This is clearly his highlight.

BEN: They did a great job of making it feel like a Spider-Man celebration. But what about Dr. Octopus? Ock was clearly the premiere villain at this point, getting the coveted final matchup, but I wonder if the rest of the bad guys were lined up in order of preference to Stan and/or Ditko.

DUY: He's also clearly the boss, but to be fair, who else would it be? Look at that lineup. No one screams "leader" to me.


BEN: Is this the best annual ever? It’s definitely the best Spider-Man annual. The only other one that comes to mind is Giant Size X-Men, and that’s technically not an annual. The Superman annual with Mongul and the Black Mercy?

DUY:  As good as that Superman annual was, it doesn't really feel like a "big" Superman story (or maybe it did at the time). This has the feeling of a big season finale.

BEN: That’s an apt analogy. All the villains of the first “season” teaming up. Each fight had a montage kind of feel.

DUY: I might give it to this one just for kicking off the silly bonuses, like "How Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Create Spider-Man!" Enjoy!

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 week!

1 comment:

Daniel said...

It's two years by cover date: AF #15 was August 1962, Annual #1 was September 1964. And in those days, characters didn't do the continuous deep-dive into their navels that we seem to expect from comics nowadays. Everything doesn't have to tie into the origin or retcon some new facet in or out.

Oh, by the way, the Superman annual you refer to (#11, Sept 1985) *was* a big deal in its day--and for my money still is. How seldom we saw the Man of Steel really lose his temper--and never with better reason.

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