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!

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?


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.


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:


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.


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.


BEN: Mine:

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


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.


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.


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!

1 comment:

Arthur S. said...

This is among my favorite issues in the Lee-Romita era. Psychologically, this issue is peak Spider-Man. It goes into the heart of Peter having "impostor syndrome". He constantly has this sense about stuff being too good to last so he performs an act of sabotage. He does it again more spectacularly in ASM#100. Peter's actions to Gwen...revealing himself as Spider-Man and then getting Hobie to basically "undo" or Ctrl+Z what he did, is gaslighting pure and simple. So there's an element of cruelty there as well.

But at the same time, seeing Gwen so totally reject, hysterically reject, Peter on the possibility of him being Spider-Man has got to be painful and sad. And it's beyond questionable that Peter stays in a relationship with Gwen after this issue, when he knows how she feels about his alter-ego. It's very much a guy staying in a dead-end relationship. I think MJ knowing the identity and her taunting Gwen is cheeky...and a kind of one-upmanship on her part. She never rejected Peter for his double-life after all.

Hobie Brown technically becomes the first legacy character of Spider-Man in this issue. He's another character who wears the Spider-Man costume and Lee chose an African-American kid for it. Bendis-Pichelli divided the Prowler into Jefferson, Aaron and Miles Morales. Jefferson is the reformed criminal, Aaron is the Prowler unredeemed, and Miles gets to wear the mask.

ASM#87 is the start of the final purple patch in Lee-Romita's run. From 87 to 98, you have great stories (The Death of George Stacy, The 2-Part Sam Bullitt story, The Drug Trilogy). After that, it plateaus until Conway's ASM#121-122

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