May 28, 2020

Spider-Rama: Marvel Super-Heroes #14


Welcome to Spider-Rama! Every weekday until the end of May, 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!

MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #14
by Stan Lee and Ross Andri

Spider-Man is controlled by a new villain called The Sorcerer to fight a robot called The Synthetic Man for really no reason, but it's the first published work of artist Ross Andru on Spider-Man, and he's going to be important.



POINTLESS TRIVIA 

DUY: So here's the thing, readers... we weren't gonna do this. We do Spider-Rama ahead of time, and we were actually already on Amazing Spider-Man #176, and a recurring theme is (spoilers) that we both love Ross Andru's artwork so much, that we couldn't not do this issue. At some point in 1968, John Romita Sr. was hurt and it seemed he couldn't make his deadline for a Spidey issue. So Stan worked with Ross Andru for a fill-in - Ross at the time was at DC doing mostly Superman, plus some issues of Brave and the Bold. But Romita made his deadline anyway, so this became an inventory issue, that they released for this series with rotating characters and creators. It's Andru's first Spider-Man work, and his only collaboration with Stan Lee.

BEN: Anecdotally, I feel like I’ve seen this comic displayed for sale in a lot of comic stores in my life, and I still have never read it until now.

WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: This is Ross Andru's first panel. Elaborately detailed backgrounds and establishing shots will be a theme throughout his entire run on Spider-Man


BEN: If only we had the foresight to do a broken window count.


DUY: Oh yeah, that will also be a thing.

BEN: I think we can agree it’s a good thing this story didn’t get published in Amazing Spider-Man, perhaps preventing these villains from ever appearing again.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

DUY:  Mind control will also be a recurrent-to-the-point-of-lazy theme, although I don't see how that'd be Andru's fault.


BEN: The Manchurian Candidate was released in 1962. Project MKUltra, which involved the CIA using LSD as well as other things in mind control experiments, was made public in 1975. LSD rose to prominence as a recreational drug in the ‘60s, and many ‘70s comic book writers admit having experimented with the drug. Some of the reasons it might have become so predominant in superhero comics at the time.

DUY: The Sorcerer controls the robot The Synthetic Man from his home, and he basically loses because a mailman presses the doorbell at the wrong time.


BEN: Defeated by irony and a doorbell.

NITPICKS

BEN: 
How did Peter have money for airfare?



DUY: Why take the time to design a robot with individual toes?

BEN: You can’t improve upon the design of the human body? 

FAVORITE PANEL

DUY: Andru's only portrayal of classic pre-headband Gwen.



BEN: Peter sending gorgeous women out of his bedroom is going to be a thing, perplexingly.

WHO WON THE COMIC? 

DUY: Ross Andru is an incredible artist, and I think even in this trial story from five years before he'd take over the book, you can already see the potential. Anyone who's discovering him for the first time or rediscovering him is in for a treat.



BEN: Yeah, his action layouts were already on point.


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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