Archive for February, 2010

The Amazing Spider-Man #12

February 28, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
May 1964
*****
Dr. Octopus inspires Ditko once again. In a stunning twist, Ock unmaskes Parker in a Coney Island showdown but dismisses the teen as an imposter—all cuz Pete’s strength is sapped by a cold! Still, the “mistake” wins respect from Pete’s peers. A zoo escape pads out the issue, then a rousing climax.
[last issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #11]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #13]

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The Amazing Spider-Man #11

February 27, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
April 1964
*****
Spidey trails the recently paroled Dr. Octopus to Philly, where he learns Betty’s secret: she’s paying off her brother’s mob debt. Set mostly at night on a tramp freighter, the mood continues last ish‘s realistic, downbeat tone. The bro’s gunned down, Doc Ock escapes, & Betty blames Spider-Man.
[last issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #10]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #12]

The Amazing Spider-Man #10

February 26, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
March 1964
****
No flamboyant foes in colorful costumes this ish, just a gritty trio of skilled enforcers & a silver-masked kingpin organizing NYC’s crime. Pete’s @ half-power after donating blood to his sick aunt; Betty owes money but won’t say why; best of all, JJJ reveals his anti-Spidey motivation: self-hatred.
[last issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #9]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #11]

The Amazing Spider-Man #9

February 25, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
February 1964
*****
The heroic plot follows the usual formula, intro-ing a new Silver Age baddie:  a living dynamo w/ crazy headgear. As usual, the subplot makes the ish. Peter’s in a vise, faking photos to pay for his aunt’s surgery. But his gal Betty provides emo support & shows some vulnerability of her own.
[last issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #8]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #10]

The Amazing Spider-Man #8

February 24, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko & Jack Kirby
January 1964
A-story: **** // B-story: ***
Lee devotes issue #8 to teenagers. In a winsome A-story, Pete’s schoolyard throwdown w/ rival Flash Thompson gets interrupted by a robot run amuck. The B-plot sees Spidey crash a party thrown by the FF’s Torch. Both plots are mostly combat; compare Ditko’s acrobatic grace to Kirby’s brawling style.
[last issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #7]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #9]

The Amazing Spider-Man #7

February 23, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
December 1963
****
The  Vulture escapes from jail & nearly breaks Spidey’s arm! Tho’ Pete’s in a sling, he still bests the buzzard. This ish is more of a lark than previous ones, as Spider-Man & the Vulture wreck the Bugle’s offices. But it closes on an adorable romantic moment w/ secretary Betty Brant.
[last issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #6]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #8]

The Amazing Spider-Man #6

February 22, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
November 1963
****
Another colorful creep, a lizard-man, comes straight from a Marvel monster mag. Ignore his megalomania & dig his backstory: a family man, not a criminal, whose experimental serum devolves his brain & body. All that plus a trip to FL, more ethical behavior by Pete, & a blooming love subplot.
[last issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #5]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #7]

The Amazing Spider-Man #5

February 21, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
October 1963
***
For his move to a monthly schedule, Spidey faces Marvel’s arch-villain, Dr. Doom. They aren’t natural foes, & Ditko, his art looking rushed, doesn’t find the Doc’s schtick visually inspiring. But Peter finds an ally in JJJ’s cute secretary, while his bullying schoolmate, ironically, is a Spider-fan.
[last issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #4]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #6]

The Amazing Spider-Man #4

February 20, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
September 1963
*****
Ditko creates another visually memorable foe for our hero: a petty criminal with a body made of sand! But it’s small, clever touches that make Spidey’s world feel lived-in, like Peter stitching his torn mask himself or Jameson, his editor, deducting the cost of photo development from his paycheck.
[last issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #3]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #5]

The Amazing Spider-Man #3

February 19, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
July 1963
*****
Maybe a perfect comic book. Stan & Steve create a foe worthy of their hero: Dr. Octopus, an arrogant scientist bonded to his mechanical arms. Ditko loves those metal tentacles & stages an awesome fight. But the issue’s heart is everyman Pete’s principled reaction to a pep talk from Johnny Storm.
[last issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #2]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #4]

The Amazing Spider-Man #2

February 18, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
May 1963
A-story: **** // B-story: ***
Ditko pits his hero against a pair of gnarly foes: the Vulture, a crotchety criminal w/ artificial wings, who Pete defeats w/ technical know-how, & an alien infiltration ring, which Spidey duly busts. It’s still Ditko’s char (mask bisecting face = internal conflict!) tho’ Lee’s finding his voice.
[last issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #1]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #3]

The Amazing Spider-Man #1

February 17, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
March 1963
A-story: **** // B-story: ****
Peter Parker cracks wise as he performs preposterous acts, but he’s driven by anxiety. He has every reason to turn to crime: no money, no friends, rejected by guest-stars the Fantastic Four. Even when he rescues an astronaut mid-flight or catches a Red super-spy, he’s vilified by the NYC press.
[last issue: Amazing Fantasy #15]
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #2]

Amazing Fantasy #15

February 16, 2010

Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
August 1962
*****
Bookish teen meets radioactive spider. Spider-Man’s intro is a tight morality tale. Rather than fight crime, Peter parlays his powers into a show-biz gig. Hot-dogging, he ignores a robber who then kills his uncle! Ditko’s skittish art shows a nervous adolescent entering an adult world.
[next issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #1]

The Incredible Hulk #6

February 15, 2010

March 1963
Stan Lee // Steve Ditko
****

A Brainiac-type alien nearly conquers Earth, but Banner/Hulk bluffs him out. But why does his sidekick recruit a teen brigade? Ditko inks himself, just as he goes monthly on Spider-Man. His Hulk seems to mutate from panel to panel, & at one point has Banner’s head! His solution: wear a Hulk mask!

last issue: The Incredible Hulk #5

also indexed for Mar. ’63
The Amazing Spider-Man #1
The Fantastic Four #12
Journey into Mystery #90: Thor
Tales of Suspense #39: Iron Man

The Incredible Hulk #5

February 14, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
January 1963
a-story: *****
b-story: ***

Surly Hulk chafes at reverting back to Banner—a new wrinkle on the ‘milksop alter ego’! The a-story is a new approach for the mag, pitting him against an underground empire! The high point has him in gladiator combat w/ a robot! In the b-story, he performs feats of strength to rout the Red Chinese.

last issue: The Incredible Hulk #4
next issue: The Incredible Hulk #6

also indexed for Jan. ’63
The Fantastic Four #10
Journey into Mystery #88: Thor

The Incredible Hulk #4

February 13, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
November 1962
a-story: *****
b-story: ****

Kirby’s art gives troglodytic Hulk life thru leaps, thunderclaps, & a brutish face. The a-story flows great too, starting w/ an origin recap from lovestruck Betty Ross’ POV. Then Banner merges his brain w/ Hulk’s body via early Kirbytech! Story B is a lark: a goofball Red plot to capture Hulk.

next issue: The Incredible Hulk #3
next issue: The Incredible Hulk #5

also indexed for Nov. ’62
The Fantastic Four #8
Journey into Mystery #86: Thor

The Incredible Hulk #3

February 12, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
September 1962
a-story: ****
b-story: ***

The creators retool Hulk: an irradiated space-jaunt allows teen Rick Jones to control the Hulk. This variation on Captain Marvel banishes Banner altogether (no more Kirby metamorphosis?!) & discards the monster’s villainy. Then a Silver Age twist on the old crime-circus setup: a hypnotic ringmaster.

last issue: The Incredible Hulk #2
next issue: The Incredible Hulk #4

also indexed for Sept. ’62
The Fantastic Four #6

The Incredible Hulk #2

February 11, 2010

The Incredible Hulk #2Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
July 1962
****

With its scientist hero, nuclear monster, & alien invasion, Hulk is indebted to ’50s-style SF comics. The surprise is that the title char’s really the antagonist! Now green & fending off both toad-men & the US military, the Hulk’s alienated from all humanity. And he’s willing to conquer the Earth!

last issue: The Incredible Hulk #1
next issue: The Incredible Hulk #3

also indexed for Jul. ’62
The Fantastic Four #5

The Incredible Hulk #1

February 10, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
May 1962
*****

Like the Thing in FF, the Hulk’s more monster than superhero, a grey Jekyll-Hyde w/ Karloff looks. As a radioactive monstrosity attacked by the US military, he’s almost a villain! Sure the ish also has a Red spy; but it’s the heroic alter ego who wins the day using science & diplomacy.

next issue: The Incredible Hulk #2

also indexed for May ’62
The Fantastic Four #4