Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Classics #2 - The Amazing Spider-Man #25

Taking second place in my list of "Top 10 Spider-Man comics by Stan and Steve" is the issue titled "Captured by J. Jonah Jameson!"

It's a comic that reminds me of one of my Dad's favorite sayings: "Nothing will get you in trouble faster than your big, fat mouth."

It's advice that Peter Parker has to learn the hard way. While at the offices of the Daily Bugle, Peter sees a scientist trying to show Jameson an invention that's guaranteed to stop Spider-Man.

Jameson thinks he's a kook, but Peter sees a chance to get J.J.J.'s goat, so he hounds his boss into letting the inventor demonstrate his creation, and Peter rapidly realizes that Smythe is no crackpot - his robot is a genuine threat!

The robot projects an image of the person at the controls onto a facescreen, so we soon see this robot chasing Spider-Man across town, with Jameson's gleeful, horrific face gloating every step of the way.

As Smythe predicted, Spider-Man can't fight the robot (it's too strong), he can't outrun it (it never tires), and he can't hide from it, because it tracks him by his spider impulses (whatever those are).

The cross-town battle is amazing to watch, and the ending is a pure delight.

And let me say what an ingenious creation Jameson is. With most villains, the hero beats them and throws them in jail. But Jameson is not really evil, he's just petty and annoying and a constant thorn in Spider-Man's side. He's the perfect straw man.

Since he's just an annoying blowhard, he can show up in every issue, making problems for Spider-Man (or Peter Parker), creating dramatic problems to be overcome, without the writer having to worry about making sure he's punished. He's the Vince McMahon of comics (a reference for all you wrestling fans out there).

At this point in the series, Lee and Ditko are really hitting their stride. Ditko's art is masterful, moving from soap opera antics to high-flying acrobatics without missing a beat.

Lee also manages to combine comedy, drama and human interest into a perfect blend.

This issue is also notable because it's the first time we "see" Mary Jane Watson, although her face is hidden. For the first time we realize she's a beauty - something Peter won't find out for about a year!

So how do you beat a nearly-perfect issue of Spider-Man? Be here tomorrow and we'll look at the perfect issue.

Grade: A+

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