Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Classics - Amazing Spider-Man #42

   While we typically don't like to spoil the ending of stories, we'll make a bit of an exception here - because the final panels of this classic issue are among the most iconic of all time.

   The Amazing Spider-Man title had been rocked a few months before this issue (with a cover date of November 1966) with the departure of artist and co-creator Steve Ditko.

   It's not easy to deal with the departure of a genius, especially one who laid the foundation for the character.

   But writer and editor Stan Lee was smart enough to pick John Romita as Ditko's replacement - a good idea, since Romita was also a genius.

   This issue is proof, as it offers up a run-of-the-mill opponent for Spider-Man - namely, J. Jonah Jameson's son, astronaut Col. John Jameson!

   Affected by mysterious space spores, John suddenly develops incredible strength, dons a special costume and decides to use his powers to become a hero. His first opponent is Spider-Man, who's accused of robbing a bank.

   It's all pretty standard stuff, but Romita provides a rip-snorting fight between the two, and Lee provides his usual light-hearted (and very entertaining) banter.

   It makes for a fun adventure - but the real treat was on the final page. For months Peter Parker had been avoiding attempts by Aunt May to arrange a date with her friend's niece. The reader had never seen her face, either (though Betty Brant and Gwen Stacy met her at one point).

    Peter is convinced that Mary Jane Watson is - well, let's say, unattractive - why else would she be available for a blind date?

   It's a classic bit of misdirection, and the final panels allow us to enjoy the shock on Peter's face as he realizes his terrible mistake. It's a striking moment, loaded with comic and romantic potential - and it was the starting point for a long-running and mighty entertaining relationship between the two classic characters.

   The image brings a smile to this day - 50 years later!

Grade: A



Billy Hogan said...

I had this issue as a kid in the 1960's, but sadly, it did not survive childhood.

Cephas said...

Ditko kept giving hints but man am I glad they waited for Romita to introduce how she looked! I sure loved this era of ASM comics.

Chuck said...

Billy, my copy is well-read but somehow it survived!

Cephas, I agree - no one drew more beautiful women in comics than Romita!