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Spider-Man In the Early 1960s: The Green Goblin's Debut, Plus Daredevil and the Hulk!
Marvel Masterworks Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2: Heading Toward Greatness!
Marvel Masterworks Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 contains issues 11-19 of the original series, as well as Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 1 published in 1964. Writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko were beginning to hit their stride during these issues, making the relationships in Spider-Man's private life more complex while providing increasingly surprising twists in the superhero action.
After all, what other comic series would have Spider-Man, sick with the flu, beaten and unmasked by Dr. Octopus, and none of the characters really believe Peter Parker could be the REAL Spider-Man? Or what other series would have Spider-Man abandon a fight with the Green Goblin because he overheard a telephone conversation saying his aunt was in the hospital?
Here are some of the highlights of this collection. The ISBN for this book is 0785136940.
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Amazing Spider-Man No. 11-12: Spider-Man Defeated and Unmasked!
The Fight Against Dr. Octopus Leads to a Devastating Death!
This volume starts off with a two-part story that features the return of Dr. Octopus, who was my favorite Spider-Man villain. Spider-Man's girlfriend, Betty Brant, gets entangled with Dr. Octopus because of her no-good brother, who has fallen in with mobsters.
Spider-man, ill, tried to rescue her but is easily beaten by Dr. Octopus and unmasked. But no one really believes he is Spider-Man. They think Peter Parker just impersonated Spider-Man to try to rescue his girlfriend!
In the course of the story, Betty's brother is accidentally killed by some of the gangsters despite Spider-Man's attempt to rescue him. Betty ends up blaming Spider-Man for interfering, squashing his plans to reveal his identity to her!
Spider-Man Fights the Sinister Six!
Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 1
This extra-long story has one of the great set-ups of the Spider-Man series. Dr. Octopus, remembering that Spider-Man was very protective of Betty Brant, sends his goons to kidnap her to set a trap for the hero. But the gangsters also happen to nab his Aunt May, placing the two women closest to him in danger!
And Dr. Octopus has assembled five of Spider-Man's earliest foes to help fight the hero: Vulture, Electro, Sandman, Mysterio and Kraven the Hunter. Spider-Man must defeat each villain in separate battles to rescue the women, and of course he does. But artist Steve Ditko has a great time with the action, including a full-page shot of each confrontation that is worthy of being separate posters!
One of the more interesting points of this story is that Aunt May doesn't really understand what is happening, and finds Dr. Octopus to be the perfect gentleman. In years to come this kind feeling will lead to many sub-plots and complications for Spider-Man!
And just for the fun of it there's cameos in the annual from Thor, Dr. Strange, Fantastic Four, Giant-Man and The Wasp, Captain America, X-Men, Iron man -- none of whom actually have any impact on the story but emphasize just how small the Marvel Universe was back then.
The annual also had a gallery of Spider-Man's foes, as well as features about the supporting characters, places and his powers.
Also check out the three-page humor piece entitled ''How Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Create Spider-Man'' with Lee calling Ditko with all kinds of crazy ideas and Ditko being forced to draw the wildest scenes possible. It really is pretty funny!
The Sinister Six Vs. Spider-Man!
This is the great opening page of the Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 1, which almost screams its promises of thrills and chills!
Which Villain is Your Favorite Member of the Sinister Six?
The Debut of the Green Goblin! Plus the Incredible Hulk!
Amazing Spider-Man No. 14
This issue introduces the Green Goblin, the mysterious villain who would return again and again over the next 25 issues or so to torment Spider-Man before finally being stopped. The story is pretty silly. The Goblin arranges for Spider-Man to star in an action picture out in the Southwest so he and the Enforcers can eliminate the hero and the Goblin can take over New York. The plan is smashed when the Hulk accidentally intervenes.
You can see from the Green Goblin's very first appearance that writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko were building the villain up to be an arch-rival to Spider-Man. He escapes undefeated in this issue, and his identity isn't revealed. This was the start of a mystery that would grow more intense with every one of his appearances.
Daredevil Guest Stars as Spider-Man Fights the Circus of Crime!
Amazing Spider-Man No. 16
This is one of Daredevil's earliest appearances, since he is wearing the garish red and yellow costume that he abandoned after the first six issues of his comic book. Looking at the cover dates of this issue and the early Daredevils, it would appear this story takes place somewhere between Daredevil No. 3 and 4.
Spider-Man is tricked into attending a circus performance, where the villainous Ringmaster has hypnotized the entire audience so his confederates can steal all their money and valuables. But in the audience is Daredevil (don't ask why a blind man would attend a circus!) so the Ringmaster hypnotizes Spider-Man and orders him to stop Daredevil. The two heroes fight until Daredevil frees Spider-Man's mind. Daredevil then leaves so Spider-Man can beat up the Circus of Crime by himself!
One of the fun things about these early issues is that some of the villains are lightweights who wouldn't cause much trouble at all against the modern-day Spider-Man, who is now much stronger and more powerful than he was in his early appearances.
Marvel Masterworks for Sale
A search on Amazon for ``Marvel Masterworks'' returns more than 900 items! The series reprints many of the Marvel Comics originally published starting in the 1960s, as well as some pre-Marvel series from the 1940s and 1950s. The volumes are in full color on high quality paper, making for some nice reading. Check them out!
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