Spider-Man in the Swinging 1960s: The Debuts of Mary Jane Watson and the Kingpin, Plus the Hulk!
Marvel Masterworks Amazing Spider-Man Volume 5!
Marvel Masterworks Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 collects issues No. 41-50 plus the lead story of Spider-Man Annual No. 3. John Romita had taken over the art chores on the series in issue No. 39, and he continues in this volume to make Spider-Man's secret identity a bit more handsome, a bit more filled out, than he was in earlier issues. Writer Stan Lee seems to really enjoy playing up the character's college life in the swinging 1960s, letting him buy a motorcycle and head to the go-go with his friends!
As for the superhero action, the stories in this volume are uniformly good. Villains Shocker, Rhino and the Kingpin make their debuts, as does a younger version of the Vulture. Here are some of the highlights of this collection. ISBN: 0785111905
Peter Parker Hits the Jackpot in Issue No. 42!
The Debut of Mary Jane Watson!
Amazing Spider-Man No. 42 is one of the most important in the entire series, and contains one of the most iconic panels in Marvel Comics' history. Aunt May had been trying to set Peter Parker, Spider-Man's secret identity, up with her friend's niece, Mary Jane Watson, since the girl was first mentioned in issue No. 15. A meeting never worked out, mainly because Parker is sure the girl must be a loser and he keeps evading the situation.
Finally, in the final panel of this issue there's no escape. He will have to meet her. ''Face it, Tiger ... You just hit the jackpot,'' says the gorgeous Mary Jane Watson in a panel that is one of the most well-known in Marvel Comics. Mary Jane, of course, would go on to become Spider-Man's wife!
The main tale, by the way, is about Spider-Man fighting John Jameson, the astronaut who is the son of famed Spider-Man hater J. Jonah Jameson. The astronaut gains temporary superpowers after being exposed to spores from Jupiter (right!) and his urged by his father to bring Spider-Man to justice. The astronaut fails, and Spider-Man cures him of the powers that have started to drive him crazy.
To Fight the Hulk! Guest-Starring the Avengers!
Spider-Man Annual No. 3
The set-up for Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 3 is pretty simple. The Avengers want to offer Spider-Man a place on the team, and send him off to find the Hulk as a test. Spider-Man does, and even defeats the Hulk. But after finding out just how tortured the Hulk's life is, Spider-Man can't bring himself to turn the Hulk over to the Avengers. So he lets the monster go and gives up trying to join the team. Little did he know that the Avengers only wanted to help the Hulk!.
One thing that is interesting about this issue is the art. John Romita did the main pencils, and in some panels are very good. But other pages were finished with the help of Don heck, who was nowhere near as talented, and it shows. Pay attention and you can really see the quality shift several times in the story. A good artist really makes a difference to the enjoyment of a comic book.
The other thing that is important to note: Spider-Man declining to join the Avengers very much was in line with writer Stan Lee's belief that Spider-Man should always be the loner of the Marvel Universe. It stayed that way for many decades until Marvel Comics, hell-bent on boosting sales, seemed to have Spider-Man join every super-team in existence!
Spider-Man No More! Plus the Debut of the Kingpin!
Amazing Spider-Man No. 50
Amazing Spider-Man No. 50 starts with the hero questioning why he risks his life doing good when no one seems to appreciate it, and he finally decides to quit. Of course, it doesn't last as he is reminded that ''with great power comes great responsibility.'' It wasn't the first or last time that Peter Parker had doubts about being Spider-Man, but this is one of the better-told tales about the topic.
The issue also marks the debut of the Kingpin, who would later become the chief nemesis of Daredevil.
Oh, and the the cover is one of Romita's best.
Spider-Man Battles the Vulture and Kraven the Hunter!
Amazing Spider-Man No. 47-49!
This is just a fun three-issue battle against two of Spider-Man's distinctive foes. First Spider-Man tangles with Kraven the Hunter in issue No. 47 but the villain gets away.
Spider-Man doesn't get a break, though, because a younger version of his old enemy the Vulture is terrorizing the city. Meanwhile, in keeping with Spider-Man's bad luck, the hero comes down with the flu.The Vulture is able to beat the ill Spider-Man, leaving him unconscious in the snow atop a skyscraper.
In the finale, Spider-Man leaves his sickbed and his forced to take on both the bad guys in a three-way battle.
Nothing dramatically changes in the life of the superhero during the three issues, but it is a fun tale and a good example of writer Stan Lee and John Romita's work from the era. I've always had a soft spot for issue No. 48, which was my oldest Spider-Man comic for many years when I was a child. It wasn't until I had a job as a teenager that I could afford to go buy the earlier issues.
Mary Jane Watson or Gwen Stacy? - Or do you think he should have stayed with Betty Brant?
Peter Parker, Spider-Man's secret identity, dated secretary Betty Brant in the early issues of the Amazing Spider-Man, but she was a part of his history by the time he started dating fellow college student Gwen Stacy. Parker and Stacy were a couple for a number of years before she was killed during a fight with the Green Goblin. Eventually, Parker would go on to marry Mary Jane Watson.
Above is a fun scene of Gwen dancing in issue No. 47, though dancing is one of those activities that never really are captured well on a comic-book page!
Who is Your Favorite Among Spider-Man's Lady Loves?
The Death of Gwen Stacy
Gwen Stacy was destined to play a very important role Spider-Man's life in the issues that follow those in this volume, She would be murdered years later in issue No. 121. I remember reading that issue as if were yesterday rather than 1973. Here's more details about that classic tale:
Growing Up With Spider-Man: The Day Gwen Stacy Died
Spider-Man's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, died 40 years ago this summer, marking the end of one era in comic books and introducing a realism into the lives of sup...
The Marvel Masterworks Series on Amazon - Start Your Collection Today!
The Marvel Masterworks 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 fun reading. A search on Amazon for ``Marvel Masterworks'' returns more than 900 books, so I'm sure there are some you will enjoy!
X-Men, Spider-Man, Captain America and Thor - Reviews of Marvel Masterworks Volumes
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Of Comic Books and Family Vacations
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Of Comic Books and Family Vacations: Who is GoldenRuleComics?
Who is GoldenRuleComics? Actually, the better question is who ARE GoldenRuleComics! I am the father of a teenage daughter, and we live in New Jersey. I handle the writing of our Squidoo articles, while she does the technical side of the things we do online...
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