Saturday, April 06, 2013

Amazing Spider-Man #25 through #30.

The next five issues from my collection are on display here. Ditko was becoming more and more ambitious in his storytelling. He was not only expanding what had been the limitations of the classic comic book panel, he was also pushing the limitations of what had been the formulaic superhero script. Much has been written about the angst of the Ditko Spider-Man stories (credit going to someone other than Ditko on that). This was heartfelt material from the artist/writer--material so powerful that not even a pushy editor could screw up the emotional power of Ditko's storytelling.

(Continued from: 21-25.)

I've mentioned this issue in other essays. Here we have the Crime Master, another of Ditko's villains whose secret identity is even secret from the reader. We find the Crime Master and the Green Goblin at odds over which of them is going to rule the underworld turf. With Spider-Man caught in the middle.

Spider-Man at the mercy of the villains and their henchmen! But this is the old Spider-Man who was one of the most physically powerful characters in the old Marvel Universe. Back then, only a handful of super-powered dudes were stronger than Spidey--Hulk, Thing, Thor...that was about it. Battleship chain? That would slow him down, but ultimately...something he could break!

Good grief this is a brilliant cover. And not just a brilliant cover, but an inspired super-villain. The Molten Man was a fellow given super powers by accidentally getting drenched in a metallic alloy that was liquid at room temperature. The stuff is absorbed by the guy's body turning him the same golden hue as the metal, and giving him both super-strength and a measure of physical invulnerability. As with the Scorpion, it's stated that he's probably even stronger than Spider-Man, so the hero has to really use his wits to defeat him. Because of the black cover, this issue is almost impossible to find in the highest grades (even the slightest crease or blemish is spotlit against that ebony background). Thus, it's in very high demand as a collectible comic in grades higher than fine. I settled--as I generally always do--for a lesser condition copy. As I like to say, I actually read my old comics.

Another issue I've written about. Once more Spider-Man has to face off against a villain who is stronger than he. And once more Parker has to use his wits to find something that gives him an edge. The Scorpion costume is one of the best villain uniforms Ditko ever created. He took the basic segmented appearance of the arachnid animal and incorporated it brilliantly into the costume. No one was better at this kind of iconic thing than Ditko.

This is actually not one of my favorite Spider-Man covers. It's almost ineffective in many ways. I'm not quite sure what Ditko was after with this one, but it made it past the editor. Ditko was constantly trying to pit Spider-Man against foes who were human. The Cat was one of the most human of his early villains. No super powers whatsoever. Just a highly trained burglar with some weapons at his disposal. Of course some explosives can cause a lot of trouble for even a guy who can pick up 12 tons and cling to walls.


Henry R. Kujawa said...

ASM #29 -- As I said, this was the 2nd HALF of the 1st Scorpion cartoon. Crazy. The very last episode Grantray-Lawrence did-- the 2nd season opener-- brought back The Scorpion for a sequel. But because they'd already done BOTH Ditko stories earlier (in a single cartoon), they wound up writing an entirely NEW story. That one involved him taking a different potion, which caused him to GROW... into a GIANT Scorpion! Where's Gi-ANT Man when you need him?

ASM #30 -- As I also said, the image on this cover seems to have inspired the 2nd half of "PARDO PRESENTS", except instead of a normal guy in a cat-burglar costume, you have a cat-burglar who's able to turn himself into a GIANT CAT. "MMMMRRRRROWWWWWW!" "Here, kitty!" They even incorpoirated the police with the search-lights!

James Robert Smith said...

Someday I'll rent the video of those cartoons and take a look. All I recall is that as a kid I was disappointed in the Saturday morning cartoon of Spider-Man.

Wasn't this one of the reasons that Ditko got angry with Marvel? They were using his plots and images in cartoons and had promised to pay him, but no money was ever forthcoming.

Kirk G said...

The cover for #30, "The Claws of the Cat" certainly doesn't feel like most of the others of this period. In a lot of ways, this feels more like a Wally Wood action cover than Ditko's posed Spider-Man.

James Robert Smith said...

That cover always puzzled me. Mainly because I don't find it attractive at all. It would never have made me buy the book. Also, it just looks like something Lee would have rejected.