Cover Price: $.12

#53
October 1967

Value: $200 (Near Mint-)

 

Supporting Cast:
Miles Warren, Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy, Flash Thompson, Mary Jane Watson, J. Jonah Jameson, Aunt May, Anna Watson

Guests:


Villains:
Doctor Octopus

"Enter: Dr. Octopus" - 20 Pages


Writer -
Stan Lee
Artist - John Romita
Inker - Mickey Demeo
Cover - John Romita
Lettering - Artie Simek

What is more fun for a Spider-Man fan than a good Stan Lee/ John Romita tale? This is one of those classics from that era. Like most of the stories from this period, this new story arc starts where the last one finished. Spider-Man is perched in a web by the Daily Bugle and reading publisher J. Jonah Jamesonís twisted version of the events from the last few issues. For those of you who didnít read them (you know who you are), the last story arc saw the first appearance of the Kingpin, Peter giving up Spider-Man (for an issue anyway) and the death of Fredrick Foswell. Although Foswell turned back to crime before he died, his death was one of a hero. The paper treats him and Jameson as such.

Spider-Man is not happy about Jamesonís version of the story and Jameson is not happy about Spider-Manís presence distracting his coworkers. Spider-Man throws some classic Stan Lee insults Jonahís way before swinging into the city. He realizes that it is almost time for class and he will have to change at school. Luckily he has his clothes in a web pack on his back. He takes his swinging self over to the University. Did I mention that Flash also made a visit last story arc? Well I did now. Flash received his draft notice in Amazing Spider-Man #43 and left for Vietnam in Amazing Spider-Man #47. In this issue,  he is back for a visit before being shipped away again. He notices his hero going by the University and calls for him. Gwen is with him and they talk Spidey for a little while. During there conversation none of them ponder what he is doing at Empire State University. Harry Osborn shows up and he does not look too happy. He is looking for Peter and is not thrilled about his constant absences. Flash just tells Harry that Peter will always be an itch. Gwen states, much to the confusion of poor Flash, that she would rather itch than scratch.

Spider-Man has found the perfect spot to change. He enters the empty gym and puts on his clothes to become Peter Parker. Just as he is finishing, Professor Miles Warren enters the gym to investigate the noise. Peter has finished in the nick of time. He merely tells Warren that he was exercising. Warren points out Peterís Spidey suit thinking it is an undershirt. Pete tucks it in before Warren notices the web pattern. His secret is safe from Warren... for now. Warren tells Peter he has two extra tickets for a science expo after class. He is inviting Peter to go with him and tells him he could invite a friend also. Peter finds just the friend to invite and it isnít Mary Jane. Before he could finish asking Gwen what she has planned, Harry walks by and gives Peter the big freeze. Gwen informs Peter that Harry is mad at his disappearing act. Okay Spidey fans here is your milestone moment. After over twenty issues of following their pride and pointless misunderstandings, Peter finally asks Gwen out for a date. Gwen finally drops her pride and accepts. Peter presents his choice to Warren who says he admires it. Am I the only one who thinks Warren had it planned like that all along? The duo meets up with Flash and Harry. Flash wants to take Gwen out dancing but she informs him she has a date with Peter. Harry grudgingly tells Flash that Gwen isnít joking. Now remember that truce that Flash and Peter had back in Amazing Spider-Man #47? Well forget about it now because the two are at it again. Flash and Pete argue a bit before Gwen breaks it up. Peter and Gwen go with the Professor while Harry and Flash discuss Pete.

The expo is to demonstrate this new device called a Nullifier. It is a missile defense system, which nullifies enemy missiles. Peter thinks that the best part is being with Gwen. His spider sense begins to tingle. He canít slip away though or somebody would suspect something. The demonstration starts and a man in the audience makes his presence known. It is the presence of Doctor Octopus! The cops try to stop him. Silly silly cops. They want to use tear gas but canít because of the civilians. Well the civilians are not going to remain a problem for long because now they are running away. The confusion is just what Peter needs in order to change into Spider-Man without arousing suspicion. The cops did try to use the nerve gas on Ock but his tentacles swept them away. Spider-Man shows up stop Ock. By now Doc Ock has the Nullifier and is not letting it go. He brags about how he can still fight Spidey with his tentacles without letting go of his precious prize. The fight is taken outside to the roof of the building. Gwen and Warren are still down below and have no idea where Peter is. Gwen is getting mighty worried. Spider-Man now has Ock and webs his glasses. He is ready to be finished up. Ock threatens to drop the nullifier down to the streets below and injure the crowd. Old Ock knows Spider-Man wonít have time to stop him and save the crowd. He stops the falling device (but not before putting a tracer on old Doc Ock) while Doctor Octopus escapes. Although he does not have the benefit of his vision, he is able to use his tentacles to feel what is around him.

Doc Ock uses this opportunity to remind us that he has gotten out of much tighter spots. We now find out how he survived drowning at the end of the Master Planner storyline, from Amazing Spider-Man #31-33, where he appeared only in Amazing Spider-Man #32. He had used his tentacles to put himself into an air pocket until he found his oxygen tank. After the flashback, the web melts away from Ockís glasses and he notices the tracer on him. Ever the genius, Ock decides a trap is in order. Back at the site of the demonstration, Warren and Gwen are getting pretty worried about Peter until he returns. Gwen is overjoyed to see Peter and makes no attempt at hiding it. She doesnít even except an explanation. During the car ride away Warren talks about Spider-Man and is very perplexed by him. ďImagine learning what motivates such a man! Is it altruism or deep-rooted Schizophrenia? Perhaps I should make an army of clones of him and confuse all of his fansĒ. Okay he didnít say the part about the clones, I just couldnít resist that, but he really did say the rest.
Warren drops Gwen and Peter off at the coffee house where Flash, Harry and Mary Jane are at a table. The three of them all are reacting differently to Gwen going out with Peter. Flash still cannot believe and thinks Gwen lost a bet. Mary Jane informs Gwen that she only leant him to her. Harry is silent and Peter suspects he is jealous. Remember folks, Gwen was Harryís girl at the time. Aunt May and Anna Watson walk in with smiles on there pretty little faces. Aunt May tells Pete she followed me in because she was so excited about the news. She and Anna just put an advertisement in the paper for a room in their place up for rent. That is what they were excited about? That is what she followed Pete into the coffee house to tell him? She must not get out much. Peter tells the gang he is going to walk Aunt May and Anna Watson home. He is just doing this so he can get away and find Doctor Octopus again. Harry and Flash donít seem to be disappointed that he is gone while Mary Jane and Gwen sing a different tune. Although Mary Janeís tune is bit shallow but that is how she was written at the time.

It is a good thing for Doctor Octopus that Stan and John have given Peter a steady group of friends. For if this was the Steve Ditko era Peter would have found Doctor Octopus before his trap was set. However, this is not the Steve Ditko era so while Pete was at the coffee house, Doctor Octopus set his trap. Doctor Octopus attached the spider tracer to a chair (big mistake) where a replica of his was sitting. Now all he has to do is wait for Spider-Man to fall for the trap. Spider-Man is following his tracer and he is about to storm Docís hideout but hesitates when his spider sense warns him it may be a trap. He cautiously peeks in and spies the replica Ock sitting in a chair. Spidey does not think it is a trap but his spider sense does. Spider-Man notices the spider tracer in the chair and wonders how it crawled there. I told you it was a bad idea to attach it their Ock! Spider-Man smells a rat so webs up a ball and throws it at the replica just to be safe. Better safe than sorry, and boy would Spider-Man have been sorry because as soon as the web ball did its thing the hideout blows up. Lucky for Spidey he ducked for cover after throwing the ball. Since Ock canít see the last few pages like we can he thinks Spider-Man is dead. He realizes that with his attempted theft of the nullifier, everyone will be after him. He needs to lie low in the most unlikely space. Spider-Man is also wondering where Ock is and when he will find him. If only Spidey could see the next issue caption. Remember that add that May and Anna placed in the paper? Well guess who is responding to it? For those of you who need reassurance that your guess is right: Its Doctor Octopus! Next issue promises to be very interesting.

This issue was another Lee and Romita classic. Having Flash back was a nice touch since we hadnít seen him and Pete interact in a while. I guess those two have a long way to go before they do become friends. The use of the supporting cast was pretty good this issue. Only Stan Lee could write Spideyís interaction with Jonah so well. Professor Warren provided some really good foreshadowing this issue. For those of you who donít know, it is revealed in Amazing Spider-Man #149 that Professor Warren was hopelessly in love with Gwen Stacy. After her death he cloned both her and Spider-Man and started the clone saga. Who honestly buys three tickets to a science expo? I think he knew it would look strange if he asked Gwen so he asked Peter knowing he would ask Gwen. Although the whole obsession thing was established years later, it fits in perfectly with the events of this issue.

Doctor Octopus made a nice return and proves to be a foe with Spider-Man in the brains and brawns area. Although it is hard to follow up with the Master Planner storyline, his return did not disappoint either. Gwen is really evolving as a character. Remember that strong pride and quick temper she had in the Ditko era? All gone. She and Peter act mature and are no longer playing games. He just asks her out straight away and she does not hold back her positive reaction. John Romita finally got a chance to draw Doctor Octopus and he does an okay job. I always preferred Ditkoís take on villains and Romitaís take on supporting characters. It is still nice to see what Romita did to this classic villain. He is not Ditko but he is a good Romita. Next issue things get real interesting when Aunt May barges in to see Spider-Man attacking that sweet new border of hers.

by Julio Barone

Quality Rating: 4
Significance Rating: 4

Overall Rating:

8

Reprinted In:
Marvel Tales
#38
Spider-Man Comics Magazine (Digest)
#1
Spider-Man Essentials
III

Amazing Spider-Man #52

Also This Month:

No Other Spider-Man Comics this month.

Amazing Spider-Man #54