Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #4

Cover Date:

September 1963

“Nothing Can Stop…the Sandman!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Script: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

Cover Artist: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

A super-powered villain, the Sandman, has come to New York City to commit some crimes, and the police can’t stop him. Spider-Man doesn’t have much luck, either —- but he’ll have to try when the Sandman invaded his high school!

Is It Good?

While the way Spidey ultimately defeats Sandman is kind of cheap, the rest of the issue is fun. Sandman has pretty unusual powers (for this era, anyway), and Ditko clearly has fun making the fight scenes unique. What continues to drive the series, though, is Peter Parker’s despair. That feels weird to say, but his relatable problems are what set this character apart from the rest of Marvel.

Sub-Plots:

  • Spider-Man tries to prevent a robbery before it happens, but the hoodlums try to get Spidey arrested for assault!
  • J. Jonah Jameson’s smear campaign against Spider-Man continues, although it has moved from Now! magazine to the Daily Bugle newspaper.

  • Spider-Man tries to apprehend the Sandman, but his mask rips in the fight. Spidey escapes, rather than risk revealing his secret identity.

  • Peter apparently asked Liz Allen out on a date between issues, and she said yes!

  • Unfortunately, Peter cancels the date to devise a way to defeat the Sandman.

  • On the run after robbing a bank, the Sandman needs to find a place to hide out and rest while the police search for him. He decides to hide in Peter Parker’s high school.
  • Peter quickly changes into his Spider-Man costume to battle Sandman. It does not go well for Spidey at first.

  • Eventually, the fight reaches the school’s boiler room, and Spider-Man is able to use the school’s industrial vacuum to capture the Sandman.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of the Sandman, Flint Marko.

  • Betty Brant makes her first appearance this issue, too.

  • Flint Marko gained his superpowers thanks to atomic testing.

  • The letters page has two letters asking about the title of this comic book. While I had surmised the answers before, it is nice that Marvel explained these things to their fans.

  • There is a house ad for Marvel’s newest super-team in the letters page.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Peter’s worst-case scenario for his secret identity being revealed involves Aunt May selling…shoelaces?

  • Didn’t Peter sew this costume from scratch in the first place? Why is this any harder?

  • If I was a police officer chasing the Sandman, I would probably keep an eye out for 175lbs of sand in a random vacant lot.

  • Puny Peter Parker is a “husky” boy!

  • After robbing a bank, the Sandman decides to hide in Peter’s high school while the police search for him. Once there, he demands that the school principal give him a diploma. That’s…an odd move.

  • I love this scene of Spider-Man punching regular (read: not Sandman’s) sand so that he can sell pictures of the fight to J. Jonah Jameson. Fraud can be funny, sometimes.

  • You’ve got to love that the Sandman is defeated by a vacuum.
  • The “reasonable cop that doesn’t believe Spider-Man’s negative press” is a trope that will be familiar to readers for years. An officer that calls out JJJ to his face, though, that is pretty rare.

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