Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #18

Credits:

Cover Date: November 1964

Cover Artist: Steve Ditko

“The End of Spider-Man!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

With Aunt May near death and with money for her medications running out fast, Peter is unusually stressed out. How will he cope, when he is also dealing with girl problems and a very public backlash against Spider-Man?

Details:

  • Spider-Man has not been seen in public for weeks, ever since he left in the middle of a fight with the Green Goblin. Since then, Peter Parker has been caring for his seriously ill Aunt May. She has recovered a bit, but she is seriously ill, and they are running out of money for her medications.

  • Peter is so worried about Aunt May that he turns down a date with Liz Allan…

  • …and tries to cash in on his Spider-Man persona by agreeing to a trading card deal. But since the Green Goblin fight, Spidey’s public perception has bottomed-out, and his offer is refused.

  • Peter is so worried about his aunt that he isn’t even fighting crime! He worries that, if something happened to him, she would have no one to care for her. Instead, he calls the police, like a normal person.

  • Back at the Daily Bugle, Betty Brant is still mad that Peter didn’t take her to the Spider-Man Fan Club meeting last issue. J. Jonah Jameson is so happy from his supposed triumph over Spider-Man that he is starting to creep out his employees.

  • Betty has actually been dodging Peter’s calls to her home, too.

  • Peter is frustrated by the lack of understanding he’s been receiving in his personal and superhero identities. He has risked more than they know!

  • Desperate for cash, he even tries to sell his webbing formula to an adhesive company. They are impressed until they realize that it dissolves and is impermanent.

  • Spidey then accidentally runs into the Sandman. He’d like to fight the villain, but worries about who will care for Aunt May if he gets hurt.

  • Instead, he flees, and it is caught in video for the world to see.

  • The Human Torch doesn’t believe that Spider-Man is a coward, and tries to set up a meeting with Spidey. But Peter can’t leave Aunt May alone, so Johnny is left wondering what has happened to his frienemy.

  • That night, Spider-Man’s number-one fan, Flash Thompson, decides to roam the streets dressed as Spider-Man. His theory is that Spidey will rescue him if he gets into trouble.

  • It doesn’t go well. Flash gets badly beaten by some crooks.

  • Peter was on his way to help Flash —- he even rushed out in his civilian clothes to find Flash —- but the police intervened before he arrived.

  • Afterwards, Peter sees Betty on a date with another man. He doesn’t take it well.

  • Seeing super-heroics as a stressful waste of his life, Peter decides to quit being Spider-Man.

  • But almost as soon as he makes that decision, Peter gets good news about Aunt May. She has healed much better than expected, won’t need any more medicine (for now), and doesn’t need to be looked after by Peter!

  • Inspired by her gumption, Peter resolves to continue being a superhero and vows to rebuild Spider-Man’s heroic reputation.

Is It Good?

It is! There’s no super-heroics in this issue, but it is still captivating. I generally like “change of pace” comic issues, but this was an unusual one. While the reader understands and sympathizes with Peter’s decision to not get into fights, it was risky for Lee and Ditko to make him look (to other characters) like a coward. And then they showed Peter struggling with the stress, shame, and loneliness that came from his dual identities! That is so much more relatable than the “I have an artificial obstacle that prevents me from being with my girlfriend” issues of the other Marvel heroes. Lee and Ditko keep trying different things every month, and it’s working extremely well.

Continuity:

  • Doctor Octopus, Sandman, and Vulture last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1.  Kraven’s last appearance was either in that issue, or else in Tales of Suspense #58 (they both had October 1964 cover dates).
  • Anna “Watkins” is actually Anna Watson, whose niece Peter’s been trying to avoid a blind date with. I’m not sure why Stan called her “Watkins” in this issue, but it’s generally accepted as a mistake. She last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #15.
  • When the Human Torch sky-writes and tells Spidey to meet at their “last meeting place,” he means the Statue of Liberty. They met there in Strange Tales Annual #2.

  • While he isn’t named in this issue, this is the first appearance of Ned Leeds.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • I really like the idea of the Vulture reading a newspaper, in costume, on an outdoor perch. As a wanted criminal, maybe he should keep a lower profile in public?

  • Wasp is hilariously petty.

  • If you’re impressed by a technology, but don’t see an immediate application, should t you try to buy it on the cheap? Like, would these guys have passed on 3M sticky notes, too?

<<<Amazing Spider-Man #17

<<<Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1

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