Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #19

Credits:

Cover Date: December 1964

Cover Artist: Steve Ditko

“Spidey Strikes Back!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

After being branded a coward last issue, Spider-Man is ready to prove the doubters wrong and be proclaimed a hero once more!

Details:

  • No longer needing to worry about Aunt May, Peter Parker has resumed his duties as Spider-Man, and he makes a splashy return to the limelight:

  • When the news breaks that Spidey is back, and he is beating up baddies again, J. Jonah Jameson loses the smirk he has had since last issue.

  • Elsewhere, the Enforcers and Sandman team-up to defeat the Human Torch. For the time being, at least, the Enforcers are taking orders from Sandman.

  • Back at school, the positive coverage of Spider-Man boosts his popularity with the local kids. As a result, Flash Thompson’s Spider-Man Fan Club finally starts to attract some members.

  • After school, Spidey follows one of the Enforcers to a criminal hide-out, where he beats up some random baddies. The Enforcers escape during the melee, but some other criminals are arrested.

  • At the Daily Bugle, Peter is introduced to Betty Brant’s new boyfriend, Ned Leeds. Peter handles the situation gracefully.

  • Meanwhile, the Sandman hatches a plan to lure Spider-Man into a trap. He and the Enforcers will use the captured Human Torch as bait!

  • Working on a tip from a stool pigeon, Spider-Man heads right into the villains’ trap. He goes in expecting trouble, though, so he’s not surprised when he winds up fighting Sandman and the Enforcers at the same time.

  • Spidey is holding his own, but it is clear that he is outnumbered. He frees the Human Torch to even the odds.

  • The duo make short work of the Enforcers and some other random criminal underlings…

  • …but they get in each other’s way when chasing after the Sandman.

  • The Sandman escapes from the heroes, but runs into some police officers. Too tired to fight them, the Sandman surrenders.

  • A hero once more in the public eye, Peter has had a great few days. Perhaps that is why he doesn’t notice when a mysterious man starts surveilling him after school. Who is spying on Peter Parker, and on whose orders? We’ll probably find out next month!

Is It Good?

Yes! Last issue was very good, despite having no real super-heroics. This issue doesn’t have as good of a plot, but it has a lot of fun fight scenes, and Spider-Man being victorious and Peter feeling good —- and it’s rare that those two things coincide in this title. The action is balanced by several scenes that check in on subplots that have been simmering in the background for a while. I like these scenes, and I love that Stan and Steve are keeping track of the many subplots they have started, but they are sprinkled throughout the plot in such a way that it doesn’t feel natural; in many cases, they feel like interruptions, rather than like they organically branch off from the main plot.

Continuity:

  • This issue takes place after Strange Tales #127, even though they share the same cover date.

  • The Human Torch is, once again, threatened by asbestos.

  • The Enforcers (Fancy Dan, Montana, & Ox) last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #14.
  • Sandman last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #18.
  • Check it out! We have a super-villain precursor to the classic X-Men “fastball special”:

  • We saw Ned Leeds briefly last issue, but he is officially introduced here and given a name. He is Betty’s new boyfriend.
  • Peter and Betty Brant’s relationship is up in the air now, as she has another boyfriend; Peter is still asking her out on dates, though, which is a reminder of how old these comics are.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • WHY DO YOU CARE, BETTY? You have a new boyfriend, and you’re now in friendly terms with your ex. Don’t be petty, girl!

  • I don’t really understand dating in the ‘60’s, but I do understand this: Betty is insecure.

<<<Amazing Spider-Man #18

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