Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #21

Cover Date: February 1965

Cover Artist: Steve Ditko

“Where Flies the Beetle…”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

Spider-Man stumbles into the Human Torch’s personal life when his girlfriend gets kidnapped. Will Spidey be able to cool down the Torch’s hot temper enough to catch the bad guy?

Details:

  • After being released from prison, the Beetle is intent on getting revenge; that means taking down the Human Torch!
  • When the Human Torch saw a newspaper article about the Beetle’s release, he ditched his girlfriend to search the city for the nogoodnick. He doesn’t find the Beetle and returns home.
  • The Torch’s girlfriend, Dorrie, is fed up with Johnny Storm ignoring her. She makes him promise to not “flame on” for the next 24-hours, no matter what.

  • Peter Parker happens to run into Dorrie while she’s running errands.

  • Realizing that the Human Torch would get super-jealous if he saw Spider-Man hanging out with his girlfriend, Peter changed into his super-outfit and returned to Dorrie’s home for a laugh. However, the Beetle was also planning on hurting the Torch —- but he planned to hurt or kidnap Dorrie to do it! Beetle attacks Spidey when he shows up in costume.

  • The Beetle and Spidey appear to have underestimated each other.

  • Eventually, the Beetle grabs Dorrie and leaves with her as a hostage.

  • Not long after, Johnny Storm stops by Dorrie’s house and realizes that she’s been taken. Since there is webbing everywhere, he concludes that Spider-Man is involved in her disappearance.

  • The Human Torch flies off and spots Spider-Man, who (unbeknownst to the Torch) was chasing the Beetle. Naturally, the heroes fight instead of talking, with Spidey doing his best to keep them on the Beetle’s trail.

  • Eventually, they catch up and the Torch realizes that the Beetle is the one who took Dorrie. He and Spider-Man team-up to take him down, and they only sometimes get in each other’s way in the process.

Is It Good?

This is an entertaining issue. Spider-Man’s involvement in what should be a Human Torch story is a little forced, but the end result (Spidey vs. the Torch) was fun.  It’s fluff, but it’s fun fluff.

Continuity:

  • The Beetle last appeared in Strange Tales #123.
  • If time in Marvel Universe mimicked the real world, the Beetle would have served a 6-month prison term for (basically) harassing the Human Torch and robbing a diner. This might be the most reasonable prison term I’ve seen in the MU to date, even if the arresting officer from Strange Tales disagrees:

  • The general public sees Spider-Man as a menace.

  • Betty Brant is easily upset by the thought of Peter having more than one girlfriend, even though she is dating Ned Leeds.

  • Peter almost earns the respect of Flash Thompson and friends for standing up to the Human Torch. Almost, but not quite.

  • Spider-Man is upset about his crumbling personal life, his unpopular superhero identity, and his lack of recognition as a hero.

  • We have a pin-up:

  • In the letters page, a fan writes in to say how much they enjoy Aunt May trying to set up Peter with Mary Jane. That’s good, because it’s going to drag out for a few years!

Comics Are Goofy:

  • I’m pretty sure there are laws that would prevent this. On the other hand, neither I nor Stan Lee are law experts, so *shrug*

  • Peter, you should recognize that name and address. You crashed a party there in Strange Tales Annual #2.

  • Johnny Storm is a bully and a dick (in case you’ve missed the past 1+ years of Strange Tales and didn’t realize this).

  • Yeah, Johnny, you showed her! It is very believable that Doris, who hates superheroing, would plead with you to do superhero stuff so she would have an excuse to break up with you. You’ve got her figured out. Idiot.

  • Jesus, Betty. YOU ARE DATING PETER *AND* NED LEEDS. You have totally seemed done with Peter romantically for the past few months.  Why are you being so weird and possessive now?

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