Cover Date: June 1965
Cover Artists: Steve Ditko
“Captured by J. Jonah Jameson!”
Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Steve Ditko
Inker: Steve Ditko
What’s Going On?
When Peter Parker teases J. Jonah Jameson into supporting a stupid-looking robot, he sets up Spider-Man to fail when the robot turns out to be surprisingly powerful.
- When Spencer Smythe comes to the Daily Bugle with a robot that he claims can defeat Spider-Man, J. Jonah Jameson is not interested. He’s had bad luck recently backing Spider-Man villains (with Mysterio and Scorpion), and he doesn’t want to get involved.
- Peter, assuming that Smythe is a crackpot, persuades JJJ to give the robot a chance. To his surprise, the robot is actually pretty formidable!
- Jonah ends up liking the robot, which causes two problems for Peter. First, he basically talked Jameson into funding a dangerous Spider-Man foe. Second, Betty Brant is upset that Peter would (seemingly) be disloyal enough to help Jonah with anti-Spidey stuff, after the times Spider-Man helped Betty and Aunt May.
- Peter’s day gets worse at school, when Flash Thompson spots Peter talking to Liz Allan again. Flash challenges Peter to a fight after school.
- While Peter is in class, Smythe does a final check on his machine before sending it after Spider-Man. As an added bonus, JJJ can see (and be seen) through a monitor on the robot.
- As school is ending for the day, Peter spots Smythe’s robot heading toward him. Peter makes a break for it, so he can at least change into his Spidey suit before the robot catches up to him. Flash sees Peter running away and, thinking he is dodging their fight, starts chasing Peter with his friends.
- Peter manages to get away long enough to change into his Spidey suit. He then tries to face the robot head-on, in front of a crowd. It doesn’t take him long to realize that he has underestimated how dangerous the robot is.
- After that close call, Spidey tried to outrun the robot across the rooftops of town. It doesn’t work. Finally, he decides to make a last stand against the robot, and it ensnares him with its arms.
- With Spider-Man captured, JJJ and Smythe leave their remote viewing location and head toward Spidey’s location. With Jonah no longer monitoring the situation, Spidey has a chance to manipulate the robot, unobserved.
- When Jonah and Smythe arrive, Jonah tries to unmask Spider-Man…only to find an empty suit! Peter escaped, but decided to use his webbing to pose his empty uniform to play a prank on JJJ.
- Facing failure, Smythe shrugs and goes back to the drawing board. Jameson is angry and embarrassed at looking foolish again.
Is It Good?
The story is kind of dumb —- the “science” behind the robot’s spider-tracking is nonexistent —- but this was fun. I like that Lee and Ditko are not afraid to show Peter doing unlikable things, and I like that he immediately pays a price for his attitude. The art, of course, was very good, and I really enjoyed the character moments Ditko was able to highlight.
- This is the first appearance of Spencer Smythe, the inventor of the Spider Slayer robot series. At this point, he’s only interested in capturing Spider-Man, and it appears to be less of a grudge and more of him thinking that it’s a money-making opportunity.
- This is the first appearance of the Spider Slayer (Mark I) robot — or any Spider-Slayer, for that matter. It’s not called a Spider Slayer in this issue, though; it’s just Smythe’s robot. It is extremely agile, has strong metal coils for limbs, and has a monitor screen so someone can monitor its field of vision remotely. It is also has a special coating that keeps Spider-Man’s web fluid from sticking to it.
- Mary Jane Watson makes her first appearance in this issue, too, although her face is not shown. Judging by Betty and Liz’s reactions, Mary Jane is quite pretty. She stopped by the Parker house to finally meet Peter, but left before he got home.
- Liz Allan’s crush on Peter seems to be getting stronger. Peter doesn’t know it, but she got upset when she saw Mary Jane Watson at his house.
- Betty is upset with Peter for a few reasons. She didn’t like that he fed Jameson’s anti-Spidey tendencies, she didn’t like finding Liz Allan at Peter’s house, and she really didn’t like that Mary Jane Watson had stopped his house to visit.
- After having a wet costume cause him problems in Amazing Spider-Man #23, Peter wisely decides to create a back-up costume. It only lasts him until the end of this issue, because Aunt May finds it.
- We’ve got another early, unnamed Norman Osborn appearance.
- Aunt May finds Peter’s spare Spider-Man uniform, but doesn’t seem to suspect that Peter is actually the hero.
- After leaving his costume with Smythe’s robot, and Aunt May confiscating his spare, Peter has no Spider-Man suits by the end of the issue.
- The letters page features a note from Fabulous Flo Steinberg, Stan Lee’s secretary at Marvel. She was basically in charge of all communications with fans in the early years of the Silver Age, so this is a cute little artifact.
Comics Are Goofy:
- So…how does the robot track down Spider-Man, instead of just the nearest spider? I don’t need a realistic answer, but they don’t even bother with pseudoscience in this story!
- Holy crap, Liz destroys Betty with that zinger! Ouch!
- What is this nonsense with two people fighting to enter a room first? This comes up a lot in contemporary comedies, so it must have been a real thing at some point, but it seems foreign now.