Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #26

Credits:

Cover Date: July 1965

Cover Artists: Steve Ditko

“The Man in the Crime-Master’s Mask!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

A new masked villain, the Crime Master, plans to take control of NYC’s criminal underground. How will Peter stop him without his Spider-Man uniform?

Details:

  • All across town, organized crime gangs are being threatened by a masked man known only as the Crime Master! He wants to seize control of all crime in the city.

  • At the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson tasks Frederick Foswell with connecting the Green Goblin and Crime Master. Peter still doesn’t trust the ex-con Foswell, so he slips a spider-tracer into Foswell’s hat so he can keep an eye on him.

  • At school, Flash Thompson and his friends start heckling Peter again for not fighting Flash last issue. Peter snaps and takes them all on at once; luckily, Peter regains his cool before he really hurts any of the boys.

  • The school principal witnessed the scuffle, so Peter gets in trouble. He accepts the blame for the whole thing, which makes Flash guilty enough to admit his part in the fight.

  • After school, Peter decides to follow Foswell around. Peter lost his Spider-Man uniforms last issue, so he buys a children’s Spidey costume to wear. It doesn’t quite fit, but webbing it together helps it from falling apart.

  • Spider-Man follows his spider-tracer to Foswell’s apartment. He finds Foswell’s hat, but the man isn’t home; Spidey decides to investigate. Meanwhile, the Crime Master is also approaching Foswell’s apartment and sees someone inside; he decides to shoot the intruder.

  • Spider-Man confronts the Crime Master and is able to dodge the villains bullets easily enough. However, when Crime Master uses a gas pellet, the fumes stick to Spidey’s cheap costume, smothering him. Spidey falls from the rooftop in an effort to remove his mask safely and breathe; the Crime Master, obviously not very familiar with the hero, assumes Spider-Man fell to his death and does not press his advantage.

  • In Foswell’s apartment, Spider-Man noticed a detailed map of a nearby industrial area. On a hunch, he goes to investigate. It turns out that the Crime Master had called a large meeting of organized crime gangs in that area that night.
  • Before the meeting, the Crime Master and Green Goblin confront each other again. The Goblin doesn’t like that the Crime Master has stolen his idea to rule the gangs, and doesn’t want to be one of the Crime Master’s peons. The two fight briefly, before the Goblin escapes.

  • As he is leaving, the Green Goblin spots Spider-Man investigating the area. The Goblin attacks Spidey from behind, knocking him out.

  • The Green Goblin would have unmasked Spider-Man at this point, but Spidey has webbed the mask of his cheap costume to his body to keep it from slipping off.

  • As the Crime Master prepares to declare himself the crime kingpin of New York City, the Green Goblin walks into the meeting with an unconscious Spider-Man to challenge him for leadership.

  • To be continued…!

Is It Good?

It is! The Crime Master is nothing special as a villain, but the presence of the Green Goblin keeps things interesting while Peter’s personal life drives this issue. Ditko’s art was typically great —- he clearly had fun with Spidey’s ill-fitting costume.

I really liked Peter and Flash’s reactions to their school fight. We rarely see Peter lose his temper, so that was a nice change. Flash admiring Peter’s attitude and taking responsibility for bullying Pete was a long-overdue development for his character; there were moments in 1964 that made Flash seem like an okay guy, but this is the first time in a while where we’ve seen any glimpse of that Flash.

I also liked the red herring Stan and Steve left with regards to Frederick Foswell. Readers are clearly supposed to assume that Foswell is the Crime Master. I mean, it’s super-obvious. I’m hoping that he’s not, though. Foswell being another masked villain with the same plan (he was the Big Man before), but suddenly excellent marksmanship seems dumb and hacky; Lee and Ditko have avoided that sort of twist so far on this title, so I’m hoping this is just them figuring out what story beats work when revealing a villain’s identity, as practice for the Green Goblin’s eventual identity reveal.

Continuity:

  • The Green Goblin last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #23.
  • This is the first appearance of the Crime Master. He is a master marksman, and he plans to take control of the city’s organized criminal gangs.
  • The Crime Master and Green Goblin know each other’s secret identities. This is the first time (as far as readers know, anyway) that anyone has learned the Green Goblin’s identity. If the Crime Master is killed, a note in a secret deposit box will reveal the Goblin’s true name.

  • It isn’t confirmed in this issue, but it sure looks like readers are supposed to think Frederick Foswell is the Crime Master. After all, he has a history of dressing up and trying to control crime as the Big Man.

  • Peter lost his primary Spider-Man costume in Amazing Spider-Man #25, mostly because he wanted to play a prank on J. Jonah Jameson. Aunt May took his spare costume when she found it in Peter’s bedroom that same issue, so he had no costume when this issue begins.

  • Betty Brant is still mad at Peter for stoking JJJ’s anti-Spidey attitude last issue, and for (she believes) dating other women. She may be overreacting a bit, but Peter certainly does nothing to defuse the situation.

  • Liz Allan is upset with both Peter and Flash for acting macho and fighting.

  • The letters page has a letter from future Marvel writer Steve Gerber. It’s kind of funny that his suggestion —- weaving Marvel’s romance books into their superhero universe —- eventually happened in the Bronze Age.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Did men in the 60’s not own multiple hats?

  • I love that the people sell Spider-Man Halloween costumes in the Marvel Universe.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Ah, yes…an American teenager in 1965 that thinks the Beatles are little more than singing haircuts. This sounds like realistic teen dialogue, and not at all a middle-aged man writing scripts that mock his audience.

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