Cover Date: September 1965
Cover Artist: Steve Ditko
“The Menace of the Molten Man!”
Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Steve Ditko
Inker: Steve Ditko
What’s Going On?
How can Spider-Man battle a foe with the strength and durability of metal? And can he do it without being late to Peter Parker’s high school graduation?
- Mark Raxton, a scientific partner of Spencer Smythe, wants to profit immediately off of their experimental liquid metal alloy. Smythe protests because it has not been thoroughly tested, but Raxton gets violent.
- In the scuffle, Raxton breaks the alloy’s container, and is covered by the liquid.
- Raxton flees the scene, only to discover that the accident has given him super powers. He doesn’t appear to be inclined to use them for good purposes.
- While Raxton plots his next big (undoubtedly criminal) move, Spider-Man tries to apprehend the villain.
- In the ensuing fight, Spidey quickly realizes that the Molten Man is too tough to take down with sheer brawn. He can take Spidey’s best punches, and Molten Man’s punches are strong enough to hurt Spidey.
- Fighting smarter and not harder, Spider-Man eventually opts to hog-tie the Molten Man with hardened web fluid ropes. The police later apprehend the trussed-up Raxton.
- Meanwhile, Spidey hurries home so he can change clothes and attend Peter Parker’s high school graduation. Peter graduates with honors and no further superhero drama.
Is It Good?
It is good, but it almost has too much going on. The plot is a little sloppy —- why does Peter need to steal his costume back from Smythe? Wasn’t he sewing a new costume last issue? Why does Roxton seem like a dummy, when he co-created a powerful new alloy? —- but there is enough action to keep me from focusing on the lack of logic.
I do not like the creative decision to have Peter graduate high school in this issue. It’s strange to think that Peter was aging in real time at this point in continuity, especially when not aging in real time has become the norm for superhero comic characters. Keeping Peter young seems like a no-brainer idea, but I guess the looser schedule in college makes it easier to logically fit in superhero antics; still, this feels like Stan and Steve are abandoning one of Spider-Man’s most appealing traits: he is roughly the same age as the readers. I guess we’ll see how it works out.
- This is the first Spider-Man issue that Steve Ditko received plotting credit for.
- This is the first appearance of the Molten Man, Mark Raxton. A special metallic alloy has covered his skin, so now he has super-strength and durability.
- In addition to being super-strong and tough, Molten Man’s special alloy prevents Spider-Man’s webbing from sticking to him.
- Spencer Smythe and his Spider-Slayer (Mark I) last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #25.
- Anna Watson’s last appearance was in Amazing Spider-Man #18.
- Remembering the Spider-Slayer senses Spider-Man’s spider-ness (I guess), Peter made sure to carry some actual spiders with him when he visited Spencer Smythe, to act as an alibi.
- Spencer Smythe is very close to suspecting Peter of being Spider-Man.
- Last issue, Peter planned to sew himself a new costume. That apparently didn’t work, because he swaps his crummy Halloween costume for the one Spencer Smythe had.
- Peter and his friends have now all officially graduated from high school. Peter and Flash Thompson won full scholarships to Empire State University.
- Remember the almost-fight Peter has with Flash and his friends in Amazing Spider-Man #26? Flash confessed to instigating it, so the principal doesn’t even punish Peter! Not that it would matter on Graduation Day, but still…!
- Something is going on with Liz Allan. After shunning Peter and Flash all issue, she admits to Peter that she has feelings for him. However, she seems to be approaching things in a fatalistic, nothing-even-matters way. Is she leaving the supporting cast, or is this just setting up a subplot for Liz?
- J. Jonah Jameson is being nice to Peter because he doesn’t want Peter selling photos to the Daily Globe, like he did last issue.
- This is the first time JJJ and Aunt May have interacted.
Comics Are Goofy:
- Raxton wants to take his share (so…half?) of the alloy and sell it immediately. Okay, I guess that’s kind of fair. He takes the large container of liquid alloy as his share and implies that Smythe will be able to complete his lame safety tests with the remaining alloy…
…but when he breaks the container, Raxton states that it contained all of the alloy they created. In other words, it contained Smythe’s share, too. For being someone smart enough to co-create experimental metals, Mark Raxton has difficulty with very basic concepts.
- So…it’s not like anyone would normally refer to a metal man as “molten” unless he was really hot or looked like lava, right? This has to be because of DC’s trademark on the Metal Men.
- It seems pretty terrible to announce scholarship winners at graduation. Like…wouldn’t the losers be emotional and potentially embarrassed?
- Aunt May is a roastmaster. Fact.