Thursday, June 15, 2006

Amazing Spiderman Annual #1

I skipped over the annuals in the discussion of the Ditko Spiderman, so I thought I'd take a quick rowback and rectify that situation. Annuals had appeared in comics going back to the Golden Age, but DC really got things going in the 1960s with Superman Annual #1. Despite the name, the comics were so successful that DC issued some of the annuals on both a Winter and Summer basis.

I suspect a good reason for the success of the annuals is that they were often whim purchases by parents looking for something to keep the kids busy during a long drive. I know in my own family that was often the case as Mom would hand me three quarters and tell me to get a couple of the big comics and some candy bars (weren't those the days) before we'd take the four hour drive to Aunt Bev's cottage on the lake.

But with Spiderman Annual #1, in 1964, there was a slight problem for Marvel. They had no old Spiderman stories to reprint, so they decided to create a new, extra-length story with Spidey facing a group of his old foes, banded together (yet separate) called the Sinister Six.

Overall the story would be pretty insignificant, but for one small detail. The leader of the Sinister Six was Dr. Octopus. In order to put his plan into operation, he kidnaps Betty Brant from a street corner. Worse, Aunt May happens to be talking to Betty at the time and thus must be abducted as well.

This chance meeting between Aunt May and Doc Ock would cause endless consequences for Peter down the road. The Sinister Six included Sandman, Kraven, Electro, Vulture, and Mysterio in additon to Dr Octopus. Interestingly, the Green Goblin is not included. The battles are miniatures, with some only taking a page or two. Doc Ock is clearly Spiderman's greatest enemy at this point.

Update: One redeeming feature of the story (as pointed out in the comments by the Fortress Keeper) was that each of Spidey's battles featured a full-page spread by Ditko:

And there's an interesting pop culture reference. At the end Aunt May gets upset when she realizes that while she was out she missed the Beverly Hillbillies. In 1964 the Beverly Hillbillies became the only TV show to be #1 in its first season, and was a genuine phenomenon, although I suspect that had more to do with Boomer kids than old ladies in Forest Hills.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When ASM Annual #1 was reprinted in Marvel Tales in the early 1980's, they updated it by changing "The Beverly Hillbillies" to "The Dukes of Hazzard."