Monday, March 07, 2011

Amazing Spiderman #2: Get a Job

Peter finds a solution to his aunt's financial problems in this issue, which also introduces the first of the major villains in Spiderman's rogue's gallery: The Vulture. As you can see from the cover above, he falls into the category of villains who facially resemble the animal after which they're named. Some others Silver Age examples include the Shark, a Green Lantern antagonist and the Clock, a Green Arrow baddie.

As the story begins, we see the Vulture making off with a fortune in bonds. J. Jonah Jameson wants photos of him:

I believe that's the only time that NOW magazine is ever mentioned in the Silver Age Spiderman; in all other stories Jameson is a newspaper man, not a magazine publisher. Maybe Stan thought that a magazine would be more willing to pay big bucks for color photos?

At any rate, Peter borrows Uncle Ben's old miniature camera and decides to get a photo of the Vulture in action. Sure enough, he gets lucky the first time out:

But the Vulture overhears him and doubles back, knocking Peter out with a vicious kick. He puts him in a rooftop water tank, thinking that Spiderman will drown, but:

Peter develops the film and does some work upgrading his equipment:

I would argue that Marvel's Silver Age characters were not as well-designed as DC's initially. Their real strength came from the way they developed over time. They became better characters than DC due to the constant tinkering.

In the next segment, the Vulture has announced that he's going to rob a jewelry shipment. The police have sharpshooters on the rooftops and a helicopter overhead. How can he pull it off?

I thought that was really cool the first time I read it as a kid and it's still impressive.

Using his spider-sense, Peter is able to locate the Vulture, who again tries the loop around gimmick. But this time Spidey's ready:

This is another one of those "I only meant for you to die," moments that Stan seemed to enjoy scripting.

Somehow Spiderman has disabled the Vulture's wings. Peter uses his web fluid to swing to safety, while the Vulture manages to slow his plummet to a nearby rooftop by spiraling downward. He lets the cops do the actual arrest, just snapping a few more pix. As for how he stopped the crook, he explains here:

As Dr Who would say, just reverse the polarity!

The second story is definitely an oddball in the Spiderman saga, as it is the only story involving aliens. However, this fits very well with the Marvel pattern, as most of the Silver Age heroes found themselves up against other world menaces in their second issue: the FF, Iron Man and the Avengers, for example.

Peter gets an assignment to work with one of the sharpest electronics minds around, Dr Cobbwell. But his first task doesn't require a lot of brainpower:

Of course vacuum tubes in radios were about to go out with the advent of transistors. Peter senses some weird electronic emanations coming from the basement of the radio repair shop, and later he realizes that the same emanations are coming from the repaired radio at Dr Cobbwell's. So he decides to pay another visit to the Tinkerer in his costumed identity.

Eventually the aliens capture him but he escapes and foils their plans for invasion, so they leave.

Update: The aliens concept doesn't seem well-suited to Spiderman, just as it was inappropriate to Batman. Although both faced major-league criminals and super-villains, they also dealt with the low-level hoods. This is not all that surprising as both lost relatives to common street thugs.

1 comment:

Marc said...

Even Marvel seemed to realize how weird the Tinkerer/alien subplot was, an they swept it under the rug for a really long time. Then, in the '80s, they came out with a story revealing that they weren't really aliens, they were normal people who wanted everyone to THINK they were aliens masquerading as humans.