Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #12

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: From The Beginning

This review was first published on: 2002.

Background...

Last issue, Spider-Man assisted in the capture of Blackie Gaxton and his gang but Doctor Octopus got away. So, what happens next?

In Detail...

"Unmasked by Dr. Octopus!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #12
May 1964 : SMURF 012.500 : SMURF 012.650 : SM Title
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  Steve Ditko
Inker:  Steve Ditko
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Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Marvel Masterworks #5
 Reprinted In: Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus #1
 Reprinted In: Pocket Book: Spider-Man Classics (Vol. 2)
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #149
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #181
 Partially Reprinted In: Pow! #27
 Partially Reprinted In: Pow! #28
 Reprinted In: Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #3 (Story 3)
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Classics #13
 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #1
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Black and Blue and Read All Over (Story 2)
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Pocket Book #10
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man's Greatest Villains (TPB)
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Betty Brant, Betty Brant, Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius), Flash Thompson, Jameson, J. Jonah, Elizabeth (Allan) Osborn, Seymour O'Reilly

What's the Ditko symbolic splash page look like this time? Well, Peter stands in the middle with his head lowered in shame. He is dressed in his Spidey suit except for the mask, which he holds loosely in his right hand. There are four scenes surrounding him. In the upper left is Dr. Octopus with his metal arms extended. In the upper right is a trio of "wild beasts on the rampage"... a bear, a lion, and a gorilla. In the lower left is a shot of four disembodied heads. Betty Brant looks worried, Aunt May looks pleased, Flash Thompson sneers, and Liz Allan looks at Pete with admiration. And in the lower right is J. Jonah Jameson banging out another anti-Spider-Man screed on his typewriter. Now why don't we get to it?

The final edition of the Daily Bugle declares, in its headline, that "Dr. Octopus escapes from Spider-Man!" The article claims that Spidey's interference prevented the Philadelphia police from capturing the super- villain. Photos of Spidey (captioned as an "overrated crime-fighter") and Doc Ock (captioned as "still at large!") balance the page. Spidey reads the article and is so angered by it that he decides to go to the Bugle offices to pay Jonah Jameson a visit. (His right ankle, sprained in the last issue, must have healed up already. The injury isn't mentioned at all.) He peeks in the window just in time to see Jonah's fill-in secretary go ballistic. "I quit!" she yells, "Nobody could work for a tyrant like you!" When Jonah complains that he needs a secretary, the fed-up temp retorts, "You don't need a secretary, you need a psychiatrist!" She drops her papers on the floor in her rush to get out of there.

Jonah picks up the papers and actually starts doing the filing himself. At that moment, Betty Brant enters the office and contritely asks for her job back "if you still want me". Jonah jumps all over the offer. "If I want you??" he bellows, "Don't just stand there, girl. Get to work!"

Seeing Betty enter the office, Spidey decides to sneak away, change back to his Peter Parker duds and meet up with her. He barges in, telling Betty he is glad to see her but is immediately booted out by Jameson. "This is an office, not a social club," says the gruff publisher. Betty cheerfully tells Peter to call her later at home.

Meanwhile, the fugitive Dr. Octopus travels all over the country committing various crimes. He leaps onto the top of a speeding armored car and rips it open with his arms. He clings to the bottom of a helicopter in order to rob it. He reaches down from above a bank entrance to snatch away a bag full of cash. Still carrying the moneybag, Ock pauses on the top of a red water tower. He is convinced that he must continue to stage elaborate crimes "so that Spider-Man will read about my exploits and try to attack me again". The sole reason for the crimes is to force a battle with the web-slinger because "so long as he lives, I'll never be truly safe". But, so far, Spidey has not risen to the bait. Ock finally decides that the wall-crawler will not follow him to other cities, no matter how many opportunities he gives him. Doc knows he must return to New York and find the webster himself.

Spidey, of course, would like nothing better than to "head out west where Doc Ock was last reported" but he doesn't have enough money to get out there and his "end term exams are coming up soon". And it's nearly impossible to shake Aunt May, anyway. In fact, even as he does his homework and thinks about fighting Ock, May comes up behind him, puts her hand on his forehead and declares, "You feel a little warm, Peter! You'd better stay in tonight, dear! You may be getting a cold!"

The next day, Peter walks to school and comes upon Flash Thompson, Liz Allan, and the gang reading the latest edition of the Bugle. Flash notes that the Bugle "even has a picture of a spider trying to show how dangerous they are, and claiming that Spider-Man must be dangerous too!" (Real professional reporting on the Bugle's part.) He sees Peter coming and asks him what he knows about spiders. Pete doesn't want to awaken any suspicion so he pretends to hate spiders. "They're such ugly, icky-looking things!" he says, "I'd rather not even talk about them!" Needless to say, this does not endear him to Flash. "Know what I like about you, Parker?" says Flash, mocking, "You're such a rugged, fearless he-man!" The kids all head off to class. Peter, who brought it on himself with the "ugly icky-looking" shtick glowers at Flash and tells himself that "someday everyone will realize that it's only the people who are inferior themselves that keep picking on others". This thought makes him feel like he's "beginnin' to sound like a teen-age Billy Graham!"

Back at her desk at the Bugle, Betty receives a mysterious phone call. She says "hello" and asks, "who's there" but the caller hangs up after only asking if he is speaking to Betty Brant. In fact, he uses one of his tentacles to hang up the phone because the mysterious caller is Doctor Octopus himself. He is just making sure that Betty is back at the Daily Bugle. Since Spidey risked his life in Philadelphia to protect Betty (in ASM #11, April 1964), Ock is fairly certain that the web-slinger will do it again. Now he knows where to find her. It will be easy to abduct her and use her as bait.

Betty, too, hangs up the phone. She may have recognized the voice on the other end of the line and fear crosses her face at the thought of it. As quitting time nears, Peter shows up to "call for Betty". Jonah gruffly tells Pete to "stay out" unless he has photos to sell but Betty tells him she will be ready to go as soon as she finishes a letter. She never gets the chance. Doctor Octopus springs through an open window and puts three of his metal arms into action, snagging Betty, Pete and Jonah around their waists and hoisting them into the air. ("Don't just dangle there, Parker" says Jonah, "Tell him who I am!")

Peter (with one of those great Ditko half-Spidey-mask images on his face) chooses to preserve his secret identity by not fighting back. He listens as Octopus issues his orders. Otto tells Jameson to put an item in the paper asking Spidey to contact the Bugle. Jonah is, then, to tell Spidey that Ock has Betty held hostage at Coney Island. Spider-Man is to come alone but Doc grants Jonah permission to send a photographer "to take pictures of the defeat I shall hand Spider-Man". Then, Ock releases the two men by flinging them away. Jonah hits the wall and Pete hits the file cabinet. As they land, JJ says that Pete is the photographer he chooses to send. Pete wonders how he can go as both Spidey and the photographer.

And so, Octopus exits out the window, carrying Betty with him. He adds that "the police must not be told... or else!" Pete yells to Betty, reassuring her that Spidey will save her. Jonah declares his intention to put out an extra edition. He hopes that Spider-Man will see it.

Once the extra is out, Jonah orders Pete down to Coney Island. He tells him to bring plenty of film and adds, "If you botch this assignment, I'll have your hide". Peter tells Jonah that "nothing could keep me away" but he suddenly realizes that he is feeling "kind of woosy". He feels his forehead and finds that it is warm. "Maybe I am getting ill, as Aunt May said", he thinks.

But Pete puts that concern aside and goes through the motions of pretending Spider-Man knows nothing of what has transpired. He changes into his Spidey duds, shows up at Jameson's office, and clings on the wall while holding a copy of the Bugle in his right fist and shining the spider-signal right at JJJ. He asks JJ why he has been summoned and listens as Jonah explains that Betty Brant has been kidnapped by Otto Octavius. Then, off he goes to Coney Island. On the way, he notices that he is "not clinging to the wall as well as usual" and worries that he "must be sick".

Meanwhile, Jameson decides to disobey Ock's orders and go to Coney Island himself. He knows Pete is his best freelancer but he "can't take the chance of him muffing this job". The only trouble is that it is mid-winter and all the amusement rides are closed... meaning the area will be deserted. So, Jonah must make sure Ock doesn't see him skulking around. In spite of this worry, he grabs his hat and goes.

And, at Coney Island, Stan and Steve have one of their occasional disconnections. Stan's caption reads, "And, atop the highest roller coaster at the amusement park" while Steve's drawing clearly shows Betty and Ock atop the Ferris wheel. Otto thinks Spidey has had time to see the newspaper so he grabs Betty and sets her on the ground as bait. Ock leaves to scout around. Betty's hands are tied behind her back but she thinks, with her long fingernails, that she can loosen the knot and free herself.

Just then, Spidey enters the park, walking slowly, propping himself up with the scaffolding of the roller coaster. He is suddenly so weak that he "can hardly stand". His "feet feel like rubber". There is no doubt that he is sick but he has to ignore it. All he wants to do is lie down for a while but, instead, his spider-sense tingles and he spots Dr. Octopus just ahead. "I've got to go thru with it now!" he declares.

Suddenly, Betty frees herself from her bonds and runs for the street. Ock sees her and turns and chases her, metal arms extended, ready to punish her for her escape. With Otto reaching for Betty, Spidey knows he must act immediately. He jumps on Doc's back which allows Betty to get away. Spidey knows he can't last long so he tries to knock Ock out with his first punch. Unfortunately, the illness has so weakened him that his spider-strength is gone. Otto barely feels the "weak meaningless punch" and he is pretty indignant about it. "What sort of stunt is this, Spider-Man?" he bellows, "I know you can hit harder than that!" Octopus doesn't know what the web-slinger is up to but he doesn't really care. He wraps his tentacles around Spidey and starts punching him with his two flesh and blood hands. Spidey has never felt such powerful punches. "I'm reacting like an ordinary teen-ager" he realizes. Ock, meanwhile, is outraged by it all. "What are you trying to do, frustrate me?" he screams. "Fight back, do you hear!! Don't water down my victory by making it too easy!" But Spidey doesn't even fight back and Otto can't understand it. "You're like a human punching bag!!" he says, "What's happened to you??"

Just like that, it's over. One extra blow knocks Spidey into unconsciousness. Otto uses three tentacles to stretch Spidey out in front of him and uses the fourth to remove the web-slinger's mask. When Ock sees that the webster "doesn't even struggle as I try to remove his mask" he knows "there can be only one answer".

But before we get to that, what about the rest of our cast? Well, Jonah has shown up, Betty has called the police and returned to the scene, and two cops have already appeared! All four of them are on hand to witness the unmasking.

Octopus snatches Spidey's mask away and reveals Peter Parker's face underneath! This confirms just what Otto has come to believe. It isn't Spider- Man he's been fighting at all. "It's that weakling brat, Peter Parker" who has donned a Spidey costume in a misguided attempt to rescue his girlfriend. Betty is stunned to see Peter's face under the mask. He put on his brave masquerade just for her! "He might have been killed!" Jonah thinks Pete was acting like a fool. "I ordered him to take pictures of Octopus, not try to be a hero!" Jonah's comment strikes a chord with one of the policemen. (In fact, we only see one cop for the rest of this scene.) "You mean" he says to JJJ, "you knew Octopus was here?" (Yeah, he knew Octopus was there but he also knew that Spider-Man had contacted him and was on the way over. So doesn't Jonah ever wonder why Spidey never appeared and a disguised Peter Parker showed up instead?)

Otto has no time for these silly details. "Take your puny hero," he tells the others, and he contemptuously tosses Peter's unconscious body at them, knocking JJJ to the ground. Then, he uses his tentacles to climb the roller coaster tracks and get away. He was sure Spidey was going to show up. "Perhaps the police scared him off!" he decides. It has been a minor setback. "I'll find him sooner or later" he says, "I'll never rest till I've smashed him!"

With Jonah still on the ground, the cop comes up and berates him. "Next time you withhold information from us, it'll go hard with you!" he tells the publisher. If the police had known of Ock's planned appearance ahead of time, they would have "set a trap... and caught him by now". Jonah gets to his feet, retrieves his hat and looks down at the fallen Peter Parker. Betty Brant is holding Peter's head up ("You dear, foolish, wonderful boy!!" she says, "Why did you do it!") and the cop is assuring her that he'll get Pete home safely. Jonah decides not to "yell at Parker now in front of the police. They're angry enough at me now!"

And so, one panel and several hours later, Peter is home in bed with Aunt May hovering over him and a doctor in attendance. The police have brought Peter home as promised and have told Aunt May that her nephew "fainted in the street". This, of course, doesn't explain how the police had clothes for him when they took him out of his Spidey suit (we see him now in pajamas) but I won't spend any time worrying about it if you won't. The doctor tells May that Pete has a twenty-four virus and will be fine in the morning.

That night, Peter dreams that Spider-Man is giving him a talking to for appearing as Spidey when he's down with a virus. "You know that viruses are the one thing even your spider strength can't resist", Dream-Spidey says. In the morning, Peter gets out of bed and does a back flip. He feels "like a zillion bucks again". Now that the virus has passed out of his system, he has "the ol' zingarooo". Then Peter notices (and dons) his Spidey suit. He realizes that the police must have sent it home and that Aunt May must have seen it. Sure enough, May comes up and sticks her finger under Peter's nose while she gives him a lecture. When the police returned the costume, May heard "what really happened" at Coney Island. "How could you possibly take such a chance, impersonating that dreadful Spider-Man!!" she asks. Peter calmly lies right to her face, telling her that he will "never do it again" and that "I'm gonna take that silly costume out and burn it". He carries a bundle with him as he leaves and he hopes May doesn't realize that he stuffed it full of old rags (which he just happens to leave around in his bedroom, I guess) since he has the costume on under his clothing.

The word has already gotten around at school and Flash Thompson, predictably, gives Pete the business, calling him "the big hero!! Fearless Parker in the flesh!!" Liz, on the other hand, is dazzled by the incident. She tells Pete "it was the most wonderful thing I've ever heard of". When Flash tries to dampen Liz's ardor by saying "Everyone knows Parker never expected to really bump into Octopus! He was just tryin' to show off for kicks", Liz wheels on him and yells, "As far as I'm concerned, Peter Parker proved he has enough courage to match his brains! And as for you, my dear ex-boy friend, you've got neither!!" A stunned Flash backs off and Pete wonders, "what changed Liz Allen?? She never even knew I was alive!!"

At his hideout, Doc Ock has read all the newspapers and is so mad that he has torn them all up. The papers have had a field day, saying Ock "was fooled by a teen-ager" and the Doctor believes "they're making a laughing stock" of him. Time to draw the real Spider-Man out of hiding and regain some measure of respect. First, he uses his tentacles to snap a wood piling in two, and then emerges from his basement locale. "I'm thru with hiding out!" he declares and it's a good thing since he snaps the iron bars off his ground level window when he goes.

First stop, the zoo, where Ock set the animals loose, just to be ornery, I suppose. Lions and leopards head for the city as people run for their lives. The police arrive and bravely capture some of the wild beasts in nets but they aren't able to stop all of them.

Not far away, Peter Parker tries to shake Liz Allan who is herself being followed by Flash. Liz calls for Peter to wait up. "I'll walk home with you!" she says, "I want to ask you something." (And I think they're taking the long way home since it looks like they have walked over to Manhattan.) Flash calls after Liz, reminding her that they had a date to go bowling. Pete rounds the corner of a building and, in that split second of not being seen, uses his spider-powers to leap, swing around a flagpole, and land on the roof. Liz is so angry at losing Peter that she turns on Flash and tells him to stop following her. Flash can't understand it. "Puny Parker" has never been Liz's type. "You used to say so yourself" he says. "Well, perhaps I've grown mature enough to realize a boy needs more than a football letter to really be a man" she replies, even as Pete, now in his Spidey costume becomes aware of some commotion ahead. He arrives in time to see a lion perched on top of a low roof, preparing to leap down on some pedestrians. Spidey swings down, catches the lion between his legs even as the cat leaps, and flings him into a net being prepared by the police. The cops thank Spidey for his help, remarking that "we've had our hands full with these escaped beasts". That's when Spidey realizes there are more. Then he sees one... a grizzly bear, up on his hind legs and heading toward three terrified people.

Spidey jumps down between the bear and the bystanders. He quickly webs the grizzly's paws together and jaws shut. Then he sees a gorilla perched on a building ledge high above him. As he leaps up to attack, the gorilla jumps down and meets him halfway. This is so unexpected that the webhead loses his balance and starts falling... only to save himself by swinging on another of those flag poles on the side of the building. ("If I'm ever elected President" he says, "I'm gonna declare a National Be Kind To Flagpoles Week!") Spidey gets to his feet, balancing at the end of the pole. The gorilla clambers onto the flagpole too, and marches out to the end to meet the web-slinger. Spidey can't go any farther back so he does a forward flip over the gorilla... who is so surprised by this move that he falls off the flagpole. The wall-crawler shoots his webbing down and snags the gorilla. Then he gently lowers him into the net set up below by the police. With Spider-Man's help, all of the animals have been caught. "That Spider-Man is a poor man's Frank Buck!" says one cop, which is a reference that has been mostly lost in the mists of time. (Frank Buck was a big game hunter, specializing in collecting animals for zoos and circuses, known by the slogan "Bring 'Em Back Alive!" which was also the title of his first book.) So, the animals "are all accounted for" but what about Doctor Octopus?

Well, Ock is elsewhere in the city, rampaging through the streets, tipping over cars and screaming for Spider-Man. He knows he is endangering himself by remaining so long in the open and he figures he "can't stay ahead of the police forever", so he resorts to desperate measures. He climbs up the side of a building and uses his tentacles to topple a large red sign that reads, "Leedit, Inc.". But a spray of strong webbing snags the sign before it can cause any damage in its falling.

J. Jonah Jameson and Betty Brant watch the action from the window of the Daily Bugle. Jameson observes that Spider-Man has "finally come out of hiding". "Unless" he adds, "it's that idiotic Peter Parker again!" The web- slinger makes a prodigious leap from a roof to the top of a water tower, as he confronts Doctor Octopus. Ock retaliates by smashing the tower with his metal arms. Spidey leaps away and all the water splashes down, soaking JJJ as he leans out his window. Jonah shakes his fist and bellows, "That's the real Spider-Man, all right! Parker would never have had the nerve to soak me that way!"

The battle moves elsewhere, with Spidey on the run and Octavius in pursuit. Spidey scales a tall yellow smokestack, as he tries to figure out how to defeat Ock "once and for all". He reaches the top of the stack, turns and looks down, only to see Otto right behind him. Two tentacles secure Ock to the smokestack while two more reach up to Spider-Man. Octopus thinks Spidey is "completely trapped" but he hasn't accounted for the nifty things the wall-crawler can do with his webbing. Spidey attaches one end of the web to the top of the tower, leaps away from Ock's reach while holding onto the other end ("Geronnnnnimo!!" he yells), then swings around and around the smokestack encircling Doctor Octopus with the webbing and tying the villain to the chimney. But Ock uses his arms to push himself away from the chimney, stretching out the webbing before it can tighten up around him. When he leans up against the smokestack again, the webbing is now so loose that it simply falls away from him. "And so" as Stan puts it, "the fantastic chase begins again".

Spidey keeps up a rapid pace, somersaulting and swinging on billboards and light fixtures in the city. But Ock keeps up with him. As the Doctor notes, "Though you are more agile, I can cover more ground with less effort and I'm virtually tireless!" Spidey replies, "If all your boasting doesn't tire you out, I guess nothing will!" Spidey momentarily perches on the top of another chimney but this time Otto flanks him by swinging around a water tower and approaching from the front. The wall-crawler tries to leap backwards but he is still clipped by a hard punch from one of the tentacles. Desperate to avoid the deadly arms, Spidey does a backward handspring and intentionally plunges down the building's airshaft. He shoots two long streams of webbing up at the entrance to the shaft while he dangles far below, hoping that Otto hasn't noticed where he has gone. But no such luck. He sees Ock's arms hovering above the entrance to the shaft and knows that Otto is preparing for the kill. That's when Spidey realizes that "this is my chance to attack... now, when he thinks I'm trapped!" So, with his webs stretched tight, Spidey gives a tug and slingshots himself up and out of the shaft. He takes Otto by surprise, getting past his tentacles and grasping him by his shoulders. He throws Ock across the roof, leaps on top of the reeling villain and delivers "a good old-fashioned punch in the jaw".

But Doc shakes it off and starts flailing with his tentacles. Spidey must back off and keep moving to keep from being clobbered by the four, fast-moving arms. At last, he decides his only chance is to dive right through the arms to get to the man himself. But he is too slow and is wrapped up in Octopus's tentacles.

Suddenly, we switch to a crowd scene below with lots of exposition, as if Steve got tired of drawing the action or started to run out of pages. The bystanders report that Ock tries to push Spidey off the roof but that Spidey hangs on to Ock as he falls. The result is that both go tumbling. The two men land in a painter's scaffold hanging onto the side of the building but the force of their fall snaps the cable on one side. The scaffold swings free and crashes through the skylight of the building next door. The skylight leads to a sculptor's studio, filled with huge statues of a winged man, a warrior with sword and shield, and a giant head half-covered by a sheet. Fortunately, the studio is deserted. Unfortunately, the force of the scaffold entrance has knocked over the sculptor's cleaning fluid, which has in turn started a fire. Ock could care less about this. All he knows is, he has at last found a place in which Spidey can't out-maneuver him.

Spider-Man swings on the shoulder of the warrior statue, trying to avoid Ock's arms. He tells Doc that they'll both be trapped in the flames if they continue their battle. Ock knocks a chunk of stone out of the torso of the warrior in response. He tells Spider-Man that the building is deserted. (How does he know this? Because he's a scientific genius, that's why!) They are the only two people endangered by the fire. "Only one of us will survive!" he proclaims. The flames grow higher and the statue of the giant head topples over. (Who is the poor sap sculptor who put in all the work that is being obliterated in such a cavalier fashion?) Spidey tells Otto that he is in danger of being trapped under "some falling sculpture" and the old wall-crawler must be psychic because a huge statue of some guy in a helmet falls over and lands on Octopus in the very next panel! Even with his powerful arms, Octavius can't free himself from the statue. Spidey rushes over to assist his enemy but the floor collapses from the fire and the weight before he can get there. In seconds, the flames rise up to the roof forcing Spidey back. And the wall- crawler, who was confident he could escape at any time by leaping out a window, finds himself backed into a corner with the fire surrounding him on all sides.

What can Spidey do? Well, first he can create a shield out of webbing, but when he presses his shooters, he discovers he is out of web fluid. Fortunately, he has spare cartridges in his belt... if he can load up before the fire gets too close. Time is running out. Every second counts. Smoothly, Spidey loads up his web shooters ("Good thing I've practiced this so often... could do it in my sleep!" he says) and hits the release button with his middle finger. He creates a "flame-proof umbrella" to hold over his head. Then he shoots out circular web stepping-stones as he goes to protect his feet while he runs through the fire. It isn't long before he reaches a window and leaps to safety, clinging to the wall of the building across the way and swinging down to the street from there.

As the fire engines arrive on the scene, Spider-Man "ducks into a nearby doorway" and changes back to Peter Parker. And, yes, it's time for that old familiar question: "Where did he pick up his clothes?" The last time he had them was when he snuck up to a roof to get away from Liz Allan and Flash Thompson. Though, actually, maybe the fight never strayed from that vicinity because Liz and Flash are on the scene even as Peter shows up. (Though I find it hard to believe that a huge artist's loft is in the same block or so as the Daily Bugle building.) Liz tells Pete that he missed all the excitement. Flash tells him that Doc Ock is "still at large" and that Pete "might see him and faint dead away from fright". Pete tells Flash to "slither back to the rock you crawled out from under".

Just then, a fireman comes out of the smoke with a beaten Doctor Octopus in tow. He passes the villain over to the police. They put the handcuffs on him and lead him away. Ock is so whipped that his tentacles hang down uselessly at his sides and all he can do is mutter about how "Spider-Man didn't beat me! It was the fire!" "Sure, sure" says one of the cops, "Every time you've met Spider-Man he's stopped you cold! But next time'll be different, we know!!"

With all the excitement done, Liz finally has the opportunity to ask Peter her question. She tells him she is having a party this evening and she wants to know if he will come. But Peter turns her down. "I've got a date with a certain little brunette tonight" he says, "Even though she may not know it yet". He walks away from his schoolmates, suggesting that Flash go to the party in his stead. "Although I know how boring it must be to have to use all those one-syllable words when you talk to him!" he adds. "You deserve each other!" Flash is ready to retaliate but Liz shuts him up. "We rated that, after the way we've always treated Peter!" she says. (Hey, easy for you to say, Liz. You aren't the one who has to swallow the insult about the one- syllable words!)

And to top it all off, Pete had his automatic camera clicking pictures during the fight with Doc Ock and "ol' tightwad Jameson paid [him] a bundle for the pix". So, just for a change, our hero has himself a bona fide happy ending.

The Spider's Web features a letter from future comic artist Dave Cockrum, then of Fort Collins, Colorado. Dave thinks, "This Electro is one of the sharpest villains to come along in anybody's mag! The uniform is really flashy - nice and colorful which is what I like." Take that, John Byrne! John Rochrig of Peoria, Illinois is unclear on the concept, asking "Why whenever Peter Parker gets the spider sense we see half of his spider mask on his face? And why doesn't anybody else notice it?" And in the Special Announcements Section, Stan assures the fans who are worried about Betty being too old for Peter that she "is actually a few month YOUNGER than our hero. She had to leave school and take a job because she needed the money, and she intends to complete her education at night when she gets the chance. She only SEEMS older because Pete is a high school senior while she is a working girl." Finally, in his preview for the next issue, Stan promises, "the most rootin'-tootin' swingin' wind- dingin'est arch-foe you ever did see!" In other words, the first appearance of Mysterio.

Which pretty much wraps everything up except to add that Doctor Octopus appears again in just a few months when he organizes the Sinister Six in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964).

In General...

Milestones (Landmark events that take place in this story.)

  1. First time Spider-Man is weakened by a virus.
  2. First time Spider-Man is unmasked.
  3. First time Spider-Man rides on the back of a lion, webs up the jaws of a bear, and leaps off a flagpole over the head of a gorilla.
  4. First time Spider-Man contributes to the destruction of an artist's studio and all of the artist's sculptures.
  5. First time Liz Allan invites Peter Parker to a party.
  6. Betty Brant gets a new 'do (which she's pretty much had ever since).

The 1969 Marvelmania International Spider-Man Portfolio checklist entry for this story. Warts and all:

Ditko/Lee/Simek

  • "Unmasked by Dr. Octopus" - Dr. Octopus captures Betty and unmasks Spidey in front of JJJ and the police but Spidey convinces them He's merely Parker impersonation the real Spidey. - Climaxs in fight with Doc Ock.

    Overall Rating...

    The unmasking scene is clever and fun (Don't you love Doc Ock removing the mask and yelling, "I should have known! It isn't Spider-Man! It's that weakling brat, Peter Parker!") but it climaxes on page eight and the rest of the issue doesn't rise up to that. The scenes with the escaped animals are more weird than interesting and Ock is just a little less menacing than he was last issue. And what's the deal with Doc allowing himself to be led off in handcuffs like a whipped dog? All the early Spideys are good but this one is a bit less good than most of the others.

    Three and a half webs.