Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #13

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

This review was first published on: 2002.

Background...

Let's say you're a kid in the early sixties reading each issue of Amazing Spider-Man as they come out. The latest issue's cover shows Spider-Man "turning to crime" and taking "his troubles to a psychiatrist". It also promises "the greatest villain of all for ol' Spidey"... a strange figure in a green costume with a red cape held on with amulets that look like glowering eyes. His head is covered with some sort of crystal ball and he is surrounded by fog rising up around him in wisps; a fog that appears to melt Spidey's web. The cover informs you that this villain's name is "Mysterio!" and it asks, "Who, or what is he?" You can't wait to find out.

In Detail...

"The Menace of... Mysterio!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #13
Jun 1964 : SMURF 013.500 : SM Title
Summary: First Mysterio
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  Steve Ditko
Inker:  Steve Ditko
Cover Art:  Steve Ditko
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 Reprinted In: Marvel Masterworks #5
 Reprinted In: Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus #1
 Reprinted In: Pocket Book: The Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1)
 Reprinted In: Pocket Book: Spider-Man Classics (Vol. 2)
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #151
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #8
 Partially Reprinted In: Pow! #29
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Classics #14
 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #1
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Pocket Book #11
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man's Greatest Villains (TPB)
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Betty Brant, Flash Thompson, Jameson, J. Jonah, Elizabeth (Allan) Osborn, Mysterio I (Beck), Seymour O'Reilly

No symbolic Ditko splash page this time. Instead, we get right to the action. Spider-Man flees the scene of his crime, a big green moneybag marked with a big dollar sign clamped in his left fist. Behind, he leaves an open safe and two men covered in webbing; one webbed to the wall, the other webbed to the floor. But the webbing doesn't stop the men from yelling for the police and their yell is loud enough for bystanders on the street to hear it... and to point up at the escaping criminal, Spider-Man, leaping from one building to another, then wall-crawling to the roof, with the money bag hooked in his belt.

When he reaches the roof, he finds two watchmen waiting for him. He covers them with a web, webslings away before they can cut themselves free, and then safely descends in the fog using a parachute "made of thin strong webbing". The watchmen get free too late to do anything about the escape but they recognize the criminal and they're more than willing to spread the word. The next day, newsies are on street corners hawking their papers, yelling, "Read all about it! Spider-Man wanted by police!" It is the number one topic of conversation all over the city. One man finds it "unbelievable" while another refers to Spider as "the crummy crook". One woman says her children will be shocked by the news, while another woman says, "It's a great shock to all of us!" A guy in a baseball cap says "He must be nuts if he thinks he can get away with a one man crime wave" while a man in a fedora says, "The police will sure have a tough job getting him! But they'll do it, sooner or lat er!"

At the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson is the happiest man in the city. He orders his staff to "find all the old editorials [he] wrote, accusing Spider-Man of being a menace". He's going to reprint every one.

At Midtown High School, Liz Allan is mortified to think of what fools they all were to make a hero of Spider-Man while Flash Thompson maintains his rep as Spidey's number one fan by asserting, "We can't be positive! He may still be innocent!"

And, alone in a classroom, Peter Parker is worried to death about the whole thing. He knows he didn't commit the crime but he can't dispute the evidence: the witnesses, the fact that the crook used webbing and climbed a sheer wall. "It couldn't have been an imposter," he asserts, since no one else can do what he can do. (Pete, in his distress, has already forgotten about the Chameleon's successful impersonation of the web-slinger back in Amazing Spider-Man #1, March 1963.) So, if he doesn't remember doing it and it can't be an imposter, there is only one other explanation. "Am I becoming a split-personality?? Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde??" he wonders. "Perhaps I did it in my sleep without knowing?!"

Now comes one of those little writer-artist glitches I'm so fond of pointing out. In the previous scene, Peter was clearly in a classroom. Stan's subsequent caption is, "Minutes later in the kitchen". Ol' Spidey is even faster than you thought he was, isn't he? Now he's at home with Aunt May and he's so rattled that he drops and breaks a dish. It is the second dish he has dropped today, prompting Aunt May to ask if anything is wrong. "You're not worried because our savings account is almost gone, and it's getting harder to pay the mortgage each month, are you?" she asks. (Gosh no, Aunt May! Who would be worried about that?) But Peter suggests, as he cleans up the dish, that he may be studying too hard. "I'll just try to get some sleep," he says. So, he goes up to his room, leaving Aunt May to worry about how he isn't as rough as most of the other boys and how he's sensitive and worries too much and all kinds of pathetic stuff like that.

Upstairs, Peter lies in bed, in the dark, afraid to shut his eyes. Who knows? Maybe, when he sleeps, he becomes another personality and goes out and commits different crimes? (Kind of like... MOVIE AND NOVEL SPOILER COMING UP HERE... "Fight Club" now that I think about it.) And, sure enough, when he wakes up in the morning, he hears a bulletin on the radio that reports "Spider-Man has struck again during the night!" That does it for Peter. He's so worried about his sanity that he gets into his Spidey duds and heads over to the office of a nearby psychiatrist! The shrink he picks has a black mustache, jutting jaw, and hair that looks like a real bad toupee. And just Spidey's luck, the shrink is only interested in the fame he can garner by treating "a mysterious super-hero who's a mental case".

At first, Spidey clings to the wall and only wants to ask one question. "Can a person do something in his sleep that he'd never do awake?" The glory hound doctor tells him he thinks he can help but first he wants Spidey to lie down on the couch so he can probe the subconscious. "Just make yourself comfortable here!" he tells Spidey, gesturing toward a couch as big as an Olympic-sized pool. "Relax... and then tell me anything that comes into your head!" And what comes into Spidey's head is the realization that "If I just relax and say whatever I think of, I'm liable to give away my secret identity!" So, instead, he bolts out the window, apologizing to the doc for bothering him. "Wait! Come back! You're the kind of patient every psychiatrist dreams of!" yells the shrink but to no avail... and his visions of making medical history must go back into mothballs. The poor sap.

Not long after, Peter Parker, his hands in his pockets, walks into the offices of the Daily Bugle. As soon as Betty Brant sees him, she wants to know what is wrong. "You look so dejected" she says. When Peter tries to brush her comment off, Betty invents her own reason for his dejection (just like Aunt May did one page before). "You're probably worried because you haven't sold any news photos to Mr. Jameson lately!" she says. "Oh Peter, if only you'd find some different type of work." Pete is in no mood for this lecture. He tells Betty "I don't tell you how to live your life -- don't butt into mine!" Betty is so shocked by this response that her eyes go wide and her head trembles. "Y-you never spoke to me that way before!!" she cries.

But that's all for Betty until page 14. Stan is uninterested in Peter's response to Betty's shocked comment. The next panel moves Pete into the office of J. Jonah Jameson, where the publisher is glorying in a big pile of telegrams congratulating him for being right about Spider-Man and which he has spread all over his desk. Peter is happy to see JJJ in a good mood. What better time to ask him for a loan so that Aunt May can cover the mortgage payment? Instantly, Jonah's cheerful mood disappears. He picks up a copy of his newspaper and focuses his attention on it even as he tells Peter that he is "not a bank" and reminding our hero that "You know where the door is." When Pete tries to angle his request into an advance on future photos, Jonah tells him he'll agree if "you want to sell me the secret of how you take those great crime photos of yours." No way is Peter going to give that information up. "Thanks for nothing, Mr. Jameson" he says as he exits.

So, Pete goes up to the roof and changes to Spider-Man. He knows he shouldn't appear as the web-slinger, with the whole city searching for him but he can't think of any other way to get money for Aunt May. He needs to find a crime in progress, foil it, and get pictures for Jameson. But the first lamebrain thing he does is swing down to the street right where the public can get at him. As soon as he alights, four bystanders start chasing him, yelling out, "Call the police" and shaking their fists at him. Spidey runs through an alley before finally crawling up a nearby wall, leaving all those extended clenched fists behind. He returns to the roof and scoops up his clothes in a panic, then runs along the ledge wondering how he can make money when he's a wanted criminal and wondering if he really committed the crimes.

The next morning, Peter is walking to school (and still worrying about the mortgage and if he's "a sleep-walking criminal") when Liz Allan yells at him to "wait for me!" When she catches up, she primps her hair with her right hand and asks Peter if he likes her new hairdo. He compliments it (it's a definite improvement, if you ask me) and walks to school with Liz by his side but all he can think of is the "nutty timing" of the whole thing. "For months Liz wouldn't give me a tumble, but since I've been dating Betty, Liz has gotten a crush on me", he thinks. As they walk, Liz becomes the third person in the last four pages to ask Peter if anything is wrong. Pete works up a grin and tells her, "Naw, everything's great, Liz! If it gets any better, I'll shoot myself." Liz grins right back. "Oh, Peter!" she says, "I always knew you had a great sense of humor!"

By this time, the two teens have made it to the schoolyard. Flash Thompson is there, arguing for the innocence of Spider-Man. He takes one look at Liz and does a double take that almost rips his head off. He is so taken by Liz's new look that he goes right over and tells her, "I almost didn't recognize you! You're beautiful now!" Icily, Liz replies, "Really, Mister Thompson?? And what was I before, pray tell??" And Peter Parker gloats to himself that "poor Flash...always says the wrong thing".

Back at the Daily Bugle, JJJ has called a meeting of his editors. As he puts it, "Some nut sent me a note saying he could get rid of Spider-Man single-handed." Jonah has invited the nut to his office to prove it. Just then, the door opens and a cloud of smoke drifts in. In the midst of the smoke is the figure in the cape, eye amulets, and fish bowl helmet. He introduces himself with, "I am Mysterio!" Jonah is unimpressed. "He's cornier-looking than Spider-Man," he says. (Or, at least, someone in the room says it. The word balloon points to someone off-panel.) Mysterio tells the men he has a reason for his dopey get-up. He must remain anonymous to protect his family, in case "the underworld ever finds out about [his] powers". One editor wants to know "what powers". Jameson points a finger at Mysterio and proclaims "You could be Spider-Man himself under that fishbowl." But Mysterio does not elaborate. He holds out an envelope and tells the men to follow the instr uctions inside if they "wish to end the menace of Spider-Man" Then smoke billows up around him, as if from nowhere, completely hiding him from view. When the smoke dissipates, Mysterio has disappeared!

So, Jonah opens up the envelope. Inside is a note reading, "Print a notice in the Daily Bugle saying: If Spider-Man wants to learn the truth about himself, he should meet Mysterio atop the Brooklyn Bridge." Jonah doesn't understand the message but figures it must make sense for Mysterio to go to all the trouble to deliver it. Then, the letter vanishes from his hand "in a puff of smoke". One editor takes a look at that and declares, "If Spider-Man can be beaten, I've got a hunch that Mysterio is the one to do it." Jonah doesn't know if that's true or not but he figures he's got nothing to lose by printing the message. He does know, if it leads to Spider-Man's defeat, "I'll become a hero to the people of this city!"

The next day, three men out on the street read the message from Mysterio. The first man wonders who Mysterio is. The second man decides, "Anyone with such a corny name must be a phony!" The third man is Peter Parker. As far as he is concerned, if there is any chance that "Mysterio knows what's behind the Spider-Man crime wave", then he must keep the appointment.

And so, only minutes later, the Amazing Spider-Man web-slings his way to the Brooklyn Bridge. He lands on one of the cable supports and tightrope-walks up it. But he can clearly see the top of the bridge and no one is in sight. Just then, a plume of smoke erupts on top of the bridge and Mysterio materializes inside it. He declares himself "the one who will, singlehandedly, destroy Spider-Man". Spidey doesn't know what Mystie's game is but he takes a sudden leap at his strange opponent, hoping to grab him right off the bat. But Mysterio's hands are enveloped in his animated smoke and that smoke seems to yank the villain right up in the air, away from Spidey's leap. Then, the smoke switches to his feet and seems to pull his down right behind Spidey. He kicks the web-slinger right in the back of the head. The wall-crawler quickly recovers, rises, turns, and punches Mysterio (pulling his punch "because I want to take him alive"). But rather than falling off the bridge, Mysterio retreats by standing on the side of the bridge. Spidey still isn't impressed. He suspects that Mystie's shoes are magnetized. (You know, the kind of magnets that adhere to stonework, right?) He figures all he has to do is lean down and grab this new strange foe but Mysterio rides his smoke over to the one of the bridge cables. Spider-Man tries a new tactic. He shoots his webbing at his fishbowl-headed opponent. Mysterio counters by extending his arms out in front of him. From Spidey's point of view, it looks like Mysterio stops the webbing in mid-air just by gesturing at it. Then the web begins to dissolve. It is "as though", Spidey thinks, "it's been sprayed with a fine chemical mist, too small for the eye to see!"

Having proven his superiority (or so he claims), Mysterio now brags that he can elude the web-slinger whenever he desires. The cloud of smoke billows up again, completely concealing the villain. At last, Spider-Man feels, Mysterio has made a mistake for he has not accounted for the fact that the wall-crawler's spider-sense can lead him into the smoke and right to his opponent. But as soon as Spidey enters the smoke, he is shocked to discover that his spider-sense doesn't work. "It's as though something is interfering with it... jamming it!" he thinks. Blinded by smoke, he is reduced to swinging wild punches, just hoping he is lucky enough to hit Mysterio. Then, he gets a sock in the jaw. Clearly, as Spidey puts it, "I can't see him but he sure can see me!" Spidey keeps swinging wildly, knowing that Mysterio must be nearby (in order to be punching him in the head, you know). But it doesn't work. Before he knows it, invisible punches are hitting him everywhere. He kno ws that he has become a "helpless punching bag", that the longer he stays, "the more punishment [he'll] take", so he bails out by jumping out of the smoke and off the bridge. As soon as Spidey jumps, the smoke parts revealing a triumphant Mysterio. Now that he has defeated Spider-Man, the mystery man declares himself "supreme".

Even as Spider-Man hits the water, a police helicopter flies up. It has been monitoring the battle. With Spidey defeated the cops plan to proceed with "Operation Pick-Up" and capture the web-slinger. Spidey surfaces and sees the chopper. He knows he must act fast to avoid being caught. And so, he creates an airtight helmet out of webbing and covers his head. This allows him enough air to swim underwater, unseen, to a deserted pier. The water streams off of him as he climbs up one of the wooden posts. "Well, one thing is certain" he thinks, "A defeat like this will sure keep me from ever getting too conceited!"

Later, having made it safely home, Peter sits on his bed in his waterlogged Spidey costume. Though he looks thoroughly dejected, he has decided, "the day wasn't a total loss". That's because he "did learn the answer to one of the things that's been worrying me".

The next day, believe it or not, Mysterio is given a parade down Fifth Avenue (though it looks like the parade consists of one convertible with Mysterio standing up in the back seat) for his defeat of Spider-Man. The people in the crowd (all twenty of them) cheer because "Spider-Man won't dare pull any more crimes in this city now!" Also in the crowd are teens from Midtown High School. Flash Thompson is there declaring Mysterio to be "a big publicity hound" and adding that "my dough is still on Spider-Man". Peter Parker is in the crowd, too, and, overhearing Flash's remarks, he tells his rival "you're not as dumb as you look! In fact, you're okay, fella!" Flash isn't interested in compliments from Puny Parker. He tells Pete to "stay away from Liz Allan" whom he refers to as his girl friend. Pete tells him that Liz doesn't seem to think she's Flash's girl friend, then adds, "But don't worry, Bright Eyes, you can have her!"

After the parade, at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson introduces Mysterio to his staff. Jonah explains that Mysterio is a true crime fighter who is not afraid to meet the public, unlike "that cowardly Spider-Man". JJ adds that Mysterio plans to reveal his true identity once he has defeated Spider-Man for good and will give the exclusive scoop to the Daily Bugle. Mysterio confirms this. "Just as long" he tells Jonah, "as you remember the money you promised me."

After his speech, Jameson brings Peter up to meet and shake hands with Mysterio. JJJ tells Mysterio that "despite his youth", Peter is "the best photographer I've got". Jonah tells Pete he expects some "great pictures" of the next Spider-Man/Mysterio fight. Peter says he'll try not to disappoint.

But Peter has an ulterior motive in his meeting with Mysterio. He needed to get close enough to slip a spider-tracer (called, at this time, "a small electronically treated spider pin") into the folds of Mysterio's cloak. No one sees him do it. Now he can trace Mysterio's movements and, he hopes, find out what his story is.

His mood lightened, Peter exits Jameson's office and encounters Betty Brant. She notices his smile and asks if he is "celebrating Spider-Man's defeat also". (Yes, page 14 at last, with Betty just getting over those shocking comments Pete unloaded on her back on page 5.) Pete replies that he's "not so sure that Spider-Man has been defeated" then he rushes off before Betty has a chance to reply. This time, Betty notes that Pete has "never been so anxious to leave me before". She wonders if he has another girl friend... perhaps that "pretty blonde" she's seen sometimes with Pete... then chides herself for being unnecessarily jealous.

Back in the publisher's office, Mysterio departs by disappearing in a cloud of smoke. The remaining members of the staff wonder how Mysterio accomplishes this feat but Jonah could care less. All he cares about is that he has finally found someone who can beat the web-slinger. He pulls out a fresh cigar and declares, "I feel like celebrating!"

But, meanwhile, on the roof, Pete has changed into Spider-Man and he waits with his "spying device" (this being back in the days before the spider-tracer was linked to his spider-sense) for a signal from his "hidden spider pin". The little antenna on the device begins to glow and Spider-Man follows the signal to Mysterio who is standing outside a "TV movie studio building". Spidey shines the light from his spider-signal down on Mysterio. "You didn't think I'd let you choose the time and place for our next fight, did you?" he tells the villain as he leaps down to the attack. But Mysterio pulls the same trick he pulled on the bridge. He conceals himself in his special mist which not only blinds the web-slinger but "dulls [his] spider-sense so [he] cannot be prepared for [Mysterio's] blows". (See? I told you Spidey should never have started blabbing about his spider-sense.) Again, as before, blows rain down on the wall-crawler's jaw, on his chin, on the back of his head. Just like that, he is knocked to the ground. Seemingly humbled, Spidey concedes that he "can't cope with your bag of tricks". Now that he's played to Mysterio's vanity, he asks him to admit that he was the one who impersonated Spider-Man and committed those robberies. Being your standard regulation super-villain, Mysterio is more than happy to spill his guts about everything! First he admits to being the imposter that pulled off the crimes. Then he decides he might as well "tell you the whole story" from the beginning.

Mysterio turns out to be a guy in a Moe Howard haircut. He explains that he was once a movie stunt man who later became "a special effects man for TV movies". (But he doesn't give his name. For many years, Mysterio remained nameless until finally given the name Quentin Beck.) In his job, he designed "all sorts of costumes and props". This gave him the idea of imitating Spider-Man. He spent weeks studying Spider-Man, vowing, "Whatever Spider-Man does naturally, I'll find a way to do artificially!" And so, he built a gun "which fired a nylon cord" which passed for Spidey's webbing. He designed "shoes and gloves with special suction cups" so that he could "cling to walls". At first, his only plan was to commit crimes and have Spidey take the blame but then he got a better idea. He would design a second identity, calling himself Mysterio, defeat the web-slinger and become "a national hero" with no one knowing "that Mysterio is both the criminal and the conqueror".

Really rolling now, Mystie blabs on, giving away every trick in his arsenal. He explains that his helmet is based on "the principle of [Spidey's] eye pieces" where he can see out but no one can see in. He yaks about the "fine spray" he created "made of specially treated acid" which he shot out of a tube at his wrist and dissolved any webbing that was used against him. He babbles about the "chemical smoke ejectors" and "magnetic plate springs" hidden in his boots which he uses to conceal himself and then leap away making it look like he has vanished. (So, shouldn't he have just clanged his head on the ceiling when he used the smoke-and-leap trick to get away in Jameson's office?) Finally, he gabs about the "built in sonar device" he used to spot Spider-Man in the smoke even as it jammed the web-slinger's spider-sense. But for all his mechanical expertise, Mysterio does not consider the possibility that Spidey is carrying a miniature tape recorder with which he captures e very bit of the villain's wordy confession and now plans to bring to the police. Of course, just as Mysterio should have kept his mouth shut about his gimmicks, Spidey should have kept his bill zipped about the tape recorder. But no, he shoves it in Mysterio's face. The illusionist knows he must defeat Spidey so he can destroy it.

So, Mysterio releases more smoke and goes to the attack but this time Spidey does a backward flip to get away from him. The web-slinger circles around the cloud, trying to spot Mysterio within. Using his spider-speed to keep Mysterio off-balance, Spidey throws punch after punch into the smoke from different angles until finally he connects. The blow is so powerful that Mysterio goes flying right out of his cloud and through a door into the movie studio. He slides along the floor, doing somersaults that leave little curlicues of smoke from his boots, ending up on a set where a cheap science fiction movie is being filmed. (He bowls over the director just as the order to "roll 'em" is given.) Then Spider-Man leaps into the fray. (The actor in the space suit, the actor in the little-green-man suit, and two crewmembers scatter.) Mysterio has gotten back to his feet and Spidey goes after him by forming his webbing into a big net high over his opponent's head. As the net sta rts to fall down, Mysterio dissolves it with the chemical spray from his wrists. This is exactly what Spidey is counting on. While Mystie is busy with his spray, Spidey jumps him and gives him a "wallop" right in the chest. But Mysterio used to be a stunt man and he knows how to "roll with a punch so as not to be hurt". Then he uses the springs in his boots to bound away, trailing a cloud of smoke (and with another little green man running for cover).

He ends up perched on a wrecking-ball-sized special effects planet hanging from a ceiling wire and used to provide part of the background for the movie scene. (I did mention that this is a cheap science fiction movie.) Not far away is another hanging planet, this one looking like Saturn. Spidey uses the rings of the planet to hoist himself up to Mysterio's level and Mystie is reduced to standing on a suspended space ship, heaving a planet at Spidey and whining, "You can't stop me! You can't!! I've waited too long, planned too well! I can't be thwarted now!" Well, yeah, he can. Spidey jumps over to the space ship and knocks Mysterio right off of it with one punch. Mystie lands upright on the ground and takes off running but the web-slinger jumps down and lands on his back. Mysterio counters by flipping Spidey over his back. With the wall-crawler off-balance, the former stunt man grabs a light on a stand and tries to brain Spidey with it. But the web-spinner s prings from a movie-set crater to a movie-set lunar anthill and then through the scrim right back down on top of Mysterio. As he comes after the villain again, Spidey reminds him that "You picked the wrong guy when you tried to frame me, Mysterio! You shoulda found some easy victim like the Human Torch for instance!"

A powerful blow from the web-slinger sends Mysterio flying head over heels. One bystander who still thinks Spidey is the bad guy calls out for someone to help Mysterio. But that same poor sucker dressed as the little green man wants no part of it. As he gets knocked over by the tumbling Mysterio he calls out, "So you help Mysterio! I'm gettin' out of here while I still can!"

Again, everybody scatters, as Spidey jumps down and tackles Mysterio around the waist. Mystie retaliates by summoning up another cloud of smoke and trying the old "can't see me" trick once again. This time, Spidey knows just what to do. He punches the spider-sense jammer, which is in one of Mysterio's eyeball amulets. (With all the blabbing that he did, Mysterio did not reveal where he had the jammer hidden. Should we credit Spidey's precise attack to a lucky guess?) With the jammer smashed, our hero's spider-sense is no longer impaired. Now, he has no trouble mopping up the floor with Mysterio. He throws a few punches, then leaps up to a scaffold to retrieve his automatic camera (No, I don't know when he found time to hang that up, either.), secures it to his belt, and leaps back down into the smoke for the wrap-up. By this time, the unchecked smoke has filled up the entire studio. With the unconscious Mysterio slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, Spidey has no trouble using his spider-sense to find the exit. But to all the scattered bystanders, it is as if the two super-characters have just disappeared. When the smoke clears, the little green man scratches his head in confusion but the director turns on his cameraman. "The greatest action scene in history and you didn't even get it on film!" he growls. The cameraman shrugs. "But they weren't members of the cast!" he cries. "Probably didn't even belong to the union!"

And so, it isn't too much later that J. Jonah Jameson shows up at police headquarters because he heard Mysterio was under arrest. There is the villain himself, helmetless, dictating a statement to one of the officers. Two other cops explain that "we have a full confession on tape from Mysterio's own lips" and that "our men are picking up all the stolen loot now... thanks to Spider-Man". JJJ rubs a hand across his face in anguish. With all the editorials he has written about this, the news that "Mysterio is the guilty one" and "Spider-Man is innocent" will make him a laughingstock.

Slumped in defeat, Jonah returns to the Bugle. He tells Betty to "cancel all my appointments... and send down for a bottle of aspirin, a big bottle". Betty tells him that Peter Parker just stopped by and left some photos. JJ doesn't think photos will do anything for his disposition until he sees them spread out over his desk. The photos are fight scenes of Spider-Man taking on Mysterio and they are "perfect for the front page". Jonah's eyes go bright and he breaks into a big grin. "Stop the presses!" he yells. "We're putting out an extra!" He pulls out his checkbook and begins to write a check for Peter Parker. "I'll be generous and pay him almost half of what these pictures are worth!" he decides. "He won't have to worry about that mortgage now!" But just then, the Amazing Spider-Man uses his web to swing right through Jonah's office window. The web-slinger stands on JJ's desk, pointing down at the publisher who cowers back into his chair. Spidey t ells Jonah he "just dropped by to congratulate you on a perfect record". Once again Jameson has been "100% wrong" about Spider-Man. "I'll bet it's not easy to make a fool out of yourself all the time!" he says. And just to rub it in a little bit, Spidey attaches a web to Jameson's back and sticks him up so he's hanging from the ceiling. "I figured you need a new outlook on life so I thought I'd give you one" he says. With Jonah yelling threats, Spidey leaves the office and webswings across the city. One bystander looks up and says, "Look! It's Spider-Man... the one who caught Mysterio!!"

The next day at Midtown High, the kids apologize to Flash for doubting that Spider-Man was innocent. Flash basks in the vindication. "I'm right about everything!" he crows. Then, he turns to Peter Parker to see if he's "satisfied now that Spider-Man is one of the greatest guys around".

"Heck no, Flash!" Pete replies. "Personally I still wouldn't trust him any further than I can throw him!"

Soon after, Spidey swings through the city feeling sorry for Flash. "If he only knew the real identity of his favorite hero!" he says. "It would be worth anything to tell him some day, just to watch him explode!"

"But", Stan tells us in a final caption, "that day is still in the future!" (Yeah. No kidding. It's almost forty years later and it's still in the future.) In the meantime, Spidey has more important concerns with the introduction of a great new villain, the return of some great old villains and the appearance of "an unexpected guest star". Modestly, Stan predicts, "We think you'll like it." Yeah, I sort of think so, too.

A wide variety of opinions grace this issue's letters page. John Yandell of Tulsa, Oklahoma tells Stan and Steve, "You'll all a bunch of jerks... You start off my putting out good mags and when you've got everybody really interested, you let go with the flubs. Example: you start with Spider-Man #7 - a great, great story, then comes #8 - a good story with good features, and then #9 - the flub! Fair story, poor art." Marcelaine Wininger of Park City, Kentucky pleads, "Don't let Aunt May die, please! It would ruin everything!" (Don't worry, Marcelaine. Believe me.) Charles J. Goering, Jr. of Sunnyside, New York wants Spidey and the Torch to battle again because, "In my opinion the Torch can wipe up the floor with Spider-Man!" Steve Gillespie of Omaha, Nebraska thinks that the way Ditko draws regular people "makes them look like they have some rare disease!" but David Catena of Windber, Pennsylvania says of Ditko, "I realize now that you and only you can draw Spider-Man the way he should be drawn." And finally, Steve Alexander of Tullahoma, Tennessee asks, "Why don't you make Spidey fight the Blob?" Stan replies, "Give him time, Steve! He'll tackle everyone from the Blob to Uncle Wiggily!" Truer words were never spoken.

Nothing left to tie up this time... except to mention that Mysterio returns only a few months later as a member of the Sinister Six in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964)... and to wonder, "how did Mysterio use magnetic plate springs to stand on the side of a bridge made of stone, anyway?"

In General...

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

  1. Second time a villain impersonates Spider-Man.
  2. First time Spidey goes to a psychiatrist.
  3. Liz Allan gets a new hairstyle.
  4. First battle on the Brooklyn Bridge.
  5. First time J. Jonah Jameson says that Peter is his best photographer.
  6. First time Spider-Man, in his guise of Peter Parker, shakes hands with his super-villain opponent.

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

Ditko/Lee/Simek

  • "The Menace of Mysterio" - First encounter and origin of Mysterio. Mysterio impersonates Spidey and frames him.

    Overall Rating...

    Another great issue with an instantly classic villain. Who cares if Mysterio's bag of tricks couldn't really work as explained? The essence of a good Mysterio story is misdirection, getting Spidey or the public to believe something outside of reality, such as that Spider-Man has become a criminal or that Spider-Man is going insane. This story introduces both of those themes. They may be a little stale nowadays but back in 1964 they were very fresh indeed. Still, for all of its pluses, ASM #13 doesn't quite equal the quality of the best issues. I may be a little too tough on it but let's call it "Four Webs".