Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #4

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

This review was first published on: Mar 2013.

Background...

A two-page spread visiting “the unofficial cultural center of good ol’ E.S.U.!”

In Detail...

"The Coffee Bean Barn!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #4 (Story 2)
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  Larry Lieber
Inker:  Mike Esposito
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Review
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Annual (UK) 1979

Welcome to the Coffee Bean Barn! It’s a basement establishment (as we can tell because there is a narrow window up near the ceiling where we can see the legs of the people walking on the sidewalk outside) with, apparently, one booth, one table, a bar with four or five stools, and lots of floor space. There are “hip” signs on the walls saying, “Today’s Special: Yesterday’s Leftovers,” “If you don’t see what you want…forget it!” “If you think our coffee tastes like dishwater…wait’ll you taste our dishwater!” and “Free espresso to all! (50¢ rental for the cup and saucer!)” The jukebox has a sign on it reading, “Help feed our starving juke box.” There are two posters on the wall. One says, “Fu Manchu for Mayor,” with a drawing of Fu’s head (his first appearance in a Marvel mag, I believe) and the other has two slogans on it: “Support clean Hobbits!” and “Woody Allen Lives! (More or less!)” with a drawing of Woody’s head. (This is also the second time Woody is mentioned in this issue. See “You’ve got about as much chance against my flame as Woody Allen would have against the Hulk!” on page 22, panel 4.)

There are 14 people hanging out at the Barn, including the beatnik behind the counter. (Yes, he’s a beatnik. Yes, it’s 1967.) Seven of them are familiar to us. Mary Jane is hanging all over Flash Thompson, who is in his Army uniform. Gwen Stacy is standing nearby. (“Show us again how you trapped an entire enemy platoon, Flash baby!” MJ says. “Aww,” says Flash, “You must be sick of Army talk by now!” “Well, now that you mention it…!” says Gwen. “An entire platoon?!!” asks an anonymous guy with a big “F” on his sweater. “Wouldja believe, one stray cow!” says some guy drinking coffee.) On the other side of the room, Peter Parker leans up against the jukebox. Harry Osborn is with him, his left hand on Pete’s right shoulder. This, by the way, is Peter’s best appearance in this issue. He only shows up for four panels in the main story in which he is not seen in his Spidey costume. (“Any uniform really turns the chicks on!” says Harry, though I don’t think this was true in the late 60s. “Yeah,” thinks Pete, “except a swingin’ Spidey suit!”) Aunt May and Anna Watson are there too, sitting at the table. “So this is where it’s happening, May!” says Anna. (Sorry, Anna, doesn’t look like much is happening to me!) “Cool it, sweetie!” says May, “We don’t’ want those cats to dig that we’re hippies!”

In General...

It’s silly, it’s awkward, it feels slightly out of step with the times (especially the beatnik counterman and the line about chicks loving guys in uniform) but it’s so dang endearing, especially May’s line about being a hippie. You can’t help but love it.

Overall Rating...

Four webs.

Footnote...

Follow me to what the well-dressed Spider-Man will wear!