Eye Magazine: Amazing Spider-Man Mini Insert

Background

You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that ASM #42, November 1966 was reprinted in America's Best TV Comics #1 (Promoted Cartoon Show), 1967. Sort of. If you look at the review for that issue, you’ll see that the story was condensed down to 10 pages, eliminating the Mary Jane reveal completely. In that review, I said, “Now, I understand why MJ is gone, why the Rhino is gone, why the exchange with Gwen, Flash, and Harry is gone. It not only makes sense to eliminate them from this version but it makes this version work better for those unfamiliar with Spider-Man. But it loses all of the elements that make this story great. Without all the extras, it is a pretty routine tale and the silliness of it all, which is well covered in the original, stands out. Someone plants a bomb in a payroll bag in order to plunder the bank vault when it goes off? (Wouldn’t that just ruin all the money and leave the vault still locked?) The fact that John [Jameson] gets big and strong must mean the spores come from a big planet like Jupiter? (You’d have to be a lot bigger and stronger than that to survive Jupiter’s pressure. And why should spores care whether you survive Jupiter or not?) Spidey uses electricity to kill the spores because he figured he could “shock it out of his system?” (Yeah. Why not?)

It’s a masterful abridgement of a classic story but it goes from five webs all the way down to two.”

Story 'The Birth of a Super-Hero!'

So here it is again, this time in mini-comic (7” by 5”) form. What’s this version like? Here are the details from Amazing Spider-Man: Official Index to the Marvel Universe, which would be plagiarism except I’m pretty sure I wrote this particular entry.

“Mini-comic is half-size, envelope-shaped…resulting in many changes, resizes, rearrangement of word balloon locations, and retouches from the original issue. Cover is redone version of original w/art by John Romita. Title is moved to greytone frontispiece. Page 1 features bottom half of splash page with original caption cut. Page 2 features original’s page 3 panel 2, 3 & 6 (w/new caption on top of panel 2). Page 3 features original’s page 3 panel 7 (w/extra dialogue for John Jameson and new footnote) & page 4 panel 4. Page 4 features original’s page 4 panel 5 (w/JJJ on phone added) & page 5 panel 4 (w/minor dialogue change). Page 5 features original’s page 5 panel 7 & page 9 panel 3. Page 6 features original’s page 9 panel 3 (w/extra dialogue for Spidey). Page 7 features original’s page 12 panels 1 & 2 (w/John’s dialogue, one of Spidey’s thought balloons & webbed-up bricks cut in panel 1). Page 8 feature’s original’s page 12 panels 3 & 4. Page 9 features original’s page 12 panel 5. Page 10 features original’s page 13 panels 1, 4, & 5. Page 11 features original’s page 13 panel 6 (w/scene in thought balloon w/Spidey added below), page 14 panel 5, & page 15 panel 3. Page 12 features original’s page 16 panel 1 & page 17 panel 1. Page 13 features original’s page 17 panels 5-7. Page 14 features original’s page 18 panels 3 & 4. Page 15 features original’s page 18 panel 5. Page 16 features original’s page 19 panels 1 & 2. Page 17 is on inside back cover in black and white and features original’s page 19 panel 3-5 (w/”The End” added in final panel). Back cover has Spider-Man pin-up (John Romita art), signed “Keep thy webs untangled! Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man!” Story is recolored.”

So it goes without saying that MJ, Gwen, Flash, Harry, and the Rhino are gone once again. Then, how does the story play out?

Spider-Man steals a money bag from the bank. (The line in the opening caption about “this is an authentic, honest-to-Merry Marty-Goodman Marvel mag” is still there, which must have confused the heck out of Eye readers who had never read a comic book.) “Meanwhile at JFK Airport,” John Jameson is feeling feverish. He starts to grow out of his clothes and collapses right through a wall. “[T]hose spores that hit [him] on [his] space flight” have turned him into a super-being. “Stark’s brilliant technicians” put him in a suit so he can “function normally.” It’s not perfect “but it will prevent you from being a victim of your own super-strength.” J. Jonah Jameson happily tells his son that Spidey has robbed a bank in front of witnesses. He talks John into going after the web-slinger. Spidey immediately runs into John who attacks him even though Spidey tells him he didn’t rob the bank. Spidey shoots a glob of web-fluid over John’s head and escapes. He thinks about how his spider-sense alerted him to a bomb in a payroll bag. He broke into the bank, stole the bag and dumped it in the river.

“Sixty seconds later,” JJJ finds out that no money has been taken from the bank. Later, Peter sits up in bed. He can’t sleep. “I left things too undecided with Jonah’s son!” They find each other at a power station. Spidey knocks John into a generator where “the electro-magnetic field built into [his] suit should cause a feedback.” John reverts to normal and Spidey calls the authorities who come to pick John up. Jonah is there and he claims Spidey tormented John, trying to turn him into a killer but that he was “too brave, too strong, too smart” because “He’s a chip off the old block.” Spidey, in hiding, hears this, then web-swings away, thinking, “If the Colonel really is a chip off the old block, he’s got enough trouble without me hangin’ around!” And then Peter never meets MJ and his life becomes completely different. Or so it seems.

General Comments

I’m not sure why this is the issue condensed and reprinted in two different non-Marvel publications. It feels like there should be better issues to select, especially if you’re going to cut out the great MJ ending here. But, maybe not. If you want a stand-alone Lee-Romita story that bears up under massive editing, maybe this is it. What else? ASM #46, March 1967 with the Shocker has plenty of action but it’s routine stuff; the guts of the issue is more in the sub-plots than the main plot. ASM #62, July 1968 with Medusa is too odd and atypical. So, maybe this is the best choice. But still, really? No MJ?

Overall Rating

If the mini-comic wasn’t attached to Eye Magazine (Vol. 2) #2 (Story 1), then it would probably be two webs like the America’s Best reprint. But I can’t divorce it from the magazine and it really is such a cool little item even on its own. So, this is all about context instead of content but I’m giving it five webs.

Footnote

Next…back to ASM? No, sorry. We’ve got to deal with the penultimate issue of the original run of Not Brand Echh. I don’t like it any better than you do but be here anyway for Not Brand Echh #12 (Story 1).

Oh, and I got my copy of Eye, March 1969 for the First (and Only) Annual Eye Rock ‘n’ Roll poll.

There were 30 categories with results listed for “Readers’ Choices,” “Rock Stars’ Choices,” and “Critics’ Choices.” The Readers get a first and second place listing while the Rock Stars and Critics only get one result unless, I assume, there was a tie. And right off the bat there’s a screw up, because the first and second choices for “Best Group” in the Readers’ Poll are listed as “The Beatles” and “Wheels of Fire.” The problem with this is that “Wheels of Fire” is not the name of a group but the name of an album by Cream. I suspect that someone at Eye mixed it up with the results for “Album of the Year,” which for the Readers was listed as “The Beatles” and “Cream.” There is no Cream album named “Cream” but there is a Beatles album named “The Beatles,” which is the album that everyone now calls “The White Album.” Anyway, here are the winners as listed:

Best Group of ’68:
Readers: 1. The Beatles 2. Wheels of Fire (Cream)
Stars: The Band/The Beatles
Critics: The Beatles/The Band

Single of the Year:
Readers: 1. Hey Jude 2. Sunshine of Your Love
Stars: Hey Jude
Critics: Hey Jude

Album of the Year:
Readers: 1. The Beatles (The White Album) 2. Cream (Wheels of Fire)
Stars: The Beatles
Critics: The Beatles

Top American Group:
Readers: 1. The Doors 2. Jefferson Airplane
Stars: Booker T and the MGs
Critics: Mothers of Invention

Top English Group:
Readers: 1. The Beatles 2. Cream
Stars: The Beatles
Critics: The Beatles

Male Vocalist of ’68:
Readers: 1. Donovan 2. Jim Morrison (of the Doors)
Stars: James Brown
Critics: Bob Dylan

Female Vocalist of ’68:
Readers: 1. Janis Joplin 2. Grace Slick (of Jefferson Airplane)
Stars: Aretha Franklin
Critics: Janis Joplin

Best Soul Group:
Readers: 1. The Chambers Brothers 2. The Temptations
Stars: James Brown and his Famous Flames
Critics: Sam and Dave

King of Soul:
Readers: 1. James Brown 2. Otis Redding
Stars: James Brown
Critics: Otis Redding

Queen of Soul:
Readers: 1. Aretha Franklin 2. Janis Joplin (!)
Stars: Aretha Franklin
Critics: Aretha Franklin

Best in Live Performance:
Readers: 1. Jimi Hendrix Experience 2. Cream
Stars: James Brown
Critics: Jimi Hendrix Experience/Sam and Dave

Best Guitarist:
Readers: 1. Jimi Hendrix 2. Eric Clapton (of Cream)
Stars: Jimi Hendrix
Critics: Jimi Hendrix

Best Bassist:
Readers: 1. Jack Bruce (of Cream) 2. Noel Redding (of Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Stars: Paul McCartney (of The Beatles)
Critics: Jim Fielder (of Blood, Sweat, and Tears)/Paul McCartney

Best Drummer:
Readers: 1. Ginger Baker (of Cream) 2. Keith Moon (of The Who)
Stars: Mitch Mitchell (of Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Critics: Ginger Baker

Best Keyboard Player:
Readers: 1. Al Kooper (of Blood, Sweat, and Tears) 2. Ray Manzarek (of the Doors)
Stars: Booker T. Jones
Critics: Al Kooper/Nicky Hopkins (of the Jeff Beck Group)

Bluest Blues Performer of ‘68
Readers: 1. B.B. King 2. Janis Joplin
Stars: Albert King
Critics: B.B. King

Songwriter of the Year:
Readers: 1. Lennon/McCartney 2. Bob Dylan
Stars: Jim Webb (who wrote “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston,” “MacArthur Park)
Critics: Bob Dylan

Song with the Best Lyrics of the Year:
Readers: 1. Hey Jude 2. Revolution
Stars: MacArthur Park (Someone left a cake out in the rain???)
Critics: All Along the Watchtower

Most Exciting New Face of the Year:
Readers: 1. Steppenwolf 2. Arthur Brown
Stars: Dr. John the Night Tripper
Critics: The Band

Surprise Revival Star of ’68:
Readers: 1. Dion 2. Fats Domino
Stars: Dion
Critics: Fats Domino

Sexiest Man in Rock ‘n’ Roll:
Readers: 1. Jim Morrison 2. Jimi Hendrix
Stars: Jimi Hendrix
Critics: Jim Morrison/Jimi Hendrix

Sexiest Woman in Rock ‘n’ Roll:
Readers: 1. Janis Joplin 2. Grace Slick
Stars: Janis Joplin
Critics: Janis Joplin

The Most Lamented Breakup of ‘68
Readers: 1. Cream 2. Buffalo Springfield
Stars: Cream
Critics: Buffalo Springfield

Hype of the Year:
Readers: 1. Jimi Hendrix 2. Tiny Tim
Stars: Ultimate Spinach (Not hyped enough. I had to look them up.)
Critics: Bosstown Sound (of which the Ultimate Spinach was a part)

Beautiful-Person-of-the-Year Award:
Readers: 1. Donovan 2. John Lennon
Stars: Tiny Tim
Critics: Frank Zappa/John Lennon

1968’s Public Nuisance:
Readers: 1. Tiny Tim 2. The Monkees
Stars: Steppenwolf
Critics: John Lennon and Yoko Ono

1968’s Private Delight:
Readers: 1. Frank Zappa 2. The Beatles
Stars: Musicians
Critics: Tiny Tim

Bad-News Group of ‘68
Readers: 1. 1910 Fruitgum Co. 2. Ohio Express (Both purveyors of “bubble gum music.”)
Stars: Blue Cheer (Credited as being some of the earliest pioneers of heavy metal.)
Critics: The Doors

Bad-Trip Album of the Year:
Readers: 1. Their Satanic Majesties Request (The Rolling Stones) 2. God Bless Tiny Tim
Stars: Ina-Gadda-Da-Vida (Iron Butterfly)
Critics: Cheap Thrills (Big Brother and the Holding Company w/Janis Joplin)/Wheels of Fire

Bring-Down Single of the Year:
Readers: 1. Harper Valley PTA (Jeannie C. Riley) 2. Yummy, Yummy, Yummy (Ohio Express)
Stars: Chewy Chewy (also the Ohio Express)
Critics: MacArthur Park (Richard Harris)/Harper Valley PTA

There! That was worth the wait, wasn’t it?