And here's our Editor's review of the Spidey-Man story in this issue.
Peter Pooper is in love. As his Auntie May wishes him "Goodnight, be sure to keep your hot water bottle on your little tum-tum, and don't let your tootsies stick out from under the covers!" little does she know that he is in love. If only Peter can keep her from finding out about his girlfriend until after they're married. After all, she's already had 57 heart attacks this week! The star of this story, according to the banner along the top is “The Aging Spidey-Man!” This splash page, featuring Peter’s messy bedroom is filled with Marie riffs. There are footprints all over the door and the walls. There is a Spidey-Man poster on the back of the door, signed “Luck, Spidey,” Spidey signing a poster to himself. On the wall is a framed picture of a football player. “Regards – Spidey Lockhart, N.Y. Jints. (Spider Lockhart played for the New York Giants from 1965 to 1975.) A Spidey costume hangs in the closet in plain sight. There are pictures taped to the mirror of MJ, Gwen, and the Hulk. A woman, looking like Crystal, is in the mirror razzing Peter who has that half-mask look that Steve Ditko often gave him but Marie also puts one arm and one foot in the Spidey costume so that his feet poke out from a blanket with one bare and one in a Spidey sock. The blanket has a label that reads “Prop. Of B. Widow.” And plenty more..
So night sets, and Spidey swings out the window for his hot date - Auntie May sneaks out to go bop and stomp all night at the Granny A-Go-Go. (A sign on a building says, “Bilbo is a Thief.”) . Spidey is quite keen on this love thing, as he mooches his way through the evening - battling baddies, collecting flowers, and practicing his heart-shaped webbing. As of tomorrow, he's resigning from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band! Gary is still on his songwriting kick from “Best Side Story.” Here he has Spidey sing “Lovely Rita, meter maid, you ain’t got nothing on Spidey!” riffing off the song from the Sgt. Pepper’s album..
But who is Peter's beloved - and how is their romance progressing? As he calls her on the phone, she tells him she can't see him tonight! "But we're supposed to be getting hitched tomorrow!" he pleads. "Oh - that's tomorrow, but tonight you've got a date? Well, at least I won't have to worry about you getting bored!" Poor Petey.
The next morning, over his Sugar Crunchies, and while sitting in a high chair,Peter is still love-struck. Auntie May can tell from that star-struck look that Peter is in love. "AAARGGGHHHH, my poor old heart!" she screams, and collapses on the floor. But Petey's off to school, where he mixes his beloved a brutal perfume cocktail in chemistry class. Sadly, Peter's not watching carefully, and his perfume is a bit heavy on the skunk oil. But more of that later, perhaps? (Peter’s sweater has the Charlie Brown shirt design. To Aunt May’s declaration that he is in love, Peter replies, “You’ve guessed it! But I won’t tell you who I’ve fallen for! That’s gonna be a surprise for you! But don’t worry – I’ll still take you for your operation every week!...I’ll be bringing her home tonight!” to which Auntie May replies, “Who needs it, you ungrateful bum!” In the lab, Gwen Stacy says, “Look at Peter! He looks like the Vanilla Fudge locked in a freezer!” The Vanilla Fudge was a rock band, best known for their version of You Keep Me Hanging On,but I must admit, I don’t get the “locked in a freezer” bit. Meanwhile, Peter’s Chemistry teacher is Bruce Banner. “Nuts! I’m going back to being the Bulk!” he says when Peter uses the skunk oil, “Teaching’s too dangerous!”) .
As Peter arrives home, there's a letter for him. It's from her! “And to think I used to get all the fan mail around here!” says May. She's sorry about last night, and she still loves him like she did the day they first met... at the JJJ Fan Club rally! Gleep! He's got to tell Aunt May... "Auntie May! I'm Getting Married!" Oops. "AAAGGGH! Call the heart foundation!"
"Oh No!" moans Peter, as Auntie May collapses in his arms. "How could I be so thoughtless? What if she should perish?" He berates himself. But... "I'm not gonna kick off, Stupid - this is a comic book!" blurts Auntie May, "Shaddup! And get my prescription filled!" Hmm, little does Auntie May know that a mere four hundred issues later, she finally does bite the big one. Oh, but of course that's only temporary. Hmm... I guess she's right after all, nobody kicks off in comic books.
So, Petey heads off to get some money for Auntie May's medicine. ”And while at it, bring me a pepperoni pizza!” May yells after him. He tries the Daily Bugle, with some beautiful pictures of some birds. Since he's in love, he's gonna take pictures of romantic stuff. JJJ isn't impressed. But exit Peter, enter Spidey, with some news for Jonah. Spidey's getting married, and he wants Jonah to be there... as Worst Man! Heh. Well, so much for selling pictures. Spidey steals some pop bottles from some kids and returns them for the deposit. He still can't afford Auntie May's medicine, but he takes her some medicated jelly beans!
"That's all right dear! Just because I've given my life for you doesn't mean you have to get the best for me!" Auntie May isn't impressed either.
Well, what about Peter's Pals? Petey heads down to the Caffein Bean to tell everybody that Spidey is getting married. Everybody'll be there! Even Artie Simek! Artie Simek isn’t even here! This story was lettered by Al Kurzrok, who, according to Comic Vine, “passed away May 3, 2005 after a long battle with a debilitating poisoning by Freon gas. He had been exposed to the Freon leaking from an air conditioner in his bedroom while he was asleep.” Yipe! Petey's Pals aren't impressed. Heck, who is going to be there? Well, Spidey asks the Green Globule, and The Gizzard. Hey, they're keen. Except, Globby isn't quite sure where he's gonna find a green tux. Globby says Spidey’s voice is “like a cross between Bobby Vinton and the Moby Grape!
So, the day of the wedding arrives! All Spidey's biggest foes are there to wish him well. But where is the blushin' bride? In the palm of Spidey's hand, of course... 'cos Spidey is marrying... The Wisp! That two-inch beauty from the Avengers, wearing a half-inch costume. Yum!
Only a few panels left, no room for the wedding. So let's skip to the homecoming. Here's Petey coming down the stairs, to show his new life-long mate to his Auntie May. But first, Auntie May needs to do something. Hold very still... she's got a fly-swat. SWAT! Perfect shot.
"Nasty old flies carry germs, you know! Now, what was the big news you had for me?" asks our murderous May.
"Forget it, Auntie - and bring me an Alka-Seltzer", as our hero sadly traipses upstairs.
And the “The End” is written on a tombstone. How’s that for a ghoulish finish?
Heh. Snicker. Snort. This is very silly stuff. But it's classic silly stuff, and it has lasted well through the generations. This is a lovely piece to have in my collection. "Not Brand Echh" is a bit pricey to find these days, but hey, this is a silver-age masterpiece we're talking about here.
Gary Friedrich didn't do much else on Spider-Man, but Marie Severin is a name that pops up again through the next few decades. She seems to work as an end-to-end artist, inking her own pencils. You see her in books, magazines, annuals, and such like. All good. Stan Lee edits, and back then, he really knew his stuff.
Who says comics have to be good to be good? This is worth four webs, a "must have" for any dedicated Spidey collector.
Waitaminute! Wasn't Spidey dead at the end of ASM #57? Let's get to ASM #58 right away!