This issue marks a "back to basics" approach in style and content for Amazing Spider-Man. On the month of its release (May 1970), the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins announced: "The biggest news of the month is the fact that Jazzy Johnny Romita will be pencilling Spider-Man once more." Yaayyyy! Not that John Buscema was doing a bad job, but Jazzy Johnny's Spidey remains definitive.
The article then goes on to say that "Stan and Johnny have decided to go back to the Web-Swinger's original style of story picturization, and also to put more emphasis on Peter Parker's private life... So, whatever you do, don't dare miss Spider-Man #82, now on sale. It marks the beginning of still another plateau of greatness for the most realistic, most respected, most razzle-dazzle superhero the world has ever known!" Amen.
The only thing you really need to know as background to the story itself is:
Last issue Peter left a web dummy in his bed in case Aunt May should look in on him while he was off battling The Kangaroo. However, she looked in a little closer than Peter had anticipated, and she fainted at the very sight of it. After his return from the battle, Peter found his aunt collapsed on his bed. He disposed of the dummy and convinced May that she was seeing things. Now he feels rotten - in order to conceal his identity he's had to make his beloved aunt believe she is losing her mind. C'est la vie.
As a matter of historical trivia, there's an ad on the inside cover, featuring a photo of a bikini-clad bimbo being held by a young bodybuilder flexing his muscles. The picture is corny enough as it is, until you realize that this highly muscular individual is none other than... Arnold Schwarzenegger!
|Pencils:||John Romita, Sr.|
|Cover Art:||Marie Severin|
|Reprinted In:||Amazing Spider-Man (Fireside)|
|Reprinted In:||Marvel Super Heroes Annual (UK) 1974|
|Reprinted In:||Marvel Tales #63|
|Reprinted In:||Essential Spider-Man #4|
|Reprinted In:||Amazing Spider-Man: Secret Origins|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man's Greatest Villains (TPB)|
Page 1: The story opens with Peter moping outside Aunt May's bedroom as she's resting from the shock of seeing the web dummy. He's worrying about everything from how he's going to pay off all their debts to why he can't get along with Flash Thompson.
Page 2: Mary Jane and her Aunt Anna turn up having returned from Florida, but Peter needs to earn some money for Flash's farewell dinner, so he makes his exit.
Page 3: Peter changes into Spidey in the vein hope of taking some pics he can sell to the Bugle. While swinging over a chimney, he gets covered in black smoke that it belches out all over our hapless hero.
Pages 4-5: Desperate to earn some cash, Spidey stops by a Network TV station and talks the executives into hiring him as a talk-show guest. Spidey manages to sell himself to them by saying: "Can you imagine the ratings of Carson, Bishop, or Griffin with me on their show?" These are contemporary references to Johnny Carson, regular host of the hugely successful The Tonight Show, Joey Bishop, host of the less originally titled The Joey Bishop Show, and Merv Griffin who hosted the marginally less originally titled The Merv Griffin Show.
Page 6: Immediately outside the office, a high voltage cable is shorting out. The new electrician, Max Dillon, effortlessly breaks the circuit, much to the amazement of his colleagues. Spidey meanwhile wonders where he's heard Dillon's name before. He is of course... Electro!
While Spidey tries to think where he's heard Max Dillon's name before, JB (one of the executives) suggests that he was the Marshall in Gunsmoke - a long-running TV Western that began life as a radio show. The Marshall's name was actually Matt Dillon.
Pages 7-13: Then follows a brief recap of Electro's previous two run-ins with Spidey in Amazing Spider-Man #9 and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. (They also faced each other in Untold Tales of Spider-Man #7, set sometime between their first two encounters, but written nearly thirty years after.) Dillon makes his way home, and after seeing Jameson on the TV, slamming Spidey's future appearance on the late-night talk show, he decides that he will defeat and unmask him on that very show. He changes into his green and yellow suit and announces his plans to Jameson who agrees to pay him $5000 for the dirty deed. Meanwhile, Peter and Gwen turn up at Flash's farewell, and within four panels the two rivals are at each other's throats.
Page 14: After Gwen has comforted Peter and cheered him up, it's time for him to get his Spidey suit cleaned for the TV show. So he stops by a Laundromat in his normal clothes, and while his costume is spinning in the machine, Peter sits there casually with a paper-bag on his head.
Pages 15-19: At the TV studio, the hosts are trying to kill a bit of time on the show as Spidey is running late. One of them suggests that they could replace him with The Beatles. (The Beatles were a little-known pop quartet in the sixties. Nowadays, very few people have even heard of them, and their songs have sadly faded into obscurity.) When Spidey finally arrives and his interview is well underway, Electro shows up and the two super-powered gents duke it out in the studio. Spidey eventually defeats him by using his webbing to make Electro's hands and feet touch, short-circuiting him and causing an explosion. (Spidey and Electro faced each other again in a TV studio in Spectacular Spider-Man #135.)
Page 20: In the aftermath, Electro gets away while Spidey's still unconscious. After Spidey comes to, he makes his way home and collapses into a stressed heap on his bed. The issue then ends exactly as it began - Peter mopes.
This issue has some great touches. The scene with Peter washing his clothes with a bag over his head is a classic.
As a minor quibble, it really doesn't make sense why Spidey's waited so long to try and get some money out of TV appearances. It's a sure way for him to earn big bucks, and that's what he and his aunt have needed for quite some time. Stan Lee (who penned this issue) tries to get out of this simply by having Spidey think "Say... wait a minute... Network TV! Why didn't I think of it before?" Yeh - why didn't you? Dumbass!
Minor quibbles aside, it's really only the final showdown with Electro that lets this issue down. It's been 6 years (our time) since his last appearance, and the battle in the studio is hardly spectacular. Electro's unique powers aren't really used in any interesting way - it could have been any super villain tearing up the place. Check out Amazing Fantasy #18 for a great TV studio battle (with Supercharger, another electrical type). Now that battle is positively lethal! Overall though, classic Spidey - Romita's on pencils again, Mary Jane's back, a nice focus on Peter's private life and some great comic touches.
4 webs. A solid issue, with great artwork from Johnny Romita Sr., who as of this issue, returns to his pencilling chores.
The guys at Marvel obviously rate this issue pretty highly as it was used as the Electro story in their collection of Spider-Man's Greatest Villains (TPB).
However, despite his status as one of Spider-Man's Greatest Villains, this was only Electro's third appearance in a Spidey comic. His next appearance in Amazing Spider-Man wouldn't be until over a hundred issues later in Amazing Spider-Man #187.
In the meantime, Electro and Spider-Man faced each other only once - in Marvel Team-Up #56.