Amazing Spider-Man #10
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #10
Review/plot: Spider-Man fights lamo villains the Enforcers*: judo expert Fancy Dan, lasso (*snicker*) expert Montana, and potentially the super-strong Ox, who Spidey weakens with a punch to the nuts (which is a good move, really. Not something you'd see Captain America do, but still...).
The Enforcers are working for the crime boss called the Big Man who has consolidated the various New York criminal gangs and has launched a crime wave.
Spidey also fights the Big Man's ordinary thugs.
JJ suspects Spider-Man is the Big Man, and Spider-Man actually suspects JJ, but it turns out to be a reporter named Foswell. A more modern story would have built up the Big Man, and spread out the crime wave over multiple issues and dropped a lot of clues and red herrings about who the Big Man actually was, but in the Silver Age it all happens in one super compressed issue.
Similarly, Aunt May recovers from her life-threatening illness (helped out by a blood transfusion from Peter. He's concerned about his radioactive blood but goes through with it) and subsequent surgery, and heads out on a vacation to Florida (by car, the poor old woman) with the neighbors within a span of half a page. Liz and Flash show up at the hospital to support Peter, which is a nice way to show some growth for Peter's schoolmates.
Another nice touch is that Spider-Man isn't the one who figures out who the Big Man is - the police do, leaving Spidey a little humbled. And JJ utters a monologue about how Spider-Man is brave and unselfish, admitting that he attacks Spidey because he is jealous. It's something that's been hinted at, and shown in Kurt Busiek's continuity implants, but this is the first time that JJ has said such a thing in Amazing Spider-Man.
Betty skipped town because she had borrowed money from one of the Big Man's loan sharks. She's got a Dark Secret that she doesn't want Peter mixed up in. It's a melodramatic and disappointing twist to what should have been a nice little romance between Peter and Betty.
*I call them lamo because, well, they are. I mean, one guy's 'power' is he has a lasso. But there's something i like about them as well: they really work together as a team. That means 1) They're not constantly bickering with each other about how they would have won the fight if it wasn't for the others' bumbling, 2) they're not scheming to betray the others once they get the good guy out of the way, and most importantly 3) they actually coordinate their attacks and use their moves to set-up the good guy for another team-mates next hit. That's really rare for super-villain teams, and it's pretty cool. You give these guys some decent powers and they could really go places.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Untold Tales of Spider-Man #5-7 take place during this issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #147
Inbound References (2): showAunt May, Betty Brant, Big Man (Frederick Foswell), Fancy Dan, Flash Thompson, J. Jonah Jameson, Liz Allan, Montana, Ox, Spider-Man
DC is starting a Batwing title in September 2011. I think Marvel has permanently mothballed their version.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 31, 2011 5:28 PM
I am trying to locate Amazing Spiderman 5-7 for my grandson's birthdday but I can't seem to locate it. Amaxzon hass 6 and 10. Please helo me understand what I have to do to get him 5-7. He's already read 1-4.
Posted by: Sandor Brent | December 4, 2011 8:33 PM
I like mycomicshop.com for buying back issues. And if you're talking about the original Amazing Spider-Man issues from the 1960s and you don't want to pay for the very expensive original issues, you can look for "Spider-Man Classics", which reprint those issue and are much cheaper. You would want issues #6-8 of Spider-Man Classics (there's a one issue lag since issue #1 reprints Amazing Fantasy #15).
Posted by: fnord12 | December 4, 2011 8:48 PM
I always liked the Enforcers. They invert the traditional trope of ordinary people with superior skills defeating a more powerful villain. Nice to see it apply to bad guys fighting a hero.
In Silver Age comics, "judo" was practically a super power of its own. Ox is a classic bug strong guy. Montana is the most gimmicky of the Enforcers, but I gues Stan Lee was going off how quickly some rodeo cowboys can capture and tie up a big bull.
Technically, they should be more powerful than most low level heroes. They should be able to defeat DD as written. I'd include Captain America as well, but the super soldier should be better, and I'd say it'd be a very good fight with Cap pushed to his limits before coming out ahead. Spider-Man is probably too tough given the quantification of his powers we have now, but was completely appropriate at the time.
Posted by: Chris | December 20, 2013 12:45 PM
That's what I really liked about the Enforcers, three pretty normal guys using teamwork to give a superhero trouble. At least a young up and coming hero.
Posted by: david banes | November 5, 2014 11:19 PM
The Enforcers were decent novelty villains. I can't really accept that they give Spidey any real trouble, but they do make better-than-average mugs, and were probably the template for the countless superhero stories that resulted for potentially-threatening mugs who were just the front men for the real villain in the background. And they appeared in better-than-average stories early on, so good for them.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 6, 2014 12:07 AM
From this point on the series really takes off and becomes the best in the marvel universe.
Posted by: Leves | April 14, 2015 6:10 PM
Maybe i'm odd, but reading these in omnibus form, i wish Pete and Betty's short romance had developed into something bigger,
Posted by: Bob | August 3, 2015 8:41 AM
One scene not shown here that I enjoyed a lot has Spidey using a giant spider (made from leftover webbing) to terrorize an informant into giving up the location of the Enforcers.
Posted by: Robert | February 4, 2016 6:40 PM
@Robert: Ah yes, that was hilarious. A lot of the comedy in these early issues still holds up.
Posted by: Thanos6 | February 4, 2016 7:14 PM
I think spiderfan.org pointed out that the Enforcers were really only properly handled by Ditko; I think the genius of them is that they are depicted about right--they can give Spider-Man a really hard time due to their teamwork and coordination, but in none of their appearances do they really beat Spider-Man on their own, and in almost all appearances they have to have other assistance to really be a credible threat (an army of thugs here, Green Goblin, Sandman). They are also, as fnord points out, professional and capable; they end up as kind of lame jokes in most of their other appearances, way too easily defeated.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | April 15, 2016 2:57 PM
I incorrectly placed J. Jonah's speech about why he hated Spider-Man in #9 in an earlier post but it is correctly placed in #10 here.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 28, 2016 6:34 PM
Another story that no one really remembers anymore, but had long-term repercussions for Spider-Man. And not just the first appearance of the Enforcers either. The Big Man is revealed as Frederick Foswell, who would be quite possibly Ditko's only reformed villain ever when he got out of jail, and provided help to Spider-Man and the police, even solving cases like the Crime-Master that none of them could figure out.
But this also sets up the first wedge in Betty and Peter's relationship, as she gets hassled by the Enforcers and runs away from Peter and New York City itself. She winds up in Philadelphia the next issue, trying to support her brother against Doc Ock in his second appearance. Her brother ends up dead (for which she blames Spider-Man) and Doc Ock escapes, returning in #12 to menace Betty and Spidey. Spidey's got the flu and is easily beaten and unmasked, which results in Liz Allen totally getting the hots for Petey.
And that sets up several issues of conflict between Betty and Liz, which only starts to end once Betty meets Ned, and all three of them realize that he's a lot better for her than Peter is.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 30, 2016 12:05 AM
Has anyone ever done an origin of the Enforcers? For a while I thought maybe someone should, but after reading fnord's criticism of Ringmaster's origin in MTIO 76, I guess we don't really need an origin. In fact, it might be better if the Enforcers don't have an origin at all. I don't want some story about Fancy Dan getting picked on in school because he was short, and this turned him against society. I don't want to read about how Montana trained to be a master at rodeo, but lost when his opponent cheated, and this turned him to a life of crime. I don't need to hear about how Ox is actually a decent person underneath it all, but because of his great strength and limited intelligence, he feels he fits in nowhere else other than as a mob guy.
The Enforcers are three non-powered but very skilled individuals who decided crime was the most efficient use of their talents, met and discovered they worked well together, and hire their services to crime-bosses/supervillains for monetary gain. They don't ever intend to betray each other, and they have no higher ambition than hired muscle. That's all there is, that's all we need.
Posted by: mikrolik | March 12, 2017 12:34 PM
Really, the Enforcers should be omnipresent in Marvel's criminal underworld as the main "enforcers" of the crime boss to keep the other criminal factions under his thumb. DD & and the Spidery titles used Kingpin as his various lieutenants as almost supporting characters with other goons showing up as well (such as the Arranger). I think the Enforcers should have been used as the same. Someone the title hero just couldn't pick up and beat on (like Turk and Grotto) because they couldn't easily win and might even lose. Then right above the Enforcers would be the actual supervillains who do the dirty deeds of the main crime boss - Bullseye, Hobgoblin (when he worked with the Rose), Elektra, Tombstone, etc.
I like Mike Cheyne's suggestion that main threat of the Enforcers isn't that they can beat the superpowered hero on their own, but when they are sent along a supervillain, it gets very dicey for the hero. And they should just completely destroy anyone who doesn't have superpowers at all.
Posted by: Chris | March 12, 2017 4:52 PM
@Milkrolik. Not an origin, but Fancy Dan gets some background (and a son) in the collection of prose short stories called "Üntold tales of Spidey anthology" story 10 "The Ballad of Fancy Dan" by Ken Grobe (1997). Its a decent little story (but I doubt its in continuity) http://www.spiderfan.org/comics/reviews/spiderman_anthologies_byron_preiss/untold_tales-10.html
(PS in general I'm not a big fan of super-heroes in prose, but everyone should read story 15 "the stalking of John Doe". By far the best use of Kraven ever and a top 5 spidey story in any genre. end of random plug.)
Posted by: kveto from prague | March 12, 2017 6:10 PM
heres the link to that one (sorry fnord, i meant those to be together not to derail this thread any further). Read that review which nails the story http://www.spiderfan.org/comics/reviews/spiderman_anthologies_byron_preiss/untold_tales-15.html
Posted by: kveto from prague | March 12, 2017 6:14 PM
I've always had a hard time buying the Enforcers as a serious threat to Spider-Man.
Posted by: Michael Pratt | June 11, 2018 10:06 PM
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