Amazing Spider-Man #30
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #30
Review/plot: Spidey stops a cat burglar called the Cat...
...but fails to claim the reward money posted by JJ. Meanwhile, a new criminal mastermind called the Master Planner is organizing hits on scientific equipment all over the city.
There is some confusion here: the Master Planner's henchmen say in two places that they are working for the Cat.
The letter page for the Marvel Tales reprint explains that this was a bona fide mistake. They also say that they left the error in place for historical accuracy. The mistake really seems to confirm that Stan Lee was leaving this book entirely in the hands of Ditko and just scripting after the art came in. He clearly wasn't aware of the upcoming Master Planner plotline.
Peter's love life is falling apart as usual since Ned Leeds has proposed to Betty but Peter can't tell her he loves her because he knows she hates Spider-Man, plus Liz Allan, who is not going to college, is acting aloof and assuming Peter isn't interested in her.
The art is good Ditko as usual, but the last panel is really great. It's just a picture of a symbolic Spider-Man holding Peter and Betty apart. A little melodramatic maybe, but i like it.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: I've had to push a number of Spider-Man issues back in publication time so that Gwen Stacy's first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #31 takes place between Fantastic Four #40 and #44 (see the Considerations section in Spider-Man/Fantastic Four #1 for more).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #169
Inbound References (8): show
Carl Hubbell did uncredited inking on this issue(he also worked on some Sgt. Furys at the same time)and made a big blunder of his own. On the page where Spider-Man is stepping out on some ledge looking around, that's actually supposed to be the Cat. Hubbell got confused by Ditko's extremely loose penciling and thought it was Spider-Man.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 2, 2011 4:43 PM
Actually, it's been written that Stan ordered Hubbell to change the character of the Cat into Spider-Man because he thought Ditko was doing something on purpose to prove a point and it didn't serve the story.
Posted by: George Gordon | June 7, 2014 12:53 AM
Unlike Roger Stern I like it when Spider-Man has a little trouble with pretty normal guys who are struggling just to buy time to get away. The Crime Master, The Cat, The Fox, that scientist guy who used spider to murder people.
Posted by: david banes | June 7, 2014 1:15 AM
I never realized Liz was missing for over a hundred issues after this. I assume the main reason was Gwen's presence meant there wasn't room for two blondes in Peter's life (at least in Stan's eyes).
Posted by: Robert | February 11, 2016 12:41 AM
I think the figure changed into Spider-Man was a figure of the Looter, in #36. Nick Caputo quotes Roy Thomas on the subject at http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/amazing_spiderman_36.shtml .
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | February 11, 2016 6:06 AM
Sorry: that link should be http://nick-caputo.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/the-unknown-art-of-carl-hubbell.html . The background is the pages were dialogued from the pencils, lettered, and then inked.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | February 11, 2016 6:09 AM
I admit I don't "get" Ditko and I know were supposed to heap praise and respect on the old-timers but I just don't "get" it and if it weren't for fnords recaps and scans I'd probably never look at this stuff. But I do remember in the 1980s getting a Marvel Tales because it had this border which said "Marvel Collector's Item Classic" and I thought this meant it was more rare or something lol
I just think the creators in the 80s and 90s deserve more credit for keeping these concepts alive. The concepts are killer but the Silver Age style is so goofy and corny that you really only see the bare minimum of potential in the idea. For me, Spider-Man didn't become Spider-Man until McFarlane made him a viable character. Seeing this recap just reinforces my feeling about that. I do give Stan all the credit though for making innovative stories while running and creating the whole line by himself... a feat that really wont ever be repeated...
Posted by: Brimstone | February 11, 2016 7:04 AM
Brimstone, this really does work. Not perfectly because Stan and Steve weren't speaking at the time, but it's still a good Spider-Man story. Peter and Betty are made for each other, and only Spider-Man is keeping them apart. Mary Jane and Gwen are just later complications. Even considering the complications of the 1960s and the Comics Code, this is Archie Andrews as a superhero, and he's already found his Betty (or Veronica, whichever you prefer.) Stan and Steve brought a lot more to this love triangle than comics had ever seen before, and did a lot of cool superhero stories too.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 12, 2016 12:02 AM
A lot of the appeal of these early Spider-Man stories is the focus on Peter Parker's personal life and his typical, "everyman" problems. "Biff!" "Pow!" heroics are all well and good, but few other comics of the time could temper those with such real and relatable human drama. Both Stan and Steve, and not just one or the other, deserve credit for this, and personally I think Ditko's very expressive artwork adds a lot to the drama of these early issues.
Posted by: TCP | February 12, 2016 7:17 AM
"My good friend Stan Lee does a good job with what he's given..."
By "what he's given" you of course mean The Marvel Method of scripting, all of which Lee chose to 'give' to himself by being too lazy (or busy, as you prefer) to write detailed, panel-by-panel scripts.
Posted by: Oliver_C | February 12, 2016 7:28 AM
It's not really fair to label Stan as lazy for the Marvel Method. That method was pretty much the only way he had to write so many books at once while also being an editor and doing other business tasks at early Marvel.
In the face of billion dollar films people forget what a small operation Marvel was at the beginning.
Posted by: Red Comet | February 12, 2016 7:47 AM
It's interesting you should mention the movie business, Red Comet: what Lee wrote under the 'Marvel Method' would, in cinematic-contractual terms, be described as outlines, proposals, stories, treatments, first drafts and dialog polishes.
An impressive list to be sure -- which I'll happily attribute to Lee's undeniable energy and enthusiasm, rather than laziness -- but it still wouldn't entitle a movie writer to claim sole screenplay credit, and nor should it Lee.
Ditko's co-plotter credit on 'Spider-Man' was a welcome but rare exception on Marvel's part.
Posted by: Oliver_C | February 12, 2016 8:24 AM
Oliver I'm sorry bro but you're wrong, Stan was giving a chance to Ditko so Ditko could grow but Stan still had to coach him and reign him in. Any success of the Spidey character is TOTALLY Stan Lee and this entry for issue #30 only confirms that in my mind.
Look at it this way, if you get a fully drawn story from a plot you gave an artist and then you can be reactive to its pacing and make a coherent story? Then you my friend are a creative genius. I don't think DC writers could do that. this is why theres only one Stan Lee
I may be a little biased since I am a celebrity spokesman for Stan's POW! Entertainment lol but that being said, I still think this era is kinda trite and I think I am not alone when I say I prefer the hot Mary Jane who was Peter's wife and the Black Cat over Peter Parker having problems with Gwen Stacy at Science Class! Maybe that's good for young readers, I can accept that, but it's not MY cup of tea
Posted by: Brimstone | February 12, 2016 8:50 AM
Whatever, "bro". I'm done with this site; I'm outta here.
Posted by: Oliver_C | February 12, 2016 9:03 AM
If only Steve Ditko was talented enough to create something as revolutionary as Rob Liefeld's Surf, eh?
Posted by: AF | February 12, 2016 9:23 AM
?? I don't see the co-relation between Ditko and what Liefeld did because they are clearly different eras. I think maybe I sounded too harsh on Ditko because there is a place for kid's comics and fnord covering Speedball (around the same time as the other 90s' Marvel stuff going on) both shows his style is kind of... simple? But for a young kid, ok, sure, I can see how that might be up their alley. I don't think comparing Ditko's creation rate to Rob's is fair at all or even the same kinda discussion
Posted by: Brimstone | February 12, 2016 9:47 AM
The problem is your so blatantly an annoying troll seemingly only here to do two things: to try to rile people up and to throw around your "celebrity" ("my good friend Stan Lee").
All I've ever seen you do on here is insisting old beloved creators like Steve Ditko or Gene Colan aren't very good and nobody likes them and that you've never seen anyone at a con ever with Gene Colan art while simultaneously unconditionally praising an artist that most readers do hate and lamenting his contribution is akin to Jack Kirby.
You're entitled to like Rob Liefeld, you're entitled to hate Steve Ditko but you're not entitled to consistently force and preach those viewpoints when they serve no purpose but to derail everything into being about your precious ego.
You've been asked to stop by just about everyone at some point. You don't stop. You just come back the next day and keep doing it again and again. You just drove one person away from this site and I'm sure you'll drive other people away again.
I've been here less than a month and you got under my skin after like the third comment that I read from you.
Posted by: AF | February 12, 2016 10:16 AM
Dude, I don't know where the hostility is coming from but I am certainly not trying to troll. I apologize if anyone thinks so. I'll make it easy and just go... cause its obvious youre tryin to instigate and get fnord to ban me by saying all this.
Cause bruh, you are making a mountain out of a molehill. We can't disagree?? I'm a troll because I like Liefeld?? Really??!
I'm going thru my head and I can't see anything I did to warrant this outburst from you AF but I'm willing to be the bigger man. I'm sorry my personal opinion on Gene Colan.. that a lot of peeps agreed with... offends you personally. I only ask fnord, not you, to look at how I write it when I state I am not a fan of these artists. I always back it up with the WHY, I don't trash anybody.
As for "ive been here less than a month and u got under my skin with third comment I read from u"- well, that's your problem not mine. You can dislike someone because they don't think just like you bruh, just ignore them. I'm not trolling anybody and I'm offended to be accused of it.
I'm not crazy about Ditko. Simple as that. I'm not crazy about Kirby but I GET Kirby and know WHY hes a big deal. Not so much with Ditko. Sue me.
Posted by: Brimstone | February 12, 2016 10:23 AM
Ditko was doing the vast majority of the work. Stan's gift is in scripting and overall management, because he was running the show. The Marvel Method was a time-saver for him just as much as it was giving Ditko and Kirby free reign. They had to spend all day at their drawing boards figuring out what was going on in every single panel. Stan had to make sure they got paid, and the books were lettered and colored and turned into the printer on time, keep track of the newsstand returns, deal with whatever Martin Goodman decided, run the whole office, etc. There's only 24 hours in the day, and he has to spend some of them asleep and others with Joan. No writer could keep track of so many characters and plotlines while juggling all the rest of the day-to-day business.
Brimstone, you're ignoring how many people saw viability in the concepts right from the start. From the original readers, to the original film/tv/cartoon-makers to the people who carried the books through the 1970s, the audience, the creators building on Ditko and Kirby, the people who were trying to make mega-franchises before that was even a word. Carnage couldn't have existed without Venom. Venom couldn't have existed without "Secret Wars" written by an editor-in-chief who was trying to consolidate all that had come before, including the 1970s (where the original Venom idea came from, John Byrne on "Iron Fist") and stay true to the Lee/Kirby/Ditko era, where Spider-Man was Marvel's main mascot just as he is today.
I was a bit glib about describing Spider-Man as "Archie Andrews as a superhero," but Archie has problems that anybody can relate to, boy, girl, man, woman, young, old. And so did Peter Parker. What problems did he have fighting Venom that anybody could understand? Under Ditko, Peter couldn't cash a check because it was made out to "Spider-Man" A girl he'd been lusting after for years suddenly started throwing herself at him, but he was too caught up in his own problems to notice. A public figure he'd never met was declaring him a public menace for an obvious act of heroism, saving that public figure's son from crashing in a space capsule. Peter made a huge problem for himself when he convinced JJJ to fund the first Spider-Slayer, at the same time he's having a confrontation with school bullies, and sends both of the girls he's in love with headed to his house where they meet Mary Jane Watson, but Peter doesn't. Spidey wins the day, but he loses his only costume, and it causes him problems next issue. And there was even a wild chase scene, which isn't easy to pull off in the comics medium, because of the lack of movement and all.
Did Stan add to it? Of course. Liz joins Flash as he and the 'kids from school' are chasing Peter when they all run into the Spider-Slayer. There's a panel which perfectly shows Stan's gifts for characterization, where Liz thinks that she'll tag along with Flash so that maybe he'll stop being so mean to Poor Petey, and Flash thinks 'the more she defends him, the more I hate him.'
That is excellent characterization whether you're in grade school, junior high, high school, college, or any level of adulthood. Stan added that (I assume) but he didn't create that. And meanwhile J. Jonah Jameson's smiling face just relentlessly keeps bearing down on Peter/Spider-Man. Unstoppable. Unbeatable. Genuinely frightening, for reasons that middle-aged adults can relate to. Spidey wins because he has Peter Parker's brilliance.
What is there in a Spider-Man versus Venom or Carnage fight that can speak to people on that level? You don't like Ditko? Fine. But without him, Spider-Man would not exist, and Stan Lee would have abandoned comics decades ago. He can run a business anywhere.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 12, 2016 10:20 PM
I think Ditko's work at 1960s Marvel is really first class. His Spidey and Dr Strange are simply the best (after about a year working out the kinks), and I'm saying that even as a huge fan of Kirby's FF/Thor. This issue is not one of the better stories, but this era is classic for a reason.
Superhero comics are juvenalia. They are meant for kids. What was astounding about this era, and Ditko's work in particular is that for the first time comics were being read and discussed by college age students and adults. All ages comics are great - it's good to see little kids, teens, and adults get different things out of Claremont's X-Men or Miller's DD.
I think Brimstone's tastes are odd, but this is not something to be worked up about.
BTW, I don't think Stan Lee was giving any plots to Ditko by this time (even considering some his plots to Kirby are simple "X fights Y" in this era). Ditko's been credited for plotting since issue #25, and he'd been plotting the stories much earlier than that. Lee is doing solely scripting here.
Posted by: Chris | February 12, 2016 11:07 PM
those are points to consider, Chris.
I still think fans getting angry and outraged because other fans don't agree with them is pointless stuff, bruh. Trust me I know a lot of ppl don't like horror comics like I do but it never meant I was talking down to them and giving them lessons and yelling that I;m quitting a site, LOL.
You guys spelled out your feelings in an informative manner and I'm all over it dude. I get it. I still think Ditkos simplistic style is why he never accomplished anything without Stan Lee however and I think history bears that out. I don't think anybody cared about SpeedBall the Masked Marvel. But I am re-reading this entry with your words in mine so thank ya bro I am giving you a Brimstone fist bump lol. Always learning from this site!
Posted by: Brimstone | February 12, 2016 11:40 PM
Learn what you can. You haven't even touched Dr. Strange, The Question or Mr. A. Ditko has accomplishments that don't rely on Stan Lee. "Lazlo's Hammer" and "Mysterious Suspense" #1 are two of the greatest comic book stories I've ever read and those were pure Ditko. Not to mention his skills as a cartoonist. He was a huge supporter of Wally Wood's "Witzend" which helped start the creators' rights movement. "Speedball" is not where Ditko's work starts and stops.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 12, 2016 11:56 PM
@Chris/ChrisW - Well said, very good comments.
@Brimstone - ChrisW has already answered your belief that Ditko never accomplished anything without Stan Lee, but you may not be aware that many comics fans believe that Stan Lee never created much without Ditko or Kirby, who have both expressed some annoyance that a lot of fans do not recognise they were plotting & drawing whole issues and Stan was just scripting them. That is why your comment on Stan "creating the whole line by himself" will have rubbed some people the wrong way. It's said that Stan's entire plot for Fantastic Four 48 was that the FF should fight God, and Kirby then created Galactus (and a herald, Silver Surfer, who Stan had not thought up) and plotted the whole issue based on that.
If you look at all the famous characters created by Stan, check how many of them were co-created by Ditko and Kirby. Once you remove those, you're not left with a lot. (And if you also remove Lee's work with Romita and Buscema, the cupboard gets pretty bare. Stan has not created much since the early 1970s, and no-one thinks Speedball is one of Ditko's great works anymore than they think Solarman, which Stan was writing at a similar time, was one of Stan's best.)
Taking Spider-Man as an example, in the Lee-Ditko run, the major villains created include Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Green Goblin, Electro, Scorpion, Kraven, Mysterio, Vulture, plus several more minor villains. In the Lee-Romita era, which went on for much longer, you only really have Kingpin, Rhino, and Shocker.
I can see that you have different tastes than a lot of people on this site, and sometimes it's a good thing to hear an alternative point of view. I am a bit puzzled though that you are saying you are a big fan of Stan, but have not read Stab's Spider-Man run. I'd say most people would say Stan's Spider-Man run (along with the middle portion of his Fantastic Four run, and the Lee-Kirby run on Thor) was the best stuff Stan ever did, and some of the best comics anyone ever did.
Fnord's site is a great resource but it's not always possible to judge a set of comics you haven't read just on a few scans & a review. Fnord's reviews go into less detail on a lot of the Stan-era comics, because often there is less to say about them. It may be that you just prefer Image art, but I would sincerely suggest you try reading the first 50 or 60 issues of Spider-Man. This is not one of the best issues, but the hit rate is higher than 95% of comics you'll read. You describe them as "corny" above, but if you compare them to the other comics of their era, you will find they were actually radical and innovative. In fact, there are multiple instances where Lee-Ditko intentionally take a different spin on a cliché that they found corny. Stan in fact frequently scripts characters as criticizing something for being corny.
I am saying all this as a fan of both Lee and Ditko (and Kirby and Romita etc). They were a team. They did their best work together. Ditko's art may not be to your taste, but his Spider-Man run is full of his ideas and philosophies at least as much as Stan's, and no other artist on Marvel at the time could have co-created the Spider-Man that he did.
Posted by: Jonathan | February 13, 2016 6:12 AM
@ Jonathan- thanks for all that bro, I mean it. These are good points.
Since you asked me I feel I am not breaking rules by explaining that because I am personally associated with Stan Lee and am a celebrity spokesman for his POW! Entertainment Group I have often spent time with him and I am just in awe of his creative imagination. Dude, just bc we don't see it you have no idea how much he still creates. It just goes into development.
I give him respect for being the architect of the Marvel Universe. Its true I didn't read a lot of Silver Age stuff but Stan talked about creating the Silver Surfer and how that was a character he was really high on and I learned on this site (thanks again fnord) that Stan didn't want anyone else to write him, so I don't know how Kirby is the creator. Probably Kirby drew an "extra" and Stan developed him into the icon we know today.
Its true I am to blame because I got one of those Essentials Editions but I just couldn't get through it. I am an 80s and 90s guy and that was my era... Secret Wars, X-Men, Wolverine, Venom, the 90s Ghost Rider, Spawn, etc.. that to me is the epitome of comics (even if The Beast remains my favorite character)... I believe it's just the fact I love modern comics is rubbing the regulars wrong because this site really caters to the guys into old obscure stuff. fnord, to his credit, is tryin to cover the ENTIRE Marvel Universe and that means going into the modern years so nobody has a claim on what we can like. I did a quick google search last night when someone said look at Mr. As by Ditko and all I saw was amateur stuff in black in white and the blog that covered it even said how that character was a republican archtype so it just wasn't my thing, I'm sorry, I know Ditko has some talent but the unpopular truth is that he would not have gone far without Stan Lee. Stan has the midas touch and I think he didn't create much after the 70s only because- and again I learn this from fnord's notes- he handed the Editor job to Roy Thomas and went to Hollywood to write movies. Kirby didn't do that, but I know it's more popular to root for the underdog. Or maybe writers aren't popular, I don't know.
Anyway I respect you bruh, thanks Jonathan for sharing your thoughts. I like talking about comics and I always learn something and always learning helps me to stay at the top of a brand ambassador for everything I do in the entertainment spectrum: comics, acting, spokesman, etc. So I will think of what you said. I also wonder why it isn't more a big deal that Stan still writes the Spider-Man newspaper strip.. that's gotta be some sort of record because it means hes essentially been writing Spidey since 1962 with no stop
Posted by: Brimstone | February 13, 2016 6:23 AM
I find it interesting, Brimstone, that we have probably very different tastes, because Spawn, Liefeld, Ghost Rider and so on are really not to my likings (I do love the 80s but not the 90s, but then I kind of like the Clone Saga since it got me into comics alongside The Child Within, hence my love for Sal Buscema for instance), but apparently we share the same favorite character, the Beast. So much so my original online handle was BeastCharming ☺
I think that a possible point of proof on ditko'S importance is the lack of new interesting additions to Spidey's rogues gallery. Which seems to indicate Ditko was more the creator and Stan the scripter. But then the scripting was very important to the popularity of the budding MU. So I think it really is the combination of Kirby and Ditko with Lee that did the trick. Kirby's solo writing stuff is clunky, I doubt the Ff would have had as much of an impact originally if he has written them from the start. So I believe one could not have existed without the other, like JJJ is who he is because of Ditko drawing him like such a curmudgeon that Lee knew exactly how to write him, and so on.
Posted by: PeterA | February 13, 2016 6:43 AM
"I was a bit glib about describing Spider-Man as 'Archie Andrews as a superhero,' but Archie has problems that anybody can relate to, boy, girl, man, woman, young, old. And so did Peter Parker. What problems did he have fighting Venom that anybody could understand? Under Ditko, Peter couldn't cash a check because it was made out to "Spider-Man" A girl he'd been lusting after for years suddenly started throwing herself at him, but he was too caught up in his own problems to notice."
See, I'd argue that the idea of Peter Parker as a soapy, troubled teen is almost certainly more Stan than Steve. Ditko's solo writing work tends to look more like his later issues of ASM, where the hero is sort of angry and wrapped up in his own, important pursuits.
The standard Ditko protagonist (until they devolve into Objectivist mouthpieces) is frustrated by the world around them in some ways, often persecuted in their costumed identity, and misunderstood by people (who are usually portrayed as dopes and whiners).
But there's strikingly little soap opera there beyond the "brassy love interest with a sharp tongue" sort of thing. And in some Ditko books, like his Charlton work, you don't even get that; instead, you have a plucky love interest who's almost entirely supportive of the hero.
Whenever you do find more of that soap opera sort of thing in Ditko's work, you always find a more Lee-style humanist as co-scripter, such as Denny O'Neil or Steve Skeates.
None of this is to say that Ditko was not an incredibly fertile creator and a "More than co-plotter" on ASM past a certain point, though. I think there's a definite shift int he tone of the book once you get to, say, issue #17, and by the time Peter is in his "college phase" we see a lot of Ditko's themes, and notably a tendency to play the villains into weak, greedy men with virtually no sympathetic aspects. By the time Doctor Octopus is doing his Master Planner bit, for example, there's virtually no trace of either his implied mental illness from early on or his ability to play at civility as in ASM Annual #1.
And many of the other new villains share a background different than the Stan Lee "you just got powers, now make a moral choice" bit: the Molten Man, Osborn, and the Master Planner version of Ock and others are played either as people who have stolen the work and creations of others; even Stromm and Kraven are played as self-important failures, insisting on their importance and "shoulda-been" success while doing little more than pursuing sad grudges. (The Looter almost feels like Ditko parodying Stan's themes by showing that anyone who'd make the "wrong" moral choice with their powers must have been little more than a self-important failure.)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 13, 2016 6:50 AM
Ditko's creativity is well-evidenced in his run of Captain Atom, where villains like the Ghost and Punch and Jewelee seem very much like the kinds of characters he would have created in Spider-Man had he stuck around. (The Ghost, in fact, is essentially Green Goblin 2.0, with a a better name and costume design, as well as a curious motive: he's brilliant and rich thanks to his inventive genius, but his bitterness at growing up poor makes him a power-hungry criminal anyway.)
But Ditko gradually loses interest int his sort of thing and moves further and further into playing villains as almost wholly unsympathetic, and then just coming up with a kooky design and little else. And his heroes, likewise, lose more and more of their dimensionality. Compare the utterly earnest Captain Atom and Blue Beetle to Spider-Man's anxiety and insecurity, for example. Even the Creeper is basically putting on his nutty act. Ditko would write teenagers and angsty, insecure types -- Hawk and Dove spring to mine -- but his grownups couldn't be heroes if they suffered from any serious self-doubts or problems of their own making.
That's what Stan added: the idea that these things don't go away, and that people aren't as sortable into black and white morality. I think Kirby's work grows more Manichean as it goes on, too, but in a different way where Kirby *knows* he's playing with archetypes and still has room for (classical) comedy amid the "serious" conflicts.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 13, 2016 6:58 AM
Omar... WHOA. Dude, you are like, miles ahead of me with that stuff bro!!! Holy crap that could have been a thesis on super-hero design LOL
That being said I respect everyone liking what they like, I am a comic book hero myself after all lol but here is how I truly see it: Ditko is an average talent he got a lucky break the day Stan Lee decided to give him a chance. from everything I read and hear, Ditko had problems everywhere he went. Well why do you think that is?? it's easy for these fanboys to blame stan all the time. As my man Omal just said above, STAN added the stuff everybody cares about and still talks about. Ditkos action scenes have like NO violence and NO action so I don't see how anyone can take him seriously. I think Stan just felt bad so gave him more credit than he needed. Why did Stan still deliver the goods with Romita then after Ditko left if he was "just the co plotter"?
That being said I meant what I said dude, and that is, if people enjoy this stuff and love Ditko then more power to them, we can all respect each other! I just don't "get" Ditko and feel this era of Marvel is overrated though I do give Stan a lot of credit
Posted by: BRIMSTONE | February 13, 2016 7:28 AM
Omar - great post with some great points, as usual. I'm not sure the Objectivist black/white thing was completely cemented in Ditko's mind until the very end of his work on Spider-Man, but that's just my personal feeling. Obviously in his later work you can see Ditko being increasingly black/white about everything.
In the later issues Spidey issues there is a lot of anger, and it's interesting to see how Stan's scripting lightened some of the scenes (such as the college protests) from how they appear to have been intended. I always remember someone commenting that in the very last few issues of Ditko's Spidey run, everyone could do with a long lie down. This is true, and as a teenager I did love reading the early Romita issues where Peter is suddenly respected and appreciated by Flash, Harry and Gwen, all of whom resented him in the Ditko run. After over 30 issues of Peter being miserable and misunderstood, it meant a lot to me to see him get some happiness, it felt like a ray of sunshine. But as good as the Lee-Romita run is, I feel (with some exceptons) that it mostly plateaus after the first few issues.
In the end, I agree with Gerry Conway's statements about Stan's run in "Comics Creators On Spider-Man": "After that early period, everything was fine in Peter's life. He went off to college and met Gwen and everything was good. His biggest crisis was the death of his girlfriend's father. During my formative years as a reader, in the early 1960s, Uncle Ben died, Aunt May was in the hospital all the time, Flash Thompson was always picking on Pete, Betty Brant's brother got shot, the 'Master Planner' storyline dominated events - all these things were happening" ... "Somewhere along the line, after those first thirty or forty issues, Stan started to let up on Peter Parker. Why? I'd say the influence of Steve Ditko can't be overstated when you consider the plotting of those early books. Ditko obviously liked to torture his characters. John Romita, who took over from Ditko, is a loveable guy, and didn't want to hurt Peter."
I've heard people saying the same thing about Stan, that he was too nice to want to carry on torturing Peter the way the Lee-Ditko run had. (And for anyone interested, the book also has interviews with both Lee & Romita discussing how the plots came together during this Marvel Method period.)
Posted by: Jonathan | February 13, 2016 8:11 AM
The main complaint that I've seen with Ditko is that on the surface, his style seems very dated. He was putting men in suits, ties, and hats long after that style changed. Much older fans have pointed out that there isn't any reason for the Daily Bugle offices in 1965 to look like they're still stuck in 1955. And it has to be said that he would have been the wrong artist to unveil Mary Jane Watson--John Romita made her look like a pin-up, but the few glimpses of her that Ditko did could be described as frumpy at best.
But despite all that, Ditko's talents at mood, dynamism, and design consistently won out and the man was practically worshipped in fanzines up until the early 1980s. Just to provide comparisons, Kirby's return to Marvel from 1975-78 was routinely subject to head-scratching and criticism, but when Ditko's Shade series for DC got cancelled after ten issues, there was widespread disappointment.
The fact is though that Ditko's art did deteriorate a bit and get much more simplistic starting in the late 1970s(Shade's cancellation tended to get ascribed to younger newsstand buyers being repelled by Ditko's style). You honestly can't blame Brimstone for not getting Ditko's appeal if the first thing he saw was something like Speedball in 1988. Plus, there's the fact that Ditko insisted on writing more of his stuff from about 1978 on, and the reaction to that was...well, there's a reason why Mr. A doesn't quite reach the same plateau as Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, the Question, and Captain Atom. The word "crank" was being thrown around even way back then in response to Ditko's writing, and Witzend co-editor Bill Pearson himself wrote a satire called "Mr. E" by "Steve Diktator" which appeared in Witzend #7 in 1970!
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 13, 2016 1:34 PM
Stan at his peak as a scripter was beyond repute, and neither Ditko nor Kirby could come close. He was also the art director and editor and probably had a better sense of what could fit on a page than most others in the time.
And I do know he's still creative. A while back I saw a Youtube clip of an interview, and for whatever reason the topic moved to DC characters, and the guy said something about Green Lantern or Batman or whoever and Stan jumped on him, challenging him and riffing on ideas for what sounded to me like a perfectly serviceable story for the characters. It was something clever and so obvious that I'm amazed it hasn't been done, something like 'why doesn't Green Lantern make green kryptonite so he can fight Superman?' I don't remember the actual idea, but it was quite amusing the way an old man embarrassed this bright young kid by quick thinking and spontaneity.
Kirby and Ditko blow Stan away for visual imagination, design, layout, pacing, but Stan has always admitted that. He's also said that the second half of Ditko's "Spider-Man" he had no idea what would be in the following issue until the pages were in front of him, and describing his partnership with Kirby (while it was still very much on-going) from memory, "Some guys need more direction than others. Some guys need no direction. I may not say anything more to Jack Kirby than 'let's have the next villain be Dr. Doom,' or I may not even say that, he may tell me, and he goes home and does it. He's so good at plotting, I'm sure he's a million times better than me. Of course sometimes I do give him a plot, but we're both practically the writers."
Stan gets all the credit for scripting, keeping the whole operation going, juggling countless balls in the air in ways that few people could do in any field and which he was pioneering in comics. He also gets credit for the initial spark, having said many many times that "Fantastic Four" #1 was the first time he set down to write a comic that he himself would want to read. He's one of the most prolific comics writers in history, but does he have a single noteworthy story prior to that issue?
Omar, segueing into what you said from there, I would agree that Stan's input into Spider-Man's conception provided the "soapy, troubled teen" aspect. [I have no evidence whatsoever, but I am convinced Stan's the one who came up with not being able to cash a check made out to "Spider-Man."] He's also said romance comics were the ones he liked writing the most, and his dislike of kid sidekicks probably innovated making the kid into the main hero. Ditko has made so few public statements that I don't have a clue where he said it, but he did once point out the difference between Spider-Man and his later heroes like Mr. A, in that Spider-Man was a teenager, a boy becoming a man, so he makes mistakes and has problems as he matures.
I am increasingly convinced that he intended Betty to be Peter's true love (seen in this issue as shown above) and my understanding was that he wanted to focus more on Peter and less on Spider-Man. Stan wanted more Spider-Man, and notice how most of Ditko's later issues were mostly big fights interspersed with a few Peter/Betty/Gwen scenes. He's trying to give the boss what he wants while maintaining control over the characters he spends all day at a drawing board plotting and creating. All of a sudden the villains stop being imaginative. Only the Green Goblin is doing anything interesting.
Ditko has also said that he did intend that guy in the background in "Spider-Man" #23 at JJJ's club to be revealed as the Green Goblin, which lines up with what Stan has always said that he and Ditko wanted to do a villain whose identity wasn't revealed for a long time. #23 was the Goblin's third appearance, and Norman would become increasingly-prominent, and clearly hated Spider-Man.
[Have I mentioned that I love this site, for letting me look up stuff so conveniently? Thanks, fnord.]
If nothing else, Ditko was 40 when he left "Spider-Man" and would not really be interested in continuing to tell stories of troubled teenagers. He's fully-aware that he has nothing in common with the younger generation, so why waste time and energy pretending?
I can understand arguments that Ditko's art deteriorated. He clearly made his biggest mark on "Spider-Man" and "Dr. Strange" and it's a good point that his office scenes and clothing look like they're from the 50s. But almost nobody as doing superheroes in motion like he did them, and I think his biggest gift is in visual design. Which he retains for decades. I just flipped through a few of his recent comics before writing this, was struck by his incredible facility to cartoon. It's a very recognizable Steve Ditko-style, but shows versatility light years beyond almost everybody else. May not be everyone's cup of tea, but there's some amazing drawing going on there. And to my knowledge, he hasn't done color comics in decades (probably since "Speedball" or the first appearance of "Squirrel Girl.") That's right, he's accomplished some great cartooning entirely in (wait for it) black and white.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 13, 2016 3:13 PM
Ditko's last color comic was Dark Dominion 0 in 1993- before that he did some work for Valiant.
Posted by: Michael | February 13, 2016 3:30 PM
Oh, yeah, and he did the Phantom 2040 4-issue series in 1995.
Posted by: Michael | February 13, 2016 3:42 PM
Ditko defintiely got more black-and-white in his thinking as time went by. To return to his work on the Charlton version of Captain Atom, the villain Doctor Spectro was actually a good man warped in an accident caused by criminals, resulting in a kind of comic-book "split personality."
But Spectro stopped appearing after a while, and the later villains were less sympathetic, to the point that complete ciphers like the Fiery-Icer started showing up towards the end. A villain with a literally colorable personality was gradually phased out.
And I agree that Ditko liked torturing his heroes, something enhanced by his moody art and utter mastery of facial expressions and body language. (He's actually better in this regard than Kirby; Kirby tends to let the character designs do a lot of the work. Notice how many of Kirby's iconic characters are defined facially by their unmoving steel masks, their ornate headgear, or stoic granite complexions.)
But I think Lee's work on the later Spider-Man is interesting for what happens in it, something you don't see much in Ditko's or Kirby's solo work: the protagonist can be wrong, really wrong, even do the wrong or the careless or the thoughtless thing. Lee's Peter gets angry when he shouldn't, blows off responsibilities to the people in his life without good reasons, and finds out he had people like JJJ and Flash Thompson wrong when he assumed they were one-dimensional "heavies" out to get him. His internal problems cause his screw-ups.
Compare the Ditko "Spidey- quits" story to Lee's later iterations. In the Ditko-Lee version, Peter quits because of external factors: Aunt May is sick and needs him all the time, he can't keep risking getting hurt because of it, and so he backs off of being a superhero until she shows that she can in fact get along on her own.
In Lee's versions, Peter wants to quite, not because other responsibilities beckon, but rather because he wants to be *free* of the responsibility of being Spider-Man. He wants to marry Gwen, or to get to live a full life, or he feels that Spider-Man is a childish fantasy. His guilt invariably drags him back (well, or growing extra arms, but let's all try to forget that one....and even there, the hallucination sequence ends with him resolving to be Spider-Man again anyway after a vision of George Stacy.)
And Lee's Spider-Man also doesn't always win clean or win the right way. He hurts himself taking on the Lizard, the Vulture, and Electro in those later issues. He shouts JJJ into a heart attack in a moment of uncontrolled frustration. His personal problems also become the result of people with flaws, not people just being assholes. Harry Osborn's inferiority complex drives him to drug addiction; Flash Thompson (in a highly metaphorical, distant fashion) is affected by his service in Vietnam; and he and Gwen have a lot of trouble figuring out how to treat each other like adults. Ut's soapy, but the characters are more rounded and there's more of a sense of the real world, with villains like Bullitt and the Prowler reflecting the period's interest in "relevant" storytelling.
And while Lee's later tenure sees fewer villains created, the villains are developed across multiple arcs. The Kingpin's family, for example, is built up carefully and slowly, setting up the character dimensions that will later inform the work of people like Frank Miller.
It does't have the amazing (!) energy of the Ditko era, but it demonstrates very well what Stan was bringing. I notice the missing creative spark, the lack of dynamism and invention in Lee's post-Ditko and post-Kirby work. But I also notice the retreat into metaphor and fantasy, the loss of grounded humanity, in the later works of Kirby and Ditko.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 13, 2016 4:48 PM
Omar, I'm not really sure if you're agreeing with me or not, or what your point is. I basically agree with what you're saying, and quite like your comment about Ditko's facial expressions versus Kirby's. We get to talk about comics, who cares if we agree or not?
Basically my point is that the post-Kirby/Ditko issues that Stan wrote were built on what Kirby and Ditko had created. Stan was too experienced an editor to not keep the characters going as he knew them. Once he had to keep things going without Kirby and Ditko, he made sure to keep what worked and forbidding what didn't work, and had the experience and position to make it so.
And torturing the heroes is a time-honored way to make them work. If the audience cares about them, they are drawn in by the hero's eventual victory. Chris Claremont practically turned this into a science, but where would "Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones" be if we didn't see the heroes put in the worst-possible situations and still triumph?
Stan carried on with the 'heroes with problems.' DC had to start copying Marvel. Kirby and Ditko carried on their own ways (without much immediate success) and later Marvel writers were just copying what Stan, Steve and Jack had done. It took Jim Shooter to make everything work.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 13, 2016 5:55 PM
Chris - I think I agree with pretty much everything said by both yourself and Omar, so it isn't really a debate where people are arguing from different opinions, just people offering differing perspectives and facts, but yeah I really enjoyed it anyway.
I think Brimstone may be the only person on this site who didn't recognise that both Lee and Ditko were immensely important to making Spider-Man the success he was from the start, and Brimstone's been good enough to take everyone else's comments on board on this point. Anyway, sometimes when I look at some of the Silver Age entries on the site and think it's a shame there aren't more comments on them, but that seems to be solved for this issue at least. :-)
Posted by: Jonathan | February 13, 2016 7:07 PM
I'm not arguing with anything, just joining the conversation.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 13, 2016 8:08 PM
Well, Brimstone may be weird, but we all know that it's fnord's fault there aren't more comments on the Silver Age stories. CRUSH FNORD, MY MINIONS! I'LL FIGURE OUT WHY WE SHOULD CRUSH HIM LATER! WHEN I GET AROUND TO IT! IF THERE ISN'T SOMETHING ELSE I NEED TO DO! YOU KNOW WHAT, I'LL CALL YOU BACK!
Posted by: ChrisW | February 13, 2016 8:12 PM
I'M A LITTLE RUSTY ON THIS EVIL VILLAIN THING! CAN SOMEONE TELL ME HOW TO TURN OFF THE CAPS LOCK?
Posted by: ChrisW | February 13, 2016 8:17 PM
In case anyone's wondering the real reason why there's few comments on the older entries is because there were few commenters when fnord initially put them up.
Posted by: Michael | February 13, 2016 8:37 PM
It's amazing to me that Brimstone (!) would be the catalyst to provoke further commentary on these issues, even inadvertently. And this isn't a mock-Brimstone post. The more I've read online and looked at his entire history of discourse, I no longer share AF's view that he is purposely provoking or a troll... I really do believe he's just unwittingly oblivious and sincerely believes things like Stan Lee created the entire Marvel Universe.
So in that respect, it's been very nice to see you guys chime in with further information and history, and it's been nice to see Brimstone the Celebrity been receptive to it. In that vein, what is everyone's thoughts on the "in search of Steve Ditko" documentary on YouTube? I bring it up because it pertains to specific comments made on this issue and the conversation about who-did-what.
Posted by: Brian Carey | February 14, 2016 5:37 AM
Wait a minute.. THE BeastCharming!? Thanks for all the scans, dude!
Posted by: gfsdf gfbd | February 18, 2016 3:58 PM
You're most welcome. Although current digital versions put out by the publishers put my youthful pastime to shame. But it was a blast nonetheless to have been part of the early efforts to scan all comics. And I am glad they were and are enjoyed 😊
Posted by: PeterA | February 18, 2016 4:14 PM
Haha, honestly I'm fine doing things by the books and I have easily gotten my money's worth with Marvel Unlimited the past 2 years. But gaps definitely do exist in their library... ;)
Posted by: gfsdf gfbd | February 18, 2016 9:52 PM
Brian, I've never seen the "In Search of Steve Ditko" documentary. I'm watching it now on Youtube. Thoughts:
#1: How did I know that was cat yronwode? I don't think I've ever seen a picture of cat, and if I have, it must be twenty years out of date, but before she introduced herself or the subtitles, I knew that was cat yronwode.
#2: Not sure when the documentary was made, and too lazy to check, but they seem to be leaning a little heavy on the "Green Goblin's identity" as the reason Ditko left Spider-Man. Although I know that's been the rumor for decades, and it's quite possible this documentary was what led Ditko to set the record straight. For that alone, it performs a great service.
#3: Ditko thinking that if Peter graduates high school, he can't be a boy who keeps making mistakes. That actually fits in with what I've always seen as a strange shift in personality once Peter goes to college. Standing up to Flash and saying 'if you damaged this profile, half the girls at ESU would be heartbroken and we can't let that happen.' Gwen's the only girl at ESU he knows even slightly, and it's such an out-of-character thing for him to say. And Gwen starts showing more interest in him. I always wondered what was going on there, but now it makes a bit of sense.
#4: I think Ayn Rand's views are summarized fairly, and will admit to being fascinated by the only known recording of Ditko's voice.
#5: I like the way they point out that it's not fair if Stan is given all the credit. Ditko was looking at those pages all day every day. It's very fair to him as a comics fanboy, that he's spent his life doing exactly what I wanted to do. And although I'm a bit wary of Alan Moore quoting his "Mr. A" song, I think it's hilarious anyway. I know where my interests in the Velvet Underground are, and it's not with Lou Reed.
#6: I'm very glad that they got Stan Lee's contribution. If nothing else, it's nice to see Stan as forthcoming as it's possible for him to be. He is The Man, and this is a good example of that. He firmly believes that whoever has the original idea for a "Spider-Man" strip is the creator. He's willing to go as far as possible out of his way to "consider" Ditko the co-creator. He's not trying to take anybody's rights. But he believes that the guy with the orginal idea is the creator, and considering how many contracts he's signed with Marvel over the decades, he's not legally capable of giving Ditko any more credit than he's already giving. He can't say Ditko created various characters or stories, all he can say is that Ditko was just bringing in pages and Stan had to script them after-the-fact. Safe to assume Ditko created Gwen Stacy, Harry Osbourne and Eternity, but Stan can't say that. It's definitely not fair to Stan, but he's enjoyed a rich, full life, that he's totally earned, and an unfairness like this is comparable to what us mere mortals have to undergo. I'm glad he was given a chance to have his say.
#7: I liked the way the climax to the "Master Planner" trilogy was given its place. I don't think Gaiman is right about it being in the top two or three superhero scenes, but I've had a grin pasted on my face since seeing that sequence again, so if he's wrong, it's not by much.
#8: Perfect ending. "The first rule of Ditko is that you don't talk about Ditko." Several years ago, Dave Sim had a blog (tough to do when you don't have internet access, but he managed) and he had a commission to draw "Cerebus" characters as Dr. Strange and a Ditko-background. He used the experience to read a ton of Ditko comics, and wrote extensively about Ditko's work and art, to the point where Ditko contacted him. They corresponded, and Sim even met Ditko personally. Considering how... verbose Sim has always been about every other contact he's ever had in the comics field, I've always wondered why he's never shared that Ditko correspondence, or described the meeting. The closest he ever got was saying Ditko dressed in a way that made Will Eisner look like a slob, and anybody who knew Eisner (which Sim did, but I didn't, so I don't know what he's talking about) always dressed very well. "Ok, but what did you talk about???"
You don't talk about Steve Ditko. How very true.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 18, 2016 11:58 PM
Holy who would've thunk the BeastCharming posts here. I'd figure he be too busy reading his own works to spend time one someone else's.
Let me add to the sentiment and say tank yew for your work. There are a lot of hard to find books I never would've been able to read without you. Not just that but your quality speaks for itself. Good job sir.
I mean not that I read scans or anything... cuz that would be wrong *snicker*.
Posted by: JC | February 19, 2016 12:24 AM
I loved this issue! Such character development between Peter and betty! I almost started too cry, so beautyfull!
Posted by: Roy mattson | May 8, 2016 3:51 PM
I remember reading Marvel Masterworks of these issues as a kid. My honest, unbiased opinion was, and is, that the best issues were those that had Ditko plot credit.
Posted by: AlluAllu | August 25, 2016 10:53 AM
Okay, I won't get into a lot of what was argued over, uh, I mean discussed here because well a lot of it has already been said. I think that Marvel's early success was Lee and Ditko and Kirby as a team. I do not agree that Stan did very little with Ditko or Kirby he still wrote quite a lot. The three of them were geniuses in their fields and Ditko created Charlton's Captain Atom, the Question, the second version of Blue Beetle and DC's the Creeper, the Hawk and the Dove and Shade the Changing Man. As far as Lefield I'm not a fan but he did have an impact on the art of the 90's for good or ill. As far as saying that the art of the 60's not good, all I can say is that most of the artists that came later (not all of course) only got to play with Jack's and Steve's and Stan's toys.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 1, 2016 9:29 PM
I meant that I do not agree that Stan did very little without Ditko or Kirby.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 1, 2016 9:31 PM
Loved jjjs loveable comment in this issue 😂😂😂
Posted by: Roy Mattson | May 14, 2017 11:46 AM
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