Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1
From John Romita Sr.'s introduction to Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man vol. 7:
1968 also brought Stan and me a completely new opportunity, the chance to launch a black-and-white magazine with Spider-Man stories for older readers, a sort of film noir on paper with longer stories and more subtle character relationships. We envisioned a somewhat photographic arty style with halftones and deep shadows that were just right for Spider-Man... we were aware it was going to be a challenge and a gamble, but we were excited and raring to go. Looking back, I wish we'd had more time to develop the tone technique, but having a full schedule of comics to put out on a monthly basis limited us. Since we didn't want to wait too long, we put in the extra hours and struck while the iron was hot. With pride, I think we turned out an impressive, groundbreaking first issue. You can judge for yourself.
I'll quote more from the Masterworks intro on the entry to issue #2, explaining why the series went full color for the second issue and why that wound up being the final issue of this experiment. In the part i have quoted here, it seems like there was some immediate opportunity they were taking advantage of ("didn't want to wait too long", "iron was hot") but i don't know what that may have been.
The fact that Spider-Man was the character of choice demonstrates the popularity of the character and, since the target was older readers, it was a good choice since the cast of supporting characters allowed for more human soap opera themes than most super-hero books. This first issue's story is also i guess an attempt at a more adult theme in the sense that it deals - superficially - with politics.
A Richard Raleigh is running for mayor of New York.
But a giant is smashing up his billboards (so big, so fast alert in the second scan below).
Spider-Man is unable to stop the giant because he has to rescue the scaffold workers.
Back in his civilian identity, he runs into MJ and Harry Osborn. MJ is supporting Raleigh for mayor.
So is J. Jonah Jameson, on the grounds that Raleigh is handsome enough that all the women in New York are supporting him, and therefore buying up JJ's positive write-ups of the politician.
Raleigh himself is shown to be crooked from his first appearance.
And indeed, he's behind the giant, with the idea that if the underworld is shown to be against Raleigh, it'll convince the public that his law & order position is scaring them.
Meanwhile, Peter and Gwen go to a Raleigh rally...
...and get to dancing.
Raleigh has rigged the ceiling to collapse on the place. As Spider-Man, Peter stops it, but JJ twists things around so that it seems that Spider-Man is against Raleigh too.
After the incident, Peter walks home with Gwen and MJ. MJ is fantasizing about marrying Raleigh.
Meanwhile, Captain Stacy starts thinking that Raleigh is kind of suspicious...
...and later, after JJ lets slip that Stacy is investigating Raleigh, Raleigh sends the giant to kill him.
But Spidey of course shows up to save him and then, noticing that the giant reacts badly to the Raleigh billboards, leads him back to Raleigh where the giant goes crazy, killing the politician.
The issue ends with JJ swearing the eulogize the politician in his paper.
Storywise there's nothing really groundbreaking here, nothing that couldn't have appeared in the regular Amazing Spider-Man series (and indeed, see below). Raleigh's two main attributes as a politician are that he's supposedly handsome and therefore all the women of the city swoon over him, which is insulting, and his law & order plank, which sets up for the obvious reversal. At least the story doesn't insult our intelligence by trying to hide the fact that Raleigh is the bad guy of the story (as opposed to, well, see below again). It is interesting to see the Romita/Mooney art in intentional (i.e., not from Essentials) black & white and the tone and shadow usage that Romita refers to in the Masterworks intro.
Since the intention was for this series to be an ongoing, it's worth recognizing that it's the first time Marvel intended for a solo character to appear in two books simultaneously (we've seen characters appearing in team books plus a solo series pretty much from the beginning with the Human Torch appearing in both Fantastic Four and Strange Tales). Eventually Spider-Man will have three ongoing books at once, but with the failure of this book it won't be until 1972 that Spider-Man will get a second ongoing, and that will be the very different Marvel Team-Up.
Despite the different format and possible different audience, this series is still very much in continuity. The current status quo of the characters - their relationships and personalities - matches this book, and as Romita says in the Masterworks intro, next issue will be the fulfillment of an ongoing subplot from the Amazing series. The events of this issue are also referenced in the concurrently published Daredevil #42. It shows the importance of continuity at the time (and, of course, in the case of the Daredevil issue, it's also an opportunity for cross-promotion, but that's always the case).
Despite Romita's statement that the sales numbers on these issues were good, Marvel felt comfortable republishing this story in 1973 in Amazing Spider-Man #116-118
A back-up feature in this issue retells Spider-Man's origin, and adds a few new scenes, including Uncle Ben's funeral...
...and Peter getting into a fight with a bully right after getting bit by the spider, directly before the scene where he nearly gets hit by a car and jumps onto a wall for the first time.
Art in the back-up is by Larry Lieber and Bill Everett.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place concurrently with Daredevil #42. See Amazing Spider-Man #116-118
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man vol. 7 (softcover)
Inbound References (2): showAunt May, Aunt Watson, Betty Brant, Captain Stacy, Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, J. Jonah Jameson, Jackal, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Mary Jane Watson, Richard Raleigh, Smasher (Spider-Man Foe), Spider-Man
Peter would have to be really stupid not to notice that he had the same adventure twice.
Posted by: Michael | December 14, 2014 11:11 PM
I've only read the ASM reprint of this story, but I it seems like Richard Raleigh is a lot more interesting a villain as just himself, and not as the utterly lame Disruptor. It's also interesting to see that the origin story was already "evolving" at this point.
Posted by: TCP | December 15, 2014 1:01 PM
Rather than fit both iterations into one continuity, treat the two tellings as two separate "historical documents" describing the same event. Pre-eminence would have to be given to ASM for teleological reasons but anything not conflicting with the ASM retelling would still be canonical. Or canonical enough. Since it's now been a full generation from when Marvel actually had any real continuity, it's all become a moot point anyway...
Posted by: Flying Tiger Comics | March 10, 2017 10:47 PM
See fnord's comment on Daredevil #42.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | March 12, 2017 10:44 PM
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