Amazing Spider-Man #11
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #11
Review/plot: Dr. Octopus gets out of prison on good behavior.
My first reaction was "Are you kidding me?", but it's entirely possible his lawyer argued that Octavius was driven temporarily insane due to the radioactive explosion and he's basically been under observation to confirm that he's in control, so as long as he behaved himself, i guess it makes sense. Alright, Stan, i'll let it slide this time, but you only get to use it once!
As he's released, it's expected that he'll be using his scientific genius to get himself a good job, but Doc Ock is no working stiff. Instead he is working as a stooge for the Philadelphia based crime gang boss Blackie Gaxton, with the intention of betraying him at the first opportunity.
Bundled into this bothersome business is Betty Brant's brother Bennett. He's Blackie's lawyer (under duress), and he also owes Blackie money...
...which Betty has been helping him pay back (by borrowing money from loan sharks in NYC).
Spider-Man invents his Spider Tracers in this issue, although at this time he still uses a portable receiver to follow the signal instead of tuning into them with his Spider Sense.
He uses a tracer to follow Doc Ock, who Betty has been forced to pick up and drive to Philly. It's the weekend, so Peter tells Aunt May that he's decided to do a little sightseeing. In Philadelphia, Spidey fights Doc Ock and Blackie's goons on a boat...
...but Bennett gets killed (sort of protecting Betty, but it almost looks like he was trying to get shot due to his troubles and guilt)...
...and Doc Ock escapes. Peter had resolved to tell Betty that he was Spider-Man this issue, but Betty half-blames Spidey for her brother's death so he can't.
I thought this was a cool angle:
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #148
Inbound References (8): show
Bennett Brant doesn't get mentioned again for an extremely long time.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 31, 2011 5:32 PM
I think Bennett Brant gets a mention in ASM #33 "the final chapter."
Posted by: kveto from prague | September 26, 2011 12:16 PM
it's actually kind of surprising to see Spidey relying on actual technology to track someone. for the most part, up until now, he would rely on his spider sense to find the bad guys as he swung around the city. and then to later go back to using his spider sense, but in conjunction with the trackers...guess spider sense trumps tech.
Posted by: min | May 10, 2012 8:48 AM
Bennett will resurface as the new crime master and form the savage six in the Agent Venom comics where flash thompson is venom.
Posted by: doomsday | July 4, 2013 2:03 AM
I'm just here to say thank you for that absolutely stunning alliteration.
Posted by: T4 | June 8, 2015 11:39 PM
@doomsday, wait wait wait -- a comic book character that died decades ago was brought back by the House Out of Ideas? Mind = blown.
Posted by: Robert | February 5, 2016 6:27 PM
Wow, I really hoped Doomsday was joking when he said about Betty Brant's brother being brought back as The Crime Master, but nope it's all true. When you've got to the point where Betty Brant's long dead brother comes back as the third Crime Master (with the fifth Jack O'Lantern as a sidekick) and tries to kill Flash Thompson who's now the third(?) Venom....
What happened to editors who could say "no, that sounds like a dumb idea"?
Posted by: Jonathan | February 6, 2016 11:28 AM
I can see your point, Jonathan. Right now, Peter is CEO of a worldwide company, Aunt May is married to JJJ's rich father, Mary Jane is now working for Tony Stark, Flash is the current Venom…
I'm longing for the days where Spider-Man was more of an "everyman" character and book. Maybe modern writers think that's just too old fashioned or something. Then again, I'm now 40, so maybe I'm pining for "the good old days".
Posted by: mikrolik | February 6, 2016 11:42 AM
I think the whole thing about Peter Parker and his ilk is they've been around for so long that they think no one would believe them as relateable; besides that's what Miles Morales is for these days. Besides, there is nothing wrong with a character growing up or changing and having problems, but from how it sounds things really are a mess to the point that maybe I rather have Miles Morales.
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 6, 2016 1:12 PM
Here's an angle, Spider-Man totally IS a dangerous clown, and Betty and Jonah are completely justified in hating him 'til the days they die.
Betty might just as easily have been the person who got shot and killed, y'know. If Peter really gave a shit about her, or had half a brain, he could have arranged things so as to get Betty and Bennett out of harm's way before charging in, dodging bullets and exchanging insults with Doc Ock. That should have been his main priority, but, no.
What Peter really cares most about is having fun throwing wisecracks at villains while running circles around bozos with guns. It's super-easy for him to dodge their bullets, because he's super-fast. Betty isn't.
Peter still hasn't got his priorities straight, even 11 issues after allowing his uncle to be shot by that armed robber he should have caught.
Posted by: James J. J. Holt | August 14, 2016 1:48 AM
What happened was this- Betty screamed, so Peter hurried to get on the boat, and a couple of the goons wound up getting the drop on him and taking him to Blackie and Ock. Then he makes his move at the first opportunity. It's a tragic series of events but it's on Blackie and Ock, not Peter.
Posted by: Michael | August 14, 2016 9:18 AM
I'm sympathetic to Peter but will keep playing devil's advocate for Jonah for the sake of airing that point of view. What does Betty say to Spidey on p. 14 panel 5? "If you hadn't interfered... if you hadn't tried to be a hero... it might not have happened!!"
Isn't that true? Instead of taking due precautions, Peter just waltzes onto the ship in broad daylight wearing his bright red and blue Spider-Man costume. Couldn't be more obvious, or more risky, but he'd already committed to this rash move even before Betty screamed. Then he stumbles like a klutz, injures his ankle and gets himself caught. He has no training nor aptitude at handling a hostage situation. Then the guns come out, but even then nobody starts shooting 'til Spidey starts fighting. His first concern should be to safeguard Betty and Bennett, but instead he starts dancing around with the goons and attacking Doc Ock. He fecklessly tries to grab Blackie's gun hand but somehow Bennett still gets shot protecting Betty.
Betty's still in danger, but does Spidey try to protect her? No. His next thought is "Blackie's escaping... and Dr. Octopus is still at large! I've got to move!!" Predictably enough, while he's chasing after Blackie and Ock, Blackie's thugs quickly take Betty hostage, again, threatening her life, yet again. Spidey's just plain got his priorities wrong. He means well but he's brash, impulsive, and out of control.
Costumed vigilantes... threat or menace? Read the Bugle to find out!
Posted by: James Holt | August 14, 2016 7:09 PM
Well if you go that far, it was Blackie's fault for working with Doc Ock, and Bennett's fault for defending the criminal Blackie, and Betty's fault for helping her up-to-no-good brother. Yeah, it's also Peter's fault for running off to help Betty before he knows about any of this, and I agree that he didn't choose the smartest method of helping Betty or Bennett, but those are the complicated moral questions Ditko "Spider-Man" asked of the reader.
Get Betty off the boat. When she whines, get Bennett off the boat. Then focus on Blackie and Doc Ock. Makes much more sense, but not as good of a "Spider-Man" story.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 15, 2016 12:42 AM
Complicated moral questions? Here's another angle: Bennett was morally compromised. His main purpose in the story was to show that black is black and white is white and there is nothing in between, so he had to die. Unwitting, Spidey under Ditko's brush guided Blackie's gun hand unerringly for an on-the-spot execution, in what would later be know as Mr. A style justice.
Spidey could have easily webbed up everybody's gun, or approached stealthily and taken them out quietly one by one, but this was a different type of story. Dropout Betty was allowed to live compromised because her reasons for being Doc Ock's accomplice were nobler; she was only trying to protect her brother, whereas Bennett was a sinful gambler and corrupted lawyer.
Or maybe it's just because Spidey's inexperienced and hasn't quite mastered all the aspects of super-heroing yet. It's still early days. He can make it up to Betty in the next ish.xD
Posted by: James Holt | August 15, 2016 4:29 PM
Well it doesn't help that Betty showed up the following issue with a sexy new hairdo and absolutely no emotional baggage whatsoever about her dead brother that Spider-Man is totally responsible for killing. Just picks up her job at the Daily Bugle like she never left it, and even JJJ doesn't notice the transition. Spidey trashed the Bugle offices? [fighting the Vulture in #7] No problem, she'll go right back. She doesn't like Spider-Man? No problem, she still likes the guy whose only job is taking pictures of Spider-Man. Sexy new hairdo? Chicks, amiright? It would be many issues before she even remembered her dead brother whom she raised since childhood.
These are superhero comics and we can expect characters to have massive personality changes from one issue to the next, but this is ridiculous. Spidey's inability to handle a hostage situation is almost comical by comparison. Yeah, he could have done a better job, but his priority was to find Betty and save her, which he did. Betty's brother was simply not important to him. Stopping Doc Ock was, but still not as important as Betty. And I still have to ask, was this the first time in a Code-approved comic that a villain simply escaped to continue his plans without being sent to jail?
Posted by: ChrisW | August 16, 2016 1:36 AM
It's crazy, it's like she suddenly did a hairpin turn and completely accepted that her brother was irredeemable and had to die violently. Then she completely forgave Spider-Man, again reversing her character's direction in the story.
This and the next issue should read like a two part story but they don't. That plus all the character inconsistencies suggest that Lee and Ditko were at loggerheads over this story. Plot threads are dangling all over the place.
Doc Ock re-kidnaps Betty yet again next issue, and Peter just lets him carry her off without even trying to follow. Gets overly distracted by other concerns while the villain runs off with his ladylove to do Heaven-knows-what to her, and Peter could hardly care less.
The Doc Ock visuals are great, iconic.
Posted by: James Holt | August 16, 2016 2:21 AM
Is it in #12 or the Annual, which directly follows this [for those of us reading "Marvel Tales"] where Ock kidnaps Betty right in front of Peter and JJJ, saying to put a notice in the paper for Spider-Man, and Peter waits until the notice is in the paper, and then goes to ask JJJ what it's about, instead of, you know, following Ock and Betty on the spot and maybe rescuing her from the villain?
"This and the next issue should read like a two part story but they don't." That's exactly how I've always felt about #11 and #12. I love #12, I think it's the most awesome "Spider-Man" comic to that point, in a series which has had no shortage of awesome "Spider-Man" comics so far, but the mood-whiplash is seriously disturbing.
You're absolutely right, the Doc Ock visuals are awesome, but not enough to distract us from actually questioning the stories.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 16, 2016 4:02 AM
It was in #12, just like you described it. Keeping his identity secret seemed more important to Peter at that moment than any concerns about Betty's safety. He's just a high school kid with a lot on his mind and he's in way over his head with all this super-hero biz. That he can't keep his priorities straight fits right in with his character development to date. Thinks he knows everything but still has a lot to learn.
Stan and Steve at this time have little or no experience doing continued stories together. They work out plots together, Steve storyboards the plots one at a time as finished art, and Stan fills in the narrative and dialog, reserving final approval on everything. My sense of these two issues is that with #11 Steve wanted to go in a different perhaps deeper or darker direction than Stan did, and maybe went off the reservation a bit, and so with #12 Stan pulls it back to the soap opera style status quo he's been trying to build all along. Betty was moving towards becoming an interesting star character here, but next issue she gets crammed back into being JJJ's secretary, lovestruck with Peter and jealous of Liz... airheaded, petty, girly-girl, stereotyped, bit player, supporting cast.
Posted by: James Holt | August 16, 2016 4:53 PM
Interesting. My impression is the opposite. In #11, Stan had built up the soap opera that he wanted, including the villain's henchman [Bennett] sacrificing himself at the last moment. As awesome as Stan is, he's never been good at plotting more than a couple issues ahead, and once he's revealed Betty's deep dark secret [her brother] I don't think he had any idea where to go from there.
Ditko learned what Stan wanted and did his best to give his boss what the boss wanted. None of this explains why Betty had done such a 180-turn between #11 and #12 - that's a change that will be lost to the ages - but I think starting from #12, the stories are much more Ditko and much less Stan. It honestly wouldn't surprise me if Stan casually mentioned there was an annual coming up and Ditko came up with the Sinister Six, even though it sounds like a total Stan Lee creation. I would say this is where Ditko took charge.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 17, 2016 6:00 AM
I also don't have a good explanation for why Peter waits until JJJ tells Spider-Man what Spider-Man already knows before he goes looking for Betty. If Ditko was doing the plotting, was he trying to give his editor something that would make him say 'this is stupid, let's do something else'? Did he just give his boss what the boss wanted? Did he intend something radically different [although the mind boggles at what else could be interpreted on that page, when Spidey confronts JJJ about what Spidey already knows, and the villain is getting further away every second that Spidey wastes with JJJ, when he was physically present for the kidnapping.]?
"Blame it on Stan" doesn't work either, because Ditko had to do the plot, pencils and inks. Mistakes and all, I would say #12 is when Ditko took over the plots for Spider-Man.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 17, 2016 6:11 AM
Peter seems to somehow trust that Doc Ock isn't going to hurt Betty. In #11, on the boat after Bennett gets shot, he leaves her in the tender care of Blackie's henchmen while he goes off to fight with Blackie and Ock. Then he bails out on Ock in mid-fight because "Now I've got to find Betty and make sure she's all right!" Wait, what?
Meanwhile, Blackie's thugs predictably decide to re-grab Betty as a hostage, but Ock beats Spidey back to Betty's side, knocks out the two thugs, and retakes Betty as his hostage instead. Betty faints from all the rough manhandling she's subjected to by these criminals, leaving Spidey free for another extended fight scene with Ock.
Like the scene you described from #12, these scenes couldn't readily be interpreted any other way, Lee's dialog and narrative notwithstanding. Maybe we should just chalk it up to a couple of overworked comic creators and their overall disregard for comic book women's safety? After all these are only characters on paper, and Stan and Steve already know how the story will turn out anyway...
Posted by: James Holt | August 17, 2016 10:40 PM
I don't have the issues handy for an in-depth examination. Yeah, I would chalk it up to Stan and Steve pointing out that 'this doesn't make any sense' and the other guy says 'dude, it's a comic book. Fifty years from now, nobody's going to care.'
Trust Stan and Steve! They know what people will care about in fifty years! Sucks to be Betty though. :)
Posted by: ChrisW | August 18, 2016 12:58 AM
I thought this was an excellent story when it was first published. I think that the scene at the end influenced the first Toby Maguire film in the scene at the grave where Peter has decided to not tell Mary Jane who he is and to break up with her.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 28, 2016 7:42 PM
I think likewise that scene with Doc Ock lighting the cigarette reminds me a bit of that scene from the second Maguire movie where he's smoking while building that reactor. Classy.
Posted by: Ataru320 | October 28, 2016 9:03 PM
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