Amazing Spider-Man #21
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #21
Johnny's girlfriend Dorrie Evans is mad at him for using his powers on their date. Johnny agrees to try and go 24 hours without flaming on (we all know where this is going.). But the Beetle saw Johnny playing to the crowd earlier and has followed him to Dorrie's house.
The next day, Peter bumps into Dorrie and helps her pick up some packages. She also accidentally leaves her wallet behind. Peter should know Dorrie - he crashed her party as Spider-Man in ASM #8, but Stan Lee has apparently forgotten about that and Peter seems to be meeting Doris for the first time here. This has caused comic chronologists everywhere (George Olshelvsky, the MCP, the chronology chart in the Untold Tales series) to cut up their copies of ASM #8 and place the second story after this issue. Well, ok, maybe i was the only one to actually cut up their comic... but don't worry; it was only a reprint.
Peter goes to Dorrie's house to return the wallet and she starts thinking about what a nice guy Peter is (Peter gets all the chicks.). This makes the Torch mad and he goes after Peter and bawls him out for making time with his girlfriend, right in front of Betty Brant who of course gets mad at Peter (even though Betty has been dating Ned Leeds...).
Peter then very unwisely decides to go hit on Dorrie as Spider-Man so that he can get into a fight with the Torch. But instead he runs into the Beetle.
The Beetle must have been sniffing glue to pass the time in prison, because his big scheme to get vengeance on the Torch is "knock out Dorrie, wait for the Torch to show up for his date, and fight him". During the Spidey/Beetle fight Dorrie calls Johnny and tells him to hurry over because two super-villains are fighting on her lawn, but of course he thinks it's a ruse to get him to use his powers, so he stays on his couch, loafing off. The Beetle manages to grab Doris and flies off.
The Torch finally heads over to Dorrie's house and sees that it's all smashed up, with webbing everywhere. He immediately assumes that Spider-Man kidnapped Doris and charges after him. Spider-Man doesn't have time to explain to the Torch so he strings him along, leading him to the Beetle.
Then Spidey and the Torch Team-Up to fight the Beetle.
Once he's defeated, Doris and Johnny start to turn on Spidey, so he splits.
This reprint of Marvel Tales was published during Assistant Editors' Month. Instead of messing around with the reprint or anything, they instead stopped updating the cultural references (in previous issues they would modernize references to movies, etc.), which is fantastic. This continued to be the new policy going forward.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The events of this story are referenced in Strange Tales #129, so this issue must come first.
Crossover: Assistant Editors' Month
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #159
Inbound References (5): show
i hate betty.
Posted by: min | January 23, 2013 9:54 AM
Take that back min she rocks
Posted by: doomsday | September 20, 2013 11:27 PM
Stan Lee probably just forgot about the second story in ASM #8, but inserting this issue prior really does help Parker seem less like he's suffering from a personality disorder.
Posted by: Mortificator | July 25, 2015 6:46 PM
One thing I like about early Spider-Man is despite Peter Parker's back story as an unpopular nerd, once he gets self confidence as Spider-Man, it does change the way he goes through life. People are noticing that "Puny Parker" or whatever they call him does have self-confidence now, doesn't care what people say about him, and is obviously going somewhere. That is attractive to people.
I find it interesting is that he's unpopular in high school because people think he's some inferior nerd, while in college he's disliked because everyone thinks Peter think he's better than everyone. It was a good dynamic.
Posted by: Chris | July 25, 2015 7:13 PM
I wouldn't go as far as min and say that I hate Betty but she really does come across as someone in need of psychiatric help. The sad thing is I don't think this is deliberate on the part of Lee & Ditko, just a byproduct of Stan's inability to write women well and Steve's fondness for hysterical facial expressions and, well, 'crazy eyes.'
Posted by: Robert | February 14, 2016 5:51 PM
Personally, I loved this issue. It was a 1930's screwball romantic comedy disguised as a superhero comic. The last scene you show up there was really funny with all three of them crashing into each other.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 31, 2016 6:24 PM
This issue's letters page includess a missive in which someone criticizes the reveal that J. Jonah Jameson is envious of sSpider-Man ont he grounds that
J.J.J. [is] a producer....who has provided work for hundreds or thousands and news for millions...[and] has amassed a fortune solelt through providing the news faster, cheaper, more concisely, and more accurately than any other source. Money is not a tool of the looters or the moochers; it is a tool of the producers. To be able to say that one has made money is the highest possible compliment
One wonders what Ditko thought if he ever saw it! (And perhaps that's why Stan chose to print it.)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | June 9, 2017 8:11 AM
I don't have any evidence to back it up, but I thought it was generally assumed that Ditko wrote that letter himself, like Steve Engelhart wrote that letter (appearing in Dr Strange #3) from "Rev. David Billingsley" praising the Sise-Neg storyline, going so far as to mail the letter from Dallas on a stop-over from the west coast. Clearly, the use of the word "looter" indicates an Ayn Rand fan, and recalls the soon-to-be-introduced villain of the same name. On the other hand, anyone who describes Jameson as someone who provides news "accurately" either doesn't understand the character, or is able to hold two conflicting opinions in his head at the same time.
Posted by: Andrew | June 10, 2017 7:13 AM
I hadn't heard before the theory about Ditko writing the letter, I agree it is possible though the "accurately" makes me doubt it. It would also raise the question of what Ditko believed he was portraying when he drew the scene of JJJ admitting he was jealous.
Does anyone know when Ditko first became interested in Rand? It seems to me that he became increasingly obsessed with Objectivism from about 1965 onwards, and his views evolved over those years, but I don't know if it's ever been established when he was first introduced to it? Does it happen before or during his time on Spider-Man?
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | June 10, 2017 8:04 PM
I do not know where I heard this, so do not treat it as fact, but I believe Ditko had been a fan of "The Fountainhead" before "Atlas Shrugged" came out in 1956. "The Fountainhead" was a genuine word-of-mouth success. No one expected it to be a hit. If the contract had been signed a week later, it couldn't have been published because war shortages wouldn't have allowed a book that long.
I would think that the letter was either written by Ditko or someone doing Ditko a favor. I'm not an Objectivist, but I do likes me some Ayn Rand, and it's a sad fact that her first generation or so of fans wrote like her. If accurate, that letter screams 'early Rand fan,' and is similar to late-era Ditko. Probably Ditko wrote it. Stan had to fill up the letter column somehow, and Ditko wants to anonymously describe his inspirations, one less thing Stan has to bother with.
It's a study of being a hero. Spidey is helping people, improving others' lives, but he's not using his webbing to advance construction techniques or space exploration. It's almost a joke, even when he tries to sell his webbing, it falls apart quickly.
I will agree that anyone who describes Jameson as someone who provides news "accurately" is capable of holding two conflicting opinions in his head at the same time - I thought that was the definition of a schizophrenic; where's my No-Prize? - but I think it's fair to say that up until Spider-Man entered his life, JJJ did exactly that, as best he could.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 11, 2017 12:07 AM
Interesting. However, I fail to see why Ditko would praise JJJ as he is obviously not portrayed well. JJJ is responsible for creating both the Scorpion and Spider-Slayers. He is also seen as greedy and exploitative. This is obviously not just from Stan's dialogue. Ditko's panels make it clear JJJ acts like a heel on multiple occassions.
One can see similar characters in other Ditko stories, especially the question. Those with power, influence, and money are not always Randian heroes, but fools and charlatans who aid the villains. Ditko's heroes are always people who tell truth to power and are often hated for it. JJJ is more often an example of someone who lies and cheats and manipulates people in the media.
I don't think Ditko is the letter writer praising JJJ. Perhaps Stan selected it in order to rub it into Ditko's face, that another Rand fan had adopted Ditko's own foil.
Posted by: Chris | June 11, 2017 1:59 AM
The letter, entirely possible. I doubt we'll ever know the truth there.
JJJ, it's not that a Randian hero has to have money, power or influence. Don't let the past 50 years [!] of Spidey stories influence your opinion of JJJ, by the end of Ditko's run, he was mostly a loudmouth employer who hated Spider-Man, and I can't think of any point in Ditko's run where Spidey personally saved JJJ. Betty, yes. The Bugle, yes. Going after crooks who are going after JJJ, yes. His money, power and influence make his problems worse.
He's almost the exact opposite of Flash Thompson, not entirely opposite because as the BMOC, Flash certainly had influence. But Flash worshipped Spidey. He even started a fan club.
Reducing Ayn Rand's views to 'power, money and influence' (not saying you're doing that, just that you provided a good description) misses a lot of the points she made in her best work. Peter Parker might grow up to be John Galt or Howard Roark someday. In the meantime, he's still young and makes mistakes. JJJ has worked very hard to create his newspaper empire, making payrolls and negotiating with unions, and still finds time to buy the front page picture from some freelancer. But he doesn't know what to make of Spider-Man, and opposes Spidey naturally.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 11, 2017 3:29 AM
This goes for the supporting cast too. Liz was a frivolous teenage girl, and then she caught a glimpse of who Petey really was, and threw herself at him. No great revelation, just a highly-pubescent high-schooler who realizes that this guy is greater than all the ordinary boys she's known.
Betty was definitely a good girl, and I am convinced that Ditko intended her to be Peter's One True Love. But she had a dark secret - her brother - which cast a long shadow over their relationship and drove them apart. She couldn't make it work with Peter because Spider-Man always stood between them.
Aunt May is Aunt May. It's Peter's great responsibility to look out for her and provide food and shelter. And it's May's great responsibility to finish raising Peter from a boy to a man, and she sometimes needs to set him straight. Call your aunt so she knows you're going to be late and you aren't dealing drugs or getting some girl pregnant. Or pretending to be Spider-Man, which seems to be a fad nowadays. Good heavens!
And don't get me started on Flash... 'Money, power and influence' are completely absent from many of Rand's beliefs. And remember, Ditko was pioneering the superhero genre as a whole. One suspects that [before they stopped talking to each other] he and Stan had a lot of discussions about what made Spidey different from the other long underwear characters.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 11, 2017 3:40 AM
I guess the point I was trying to make is in the Randian worldview there are only makers and moochers; heroes who got ahead by being smarter and working harder than everyone else, or villains who used the government to siphon their money away. So Ditko (or a friend) was trying to shoehorn Jameson into a category he was too complex for. More to the point, Randian rich men aren't ashamed or envious; they're proud of their success, always. I think that Ditko drew the scene Lee wrote for him in issue 10 without thinking much about it, but kept coming back to it in his mind, growing more resentful over time. That's my theory, anyway.
Posted by: Andrew | June 11, 2017 12:38 PM
I am no expert on Rand, but she is normally quoted as being against altruism, which (mixed in with some guilt/revenge) is the default philosophy of mainstream superheroes.
Whatever views Ditko borrowed from Objectivism, he also had his own eccentric personal beliefs that were separate from (or not unique to) Objectivism. I think Ditko portrayed JJJ as a buffoon and something of a phony, and Ditko did seem to have a clear contempt for anything he perceived (rightly or wrongly) as phony.
The following article argues that despite fans looking for Randian worldview in the Ditko Spider-Man issues, the overall message opposes Rand: http://sequart.org/magazine/42384/the-lack-of-ditkos-objectivist-bias-in-amazing-spider-man/ (I guess it could be argued that for the first 20+ issues, the non-Rand messages are coming from Lee collaborating with Ditko, but even after, Lee controls the script and may be giving different messages than Ditko intended.)
The article also posits the intriguing notion that as Lee calls JJJ an exaggeration of himself, Ditko may have seen himself as the noble Peter whose work is being underpaid by the phony JJJ. I don't necessarily subscribe to it (obviously Peter selling photos of himself is exploiting JJJ as well as JJJ is exploiting him), but it's an interesting thought that Ditko could have recognised Stan Lee elements in JJJ (Funky Flashman may not be that far a jump from the 1960s JJJ) & might resent JJJ rather than write a letter in his defence.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | June 11, 2017 1:44 PM
Altruism is the default of superheroes. If you think about them in real terms, Reed Richards, for instance, could do much more to fight evil if he shared his technology with the US government. Any Doombot that crosses the US border gets incinerated, and only Victor himself can claim to be Doom. 95% of problems with Latveria get solved right there.
Or Reed uses his technology to profit. Sells it to the world. Dimensional portals, Fantasicars and image inducers [I know Tony Stark invented those, but Reed could probably come up with his own which wouldn't violate Stark's copyright.] Doesn't stop the FF from fighting villains, just makes them a lot more money while doing so.
But it would radically reshape the world, which the superhero genre requires to be reset after each adventure. And that's just thinking about superheroes as real people.
They're fantasy. Fictional characters whose lives exist because real people, creators and audience, do all the work. "Atlas Shrugged" was a fantasy. "The Fountainhead" was a fantasy. Rand did a great job making her fantasy *seem* real to the audience, and there were enough parallels to reality that it really helped the story. I've never read "Lord of the Rings," but it sounds like Tolkein did the same thing.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 11, 2017 8:12 PM
The value of Rand's ideas don't reduce themselves to makers and moochers. The most simplified [other than A = A] is that an individual should know the difference between making and mooching, and be grateful for unearned gifts. JJJ isn't giving Peter money because he likes the little weasel, he's paying Peter for pretty pictures to promote Page One. If he can get away with paying Peter less than the pictures are worth, he'll do it. If he's stupid enough to pay Peter more money than the pictures are worth, that's on him and Peter keeps the money.
It's a disservice to Rand's ideas to think that they only apply to the rich and powerful as excuses for them to remain rich and powerful. She grew up in Russia before Stalin was in charge, and didn't leave until after he was in charge, but probably before anybody knew he was in charge. Recognizing skill and competence on an assembly line is important, and Rand's work speaks to those who recognize skill and competence. It doesn't help that it's a superhero comic, but Spider-Man is the hero. If JJJ (or Aunt May) had no virtues, they'd be powerless against him.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 11, 2017 8:21 PM
Jonah may be inaccurate in his stories, but he never seems to do it out of conscious malice. He reports what he THINKS is true, and when there's been enough evidence to clear Spider-Man out of a crime (like in Kraven's Last Hunt, for instance) he'll still go and publish it in the first page.
I'm not saying he's not actively petty and malicious once he zeroes on a grudge and never lets it go, but in his mind he's always convinced he's right, even if that doesn't fully excuse him. For what it matters, whenever he's portrayed in non-Spidey stories he tends to be depicted as a fair play person and itching to take actual bad guys at any given chance, so there's that, but I'll admit a lot of it comes from post-Ditko and post-Lee fleshing out, and to a point it's been done explicitly to clean his character up a little.
Posted by: OverMaster | June 11, 2017 8:38 PM
That's where we cross the line from the Ditko-Jonah to the post-Ditko-Jonah. JJJ was just such a cartoon character, even before Ditko left, that he doesn't make sense as a character. Trying to make him fair-minded on other issues contradicts the Ditko issues of "Spider-Man," - I'm sure JJJ has given his opinions on mutants, but I honestly have no idea what he'd think about them - and trying to carry on the Ditko-JJJ without understanding what Ditko brought to the character is a disservice to JJJ, and everything he represents.
Peter Parker's graduation ceremony, where JJJ gives the speech. One of Stan's finest scripting efforts, but there is no way that Ditko didn't decide what was happening there, and it does *not* show JJJ at his best. Actually, it's hilarious. The graduates are getting sick, and Peter tells them they'll need more than one bag, he gets worse as he goes along.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 12, 2017 11:51 PM
Jonah's overall opinion on mutants seems to be, he's against them being discriminated and pursued, and he'll make strong stands against mutant haters, but he'd rather like mutants to avoid interfering in matters using their powers, and he'd prefer it if they lost their powers-- granted, that seems to be his policy against superpowers in general rather than any kind of powers, born from mutation or not.
It makes sense he's not a racist, after all he always treated Robbie with respect and care even during less racially enlightened times, at least from what I've read. Then again, I'm not that sure the Ditko Era Jonah would have been that respectful of Robbie.
Posted by: OverMaster | June 13, 2017 8:21 PM
I think Ditko-JJJ would have treated Robbie like he treats everyone else. With the dignity and stature befitting an employee of the great Daily Bugle. If the toilets need to be cleaned, get that punk kid to do it. Robbie has more important duties.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 14, 2017 11:49 PM
Ayn Rand's use of terms like "altruism" and "selfishness" do NOT use the typical definitions that we all think of. They are jargon terms for her, and she uses them in a very specific context. This is something most of her critics overlook (but is predictable, she really should have use other terms). So while a Randian superhero will not fight criminals out of a sense of altruism, they'd definitely fight them out of a sense of justice. And that is where Ditko's take comes from.
The thing to remember about Ayn Rand is that she grew up in a Communist society. She saw first hand the difference between what Communist propaganda promised and what it actually delivered. So she particularly hated the reasons the Marxists gave for their supposed moral superiority.
Back on topic - really surprising how often Ditko uses both the Human Torch and Dorrie Evans in his run!
Posted by: Chris | June 22, 2017 2:48 PM
Rand was using altruism in the original sense that Comte coined it- it's been watered down when it made it into popular usage. Conte believed that individuals' choices should only consider the impact on others, not on themselves, and consequently humans had no rights. Most people find this incredibly creepy.
Posted by: Michael | June 22, 2017 8:00 PM
Which fits in with JJJ's public persona, that he's not remotely in it for himself. He's doing Peter a favor by buying those pictures and Peter is always taking advantage of his good-hearted nature. He's exposing Spider-Man as a menace and sells a lot more copies of the Bugle when Spidey is on the front page. He's so selfless and giving, he shows up to high school graduations to tell the youngsters about himself before he reached his pinnacle of greatness.
Because comics uses pictures and words - I cannot fathom why modern comics have dropped thought balloons when they're such a useful tool - it's very evident that JJJ isn't the paragon of altruism that he pretends to be. It's not a serious study of altruism in a Randian sense, he's a supporting character in a superhero comic.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 22, 2017 8:53 PM
Chris, I recently noticed that Johnny Storm is one of the most recurring characters in early "Spider-Man" comics. The Fantastic Four appeared in "Spider-Man" #1, the Human Torch appeared in "Spider-Man" #3, the FF appeared again in "Spider-Man" #5, Spidey fought the Torch with the FF showing up at the end in #8. Then there was the Annual, followed by three consecutive issues of Johnny attending the first meeting of the Spider-Man Fan Club, Johnny chasing Spidey to ask why he had run away, and Johnny being rescued by Spidey from Sandman and the Enforcers.
I can't figure out why it makes sense, but it makes sense that Spidey and Johnny would be the closest associates in this early Marvel Universe. We'll never know who had the idea of a shared universe, but Stan, Jack and Steve obviously made great use of the idea. So Johnny and Spidey were the most prominent teens, and it would be natural if they fought over girls or other stupid stuff.
I always say that superhero stories can be so much more than about fighting the villain, and this is a perfect example. Yes, the Beatle is a threat, yes Dorrie is a damsel-in-distress. But it's really about Johnny and Dorrie, Petey and Betty, and it reads like an Archie comic on steroids.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 22, 2017 9:05 PM
I knew Johnny and Ben met the Beatles, but I didn't know Spider-Man fought one of them! ;)
Posted by: Morgan Wick | June 22, 2017 10:22 PM
I think one element regarding the bond is just the idea of superhero teenagers. Amazing Fantasy 15 came out in August of '62, and Marvel probably knew that they were on to something thus, three months later in October, Johnny's feature started in Strange Tales. (while Peter had to wait to early '63 before getting his actual book) It's hard to scope whether he or Ben were the breakout characters of the F4 in the beginning, but the idea of teenagers attaching themselves to a solo teen hero clicked; and what better way to make it work better than to have them together, thus why Johnny and Peter tended to hang out so often in the early days, with them the only real teen heroes out there. (well OK, there was also Wasp...but Jan was tied up with Hank more or less)
Posted by: Ataru320 | June 23, 2017 8:12 AM
Also, Wasp never really seemed written like a teen hero. How old was Hank at the time, in his 20s, 30s? Old enough to have a dead wife Janet reminded him of. For them to have a mutual crush on each other was all kinds of creepy if Janet was really a teenager (even before getting into the "she looks like my dead wife" thing), and it was her defining character trait. Wasp seemed more mature than her alleged age in other ways as well (well, accounting for Stan Lee's sexism), and seemed to be drawn closer to Sue Storm than Jean Grey.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | June 23, 2017 4:26 PM
The very idea of being a teenager had only just been invented a few years earlier. The Baby Boomers were the first generation to really experience years of their lives between childhood [not old enough to have a family] and adulthood [have a family and work to support that family.] For that matter, they were basically the first generation where not having a family was even a possible option, because if you didn't have kids, no one would support you when you're old unless you've amassed enough money to pay them. We forget how recently being a successful parent meant three of your eight kids survived to adulthood.
The concept of being a teenager was basically invented in the 1950s for merchandising purposes. This can be seen in the pop music cycles starting with rock'n'roll, as well as comic book characters like Johnny, Peter and the popularity of Archie. I'm being a bit glib about this - Archie was popular since the 40s for instance - but it's pretty much how I see it.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 23, 2017 8:50 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|