Amazing Spider-Man #3
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #3
...it's time for a lesson in humility.
Otto Octavius is a "the most brilliant atomic researcher in our country today". To avoid exposure to radiation, he's devised a four armed mechanical contraption that has caused him get get dubbed Doctor Octopus.
Although one wonders if that little shield was really protecting him from the radiation, arms or no arms.
...gives him a mental connection with his arms, and also drives him crazy. I love that he just becomes totally paranoid after his accident. He's not a criminal; he's just crazy.
Meanwhile, trying to get pics of Doctor Octopus for J. Jonah Jameson, Spider-Man sneaks into the compound. He finds Octavius holding members of the staff hostage, and attacks. As Mark notes in the comments, Doc Ock calls Spider-Man "Super-Man" during the fight.
Spidey gets his ass handed to him.
He's beat so bad he almost quits being Spider-man. Then he gets inspired by the Human Torch, who gives a generic patronizing speech at Peter's school that nonetheless affects Peter greatly.
Torch: Now, for a parting thought! Stick to your studies! Don't be discouraged if it sometimes gets tough! The important thing is never give up! Remember that - never give up!
You've got to admire the arrogance of the FF. No one can stop Doc Ock, so the FF send a single member of their team after him, and the guy they send has been using his flame so much recently, he has to wait a few days to let it get strong again.
Spidey goes out and fights Doc Ock a second time, and after another rough fight, wins.
The issue ends with a caption: "And, for the first time, a case ends without Peter Parker delivering any photos to Mr. Jameson!"
Uh, guys? Peter just started doing that last issue. Anyway, it's a pretty straightforward story but it avoids being too cheesey, and Ditko's Doc Ock is great.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Nothing specific about the Human Torch appearance. One of the thugs that Spidey catches at the beginning of this story will appear in another much later story with the name Charlie Buchanan.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (10): show
Spider-Man is accidentally referred to as Super-Man in a few word balloons.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 31, 2011 1:46 AM
This Torch speech was hinted at as significant by Spider-Man in Marvel Team-Up #147 in 1986, and later spelled out outright in FF #342 in 1990.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | December 31, 2013 10:56 AM
I know Osborn's the favorite nowadays, but to me, Octopus will always be Spidey's true arch-enemy.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 2, 2014 1:11 AM
I agree. For all the love some people have of Spidey's rogues gallery, I honestly don't think most of them are that impressive. They usually are just names and gimmicks. It's like Lee and Ditko's notion of creating villains were straight out of the then-current Batman or Flash series. John Romita Sr. even said that Stan's idea of plotting could often be reduced to 'let's have the next villain be called the Shocker (or Kingpin)' and left the rest to Romita. But Doc Ock stands out from the crowd.
Especially in this issue. I'm hard-pressed to think of a major Marvel villain with a better debut. Doctor Doom? Magneto? The Green Goblin? Not even close. Ock has a believable origin and motivation [good enough for comics anyway] and although it would later become a clich e [sic] here the flat-out thrashing of Spider-Man was very well done. Fifty years later, I'm not impressed at the way Spidey was inspired to "never give up" but at the time, this was groundbreaking stuff. He went from arrogant to shamefully defeated and then came back to win again all in the space of twenty or so pages.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 2, 2014 5:41 PM
The Ditko rogues gallery is impressive for their names, cool visuals, and variety of powers. Some have really interesting origins or motivations. They can be reduced to just gimmicks, but so can most villains. Compared to the rest of the Silver Age, Spidey has some very good stories, and that is what sells his foes as excellent villains.
I am not as impressed by the Romita villains because they aren't as interesting. Nor do I find them as visually appealing. This isn't surprising - Ditko was the idea man, and when he left quality decline and Stan raised the soap opera quotient to compensate.
Most heroes don't have a rogues gallery anywhere near as interesting. They lack variety. Many lack distinctive or interesting visuals. Their powers don't provide much threat to the hero, or their power sets are very repetitive. In contrast, Electro, Mysterio, Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Chameleon, and Vulture all have very different methods of fighting the hero, and I think they go beyond gimmicks. It is hard to accept Captain Boomerang being a threat to the Flash; not so Electro to Spider-Man.
Posted by: Chris | September 2, 2014 10:44 PM
You're right about them being visually interesting, as well as non-repetitive in their powers. I was certainly overlooking those aspects, and will upgrade my opinion of Spider-Man's rogues gallery accordingly, but I still see them as mostly gimmicks. Maybe not so much as a Flash villain, but throwing electric bolts, having four arms, or flying is not really that distinctive, outside of the early Marvel Universe, and I definitely disagree about their origins or motivations.
Well, origins might be subjective [and, oddly, looking at your list of villains and the ones I mention below, a good chunk of Spidey's villains never got origins beyond 'who I am and why I'm fighting Spider-Man'] but motivations? Doc Ock is crazy, Chameleon is a Commie spy, the Lizard was a science experiment gone wrong (and note that Connors never had anything to do with that experiment again while Ditko was around) the Scorpion was great, and those are the best of them.
Electro is a low class idiot, I might understand why he thinks thuggish behavior is the way to go once he gets nifty powers. Maybe Sandman too, but Mysterio, the Vulture, the Green Goblin? Isn't there anything else they can do with themselves besides basic theft? I'm not getting into the intricacies of the Goblin after Ditko's run, or later additions to the canon for any of them, by the way. I'm only talking about the characters as we knew them as of "Spider-Man" #38.
Kraven is a thrill-seeker, the Molten Man was just cobbled together for a fight scene, the Circus of Crime and the Enforcers were stupid, and by the time Ditko left, we're getting The Meteor and A Guy Named Joe. I think Spidey's rogues gallery is colored by the fact that early Spider-Man comics were so great.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 3, 2014 11:03 PM
NO! The Enforcers are not stupid! And besides the the Circus of Crime appeared in Incredible Hulk 3 created by Lee and Kirby.
Posted by: david banes | September 4, 2014 2:06 AM
It does make me wonder though: did any of the early Marvel heroes have really spectacular rogues galleries? Sure there were some exceptions who broke out due to the missions or the ways they were depicted (Doctor Doom, Magneto), but if you look at the early years you have just a ton of bizarre ideas that just match the age they were created for. The Fantastic 4 were lucky in that at least they were first and that their exploration aspects allowed for them to encounter the strange and the weird to allow for threats to emerge that just appeared interesting (Skrulls, Kree, Galactus, etc.) But the Hulk barely had anyone memorable in his initial run (maybe Tyrannus) and wouldn't get it until his second time around when Leader and Abomination came around; Iron Man had a lot of one-offs and took a while before he got threats of note like Titanium Man; Ant-Man and Wasp only really brought us Egghead and Whirlwind...and maybe some B/C listers like Porcupine; Thor mostly got his good rivals when we got more into Asgard, though he at least faced the likes of Radioactive Man, Eel and Mr. Hyde first; Daredevil...well Stilt-Man and Owl had a bit of staying power; and if it weren't for the Frightening Four allowing for the longevity of Paste Pot Pete/Trapster and Wizard, then who knows if any of the Torch's solo threats would have lasted...except maybe the Beetle but he always wins ;p
At least with Spider-Man and with the Lee/Ditko combination, we have threats that may seem silly, but at least they become and remain extremely memorable. They left an impression where you want to see more of Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Sandman, Vulture...heck even the Enforcers as david mentioned above. They may seem Silver Age ridiculous in an era where superpowers can get rather insane, but these comics gave these villains as much legacies as the heroes they fought.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 4, 2014 8:47 AM
Deh...meant to say Cobra, not Eel.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 4, 2014 8:48 AM
I would also agree with that, with the caveat that it's not so much that the villains themselves are better, it's that they're generally appearing in better comics (or at least a better shared universe) than other villains. And by objective standards, no, the Marvel heroes didn't have great rogues galleries.
The guy who killed Uncle Ben was noteworthy for his effect on the hero and supporting cast years later, and he was a nameless thug in a short story. Given the amount of light and dark Stan, Jack and Steve introduced to the characters in their shared universe, it's not surprising that even the stupid villains [and sorry, but the Enforcers are stupid] are much more acclaimed by fans over the last half-century than the crooks showing up in contemporary DC comics at the time. Even the Enforcers had to be a credible threat to Spider-Man, and work with his other rogues gallery [Sandman, Green Goblin] in a scheme that would fit in with Spidey's life at the time.
I have literally never read a comic book where Hawkeye was the villain, but I've read dozens of them where he was the hero, and it's still cited that he started out as a villain. I'd swear I've read a comic where Black Widow was the villain, but have no idea what comic that was, and she falls into the same category. Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, later Rogue and Magneto, one of the greatest things to say about the Marvel Age is the depth of characterization that made compelling stories that weren't so clearly about hero vs. villain.
And by the way, after some thought, I would also add Dormammu, Galactus and arguably the Kingpin to the list of villains whose debut lived up to the scale of their villainy. We're talking about a world where J. Jonah Jameson scores higher on the villainy scale than most of these costumed twerps, even as of "Spider-Man" #38.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 6, 2014 9:54 PM
As a counter-example, Batman (who does have a great rogues gallery) didn't spend decades obsessing about what Joe Chill did to him. He mourned his parents, and obsessed about that. They were killed by a criminal, so he fought crime, end of story. A year later, he gets a teen sidekick whose parents were also killed by a criminal, and wants to fight crime, end of story. Thus Batman, Robin, and their rogues gallery became the great characters that they are. It was a simpler time.
By contrast, it's only vaguely established in "Amazing Fantasy" #15 that Peter Parker's actions led to his uncle's death. Read the actual story, it's a simplistic short tale only slightly removed from any other superhero story at the time. The basics are there, but not established in any way we can recognize. It's only built on in later stories ("Amazing Spider-Man" #1, where the first panel is Peter throwing away his Spidey costume for causing him nothing but pain; "Amazing Spider-Man" #2 where Aunt May gives Peter Uncle Ben's old camera, and he thinks it's a good way to help pay the bills.) Reading the first six, twelve, twenty-four, thirty-eight, fifty or seventy-five issues of "Spider-Man" is what reinforces why Spidey fights crime. This is worlds away from explaining why Batman or Superman fight crime, or even the Fantastic Four (who explore strange new worlds and the villains there) or the X-Men (who have to fight other evil mutants.)
Posted by: ChrisW | September 6, 2014 10:23 PM
I agree with the others that Doc Ock is an all-time great villain. Though a number of these early villains are still around, this is the third time (after Doom and Loki) that Marvel really hits it out of the park. He looks great and he has a great origin.
I disagree with ChrisW that there isn't another first appearance to compare - I think Doom's first appearance, complete with time machine and Doombot is a brilliant first appearance.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 7, 2014 10:01 AM
But forgot to mention - what the hell is up with The Human Torch's appearance? The governor asked him there? He's visiting a school while waiting for his flame to charge? I know that Peter lives in Queens (although was that even firmly established back then?), but it makes it sound like the Torch just flew in from the other coast.
And yeah, for someone who basically just loved girls and cars just two years before, it's kind of ridiculous to think of him as inspiring. Do you think he ever studied? Part of what made the FF so refreshing is that they aren't particularly inspiring at this point.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 7, 2014 10:04 AM
Erik, you're free to disagree about Doom's first appearance [at least until my master plan comes to fruition, mwah-hah-hah] but I did list Dormammu, Galactus and possibly the Kingpin as other major villains who lived up to their rep right from the first appearance. The first Juggernaut story (for instance) is a decent multi-issue tale, but it's nowhere near as good as Ock's story here.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 8, 2014 8:07 PM
In these early issues his name is spelled "Octavious." Any idea when it became standardized to "Octavius?"
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 27, 2015 4:57 AM
I think Spidey's rogues are a bit better characterized early on. The Sandman's first story has him demanding a diploma from a high school principal, setting up an inferiority complex that will turn up again in later stories like Fantastic Four #148 and Nova v.1 #15. Electro is more a callous opportunist, since even before getting his powers he's unwilling to rescue a co-worker unless the boss coughs up some bonus money first. They're crooks, but they do seem to reflect different kinds of vices and flaws.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 16, 2015 9:13 PM
I would agree. Look at the major villains in the first fifteen or so issues--their personality templates are different and will eventually help to define them
Vulture is sort of ill defined, but he prides himself on his wit and sneakiness--this is later expanded into giving him the "chip on his shoulder because he's old"
Compared to a lot of heroes' rogues galleries, this is pretty solid if subtle and workmanlike characterization.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | October 16, 2015 9:48 PM
Come on, I already conceded on the unique visuals and non-repetitive powers, don't go changing my mind further about non-repetitive motivations as well! ;)
Seriously, that does line up with the stuff I was saying above, that they were appearing in better stories than most other villains. Heck, even the Enforcers fit in, because they *are* henchmen.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 17, 2015 7:26 PM
Green Goblin was intended to be a mystery which never got solved (during Ditko's run,) the Big Man was a clever gimmick, as was the Crime Master. The Chameleon was a commie spy. The Living Brain was a robot gone berzerk. The Circus of Crime were used in a prior issue of "Hulk," so who does that leave? The Molten Man, the Meteor and a Guy Named Joe? The magician in Annual #2? The Cat?
Posted by: ChrisW | October 17, 2015 9:01 PM
I placed this one before Strange Tales#110 and FF#15. By the way, these are just for information and not an argument against your placement of these stories. This is an enjoyable site to peruse and I am having fun with it.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 24, 2016 7:26 PM
Comments are now closed.
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