Amazing Spider-Man #32-33
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #32, Amazing Spider-Man #33
Review/plot: The Master Planner is revealed to be Dr. Octopus.
And he's stolen ISO-36 which is the one thing that Dr. Connors can use to save Aunt May from the radioactive blood she's previously received from Peter.
Peter fights his way through all Ock's goons in his secret base under the river and chases Otto away but gets trapped under "tons" of heavy machinery. Issue #32 ends on a cliffhanger with Spider-Man buried, and issue #33 opens with a tense five pages (which is quite a lot in the compressed Silver Age!) of Spidey struggling to free himself. It's the thought of Aunt May that keeps him going.
Exhausted as he is, poor Spidey still has to fight his way through more goons.
But he eventually makes it through the gauntlet and saves Aunt May.
Peter shows up at the Daily Bugle looking roughed up after his ordeal, and it's enough to make Betty realize that Peter is a dangerous boy, exactly what she isn't looking for after what happened to her brother.
That's just a little over the top! I did like this earlier shot of Betty from issue #32 where Spider-Man drops in at the Bugle looking for information on the Master Planner. The palpable disgust and fear that Betty shows towards Spider-Man is pretty cool.
This issue had a nice big reveal and ending to the Master Planner plot that's been running through the series since issue 30.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #171, Marvel Tales #172
Inbound References (4): show
Dude, only a B? Come on! Really?
Posted by: Jack | May 25, 2013 10:30 PM
I agree with Jack on this on. I mean this probably the best storyline made in the lee/ditko era. I mean I'm not questioning your ability to determine the quality but I'm just sentimental about this plot.
Posted by: doomsday | October 26, 2013 12:37 AM
I also agree with Jack. These 2 issues are an A+.
Posted by: joe | December 19, 2013 11:27 PM
Comics got better than this in the 1980s (hence the B, I suppose), but I would happily re-read this story than any of the nonsense that I have seen in the comics field since 1990.
Posted by: haydn | February 14, 2014 12:07 AM
Me too! I understand the rating system. These issues are dated by modern comic-telling sensibility. We obviously don't want to reopen the grading can o' worms.
Having said that, I am looking forward to seeing the grades being given on most books from the early-90s. There were so many horribly written pieces of trash with garish horrid art from that period.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | February 14, 2014 12:31 AM
This issue just astounds me. The lifting of the machinery is so great, but almost all the other scans show that Ditko was not exactly at his best here. It's almost like Romita drew the classic lifting scene.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 10, 2015 12:52 PM
Does anyone else suspect that Ditko wanted Peter to be with Betty over the long run?
Posted by: ChrisW | August 8, 2015 6:23 PM
I always felt the reveal of Ock as the Planner was badly botched; just thrown out there on the second page of #32. If it had been held back until the moment depicted in the first scan, I think it would have had more impact.
Posted by: Thanos6 | December 8, 2015 2:31 AM
Was Ock always supposed to be the Planner? There's really no payoff to him being the Planner; to me, the story works just as well knowing he's in charge all along.
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | April 14, 2016 11:00 PM
I've noticed that Peter became more confident and less nerdy once he started going to college. At one point he brushes off Flash with "if you damaged this profile, half the girls at ESU would be heartbroken. We can't let that happen," when even impresses Gwen. It's too bad Ditko wasn't able to build on this, because I'm convinced that this trilogy was intended to be a turning point in Peter's maturity. Here in #33, he convinces JJJ to cough up a ton of money for the photos and squarely tell Betty that sometimes his job is dangerous, but he's gotta do it.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 27, 2016 5:43 PM
I also loved this story but I think the best Lee/Ditko story was the Green Goblin finale. You stated that comics got better in the 1980's. Some did some didn't. I don't think the time period has anything to do with it so much as the talent involved. There have been great stories in the comics from the late 30's and bad ones as well. I love the Marvel comics of the 60's but there are plenty of stories from the 70's, 80's, 90's and 2000's that I love as well.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 4, 2016 8:13 PM
@Bobby- the Green Goblin finale was by Romita, not Ditko.
Posted by: Michael | November 6, 2016 9:38 AM
I agree with Chris W on Peter's increasing maturity. We know that Ditko preferred uncomplicated heroes, but that early Spider-Man was anything but that. I remember someone commenting that once Ditko explained this by saying Peter was just a kid earlier on and therefore was still learning about life. Pretty sure Ditko intended Peter to become more of a Randian hero doing what he thought was right and not caring about other people's opinions. The changes we see in Peter in college compared to high school was part of that.
I don't see much difference in quality between late Ditko Spider-Man (say anything after issue # 18) and mid-eighties comics under Shooter. There are some aspects that are not as sophisticated, but there is great storytelling here that stands the test of time.
Posted by: Chris | November 6, 2016 12:50 PM
You are right, sir.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 6, 2016 11:44 PM
Its cool to see connors as a helping SC, instead of a misarable villian.
Posted by: Roy Mattson | May 30, 2017 4:11 PM
That long sequence where Spider-Man struggles to lift a massive hunk of metal off of his back looks familiar.
Posted by: Holt | October 19, 2017 4:42 AM
It's so hard to detect sarcasm in a comment thread, but in case you're serious: the lifting the machinery scene is an iconic moment in Spidey history that was referenced in the Spider-Man: Homecoming movie. It was also one of a small number of key memories Peter retained during the Superior Spider-Man saga.
Posted by: Andrew | October 19, 2017 8:35 AM
Just saw the movie for the 1st time last night and was struck by the similarity. Looked it up to see if I was off-base. I was particularly curious about the smaller piece of metal jutting downwards near Spidey's right shoulder. The scene was similar, but not an exact copy, nor quite as much pathos-- I'm referring only to that one particular sequence.
Didn't intend to be sarcastic-- I've consciously been trying to avoid sarcasm-- but maybe I was being a little too coy in trying to draw the attention of others (besides myself) who might have been uncertain about the reference, or missed it entirely. Enjoyed the movie although not quite as much as I had expected. The new movie Spider-Man strikes me as being a little farther off the Ditko/Lee model than the last two versions, not that there's anything wrong with that. I don't expect these movies to cater to my preferences. Not even sure what my preferences are, if I have any. Speaking strictly about the actors (as opposed to the rest of the movie elements), Garfield continues to be my favorite, but all three have given fine performances IMO.
Posted by: Holt | October 19, 2017 9:19 AM
Holt, just wanted to say that i immediately thought of this issue when i saw that scene in the movie too. I'm pretty confident it was a deliberate reference. As you suggest, the motivations behind the scene were pretty different (i.e. it's not to save his Aunt May) and i think the movie scene therefore doesn't have the same impact. But i don't want to veer too far off topic into a discussion of the movie.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 20, 2017 12:51 AM
Absolutely, for sure. This scene surely has enough merits to stand on its own anyway. Another unique element of this scene as shown here is that Peter is in imminent danger of drowning, alone at the bottom of the bay (or whereever it was that the Master Planner's lair was located, I can't recall, but I do remember it was deep within a body of water). Thus, not only was May's life at stake, but Peter's too.
I can understand why Ditko has his detractors among Spider-Man's fans and movie fans nowadays, but as part of my ongoing friendly argument in his favor, I would draw attention to this scene. Lee's role as a highly effective dialog and narrative writer is definitely on point and noteworthy here, too. The pacing of this 5 page sequence is very powerful, as Peter progresses from almost giving up, deep in despair, to his crescendo-like victory over nearly impossible odds. His fight is far from over even then. The panel where he can barely hold his head up, bordering on total exhaustion, and seems to be seeing stars, but still keeps on fighting, is very powerful too.
I had somewhat forgotten, but I'm not surprised, that this scene was referenced in Superior Spider-Man, too. This is truly a defining moment in Peter's life and in his development as a character. When Lee refers to "his superbly muscled body," this draws attention to the fact that Peter has gone from being a skinny teenager to a powerful athletic figure, in a short span of maybe only 2 or 3 years at most.
Posted by: Holt | October 20, 2017 6:56 AM
Kinda funny to see Dr. Octopus refer to himself as Spidey's Superior in that first scan, considering what happened waaaaay down the line.
Posted by: MegaSpiderMan | October 23, 2017 7:12 PM
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