Amazing Spider-Man #68-69
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #68, Amazing Spider-Man #69
Despite the lesser quality of the art, these two issues are very interesting due to the fact that they tackle some of the student upheaval that was going on at the time.
Students are upset that a building is being designated for housing for visiting alumni, while a lot of the students (primarily black students) are petitioning to turn the building into a low rent dorm. Peter agrees with the students but still somehow manages to screw it up and take the school administration's side, ensuring that everyone will hate him. The students, including Joe Robertson's son Randy, stage a protest and get arrested. Joe stands by his son even though he's not quite sure what to make of the protest.
The racial themes explored here are done extraordinarily well for a comic of this time period (remember, the last time we dealt with racial themes it was the Sons of the Serpent bit in the Avengers #32-33). Peter's lack of support for the effort leads to the implication that he's a racist. The fact that Randy's father works for a mainstream media outlet means to the young student radicals that he is an Uncle Tom, and Randy feels the need to prove himself extra hard in order to make up for it. It's still somewhat heavy handed, but really not all that bad at all.
On top of all this we still need a super-hero story. The building that is the focus of all this attention is currently displaying an ancient clay tablet with some writing that can't be translated. The Kingpin has decided that he wants it so he uses the student protest as a distraction and makes a grab for the tablet (personally, which is somewhat surprising to those of us who started reading comics when the Kingpin was not quite so hands-on. In these issues he's not too different than your standard (Marvel) super-villain. There's a lot of emphasis on his physical strength.). Spider-Man goes after the Kingpin, utilizing an odd surprise attack that involves him having to fight shirtless.
He gets his shirt back on eventually...
...and after the fight the Kingpin gets arrested but implicates Spider-Man in the theft, claiming he was the Kingpin's partner. Spider-Man is sick of the cops going after him and decides at the end of #69 that if the world is going to treat him like a menace, he's going to be a menace.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #51, Marvel Tales #52
Inbound References (1): showAunt May, Aunt Watson, Gwen Stacy, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Kingpin, Louis Wilson, Randy Robertson, Spider-Man
I discovered these stories in 1974 via the Marvel Tales reprints. They still hold up pretty well today, in my opinion. Great art, sharp scripting. I'm not sure if the Stan Lee detractors have carefully read this run.
Posted by: haydn | November 30, 2011 12:42 AM
Same here. When I began collecting comics from the drug store in my neighborhood I bought these stories as Marvel Tales. I didn't get the significance of a reprint, even though it was put in on the first page. Once I found out how low value these copies were, I quickly dumped them and bought the originals from the local comic book shop. While these reprints were about a quarter each, the originals didn't cost me more than a few bucks.
Posted by: Mike | July 6, 2014 2:43 AM
This is a great website. You can tell the passion that went into it.
I love Marvel Tales as a kid (in the late 70's/early 80's) because I couldn't find the original Amazings because my city didn't have a comic book shop at the time.
Posted by: A,Lloyd | September 27, 2014 3:03 AM
In a later entry, you give credit to Frank Miller for making the Kingpin a more behind-the-scenes type of villain. Although it was a decade before him during which Kingpin would still have been portrayed as a more physical villain, I wonder how much of the credit also has to go to the movie "The Godfather" that comes out a few years after this. It's hard to overstate how much that movie changed people's perceptions of gangsters and the mafia (even among gangsters themselves), and it seems like later portrayals of the Kingpin and his organization (I'm writing this the same weekend you're reviewing the 1991 Last Rites arc) owe a big debt to that movie. Then again, both the movie and Frank Miller were heavily inspired by noir, so...
Posted by: Morgan Wick | November 22, 2015 11:57 PM
At around this time, John Romita contributed some Spider-Man panels to Marvel Tribune #10(inked by Ted White), featuring Mary Jane with her temporarily bad hair.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 20, 2018 5:13 PM
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