Monday, January 20, 2014

Spider Monday - Amazing Spider-Man #13

I have to say, one of the most entertaining aspects of reviewing all of these issues is seeing where all of the classic villains come from. For the most part, it's astounding to see how little they had to change in order to last in the modern age, from their costumes to their origin stories. Mysterio has always been a little bit hit or miss, with some great stories and some terrible ones, but this is my first time reading through his origin issue. Let's take a look and see if it this is a mark in the win column for Mysterio!

 On the splash page, we're reassured that the editors of the magazine sincerely believe that this might be one of the most gripping tales of the year! Naturally, the editors have no reason to mislead us on this, so I'm very excited to meet "a startingly different breed of arch-villain" and to "expect the unexpected" with Mysterio! The name itself is definitely catchy, so it should be interesting to see how this all plays out!
After the Dr. Octopus two-parter, we start this issue with someone calling for the police about being robbed as Spider-Man jumps out of a building and climbs a wall, escaping from the claims of thievery. Coming across some watchmen, he snares them in webbing and manages to get free with a spider parachute. The watchmen are left to watch helplessly as they get away, sure that Spider-Man will eventually be caught.

Wait, our hero is a thief? Has he finally given himself over to the path of crime and riches? Say it ain't so! Well, on the next page the citizens of New York gather to hear the radio claim that once again he is wanted by the police. A depressing number of them are supportive of Spider-Man (as in, none of them) although they do have a lot of faith in their police department, so that's something. 
In the Daily Bugle, Jameson is busy yelling as usual, looking to reprint all of his editorials attacking Spider-Man, so that people can see them. Betty is torn, though, after Spider-Man saved her life. Despite not wanting to see him again, she does appreciate that Spider-Man did his best to help her brother.

At Midtown High School, all of the students also condemn Spider-Man. Well, all but one of them. Flash Thompson is firmly in Spider-Man's corner, which is great to see. It's an element of the character that has lasted into modern times, and definitely helps redeem him.

Peter is in a classroom sweating bullets and sprouting webbing on his face with a different attempt at the half-Spider/half-Peter face. This one isn't quite as effective but it is still pretty cool to see. He is trying to figure out just what happened, and begins to be concerned that he's developing a split personality. I would normally scoff at this, but it hasn't been that long since he was bitten by a radioactive spider and turned into someone who can climb walls - weirder things have definitely happened.

Weirder things like the caption "minutes later" showing him arriving in the kitchen. Does he live downstairs from the school? I mean, he's fast, but that seems to be a bit of overkill. I suspect that Ditko drew Peter in school because he had no direction to tell him otherwise and the previous panel was in the school. Things like this will happen when your writer is also working on about 16 other comics books at the same time!

Evil Overlord May is there, and she takes the opportunity to rub in his face that their savings account is almost gone and it's getting harder to pay the mortgage each month. Oh, sure, she says it in a reassuring tone, pretending to reassure him, but we all know she's just driving that knife into his soul, reminding him that he's a failure and She Rules All. Gotta love Aunt May. 

She finishes the scene worrying that he's too sensitive and thin-skinned as Peter goes to bed, actually afraid to go to sleep. The next morning, however, he does wake up to find out that Spider-Man struck again during the night.

Unable to figure out what to do, Spider-Man goes to a psychiatrist (no, really, I'm not making this up) and the shrink immediately starts thinking how famous he'll be for treating the wall crawler. Great find there, Spidey. Peter asks a simple question, "Can a person do something in his sleep that he'd never do awake?" and is met with an invitation to lie down on the doctor's couch.

Uhm.. do we need to turn away for this? Should we not watch?

Spider-Man leaps away at the last minute, however, realizing that if he lets down his guard and relaxes, he could reveal everything including his secret identity. The psychiatrist yells that Spider-Man is the kind of patient every psychiatrist dreams of (do you get the idea that Stan Lee doesn't care much for psychiatrists?) as Spider-Man heads for the Daily Bugle.

There, he's touchy with Betty as she asks if everything is okay. Betty is shocked to be barked at as Peter goes into Jameson's office to ask for an advance, catching him in a good mood. J. Jonah, though, isn't interested in handing out any money and sends Peter on his way, saying the only way that Peter will get an advance is if he tells Jameson how he gets the excellent pictures of crime. 

Rather than tell Jameson that he wears it in his belt (something that will be changed retroactively later, thank goodness.. can you imagine the crime crotch shots he's been selling) Peter changes outfits and swings off to see if he can find some crime being committed so that he can get some great pictures of the criminal's abdomen. Instead, he gets spotted by a crowd of New Yorkers that immediately mob him, calling for the police.  

The next day, he's distracted as he walks along the high school campus, stopped by Liz who wants to show off her new hair and flirt with him. Peter is completely confused by how life has changed, with Liz suddenly deciding to flirt with him after his "impersonating" Spider-Man in the previous issue. Flash is a few yards away, defending Spider-Man, as he does a great double-take of Liz and her new hair. She has nothing but ice for him, though, as she talks away.

Back at the Daily Bugle, Jameson got a note that stated that someone could get rid of Spider-Man single-handed, so being the intelligent person he is, Jameson told the nut to come up to his office and prove it. Who appears, but the first purple and green Spider-Man villain, Mysterio!

Purple and green really should be the official colors of Marvel Comics, considering how often it's used.

 Mysterio claims that he uses his mask to protect his identity, since if the underworld ever found out who he was they could attack those he loves. Makes sense. They ask him what his powers are, but Mysterio defers, instead handing Jameson an envelope with instructions before disappearing in a cloud of smoke. The instructions state that Jameson is so print a notice in the Daily Bugle calling Spider-Man to the Brooklyn Bridge. After reading it, the letter disappears as well, leaving Jameson with only one thing left to do - print the notice.
Peter sees the notice the next day and makes his way to the Brooklyn Bridge, where surely nothing bad will ever happen to him. He runs to the top of it, sure that it's a trap but unable to  resist appearing, especially since he might be able to figure out what's going on with the Spider-Man crime wave and get some great pictures of Mysterio's bulge with his belt camera.

Mysterio appears in a puff of smoke, and Spider-Man moves in for the attack, only to discover that he can't even lay a hand on the villain as he leaps over him. Spider-Man swings for another punch, but Mysterio stands sideways on the bridge, dodging it and leaving Spider-Man more than a little confused. Recovering quickly, he tries webbing Mysterio, but he is able to stop the webbing and dissolve it before it ever touches him.
Next, Mysterio releases a bigger web of smoke. Spider-Man is confident that his Spider-Sense will guide him, but instead it isn't working and he gets punched again and again, utterly unable to hit back. He's able to withstand the blows to a point, but they add up over time. Finally, the only thing he can do is dive off the bridge and into the water. The police swoop in with their helicopter, ready to perform what they call "Operation Pick-Up" (???) but Spider-Man forms an air-tight water helmet (?????) and places it over his head, which lets him hold his breath long enough to get to safety.

He can't just hold his breath without the air-tight web helmet? Odd.

Anyway, he dodges the police with his web trickery, and back in his room consoles himself that at least the day wasn't a total waste - mysteriously, he claims that at least one of the things that had been bothering him was settled.
The next day, Mysterio is being driven down the street in a small parade to celebrate his defeat of the horrible Spider-Man. Flash, meanwhile, isn't having any of it, still betting that Spider-Man is innocent. Peter can't resist poking at Flash a bit, who turns around and warns him to stay away from Liz. Peter makes it clear he's really not interested in the blonde bombshell (like he'd ever date a blonde, right?) and heads over to the Daily Bugle once again. There, Mysterio is being introduced to the paper's staff as Jameson gloats. 
Mysterio and Peter meet, as Jameson actually speaks very highly of Peter. Petey promises to try not to let down Jameson when he says he hopes he'll get some great pictures of the next fight between Mysterio and Spider-Man and all but winks at the reader. It's kind of cute, really.
 As they shake hands, Peter slips a spider tracer (remember, they were invented in the 11th issue) on Mysterio's suit so that he can track him later. Once again, he's drawn half-Spider/half-Peter and once again it's really kind of creepy. I'm glad they ditch it and go back to the classic way of drawing it.

Peter rushes off to fight Mysterio, blowing off Betty who then worries that Peter might have another girl on the side. That science geek has some serious game! Of course, he's blowing off Betty because he wants to get into his fight with Mysterio and pulls out his Spider Tracker in order to find him.
It only takes a few minutes to spot him outside a TV Movie Studio building and he shines his.. sigh.. Spider Light on him. Yep, I still hate that stupid thing. Once again, Mysterio uses his smoke to punch Spider-Man a few times and then reveals his secret identity. I tell you, no one manages to reveal all of their most cherished secrets quicker than a Marvel Comics villain! Turns out that he was a movie stunt man before getting into special effects for television movies. He designed various costumes and props before getting the idea of imitating Spider-Man.

He manages to recreate Spider-Man's suit, working in gadgets to artificially do what Spider-Man does naturally. He adds suction cups to the hands and feet, uses a nylon cord to simulate the webbing, (and apparently make a web parachute with it? Odd. Anyone who has seen the American 70's television version knows how little nylon cord looks like webbing, but we'll go with it.) and designed his own costume in order to fight the "rogue" Spider-Man and become a hero.

His helmet uses the same idea as the lenses in Spider-Man's mask, letting him see out while no one can see in, a spray made with specially treated acid was added to his gloves to counteract the webbing, and his boots contained smoke ejectors and magnetic plate springs. 

Of course, he also has a built-in sonar device that lets him see through the smoke and jam the spider sense of Spider-Man at the same time. Not sure how he knew precisely how to block a human's spider sense, but eh. 

As Mysterio declares it time to destroy Spider-Man forever, Spidey is just chilling off to the side, holding a tape recorder and saying he's going to give it to the police to prove his innocence. Seriously, villains, don't reveal all of your secrets when your enemy is at his or her weakest. Just knock them out, kill them, whatever. Anything but confess to all of your crimes. It just isn't smart.

Mysterio, understandably, isn't too thrilled at the idea of being exposed, so he shoots out some more smoke. This time, however, Spider-Man is ready and backflips out of the smoke before circling around it, throwing punches until he finally manages to hit him and launch him along the floor and into the studio next door.

Spider-Man follows after him as the crew of the movie scatter for safety. Spider-Man shoots his webbing over Mysterio's head so that it will drape over him, but Mysterio dissolves it - which gives Spider-Man more than enough time to jump in with a well-placed punch. Clever! As a stunt man, he knows how to roll with a punch and manages to leap onto one of the prop planets. Spider-Man follows and Mysterio starts to panic, falling off of one of the prop rockets. He manages to land on his feet thanks to his training, and uses a judo move to knock Spider-Man off of his back. Using his agility, Spider-Man recovers and jumps through a backdrop. Mysterio dodges the punch, but starts to try and run away.
Some of the crew run off to call the police as Spider-Man grabs onto Mysterio once again, only to have him shoot out even more smoke. Spider-Man punches one of the "eyes" on Mysterio's suit, breaking the Spider-Sense jammer (how did he know that's what it was? Uhm.. Spider Intuition I guess) and easily knocks out Mysterio. He grabs his automatic camera from where he webbed it up earlier to take pictures and jumps back into the smoke to grab Mysterio, carrying him out to the police.

A bit later at police headquarters (once again, it's claimed to be a few minutes later, so I guess everything is just in one block of each other), Jameson arrives after getting a phone call from the police about Mysterio being in custody. Citing the confession on the film, they tell Jameson that Spider-Man is innocent and Mysterio was the one doing all of the crime, leaving Jameson in a worse mood than usual, sure that he's going to be a laughing stock of the city once again.

Arriving back at his office, Betty tells him that Peter was there and left some photos on his desk.
Noticing that they are actually photos of the fight between Spider-Man and Mysterio, he perks up and calls for an Extra Edition to be run. As he's writing out the check to Peter, he decides that he'll be generous and pay almost half of what the pictures are actually worth (what a guy). Just as he's signing his name, however, Spider-Man swings in through the window to congratulate him for his perfect record of being totally wrong. He then webs Jameson up to the ceiling and swings away, glad to be vindicated. 

The next day, the school admits to Flash that they were wrong, which Flash takes in his usual, arrogant fashion. Peter, of course, talks bad about Spider-Man before changing into his costume and swinging through the city. He dreams of telling Flash Spider-Man's real identity just to watch his head explode, and swings off into the sunset. 

So, that's the 13th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man! Next month, we'll be back with issue #14, which is going to be pretty exciting and feature a minor little villain called The Green Goblin in his first appearance. I doubt he'll add up to be much of anything at all, but hey - maybe I'll be surprised and it'll actually be a popular character. It also features a guest appearance by the Hulk, so there's that! 

As for this issue, it had a few logical issues, but it was good, romping fun. I declare it to be..


Super-Duper ToyBox on January 23, 2014 at 8:58 PM said...


Wes Grogan on January 23, 2014 at 10:01 PM said...

Thanks so much! These are easily the most time consuming projects on my site, but I just love doing them so much!

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