Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Marvel 1964 Week--Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1!!

When the Fantastic Four's loser enemies team up, all we get is the pathetic Frightful Four.

Not so Spider-Man, though. When his foes team up, we get:


Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 is the first appearance of the Sinister Six. Just let that title roll off your tongue. "Sinister Six." Ahhh...

Of course, these guys are as big a bunch of losers as the Frightful Four...but there's six of them. Plus, they're drawn by Ditko!!

First, though, we start with some cheesecake:

And our creators:

Interestingly enough, upon closer examination, it turns out that there are two reasons for the story in this annual.

#1--an endless parade of frankly pointless cameos from almost every other Marvel character. Seriously.

I especially like Flash Thompson trying to sucker punch Doctor Strange...

Was Spider-Man actually so popular at this point that they thought it would be good for sales of other magazines to give brief appearances to other Marvel characters (along with a plug for which mags they were in)? Or maybe Stan was just trying to give Steve Ditko a chance to draw every other Marvel character...

The other reason for this annual--to give Ditko a chance to strut his stuff, giving him 6 (yes, six) more splash pages featuring Spidey kicking villain ass. Of course, to do that, our villains had to be very, very stupid...

We start with Doctor Octopus busting out of jail:

That was kinda cool, because that's the first time we had seen that he could control his tentacles remotely.

So, Doc Ock has the brilliant idea to gather up everyone Spider-Man had already beaten, and team-up!!

After much arguing about strategy...

...Octavious announces his master plan:

No, no, all lose to him individually, so you decide this conclave will face him--INDIVIDUALLY?!? What's your doctorate in, Octavious?!? Isn't the point of teaming up up??

Meanwhile, Peter sees his Aunt May crying over dear departed Uncle Ben:

See, Stan, THAT is how you do the "most tragic hero" bit, not the poor little rich kid nonsense you tried with Tony Stark.

Anyway, while wallowing in this month's guilt trip, the wallcrawler inexplicably loses his powers!!

And when I say inexplicably, I mean that literally...Stan gives us no explanation, nor any reason why they mysteriously return. Psychosomatic because of guilt? A virus?? A need to pad out the pathos to 41 pages??? Who can say?

Meanwhile, the Six begin their plan by kidnapping Betty Brant. Because Spider-Man had rescued her a couple of times, they assume she's important to him. Guess that secret ID doesn't really help after all, Peter. Oh, and look who just happened to be visiting Betty right then:

The villains send their message...

And Electro is first up!!

Fortunately, Parker's powers return just as mysteriously as they vanished, and:


Next up: Kraven (the Hunter):


Interestingly enough, Spidey doesn't defeat Kraven...he just grabs the card and heads to the next villain. Coward...

Meanwhile, we learn that Aunt May is hot for murdering psychopaths:

Suddenly, Spider-Man finds himself fighting the X-Men. What??

Oh, robots. Than it must be:


Next up, the Sandman. Well, Spidey defeated this guy with a vacuum cleaner in Flint Marko's first appearance. While, Spidey's fresh outta household appliances this time, so he'll just have to make do with a fresh can of whup-ass:


Oh, and not that we needed proof, but boy is the Sandman stupid:

At least the Vulture tries to change the game a little bit, using the leverage of hostages to force Spidey to give up one of his advantages:

I think we all know how well that works out:


Meanwhile, May Parker is attracted to genocidal madmen:

May, come on...what would Ben say??

If you've been counting, you know there's one villain left. Thanks to a trap door and an enormous fishbowl, we get the raddest thing EVER:


Fortunately, Doc Ock continues to prove he got his degree from one of those mail-in diploma mills:

Phew. Now, back at home, we get to see exactly how hip and cool Aunt May really is:

Finally, the stupidity of the NYPD:

Really, can any good come from keeping these guys all in the same lock-up? Even if it's temporary? And since Spidey didn't defeat Kraven, how did he end up in jail?!? Why aren't the Sandman and Electro using their powers to escape? And what the heck is up with that glowing Spider-Man outside the window? It's looks like a giant statue, like the Rio Jesus. That's just too weird...

So that's Spider-Man Annual #1. Barely a year and a half into his run, Spidey is so popular that he becomes a billboard for every other Marvel mag, AND gets his own Masters of Evil. How'd it happen so fast? Maybe he made a deal with the devil...


Come on, give me a's tough to find enough "Elsewheres" when Marvel's output in 1964 was so small.

Anyway, Millie the Model was written by Stan (is there nothing the man didn't write in 1964?) and drawn by Stan Goldberg. Allow me to note:

**Let's not mock too hard. Millie's main mag ran for 28 years, and Marvel's very first Annuals were...Millie the Model. At various points she had 4 or 5 spin-off series (including Chili, Millie's Rival!). And, of course, since she attended Reed and Sue's wedding, she is officially in the Marvel Universe...(plus she was in an issue of Dazzler!!)

**Clicker? What the hell kind of name is Clicker?? A take off on Snapper Carr? Clicker?? What the hell? And Chili?? Her full name was Chili Storm...which clearly makes her related to Ororo, and therefore possibly a mutant. Of course, Chili Storm does sound rather like an unpleasant bathroom visit...

**The red-head jousting with the blond over the nerd is clearly a foreshadowing of the Jean Gray/Emma Frost fight for Scott Summers. Think about it.

**What is the deal with that crack in the wall behind Chili and Clicker?!?


Menshevik said...

Very well done. A few remarks:

The cameos of the other Marvel heroes probably also were also meant to show off the "shared universe" aspect of The Mighty Marvel Age of Comics. At a time when pretty much every DC/National hero lived in a fictional city of his own (Metropolis, Gotham, Central City, ..., BTW, where did Wonder Woman live then?) and only rarely interacted with other heroes, you saw that all of Marvel's superheroes lived in or near the very real city of New York and also that just because they lived in the same area they did not have to team up all of the time and that it was "normal" for them to chance to see each other from a distance.

At that time, the Fantastic Four Annual would probably have been a better place to do these cameos; IIRC The Amazing Spider-Man did not become Marvel's top-selling superhero title until the Lee/Romita run.

Also IIRC, Millie the Model was one of Marvel's top-selling titles of the 1960s and probably their most steady seller with female readers.

Was Clicker a photographer by chance?

Why would Chili Storm be related to Ororo Munroe? Wouldn't it be more likely that she's a cousin of Sue and Johnny Storm?

Actually, the redhead jousting with the blonde over the nerd much more clearly foreshadows the Gwen-Pete-MJ triangle. Think about it - as Milhouse ruefully pointed out once, so could Scott Summers: "I'm not a nerd. Nerds are smart."

Anonymous said...

It kind of looks like the Sinister Six has been sentenced to "think about what you've done."
Millie and friends are much too voluptuous to pass for models in today's amrket. They actually have curves/

Anonymous said...

didn't patsy walker debut in millie the model?

snell said...

No ,Adam, Patsy actually debuted in Miss America #2 (1944)!! Doubtless she guest-starred in Millie at some point, but in various titles Patsy was continuously published from 1944 to 1967.