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Amazing Spider-Man #1: Review

Mar 1963
Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Story Name:

Spider-Man

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Amazing Spider-Man #1 Review by (December 6, 2018)
Review: As is the case with issue 2, this issue contains two stories.  The first story is a simple one that perfectly introduces one of Spidey’s best supporting characters, J Jonah Jameson, as well as his son John Jameson, who becomes much more prevalent in later years.  The story sets up Jameson’s dislike and distrust of Spider-Man, even when Spidey commits actual heroic deeds.  This story has few real issues, although it is concerning that a rocket’s guidance system could just seemingly fall off.  The second story introduces Spidey’s first supervillain the Chameleon, showcasing his disguise expertise perfectly.  This story also showcases Spidey’s first meeting with the Fantastic Four.  This story has a couple of odd points, such as Chameleon just somehow knowing about Spidey’s Spider-Sense even though it had not been mentioned before this.  Even in later issues it is inconsistent whether or not people know about the Spider-Sense or not.  Also, Spidey doesn’t catch the villain, as he leaves in a huff, leaving the cops to catch Chameleon through sheer luck.  Add this to Spidey storming out after encountering the Fantastic Four, and he definitely has the characteristics of an emotional teenager.  This hotheadedness is a trait that continues to crop up, definitely landing Pete in hot water a few times, though it feels somewhat whinier in these early issues.  While very basic by today’s standards, this story does perfectly establish the Chameleon and his gimmick, though he would not show up again in Spider-Man as a central antagonist for many years.  Bonus points for early creative web usage, such as a slingshot and a web-parachute.

Comments: The first story includes the first appearance of J. Jonah Jameson and his son John Jameson, the second story includes the first appearance and Spider-Man’s first battle with the Chameleon as well as Spidey’s first meeting with the Fantastic Four, Spidey is accidentally referred to as “Peter Palmer” throughout the second story, the second story also contains the first appearance of Spidey’s spider-sense, referred to here as “spider instinct”




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Amazing Spider-Man #1 Synopsis by Anthony Silvestro
The story opens with Peter regretting obtaining his powers as he gives a short recap of his origin from Amazing Fantasy #15.  He notes also that since Uncle Ben’s death, he and Aunt May have been struggling financially.  He brainstorms ways to get more money, at first briefly considering stealing it before coming to his senses and deciding to perform again.  After his performance, Spider-Man gets paid with a check but finds out he cannot cash it as Spider-Man is not his legal name.  When Spidey next sees his agent, he is shown a newspaper article written by J. Jonah Jameson, as well as public lectures branding Spider-Man a menace, effectively ending Spidey’s showbiz career.
With that option gone, Peter tries to get a job the old-fashioned way but is unsuccessful.  While out, he spots Aunt May pawning some of her jewelry to scrounge up more cash and vows to earn money somehow for her sake.  The next day, Peter goes to see J. Jonah Jameson’s son, John Jameson, as he attempts to orbit the earth in a rocket.  Shortly after take-off, Jameson’s guidance unit becomes detached and the command center scrambles for a way to save him.  Peter switches to Spidey, and offers to take the extra unit they have to the younger Jameson, much to Jonah’s chagrin.  Spidey commandeers a plane and webs onto the rocket as it flies by, attaching the extra guidance unit, allowing Jameson to land safely.  Spidey leaves and expects for his troubles to be over after his heroic feat, but gets a rude awakening when JJJ accuses Spider-Man of sabotaging the rocket himself to look like a hero.  This leads to a full-on wanted poster for Spider-Man, leaving Peter crestfallen that nothing seems to go right for him.


“Spider-Man vs. The Chameleon”
Writer: Stan Lee   Penciller: Steve Ditko   Inker: Steve Ditko   Colorist: Stan Goldberg

Still trying think of ways to make money, Peter considers joining the Fantastic Four (Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, Thing).  Confident that they will want him, he makes his way over to the Baxter Building, home of the FF.  Spidey drops in on them, deciding to give them a little demonstration of his powers, to show them what he can do.  He dances circles around the FF for a bit, making full use of his powers, before Mr. Fantastic finally stops him to ask Spidey why he came.  Spidey explains that he wants to join the team and immediately asks about the salary.  Mr. Fantastic explains that they are a non-profit organization, and they question that Spider-Man is currently wanted by the police.  Fed up, Spidey storms out, leaving the Fantastic Four unsure what to think of him.
Meanwhile, at a defense installation across town, a supervillain calling himself the Chameleon uses his expert skills as a disguise artist to impersonate first a janitor, then a scientist, to steal valuable missile defense plans to sell to the Soviets.  Back at his lair, the Chameleon sees a broadcast of Spider-Man’s meeting with the Fantastic Four and decides to use Spidey as a fall guy for his next job.  Chameleon anonymously sends out a signal for Spider-Man to pick up with his Spider-Sense, telling Spidey to meet him on the roof of the Lark Building.  Meanwhile, in said building, Chameleon disguises himself as Spider-Man and steals the second half of the defense plans.  He escapes via a helicopter on the roof just before the real Spidey gets there, leaving him to take the blame for the theft.  Spidey realizes that the man flying the helicopter must be the real culprit and tracks him down via his Spider-Sense, bringing him back to the Lark Building.  Chameleon throws down a smoke bomb and disguises himself as a cop, as well as dousing the lights in order to escape.  Spidey grabs Chameleon, realizing his ruse, but Chameleon cleverly claims that Spidey is the Chameleon in disguise again as the other cops grab Spidey, letting Chameleon escape.  Spidey flees the scene in anger, saying that the police can catch Chameleon themselves.  They do just that, as Chameleon’s police uniform got torn in his scuffle with Spider-Man, showing his own fake Spidey suit beneath it.  Spidey returns home dejected, and the Fantastic Four wonder if Spider-Man will become a threat in the future. 


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> Amazing Spider-Man: Book info and issue index

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Steve Ditko
Steve Ditko
Stan Goldberg
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Steve Ditko (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Human Torch
Human Torch

(Johnny Storm)
Invisible Woman
Invisible Woman

(Sue Storm)
J. Jonah Jameson
J. Jonah Jameson

(JJ Jameson)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)
Spider-Man
Spider-Man

(Peter Parker)
Thing
Thing

(Ben Grimm)

Plus: John Jameson, May Parker (Aunt May).