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Amazing Spider-Man #37: Review

Jun 1966
Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Story Name:

Once Upon a Time, There Was a Robot...!

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Amazing Spider-Man #37 Review by (March 6, 2024)

Review: Here we have the first appearance of Mendel Stromm, here to get his revenge on his old business partner who cheated him out of his inventions. The business partner is question being the actually important milestone for this issue, with the first full, named appearance of Norman Osborn! Ditko had cleverly sprinkled him into the background of a bunch of earlier issues, but here he is, finally given prominence! He’s immediately characterized as the clever and ruthless businessman we know him as, having cheated Stromm and getting him thrown in jail. He’s also rather prickly to his son Harry right away, being another known trait that is immediately put on display. Stromm’s plan to build robots to destroy Osborn and discredit him is pretty cool, and the robots prove to be intimidating and menacing, much more so than Smythe’s not quite Spider-Slayer and certainly more so than the Living Brain. Third time’s a charm for robot adversaries I guess.

The coolest part of the issue though is all of the little hints and nods to Osborn’s identity. He hits Spidey from behind, actually knocking him out, as well as somehow getting up high enough at that window to try and fire upon Stromm, while vanishing just as quick. Those little details are really snazzy in hindsight, making the big reveal two issues from now feel more earned, I think. There continues to be tension with Peter and his classmates, though he does try to start things over with Gwen, and she finds herself actually defending him to Harry. The friend group will fall into place soon enough. Surprisingly, despite seemingly dying, Stromm will appear again. He’s got a flashback appearance in ASM #40 and then won’t appear again for another 30 years, showing up again alive in the much reviled Clone Saga! Overall, this was a very fun and intriguing issue, with the official introduction of Norman Osborn and the hints at his identity being the high points. Definitely the strongest of these last bunch of Ditko issues, post-Master Planner.

Comments: First named appearance of Norman Osborn, having only shown up in unnamed cameos before this. First appearance of Mendel Stromm. Stromm is incorrectly written as “Strom” at one point.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Amazing Spider-Man #37 Synopsis by Anthony Silvestro

Our story opens with a man named Mendel Stromm being released from prison, after having carried out his 10 year sentence. Stromm thinks about his plans to get his revenge on someone now that he is free. Stromm enters a car waiting for him, all the while being watched from the bushes by Frederick Foswell, who was Stromm’s former cell-mate. Just then, someone points a gun at Foswell from behind, but the man is stopped by Spider-Man. The man claims he wanted to get in Stromm’s good graces by getting rid of Foswell, so Spidey webs the man to his car and forces him to follow Stromm, to see what he’s up to. The police suddenly arrive on their tail, however, as it turns out the car was reported stolen and Spidey makes his escape, leaving the man for the police. Spidey then decides to head to the Daily Bugle, assuming there may be a clue as to what Foswell was after there.

At the Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson also wonders where Foswell is, as Peter shows up, noticing yet another new secretary. Foswell then arrives and tells Jameson about his old cell-mate, Stromm, and how he’s planning revenge on the one who landed him in prison, thinking there could be a story there. Peter agrees, sneakily placing a spider-tracer on Foswell’s hat, so as to follow him later. At his hideout, Stromm begins to orchestrate his plan. Meanwhile, at ESU, Peter runs into Gwen Stacy and tries talking to her, but finds that she’s still mad at him. Peter lashes out a bit, causing more tension, before trying to apologize, blocking a slap from Gwen! Flash Thompson then barrels in, challenging Peter to a fight, which of course Peter avoids. While Flash thinks he’s just a coward, Gwen isn’t convinced. Harry Osborn later reassures Gwen that Peter frustrates him too, causing Gwen to defend Peter, even surprising herself!

Back at his hideout, Stromm presents a strange green, tentacled robot that he designed, using a device to mentally control it. Stromm dispatches the robot to attack an electronics plant owned by the object of his frustrations, as it begins to tear the place apart, causing all kinds of destruction! Spider-Man arrives on the scene, and is surprised by the robot, getting grabbed by one of its tentacles. Spidey tries pulling himself loose but the robot flings itself at him, wrapping him all up, with Spidey struggling to get free. Finding the robot’s strength too evenly distributed, Spidey flings himself, along with the robot, into the nearby fire, causing it to release him as it writhes around. Spidey escapes out the window as back at his hideout, Stromm is unworried about the loss of his first robot, being in the process of building an even more powerful one!

We then find out that the attacked plant belongs to none other than Norman Osborn, father of Harry Osborn, as they arrive at the destroyed plant. When Harry wonders who could’ve done this, Norman snaps at him, thinking about how he cheated Stromm out of his inventions and then got him sent to prison when threatened, thinking it must be Stromm that’s after him. Jameson then arrives and offers his support if Norman needs it. Spidey realizes that the guy that Foswell mentioned might be responsible for the robot and decides to follow Foswell, with his tracer leading him to Foswell’s apartment. As it turns out, Foswell isn’t there, having gone out himself to learn information as Patch, with Spidey coincidentally running into him, and deciding to tail Patch instead. Using information he learned, Patch heads to where Stromm might be hiding, only to get caught by Stromm’s flunky, as the second robot is also sent out on its mission. Spidey places a spider-tracer on the robot, knowing that Patch takes priority right now.

Spidey heads in the hideout, rescuing Patch, before they’re both locked in a room. Spidey crawls out through the air shaft to follow the robot, as it makes itself to Osborn’s office. The robot, with Stromm talking through it, confronts Osborn, before destroying his office, while Osborn formulates a plan to outsmart Stromm and his robot. However, right at that moment, Spider-Man intervenes once more, much to Osborn’s chagrin, and begins to battle the new robot. Spidey dodges around the robot’s destruction beam, finding his webs and thrown objects both equally useless against the robot. As Spidey is distracted trying to evade the robot, he’s suddenly hit from behind by Norman Osborn, knocking Spidey out and giving Osborn the chance to escape. Stromm, through his robot, finds the unconscious Spider-Man and leaves him, thinking him dead, to continue to destroy the plant.

Spidey comes to and heads to follow the robot, reaching him just as he returns to Stromm’s hideout. Spidey swings through the door, kicking the robot down the stairs, before slamming it on the floor and flinging it into the power control units! Patch captures Stromm’s flunky, while Stromm attempts to use the robot’s still-functioning head to attack Spider-Man. Spidey easily disposes of it, before suddenly being alerted by his spider-sense of a gun at the high up window. Stromm keels over as Spidey makes his way up to the window but finds no one there, confused about how they vanished so quickly. Patch reveals that Stromm is dead of a heart attack as Spidey heads out. Later, Jameson checks in on Norman Osborn to tell him that Stromm can’t bother him anymore. After Jameson leaves, it is revealed that Osborn was the one with the gun, as he promises that Spider-Man will soon be dealt with!

Steve Ditko
Steve Ditko
Stan Goldberg
Steve Ditko (Cover Penciler)
Steve Ditko (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Plot: . Letterer: Art Simek.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

J. Jonah Jameson
J. Jonah Jameson

(JJ Jameson)

(Peter Parker)

Plus: Frederick Foswell (Big Man), Mendel Stromm.

> Amazing Spider-Man: Book info and issue index

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