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Amazing Spider-Man #58: Review

Mar 1968
Stan Lee, Don Heck

Story Name:

To Kill a Spider-Man!

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Amazing Spider-Man #58 Review by (May 9, 2024)

Review: The second Spider-Slayer debuts, and the first to actually use the name “Spider-Slayer.” Turns out Spidey didn’t die last issue, who would’ve thought, and regains his memory just in time for the return of Spencer Smythe, teaming up with Jameson again with a new robot to hunt down Spidey. As far as the memory thing goes, it’s a little sudden, as the shock of hitting the water last issue cures Spidey’s amnesia. It’s a little hokey but I guess they didn’t want to drag out the amnesia storyline too much, which I think is a fair decision. Meanwhile, I like that Jameson immediately objects to the Spider-Slayer name, as he makes it clear that he doesn’t want to kill Spider-Man, just have him face legal consequences, and it makes Jameson a stronger character for it. Smythe assures him it’s just for dramatic flair, though is quickly proven to be lying as Smythe really does intend to kill Spidey! It’s essentially stated that Smythe’s motive is due to wounded pride from Spidey having defeated his last robot, which makes Smythe seem suddenly more unhinged than he was in his last appearance.

There’s a cute moment where Spidey looks Smythe up in the phonebook to find his address and he wonders why characters in movies don’t do that more often when trying to find someone. It’s grounded little moments like these that made Spidey and the other Marvel characters feel just a little more three dimensional compared to the Distinguished Competition at the time. The supporting cast doesn’t get much to do, aside from worry about Peter, though there is an odd line where John Jameson asks Robbie if he ever thinks of getting back into uniform. This implies Robbie is a war vet, but through some cursory research, I can’t find anything implying this idea was ever brought up again. Overall, a very fun issue with Spidey outwitting his mechanical foe in a clever way and getting to see more layers for Jonah, reinforcing that he doesn’t want Spidey dead and isn’t a monster, even if his opinions on Spidey can get a little extreme sometimes.

Comments: Debut of the second Spider-Slayer and the first time the name is actually used. John Jameson has a line implying that Robbie is a war vet, but this bit of backstory is never brought up again to my knowledge.





 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Amazing Spider-Man #58 Synopsis by Anthony Silvestro

After fishing Spider-Man out of the pond last issue, Ka-Zar concludes that he isn’t dead and swings off with him. Ka-Zar’s tiger companion Zabu scatters the police to give Ka-Zar time to abscond with Spider-Man. Atop a nearby rooftop, Spidey regains consciousness and discovers that the shock of hitting the water has cured his amnesia and he has his full memory back again! Back at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson wallows in yet another failed attempt to bring in Spider-Man, when Betty Brant informs him that he has a call from Spencer Smythe. Smythe tells the irate Jameson about his new plan to take down Spider-Man that is sure not to fail this time! Switching gears yet again, we check in on John Jameson and Captain George Stacy, as Captain Stacy assures John that he’ll continue looking into Spider-Man while John is away overseas. Meanwhile, the Captain’s daughter Gwen Stacy, along with Harry Osborn, visit the ailing Aunt May in the hospital and continue to worry about Peter’s whereabouts.

With all of that set-up out of the way, we check back in on Spidey, as he explains his whole recent ordeal to Ka-Zar. Ka-Zar then hears Zabu growling on the streets below and rushes to his animal companion’s aid. Ka-Zar smashes the guns he thought were going to be used on Zabu while bending a lamp post over a car so as not to be followed. With that dramatic display done with, Ka-Zar and Zabu head off while Spidey realizes that Aunt May must be worried sick and rushes to get to his apartment as quick as he can with empty web-shooters. Meanwhile, Jonah arrives at Smythe’s lab, where Smythe shows Jonah his newest robot, the new and improved Spider-Slayer. When Jonah objects, saying he has no intentions of killing Spider-Man, just locking him up, Smythe assures him that the name is merely for dramatic purposes. Smythe demonstrates the power of his new robot and Jameson eagerly agrees to get started on hunting Spidey down.

Back at the Daily Bugle, John Jameson arrives to see his father and tells Betty and Ned Leeds that he’s shipping out soon. Joe Robertson overhears as well and wishes John well on his new assignment. The other Jameson, meanwhile, heads out with Smythe to follow the Spider-Slayer as it searches for Spider-Man via its ability to detect spiders. It doesn’t take too long as right after Spider-Man wearily makes his way back to his apartment and tries phoning Aunt May, he hears what sounds like footsteps walking up the wall. He looks outside and sees the new Spider-Slayer, the screen on the face showing Jonah’s face, doing just that. Spidey tries kicking him off the wall to no avail and decides to go on the move. Smythe takes the controls, in much more lethal fashion, firing a destruction beam from the robot’s head, while Jameson objects, not wanting to kill Spider-Man. Smythe ignores Jameson and continues to follow Spider-Man, who seeks refuge in a nearby garage. The Spider-Slayer quickly finds Spidey anyway and Spidey maneuvers so that his dodged blast hits the main support beam, toppling the entire garage onto the robot.

While this doesn’t slow the robot down for long, Spidey takes the opportunity to race to a nearby phone booth and look up Smythe in the phonebook, as he wonders why movie characters don’t do that more often. Jameson denounces Smythe as just wanting petty revenge instead of actually caring if Spidey is a menace to people and Smythe continues to chase Spidey. Spidey leads the robot back to Smythe’s lab where the controls suddenly stop working and after Smythe tries increasing the power, the robot completely short-circuits and explodes! Spidey explains that he set up all of the spiders Smythe had as test subjects close together, so that it would overload the robot’s sensors, causing it to short circuit! Jameson kicks Smythe out of his office and Peter finally gets around to changing to go look for Aunt May, running into Ka-Zar one last time, who is puzzled, as he thought he sensed Spider-Man was nearby, while Peter simply smirks.



Don Heck
Mike Esposito
John Romita (Cover Penciler)
John Romita (Cover Inker)
Marie Severin (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: John Romita. Letterer: Sam Rosen.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain Stacy
Captain Stacy

(George Stacy)
J. Jonah Jameson
J. Jonah Jameson

(JJ Jameson)
May Parker
May Parker

(Aunt May)
Spider-Man
Spider-Man

(Peter Parker)

Plus: Betty Brant, John Jameson, Ned Leeds, Robbie Robertson (Joe Robertson), Spencer Smythe.

> Amazing Spider-Man: Book info and issue index

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