Wednesday, May 30, 2018

As Perfect as Comics Can Be

Spider-Man Classics #5 (Marvel, August 1993, $1.25)
"Nothing Can Stop the Sandman!" By: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Coloring: Andy Yanchus.

This comic reprints Amazing Spider-Man #4, a 29-page story that introduces the Sandman. After being frustrated by a handful of hoodlums who've "got larceny written all over you" but don't actually commit a crime, Spider-Man approaches a man climbing up a fire escape ladder—only to meet the Sandman. His mask torn in the scuffle, Peter Parker has to get away so he isn't recognized.

The Sandman robs a bank, and a news announcer recounts his origin on the TV news. On the run from the police, the villain hides in a nearby high school, where he again meets Spider-Man, who tricks and traps the criminal.

Lee and Ditko's early Spider-Man issues are about as perfect as comics can be. They've been reprinted widely over the years, and this series—while worth reading—is no better than the Marvel Tales reprints. Chris Marrinan contributed a new cover for the newsstand, and the original cover is reproduced after the story. The new cover doesn't make the comic any better, and the color-paper combination is not as strong as Marvel Tales.

Regardless, what a comic!

Spider-Man Classics #8 (Marvel, November 1993, $1.25)
"The Return of the Vulture" Written by: Stan Lee, Illustrated by: Steve Ditko, Lettered by: Art Simek, Colored by: Andy Yanchus.

With a new cover by Bret Blevins, this issue reprints Amazing Spider-Man #7. The imprisoned Vulture escapes and robs a jewelry showroom before Spider-Man catches up with him. He defeats Spider-Man and goes to the office of J. Jonah Jameson, where he encounters Spider-Man again. This time, Spider-Man overcomes him.

In the meantime, Peter Parker hides from Aunt May, gets a hard time from Flash Thompson at school, and canoodles with Betty Brant. Fun stuff.

Read Also: Marvel Tales #139.

Spider-Man Classics #10 (Marvel, January 1994, $1.25)
"The Man Called Electro" Written by: Stan Lee, Illustrated by: Steve Ditko, Lettered by: Art Simek, Colored by: Andy Yanchus.

This reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #9, Spidey's first battle with Electro, features a new cover by Dwayne Turner. Spider-Man hurries home, ignoring a crime, to deliver medicine—as Peter Parker—to Aunt May. That night, Electro tries his new powers and robs an armored car. The next day, he goes to rob the Forest Hills Bank, where he meets J. Jonah Jameson.

Jameson tries to persuade the police—and the general public—that Electro is, in fact, Spider-Man. After Electro explains his origin story, the villain and hero meet up again—proving to Jameson and others that they are not one and the same. A fight breaks out in jail, and Electro is eventually defeated.

More classic Lee and Ditko awesomeness. The Aunt May and Betty Brant subplots help keep up the tension of personal drama in parallel with the super struggles.

Read Also: Marvel Tales #145.

Availability: These three issues are collected in The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus Vol. 1. They are also included in Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Great Power.

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