Four months ago, Spider-Man was about to turn evil.
Two months ago, Spider-Man was looking for ways to make money.
This month, Spider-Man is a professional hero who has "cases" and "assignments" and "opponents".
Today, we would call Amazing Spider-Man #3 a reboot. Characters are created, status quos established and precedents that haven't even been established yet are daringly broken. This is the first fully fledged issue of the comic we now know as Spider-Man. And it's not actually very good.
The episode begins with Spider-Man defeating a gang of bank robbers; beating up all three of them in a single panel and leaving them hanging on the end of a cobweb. This is the first time we have seen him do this kind of thing, but it clearly isn't the first time he has done it. He introduces himself with the spider-signal; which the crooks are all familiar with. He doesn’t take any photos or claim any reward. Catching thieves (just like flies) is simply what he does.
The Torch’s message is the same one that, oddly enough, a little spider once gave to a demoralized Scottish king: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again." “The important thing is never give up. Remember that. Never give up.” So Spidey goes back and has another fight with Doctor Octopus, but this time, he uses Science to make Doctor Octopus's arms stick together, sprays web over his glasses, and knocks him out.
"Strange that an old fashioned punch to the jaw defeated the most dangerous villain I’ve ever faced" says Spider-Man. It is never clear whether we should regard these remarks as Stan Lee patting himself on the back for being so original, or reprimanding Steve Ditko for being so boring. I am inclined to think the latter.
For once, we have a Spider-Man story which is not about fame: it's about pride. Octopus believes himself to be the most powerful man on earth; even though all he has is physical strength. Parker is defeated because he thinks he is defeated: once he believes he can win, he beats Octopus quite easily. The final frame underlines Peter’s confidence: Flash tells him that he is is a bookworm and the Torch is a real man, but rather than running away crying, Parker effectively responds that it was the “bookworm” side of him — Science — that defeated the bad guy.
Is Peter Parker coming to grips with his dual identity?
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Amazing Spider-Man was written and drawn by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and is copyright Marvel Comics. All quotes and illustrations are use for the purpose of criticism under the principle of fair dealing and fair use, and remain the property of the copywriter holder.
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