The Master Planner
Aunt May, Dr Bromwell, Flash Thompson, Harry Osborne, Gwen Stacey, Prof Warren, J. Jonah Jameson, Betty Brant, Ned Leeds
First Appearance of
Harry Osborne, Gwen Stacey, Prof Warren
Peter Parker's Financial Situation
Peter was paid ?$250 by J.J.J only a few hours ago, but now claims that his money is "almost gone".
His college scholarship pays all tuition fees, but not his living expenses.
The story opens with Spider-Man fighting the Master Planners' goons.
p6 "The next morning" he heads off to college registration.
p8 "And finally as dawn slowly breaks" he gets up and goes to his first day at college
p11 "When the science class finally ends" he goes to the hospital
p13: He spends the night looking for crime and then goes to the second day of college.
p16: After college, he has another run-in with the Master Planners men, but doesn't get any photos.
Based on our guess that Empire State University enrolls in the last week of August, that gives us:
Tue, 24 August (night) - Fight with Minions
Wed, 25 August - College Registration, night spent with Aunt May in hospital
Thu 26 August - First day at College, night spent looking for crime
Fri 27 August - Second day at college, night spent fighting Minions
"If This Be My Destiny...!"
The title seems to have already been a cliche by the beginning of the 20th Century. One William L Nugent used the phrase in a letter to his wife in 1860: "It seems, I am doomed to disappointment, if this be my destiny I will have to endure it..." Blast Furnace and Steel Plant Magazine used the phrase in a poem in 1928: "Then I mourn my awful power / If this be my destiny / Loathe the magic of a science / That had ever set me free "
A 1939 prison movie was entitled If Dust Be My Destiny, and an obscure 1946 movie starring Robert Cummings was actually called If This Be My Destiny
p2: "Whatever those characters were up to it can't be anything good"
Spider-Man doesn't seem to remember that he encountered the Master Planner's men last issue. Maybe he and/or Stan are still under the impression they were working for the Cat?
Possibly Peter Parker is characterized by conflicting emotions; but I suspect Lee has typed the word "tempestuous" for the sake of the alliteration. He is also "the world's most amazing teenager" on page 8.
p6 "He's just like his father..."
Almost the first reference to Peter's biological parents. Has May just noticed that Peter is like his father but relatively unlike Ben?
Page 7 Doc Bromwell
First day at college:
Stan Lee gives the students at E.S.U a lot of slang dialogue, possibly to indicate they are "hip" compared with the gang at high school.
- "any other frosh" (p9) - i.e any other freshman, any other new student.
- "how square a guy can be (p9)" - i.e how old fashioned
- "if there's one thing Harry Osborne doesn't dig" (p10) - i.e doesn't like or approve of
- "I've got an idea for a gag to take him down a peg" (p10) i.e a practical joke that will humiliate him
- "Aww, don't be a pill Gwen" (p10) - "a tough pill to swallow" i.e a party-pooper or spoilsport.
- "This'll take that swell-head down a peg (p11) / "Mr swelled head 1965" - i.e that conceited person
- "Chicks always seem to go for these egg-headed skinny types" (p13) Chicks = Pretty girls (presumably "chicas") ; Egg head = clever person.
- "Peter Parker is the only boy I've ever met who hasn't given me a tumble" (p15) i.e Who won't pay attention to me (no indecent implication!)
p11 "We'll invite him for a coke after class, how about that" / "The gang's going across the street for some soda".
It would have been quite legal for college students to go to a bar -- the drinking age in New York wasn't raised to 21 until 1985. It will be some issues before the trendy Coffee Bean Bar becomes their preferred haunt.
p11 Prof Warren
Peter Parker's high school science teacher was called Mr Warren. Subsequent continuity has declared that this college tutor, Miles Warren, was the brother of the school teacher, Raymond Warren.
From issue #39 onwards, this will become the primary reason for Peter keeping his Spider-Man identity a secret
Spider-Man has two unrelated encounters with the same Purple Minions who stole uranium derivatives from Tony Stark's van last issue. He fails to stop them stealing "radioactive atomic devices" from some kind of high-tech installation; but foils their attempt to nick "a cargo of nuclear devices" off a boat. Ditko seems to be deliberately turning Stan Lee's preferred formula on its head. Instead of a narrative preamble leading inexorably to a big fight, Ditko tops and tails the episode with two short action sequences, neither of which have any immediate consequences for our hero. We know -- but Spider-Man does not -- that the Minions work for someone called the Master Planner, but we don't really know what he is planning in such a masterly way. We only know that his plans are definitely the kinds of plans which, once complete, no-one will be able to stop.
I am fairly serious about this; I think these kinds of stories did real harm.
It is certainly true that Flash Thompson is an astonishingly immature figure. Back at high school, he used to call Peter Parker "wall flower" and "bookworm"; now they are in college, he calls him "square" and "egg head". But in high school, Peter whinged and whined and actually cried because his classmates would rather go to a party than a science lecture. In college, he literally doesn't notice them. In that first chapter, Peter Parker said that he would make them all sorry that they laughed at him. In this final chapter, they are still laughing. The difference is that Peter Parker doesn't give a shit.
Some people have seen an objectivist message here, and I have no doubt that Ditko's philosophy of individualism caused him to present Spider-Man as an individualistic hero. But I don't think we need to see this story primarily as a Randian parable. A Christian can tell a story about a hero who is full of Christian virtues without directly intending to proselytize his faith.
Steve Ditko has made us wait and wait for this revelation; distracting us with relative trivia about Parker's college life, before hitting us with the double punch in the final page. The Master Planner is an old foe. Aunt May is going to die. He has upped the ante about as high as it can go. Next month the pressure will continue to build; the two plot threads will come crashing together; and Spider-Man will be literally brought to his breaking point.
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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 copyright holder.
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