So, for some reason, the second page of this issue wouldn’t load in my Marvel Unlimited app. I have a rough idea what happened there, but that was unexpected and unwelcome.
Issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #20, January 1965
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
The Plot: J Jonah Jameson creates a new foe to destroy Spider-Man, the Scorpion!
Commentary: For reasons I cannot really explain, I actually rather like the Scorpion’s look more than most. That may be due to the fact he was the villain in one of the first three comic books I ever bought, Amazing Spider-Man #342 from Dave Michelinie and Erik Larsen. His tail by then had all kinds of other abilities and was notably longer. Here, it’s just good for giving things a good, solid hit and is maybe six feet in length.
However, I do have other things to say about this issue, and it mostly deals with J Jonah Jameson. See, here he gets the idea to make his own superhuman with the express purpose of destroying Spider-Man.
OK, so, here’s a few questions: how legal is that? He’s essentially getting private eye Mac Gargan to take out a contract on Spider-Man’s life. That is what Jameson means when he says he wants Spider-Man “destroyed,” right? I mean, I know this is the Silver Age and the Comics Code is still a thing, but that is what “destroyed” means in this context, right? I mean, it could mean something else I am sure. But it sure does look that way, and the fact that Gargan isn’t exactly being portrayed as a benevolent soul up to that point, well, it does make the guy seem like he isn’t going to be a saint.
Here’s another: why is it OK to make one superhuman when another one is a phony or a fraud or even a menace? I don’t quite get it. Then again, Jameson’s beef is generally just with Spider-Man, and his pathological distrust of Spidey may or may not extend to other Marvel heroes. I think it is somewhat canonical (it was on cartoons in the 80s) that Jameson does admire Captain America, but why Jameson would give one man powers to take out another is a bit of a mystery, unless Jameson just assumes the man working for him will continue to be good.
He really would not like to know who he’s been paying for those Spider-Man photos…
As for the rest of the issue, here’s one more question: what happened to Scorpion’s pincer fingers? That’s a small power that I was surprised to learn about the first time I read this issue in a black and white reprint ages ago, and it’s not one I think I have ever observed since. It’s kinda limiting in a sense, but it was a small detail that seems to be forgotten these days.
Anyway, fun issue, but the cops probably have a lot of question for Jolly Jonah if they ever take a closer look at where Scorpion came from. And I am sure Jonah will never do anything this stupid again, especially say some robots with a more blatant name that suggests trying to kill a man.