Though it is never referred to by that name, it looks like we have the first appearance of a Spider-Slayer.
Why did so many Stan Lee outcast heroes have to deal with killer robots specially programed to bring down very specific people?
Issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #25, June 1965
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
The Plot: J Jonah Jameson gets his hands on a robot…
Commentary: OK, I have some questions.
So, an inventor named Smythe shows up the Daily Bugle office with a robot that he claims–correctly–will track down and subdue anything with a spider’s aura or something, and after Peter goads Jameson a bit, Jameson decides to send the much-more-dangerous-than-it-looks robot out after Spider-Man. There are the usual shenanigans that always happens, such as Flash Thompson challenging Peter to another fight (did he forget how badly it went the last time Spidey faced off against a killer robot?), Liz and Betty competing for Peter’s affections, Betty getting mad at Peter for no good reason, and Aunt May insisting on introducing Peter to Mary Jane Watson, seen in this issue, but always with her face conveniently covered, and all the reader is told comes from both Betty and Liz thinking MJ is movie star gorgeous.
By the by, that dumb thing Betty does this time is forget how Peter earns a living. Peter goaded Jameson into sending off the robot to get some good pictures. She think he’s just being mean to Spider-Man. Peter has bills and an elderly aunt with no discernable income. It’s in his best interests to get Jameson to try and pull a stunt like this in order to get more pictures. Granted, the plan doesn’t work for either Peter or Jameson, but that’s neither here nor there.
Going back to when I wondered if Jameson was hiring the Scorpion to maybe kill Spider-Man with all that talk of “destroying” him…what exactly is Jameson trying to do? He’s not trying to kill Spidey (this time), but rather he’s trying to subdue him, and since the robot has a viewscreen that allows Jameson to watch the action and taunt Spider-Man at the same time, he’s going on about how he’ll be a hero, and then even get invited to join the Avengers (which he’d decline). This is clearly being played for laughs: Jameson isn’t anywhere near that impressive, and his vanity is always being held up as part of the joke.
But, and I say this knowing full well this is the sort of question that I would normally tell Jimmy not to think about too hard, what exactly does Jameson believe he is doing?
See, if Spider-Man were a wanted criminal, and a particularly dangerous one at that, then Jameson’s actions would of course make sense. Even if he believed they were, they’d make sense. The problem is Jameson’s hatred for Spider-Man is basically inconsistent. When Spidey screws up, Jameson cheers how he was right all along. When Spidey does well, Jameson grumbles that it’s all a scam or something. Jameson believes Spider-Man is either a showboat, a coward, or a menace, and sometimes all those things at once for some barely stated reason. However, Spider-Man is not a wanted a criminal. Heck, in some of the early issues, cops liked Spider-Man for making their jobs easier. In fact, it’s not even clear Spider-Man has done something that merits his arrest.
Setting aside the fact that being a vigilante is itself generally illegal.
So, while the end of the issue shows Spidey prevailing by using his brains more than his brawn, it is a bit of a headscratcher what exactly Jolly Jonah was looking to get out of this.
Still a lot of fun though…