There are so many classic Spider-Man foes that I think Stan Lee and Steve Ditko can be forgiven for the occasional stinker of a baddie.
I mean, the Molten Man makes his debut here, and that guy seems like a real snickerdoodle.
Issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #28, September 1965
Dialogue: Stan Lee
Plot and Art: Steve Ditko
The Plot: Spider-Man takes time out from his high school graduation to take on the Molten Man.
Commentary: There are so many things that struck me as amusing about this issue, not the least of which was Liz’s last name was Hilton. I could have sworn it was Liz Allen. I guess Liz Allen is still dating Peter Palmer from the start of this series. I’ll ask Jimmy later. He actually reads these in a timely manner.
He’s still a couple years behind on those Simpsons write-ups.
But that’s neither here nor there. Peter gets the idea to go check up on Professor Smythe before his graduation ceremony, a ceremony where it comes out he and Flash Thompson managed to win scholarships to the same college because God hates one of them. Possibly both of them since J Jonah Jameson is, for some reason, speaking at their graduation. Aunt May is impressed by the man, but she thinks Dr. Octopus was a total gentleman, so her judgement is a bit suspect. But that’s the end of the issue.
Anyhoo, Professor Smythe is still trying to figure out what went wrong with his Spider-Slayer when his partner Roxton comes in. Now, I read the issue a little while ago, and when I did a quick flip through, I saw no mention of a first name for this guy, but he’s the money man, and he wants the Professor’s experimental liquid metal stuff.
I gotta say, it’s always amazing how in old comics that a scientist was just good at every field of science and that they didn’t, you know, specialize. Smythe here is apparently great at chemistry, physics, engineering, and just enough biology to build a spider-detecting robot and that liquid metal that, in a scuffle with his partner, ends up splashing all over Roxton, making him into the Molten Man.
So, here’s the thing: Molten Man is a bit of a loser.
For one thing, he’s not, like, hot or anything like you might expect someone named the Molten Man to be. He’s strong, hard to injure, and, um, slippery. He just looks like he’s made of molten metal.
For another, he doesn’t actually do that much. He has a minor rampage on his way home from Smythe’s, and Spider-Man manages to find him there (Smythe gave Peter the address), and the Molten Man just had only just started saying he needs to figure out this big crime he’s going to pull to make himself rich or something, so he doesn’t even have a plan. Heck, Spidey even notes that if Roxton turns himself in right away, he probably won’t get into too much trouble since he hasn’t actually done all that much yet.
Naturally, this boob decides the thing to do is attack Spider-Man. Spidey can’t hurt him, and Molten Man isn’t quite fast enough to tag Spider-Man. Stalemate? Nah! Turns out Peter is good with knots and makes a special web rope to basically hogtie the guy until the cops show up.
So, that’s the Molten Man. He at worst committed assault and battery, possibly theft depending on whether or not he owned some of that liquid metal, and he tossed a car or two before he was captured maybe ten minutes after he gained his powers. Must be why the only times I’ve seen him in more modern comics, he’s basically just a guy in the neighborhood who sometimes helps out.
Though, I will add…that may be one of the coolest covers Ditko has done yet for this series.
Sweet Home “Episode Five”
Noteworthy Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man #62 (July, 1968)
The X-Files “Home”