These days, a big issue like #50 might prompt the company to put out an extra big anniversary issue, but for The Amazing Spider-Man back in 1967…nope, normal sized issue. Just Peter trying to quit cold turkey for the first time.
Issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #50, July 1967
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Romita Sr
The Plot: Spider-Man quits, J Jonah Jameson celebrates, and the Kingpin rises.
Commentary: There are a number of Spider-Man plot lines that pop up from time to time with, for me, various degrees of interest. I never want to read another “poor Gwen is dead” story, but just about every Spider-Man writer pulls that one out eventually. Fortunately as I do this read-through, she hasn’t died yet. There’s Aunt May getting sick. Yeah, that one even pops up in this issue. Peter gets sick fairly frequently as it is. Some bad guy wants to destroy Spider-Man and can’t pull it off while bragging about his own superiority. But one that hadn’t popped up yet was Peter’s giving up being Spider-Man. That one does happen a bit as Peter would like nothing more than to be a normal guy, but his sense of how great power bestows on someone great responsibility means it’s always a short-lived thing.
That happens for the first time right here! And what causes Peter to quit? Is it some bad guy is too formidable? Are his powers not working right? Did he lose his costume in the wash?
Nah! He’s just tired of Jameson’s constant harassment leading to people actually wondering if he’s an actual menace or not. Sure, Aunt May got sick. Sure, he had to skip a date with Gwen. Sure, his grades are slipping. Actually, it’s all those things. So, he quits, tossing the costume into the garbage for a famous splash panel that Jimmy might have tattooed on himself somewhere for all I know. Jimmy loves Spider-Man and his Power Hyphen.
But then there are other tropes that I have seen before, like Jameson’s celebration and self-agrandising, but another one is some shady figure trying to unite the underworld under one firm hand. I’ve seen that one a few times, but this time, it’s being done by the Kingpin in his first ever appearance, long before Frank Miller poached the character and made him Daredevil’s archenemy. It’s so overused by now, Foswell, the reporter who tried that bit the first time, actually goes to the Kingpin and demands to be the boss with, like, no leverage aside from the handgun in his hat.
Wait, that could be dangerous.
Oh wait again, Kingpin has a disintegrator in his cane and a scanner that picked up the gun. Also, he’s like three times Foswell’s size. There was no way that was even remotely a good idea. Foswell should have stayed reformed.
Meanwhile, just as crime rates are soaring, even to the point where they’re robbing a welfare office, Peter is just hanging out, studying, taking Gwen for rides, and calling Mary Jane an airhead.
Dude, not cool.
But he also finds out people don’t need him as much as he thought. Aunt May got better again. Gwen and Mary Jane are both the same. Jameson is a little upset since Peter quit taking pictures for him, but that’s about it. His life really isn’t that different.
You know, until he sees an old night watchman getting attacked and the guy reminds him of Uncle Ben.
Wait, did Peter forget about Uncle Ben?
Regardless, he has the costume back from Jameson’s office by issue’s end. And since he tossed it in the garbage until some kid fished it out, I hope he gets it cleaned before he wears it too long. I can’t imagine it smells too good right now.
Anyway, it’s Spider-Man vs the Mob again next issue.
Weekend Trek “Ship In A Bottle”
Vikings: Valhalla “Pieces Of The Gods”
Noteworthy Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man #52 (September, 1967)