Cove Date: February 1964
Plot Overview: Aunt May is sick and requires a surgery that they don’t have the money for. At the same time a new threat named Electro robs a bank while J. Jonah Jameson is there. He becomes convinced that Electro and Spider-Man are the same person.
Peter learns that the surgery is going to cost a thousand dollars and goes to JJJ to ask for a loan. JJJ refuses so Peter decides to head out and capture Electro for the reward. Peter spends an entire night searching for him and finally comes across him in the process of committing a robbery.
The battle is short as Spider-Man is badly shocked the first time he touches Electro. Electro assumes that he has killed Spider-Man and leaves the scene. Peter comes to. He decides to do some creative editing to make it look like Spider-Man is changing into Electro so that he can get the money for Aunt May’s operation. Peter feels guilty for selling JJJ fake pictures.
We learn that Electro was once an electric company worker that was struck by lightning. It created an electric current in his body and he made the suit to channel it. With that story told, he decides he’s going to break into the local prison and set the prisoners free so he can have lackeys.
Aunt May goes into surgery when Electro’s prison break starts. This prevents Peter from saving the day right away. May’s surgery is a success and Peter heads off to battle Electro. He makes a brief stop along the way to pick up some equipment.
Meanwhile at the prison, Electro and the freed convicts are running amok. Spider-Man arrives on the scene and puts on rubber gloves and shoes. He and Electro duke it out. Spider-Man uses metal ball bearings to diffuse a few of his blasts and knock him off balance. Electro finally grabs some power lines and start using them like electrified whips. Spider-Man is backed into a corner and sees a fire hose. He realizes he overlooked the obvious and sprays Electro with the hose. And that’s all she wrote for Electro.
JJJ plans to fire Peter over the fake pictures until Peter shows up with pictures of the Spider-Man/Electro fight. Peter agrees to hand the pictures over for free to make up for the fake pictures from earlier. Aunt May is expected to make a full recovery as the issue comes to a close.
My Take: I have to say, I was totally blown away by this issue. There was just an amazing amount of depth to the story here. You see Peter’s love for Aunt May, you see the developing feelings between Peter and Betty and you get some looks into the heads of Flash and JJJ. It also kept the character stuff going even when the superhero parts kicked in. Sometimes it feels like the writer forgets about the character under the mask when it’s time to take on the bad guy. Not here. I’ve always held up Amazing Spider-Man as the best that Marvel has to offer in this time period and this just reaffirms that opinion. If I had to think about the best single issue I’ve read while doing this project, I think this is probably the top issue so far. There was just so much to latch onto in this issue.
I intentionally left out the bits about Peter/Betty from the recap. Betty stays by Peter’s side while May is in the hospital. She also references past events in her life in regards to Peter’s photography and the risks he’s taking. She doesn’t say what those events are and I don’t remember if those ever get revealed or not. They have a brief argument at the end before Betty tracks Peter down and apologizes to him. The issue ends with them being a couple of awkward teenagers.
They’ve built the relationship between Peter and Betty up a lot in the past few issues. It feels like every issue is a step forward for them. Other books, even Marvel books, are very static about relationships such as these. It’s nice to see a title that pushes forward a little bit with each issue.
The final battle in this issue was a fun little duel. The rubber gloves were a little on the ridiculous side but I was all in by the time that happened. As in a lot of these early issues, Spider-Man is outclassed by his opponent and manages to win despite overwhelming odds. I often complain that some of these early Marvel books can lack action but this issue had a ton of it. Really memorable fight between Spidey and Electro here.
This issue was probably ground breaking at the time it came out. Check out any DC book from this time period and I bet you won’t find anything that has this level of storytelling in it. When you look at what Marvel has become today, they owe it to breaking the traditional rules of comics with issues like this.
The art was great as always. That’s just a given with the Steve Ditko issues of Spider-Man. The art will always be awesome when he’s drawing the character. That’s just the way it is.
I give this book ****1/2 out of *****
Notes: This issue features the first appearance of Electro. I would call Electro one of Spider-Man’s A list bad guys. If you asked someone to start listing off Spider-Man’s rogue gallery, I think he would more often than not be one of the first 10 names that someone would list off. He’s mostly a Spidey villain but he does bother Daredevil from time to time and I think he fought the Defenders a time or two as well. He isn’t a big deal in that he isn’t a world or cosmic level threat but he is an often used antagonist for Spidey.
Electro is a mainstay in the Sinister Six. I believe he was in every version of the team. Electro has also appeared in multiple video games, he showed up on the 90s cartoon and he was just in the recent movie.
Next Issue: Journey Into Mystery #101