Monday, June 29, 2020


DECEMBER 27TH, 1982 - APRIL 16TH, 1983
APRIL 17th, 1983 - JULY 31ST, 1983
By Stan Lee & Fred Kida w/Floro Dery

Spider-Man's first storyline of 1982 marks something of a milestone for the strip, as it acknowledges for the first time that there are other super-characters out in the world besides Spider-Man and some of his enemies (save perhaps the Hulk, who has been mentioned in passing once or twice, but it's hard to tell in context whether that's as an existing creature or a fictional character). This arc sees Peter dispatched aboard a sketchy ship called the Missing Link with a Daily Bugle reporter named Harry McNeil and a beautiful oceanographer named Sam Taylor to investigate the disappearances of several ships in the Bermuda Triangle -- but there, they run into Namor the Sub-Mariner, and help him to battle his enemy, the renegade Atlantean, Krang.

Suprisingly, Peter never once changes into Spider-Man during the duration of this three-and-a-half month-long storyline. He never has much of an opportunity, for one thing -- he and Sam go down in a bathysphere together, which leads to an attack by Krang, then Namor shows up and they bring him back to the surface after Krang beats him. Namor then captains the boat to a nearby island, where the group is cornered in a cave and then fights Krang until he is defeated. There are a few moments where Peter is separated from the group, but he never changes for fear of blowing his secret identity -- which eventually results in him using his spider-powers and web-shooters during the final fight to aid Namor, without his costume. Though Harry is unconscious during this battle, Sam sees -- and after she and Peter are returned to New York by Namor, she tells Peter that she knows his secret and needs to get away for a while to clear her head.

Even though Sam spends much of the arc crushing on Namor, she and Peter appear quite close by its conclusion. Hopefully we haven't seen the last of her, because she's a charaacter who I really like, and different from the normal sorts Stan pairs Peter with in these strips. She's a bit more assertive and independent than Spidey's usual damsels in distress and/or connivers (notwithstanding the fact that she swoons over Namor from the moment she meets him).

Monday, June 22, 2020


MARCH 22ND, 1982 - JUNE 12TH, 1982
JUNE 13TH, 1982 - SEPTEMBER 19TH, 1982
SEPTEMBER 20TH, 1982 - DECEMBER 26TH, 1982
By Stan Lee & Fred Kida

Following an okay, but somewhat silly Doctor Doom plot, the Spider-Man strip returns to the sort of story it does best with this next arc. Back in New York following his excursion to Laveria, Peter finds that Spider-Man is still a celebrity —- and that a fashion company is cashing in on his likeness by manufacturing “Spidey Jeans”!

The jeans are a smashing success. Everyone is wearing them (even Harry Osborn in a one-panel cameo). Naturally, poor Spidey wants his cut of the profits. He goes to Howard Huffman, the civil rights lawyer who defended him during the “humanoid” arc (and who Peter Parker consulted for advice during the assassin storyline). Huffman takes Spidey’s case and begins building a suit against the owners of Spidey Jeans, Melissa and Phillip Trent. (Melissa is, in keeping with the strip’s long tradition, a total fox, while Phillip is a distinguished gentleman confined to a wheelchair.)

But since the Wall-Crawler has never copyrighted his name or likeness, he’s in the public domain and his case has no legs. Determined to profit somehow off Spidey Jeans, however, he agrees to ride shotgun with the company’s delivery trucks, which have recently been hijacked a few times.

Monday, June 15, 2020


OCTOBER 5TH, 1981 - DECEMBER 6TH, 1981
DECEMBER 7TH, 1981, 1981 - MARCH 21ST, 1982
By Stan Lee & Fred Kida (w/Larry Lieber)

Stan Lee and Fred Kida continue the adventures of a more "grounded" Spider-Man in the first of this week's storylines, which quite honestly could've been ripped from today's headlines! It's about a shady oil tycoon who decides he wants to be president -- and he wants Jonah Jameson to be his Secretary of Information in exchange for the Daily Bugle's endorsement. Robbie is of course against this, but Jonah has stars in his eyes and goes along with the billionaire, Thurston Thurwell.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man has become a celebrity following the previous adventure, in which he thwarted the assassination of a visiting cosmonaut. Mary Jane is smitten with the Web-Slinger, but still won't give Peter the time of day since he skipped out on her play to stop the assassin. So, to get back into MJ's graces, Peter offers to get her a poster of Spidey autographed by the Web-Slinger himself -- and to have Spider-Man deliver it. Spidey eventually does, but he ducks out in a hurry to do some crime-fighting, and MJ immediately decides that he's a flake.

At the same time, a group of young vigilantes calling themselves the Spider-Brigade have become the toast of the town. (I think they're more like a neighborhood watch than actual vigilantes, but vigilantes is the way they're described in narration and dialogue.) Thurwell can't stand this, as he believes the young men are taking the law into their own hands, and forces Jameson to condemn them in the Bugle. At the same time, Thurwell also anonymously offers $50,000 to anyone who can scale the side of the Bugle building like Spider-Man, certain that whoever tries will fail and be killed, thus turning public opinion against the Wall-Crawler.

Monday, June 8, 2020


MAY 26TH, 1981 - AUGUST 8TH, 1981
AUGUST 9TH, 1981 - OCTOBER 4TH, 1981
By Stan Lee & Larry Lieber

Stan Lee and Larry Lieber continue the "primetime TV" approach to Spider-Man that I love so much in both of this week's storylines. First, at a college dance, Mary Jane is harassed by a new student named Vince Rigby. Peter stands up for her, but a chandelier falls, nearly killing him and breaking his arm. It turns out that Rigby has telekinetic powers, and uses them for his own selfish purposes. But when he shows off for MJ, she tells Peter about Rigby's ability, which prompts Peter to inform Robbie and Jonah, which leads to Rigby going public and accepting a bounty from Jameson: if Rigby can best Spider-Man in battle, JJJ will pay him ten grand.

Fortunately, Peter's quick-healing abilities have his arm back to normal around this point, and he goes out to meet Rigby's challenge. Everything comes to a head at -- wait for it -- a roller rink, where MJ is on a date with Rigby, and where Jameson happens to be showing the niece of his biggest advertiser a good time, when Spider-Man shows up. Rigby goes berserk, ranting about how he will kill Spider-Man, but the web-slinger tricks him into overtaxing his power, so that when he finally attempts to move something relatively small (which Spidey secretly webbed to the floor), he's unable to. After this, Rigby's power shuts down, an outcome Spider-Man compares with blowing a fuse.

Monday, June 1, 2020


JANUARY 12TH, 1981 - MARCH 14TH, 1981
MARCH 15TH, 1981 - MAY 25TH, 1981
By Stan Lee & Larry Lieber

Our return to the Spider-Man newspaper strip coincides with the return of Doctor Octopus as well. Ock was last seen in early 1977 (the strip's second storyline, in fact), which means it's four years at this point since we last saw him! Contrast that with the Kingpin, who made multiple appearances over the previous few years, and Kraven and Doctor Doom, who each popped up twice, and it seems odd. Doc Ock was, at this time, generally accepted as Spider-Man's "main" villain, so the fact that he was used so sparingly is a bit of a surprise.

Strangely, this strip seems to be ignoring that previous appearance. Here, Ock is released from prison on parole and decides that, even though he has "a fortune" socked away, he should lay low and live as a common man -- so he goes in search of a room for rent. Meanwhile, Aunt May has been recently robbed and has decided she shouldn't live alone, so she's placed an ad for a boarder. Naturally, Ock shows up and there's much discussion about the last time they encountered each other, right?

Nope. Ock does, of course, answer the ad, but it's presented like the first time he and May have met (and the first time he's met Peter, as well). This seems to be a sort of "soft reboot" of the strip's continuity. You may recall that in its earliest story arcs, the strip presented Spider-Man and his villains as if they had some sort of prior history. First Doctor Doom, then Doc Ock, then the Kingpin -- all were shown as having tangled with the web-slinger in the past (or at least having known about him), and in Ock's case, his past as Aunt May's beau was acknowledged as well.