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Comic Book / The Amazing Spider-Man (Lee & Ditko)

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The first of many Final Chapters, but still the best.note 

"That Peter Parker certainly is a nice boy! He's sincere—well-mannered—and devoted to his Aunt! Too bad there aren't many more young men like that! Too bad someone like him can't be an idol for teenagers to imitate instead of some mysterious, unknown thrill-seeker like—Spider-Man!"
— Issue #33, written by Stan Lee

The ever impressive, the long contained, often imitated, but never duplicated original run on Spider-Man by its first creative team — Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Beginning in 1962 and ending in 1966 when Ditko left the title.

Debuting in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 10, 1962), the team worked on the major flagship title, The Amazing Spider-Man from Issues 1-38 and Two Annuals. Like all of Lee's works this was done in the Marvel Method whereby the artist (in this case Ditko) actually created the plots and stories from Lee's suggestions. Unlike Lee's collaboration with Jack Kirby however, Ditko actually got a credit for plotting near his final issues. Unlike other runs by later writers that are grouped under their names (like Dan Slott and Nick Spencer), it's generally acknowledged that this run was a true collaboration between Lee and Ditko, with the former's great dialogue matching Ditko's intricate plotting and use of paneling, and his gifted eye for action, layout, and movement.

This run shows Peter Parker and Spider-Man in the process of becoming Peter Parker and Spider-Man as we know them today. Peter lived with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May until he got bit by a radioactive spider, making him into the first teenage superhero. A Tragic Mistake on Peter's part leads to his uncle's death, making him realize that he must use his powers responsibly. Unfortunately, as Amazing Spider-Man 1 shows he's dead broke, still in high school, is now the male provider who must look after his old aunt, and most people still see Spider-Man as a clown at best, a menace at worst. So he decides to find a way to make things right, working a job at the Daily Bugle selling pictures to J. Jonah Jameson, dating the secretary Betty Brant, while still trying to finish high school. Unfortunately, Peter isn't the only costumed freak with powers and gizmos. Soon a new crop of supervillains arrive, who will become enduring staples of his rogues gallery: the Chameleon, the Vulture, Doctor Octopus, the Sandman, the Lizard, Electro, Mysterio, the Green Goblin, Kraven the Hunter, the Scorpion, and the Spider Slayers among others.

Despite coming so early in the character's history, this is still the main and crucial foundation for the entire franchise. There aren't many new additions to the Rogues Gallery beyond what's introduced in these opening issues, it has most of the supporting cast featured and/or mentioned. It's also been revisited by later writers such as John Byrne's Spider-Man: Chapter One a streamlined Setting Update that mashed together Issue 1-20 before being cancelled. Kurt Busiek's Untold Tales of Spider-Man revisits this era by inserting many stories and plots of supporting characters in the style of this period. The Spectacular Spider-Man is based on this run of the Spider-Man comics and adapts many elements and plots from it.

The Comics Journal's 210th issue published in February 1999 listed this entire series and run in its Top 100 Comics List, where it ranked as one of few superhero titles chosen (alongside Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's Fantastic Four, Jack Cole's Plastic Man, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen and C.C. Beck's Captain Marvel)note .

In 2018, both of Spider-Man's original co-creators passed away within six months of each other in the same year.

Tropes in this run include:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Since this is Lee we're talking about, alliteration abounds not only in character names but in issue titles, such as "The Grotesque Adventure of the Green Goblin".
  • Affably Evil:
    • Norman Osborn for the last time in his entire history (it's all faux hereafter) conveys this when in Issue #38, where Harry drives him to stop somewhere and he gets down, Norman thanks his son for giving him a lift:
      Harry Osborn: Don't mention it, Pa! Can Flash and I borrow the car for the rest of the evening?
      Norman Osborn: Sure, why not?
      Flash Thompson: (thought bubbles) What a great guy Mr. Osborn is!
      • Though given Norman's thoughts to himself once they leave, and the fact that Norman had a reason for them to leave as soon as possible does call this moment to question.
    • Doctor Octopus when it comes to Aunt May.
  • Alpha Bitch: Gwen Stacy is rather magnificent in this period as the Regina George of ESU. Liz Allan was this during Peter's high school period, but she mellows out later.
  • Anti-Climactic Unmasking: After defeating Electro for the first time in Issue #9, Spider-Man removes his mask... only for him to turn out to be somebody he's never seen before.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Spider-Man and the Human Torch are Vitriolic Best Buds whose interactions are mostly ribbing and dick measuring. However, when Spider-Man seemingly retired out of shame for apparent cowardice, Johnny is one of the few people to not believe it and desperately tries to get in touch with him but to no avail.
  • Batman Gambit: Peter locates the Big Man and his hideout by claiming to have figured out his true identity. Luckily, his suspicion that the Big Man is a Daily Bugle employee rang true and the crime boss gets worried enough to have him brought to him.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Peter spends about the first five issues attempting to ask out Liz, only to be rejected due to something Spider-Man involved happening to discourage her. Only when he's having personal trouble in his relationship with Betty and accidentally humiliated himself by being unmasked (but mistaken for an impersonator) does Liz suddenly start making eyes at him. At this point, Peter can only be annoyed by this turn of events.
  • Big Bad: For most of the run, Dr. Octopus occupies this role. He's the first villain to unambiguously beat up Spider-Man in a straight up fight and he's the mastermind behind the Sinister Six. As the Master Planner, he's the main villain in the largest story arc of the entire run. However, the Green Goblin serves as the enigmatic and mysterious villain who keeps evading justice, unlike Ock who gets sent to jail multiple times, and is clearly established as a looming threat on the horizon. This is best seen in Issue #18, where after Spider-Man flees a fight on hearing of Aunt May being hospitalized, a panel shows Green Goblin exulting in defeating Spider-Man while other villains — Doctor Octopus (behind bars), Kraven, and the Vulture — sulk about Spidey losing to someone other than them. In general in Ditko's run, Goblin made 5 appearances (7 if you include Norman Osborn's appearances), Octopus made 4, while Kraven, Vulture and others made 3 appearances.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, becomes this for Spider-Man, albeit accidentally. After a speech he gives at college campuses inspires Spider-Man to get back in the game after losing to Dr. Octopus, Spider-Man thanks Johnny in costume for being an inspiration to him, leaving the Torch confused as to what exactly he did.
  • Book Ends:
    • Visually the final panel of Amazing Fantasy #15 echoes the final panel of Amazing Spider-Man #38 (Ditko's last issue), in both we see Spider-Man walking away with his back to the reader in a gloomy and miserable mood.
    • Mary Jane makes her first "pre-appearance" in Issue #25, the first issue on which Ditko has plotting credit where her face is hidden by a giant flower pot, her last one is in Ditko's last issue (which he also plotted), and she appears again near the end with foliage hiding her face.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: The college students from the protest scene can be read as such. Peter walks onto campus, running into a bunch of upper-class students protesting for a non-political matter; Peter considers the cause trivial, and when they push him on the matter, he sneers and tells them he has bigger problemsnote . The Greek Chorus of Gwen, Flash and Harry mock Peter at first for participating in the protest, and then proceed to call him a coward for turning down their offer to join them in it.
  • Clueless Chick-Magnet:
    • While Romita Sr. and others would codifying this, even Ditko's nerdy more plain-featured Peter has game. Liz Allan, despite bullying Peter alongside her Flash and the other students, starts having a crush on Peter (one which she never acts on). Betty Brant also likes him a lot and Gwen Stacy finds him attractive (though she's too proud to admit it)), and while Peter finds Gwen a jerk he does admit that she's a knockout (but way out of his league).
    • This is best encapsulated in the moment in Issue #25 when Liz Allan and Betty Brant both of whom are cold to each other as rivals for Peter's affections arrive at Aunt May's house to find Mary Jane, Anna Watson's niece visiting them. Both Betty and Liz are shocked at having to compete with a third girl, one more beautiful than them both (as conveyed in their thought bubbles) and neither of them think she's out of Peter's league. Peter when he runs into them later, doesn't know why both of them are so cold to him.
  • Comic-Book Time: Averted, since Marvel hadn't quite settled on whether they were going to use it yet. Peter actually finishes high school and begins college ten issues before Ditko left the title. Peter also canonically started superheroing at age fifteen, and in issue 16, Daredevil estimates his age to be seventeen. (This leads to a strange result where Peter aged more in his first ten years of existence than he did in the following fifty!)
  • Create Your Own Villain:
    • When Spider-Man auditions to join the Fantastic Four and Reed Richards rebuffs him saying that they're family first, Spider-Man's petulant reply makes Reed openly wonder if this is another grudge-bearing future enemy he's added to his Rogues Gallery.
    • This is played straight with J. Jonah Jameson who pays for Mac Gargan to become a human guinea pig and get superpowers all so he could defeat (and possibly kill) that menace Spider-Man, only to realize that Scorpion has become an even worse menace, one who comes and tries to kill Jameson and Betty Brant, and has to be saved by Spider-Man anyway.
    • The Spider-Slayer is a complex example. When Smythe first introduces the robot to Jameson, Jonah - stung by his experiences with the Scorpion - turns him down flat. Peter, wanting an angle to make money, and get Flat-Top's favor convinces Jonah to use the Slayers and as such sets in motion one of his most recurring robot villains. Peter keeps kicking himself for convincing Jonah to operate the Slayers which prove to be harder for him than expected.
  • Deconstruction: In his opening caption introducing Amazing Fantasy #15, Lee admits that his new hero is someone a little different from the usual run of superhero comics, or as he and his friends call them at work, "long-underwear stories" (with little doubt as to which other characters he was talking about).
    • The original run of Spider-Man more or less deconstructs the common tropes in Superman and Batman stories. Spider-Man's relationship with the press is entirely the opposite of Superman's. Instead of being adulated by the public for everything he does, he is distrusted by them. Wearing a costume with a somewhat creepy mask and having an animal theme of a creepy creature provokes the exact sense of fear and mistrust as you would expect unlike Batman who is trusted and regarded as an authority figure (in the Golden and Silver Age) despite his nocturnal get-up.
    • Superman working as Clark Kent more or less wrote his own PR. Batman has Commissioner Gordon and his wealth to protect him from the fallout of his vigilante actions, but Spider-Man has nothing of that. Superman and Batman have sidekicks, confidants, top-of-the-line fancy headquarters (Batcave, Fortress of Solitude), Peter has none of that. His costume, when it gets weathered he buys a replacement from a novelty store. When his Aunt is sick and he needs a cure, he has to call in favors from people he knows and nearly get killed fighting Octopus to fix it. Bailing on a supervillain battle to go save his Aunt, people call him a coward. Unlike Batman and Superman who are both hyper-competent overly advantaged types fighting a bunch of Villainous Underdog, Peter is the underdog hero who punches up and fights characters stronger, more powerful, wealthier, and more resourceful than he is, and faces all the consequences, difficulties and setbacks doing so.
    • A proto-Watchmen example where Spider-Man and Human Torch team up and chase the Sandman but their mutual bickering, Testosterone Poisoning, competitiveness prevents them from doing much while Sandman gets distracted enough that regular cops with discipline take him down. Ditko later admitted that he did this to correct and sabotage Lee's constant attempts at getting Spider-Man to team up feeling it would undermine Peter's own capabilities and also to show that just because two heroes are cool and popular doesn't mean their team up would be effective.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Aunt May codifies and defines what later fans call the Parker family motto ("Parkers don't quit!") in Issue 18, giving Peter the courage he needs to man up and get back to being a superhero (albeit unintentionally):
    Aunt May: Now you listen to me, Peter Parker...!! Even though I'm an old woman, I'm not a quitter! A person needs gumption—-the will to live—-to fight—-you mustn't worry about me so much, Peter dear! We Parkers are tougher than people think!
  • Death by Secret Identity: Happens to Green Goblin and Norman Osborn twice:
    • At the end of the Crime Master 2-Parter (ASM #26-27), the Crime Master (who knows Goblin's identity just as Goblin knows his) is about to spill the beans to the cops on the deathbed but he dies before spilling it out.
    • Mendell Stromm is about to confess to Spider-Man stuff about Norman's nefarious nature and Osborn is planning to snipe him before he makes it. Spider-Man's Spider-Sense stops the bullet, but the shock of the near-assassination triggers a hear-attack and Stromm dies.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: Issue 14 has Spider-Man in California in a desert, ambushed by a crazy guy in a Halloween costume (Green Goblin) and the Enforcers and they chase him into a cave, and just who happens to be living in that cave to the shock and horror of Spider-Man and the delight of the Green Goblin? The Hulk himself. And this isn't the Gentle Giant Hulk who wants to be left alone. This is the malevolent, outright antagonistic earliest Hulk, who will quite happily try to kill Spider-Man and Enforcers alike.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Peter's relationship with Betty Brant. His first girlfriend and, for those first readers, what looked like the Official Couple of the series. It doesn't work out in the end, and when Peter sees Betty and Ned get closer together, it visibly stings him.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In his own bid to kill Spider-Man, Sandman hatches a plan to seal himself and Spidey in a room where they can fight. Unfortunately, he made the room airtight to prevent any possible escape and he nearly passes out from lack of air, allowing Spider-Man to win the fight and flee.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Due to a Retcon, Mysterio actually debuted in ASM #2 as one of the "aliens" allied with the Tinkerer, before his official introduction several issues later.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Characters look and act quite different than later on, with Gwen Stacy starting out as a cold Alpha Bitch. note  Peter Parker himself was drawn to look quite thin and bookish, whereas John Romita Sr. made him quite handsome.
    • Stan Lee hadn't yet decided on how to spell the character's names: Is it Spider-Man, or Spiderman? He goes back and forth on this a lot in the first few issues. However, some things can just be chalked-up to typos, such as referring to Peter as "Peter Palmer" on more than one occasion, or referring to his neighbors, the Watsons, as the "Watkins". Later issues include "Liz Hilton" (rather than Allan) and having Anna Watson refer to Mary Jane as her daughter rather than niece.
    • The tone of the stories are also quite different. Since Peter Parker had no confidant to share his Secret Identity with, he had a Friendless Background for most of the run, with Betty Brant at the Daily Bugle being the only exception. When Peter went to college, he had a reputation for being aloof and asocial, causing the other students to dislike him. After Ditko left, this was greatly softened and Peter gained a regular circle of friends and a (somewhat) more stable social life. Most (if not all) all modern adaptations, especially Ultimate Spider-Man, give him friends and confidants right from the start.
    • From the way the aesop With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility is emphasized, it is often surprising how underplayed it is in this era. For one thing, the aesop was never spoken by Peter out loud nor attributed to Uncle Ben; it comes from the narrative captions at the end of Amazing Fantasy #15. Later writers would Retcon this into a message Uncle Ben told Peter. For instance, the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man after his origin has Peter trying to parlay his superheroics into some form of income; later adaptations would imply that Uncle Ben's Aesop transformed Peter's attitude overnight. In fact, for most of the run, Peter was constantly flipping back and forth over whether or not is was feasible for him to continue being Spider-Man, almost quiting more than once.
    • The few times we see Norman Osborn in this run, he's shown having a warm relationship with Harry Osborn, despite being a shady criminal and Master of Disguise. After Ditko left, Norman flipped to having a cold relationship with Harry, which led to the friendship between Harry and Peter. Later writers would go on to suggest that Norman went crazy because of his work and the Goblin formula, while Ditko portrays Norman behaving rationally and compartmentalizing the two sides of his life pretty well. None of Ditko's supervillains are shown to be particularly crazy, suggesting that the modern idea of the Goblin as insane was a later invention. Not to mention that the Goblin rode around on a broomstick in his first appearance as opposed to his iconic glider which he deployed for his second appearance in Ditko's run, which ultimately stuck for his subsequent appearances.
      • It should be noted that in Norman's very first appearance in the series does have him berate Harry while both of them are at an attacked Oscorp plant. During this JJJ gives a uncharacteristic compliment to Harry's intelligence, Norman backhandedly agrees, while Harry looks resentful in the background, establishing that their relationship is pretty cold. This scene makes the above mentioned scene in Affably Evil look more like a Pet the Dog moment or just Norman maintaining a facade because Harry's friend Flash was there.
    • A minor one but emphasizing the "weirdness" part; In issue 2, Spider-Man fights the Tinkerer who has allied himself with aliens. The Tinkerer was then revealed to also be an alien. His and his mook's section in the Rogues Gallery of Annual #1 continued to insist that they were aliens. He was later revealed to not be an alien. The other aliens that were working for him turned out to be regular mooks who were just dressed as aliens. Okay. note 
    • While we never get a good look at Mary Jane Watson's face, Ditko does manage to convey a few visual details about her character, much of which is different from all of her later appearances. Namely, Mary Jane dresses more conservatively and likewise covers her face with a babushka which, while useful for hiding her features, is something far too old fashioned for the fashion conscious MJ we know. She is also shown driving a car, when later stories would imply that she didn't have onenote .
    • In the first issues #1-10, Jameson is often shown praising Peter for his photography and telling him that he's better than pros and generally being nice to him. This ends up shifting after some instances where Peter fails to deliver the photos on time, making Jameson berate and insulting him, while later issues would insist that Peter's no great shakes as a photographer.
  • Exact Words:
    • The Vulture threatens to rob a diamond shipment "from under [their] noses." Come the shipment, the police have eyes in the sky, ranging from helicopters to men on the rooftops. Unfortunately, everyone is so focused on the Vulture's flying gimmick that they never expected him to pull off the heist from literally under their noses by popping out of a sewer manhole and snatching away the diamonds.
    • When Aunt May finds a Spider-Man costume behind a bookcase, Peter successfully convinces her he's not Spider-Man without telling her a single lie:
      Peter: It's just a disguise, Aunt May... I was going to use it to fool some people! Look... you can see it hasn't even been worn! It's brand-new! I've never even had it on! Gosh, I can't believe you suspect me of being Spider-Man! Look under my coat sleeves — no costume! Now, would he ever go out without it?
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Nothing Peter does to make even the slightest amount of money goes right. Of course, if it did, he'd stop being so much of an everyman.
  • Fake Identity Baggage: Issue #5 has Flash Thompson try to scare Peter using a Spider-Man costume as a prank. Unluckily for Flash, Doctor Doom is tracking Spider-Man in order to either recruit him to fight against the Fantastic Four, or use him as bait. Because Doom was tracking Spidey by detecting his Spider-Sense, when he discovered Flash-as-Spidey waiting for Peter he naturally assumed he'd found his prey and knocked him out. Meanwhile, a totally oblivious Peter walked by the scene, idly wondering why his Spider-Sense was acting up.
  • False Friend: Green Goblin's first meeting with Spider-Man happens this way. He flies a mechanized broomstick over Manhattan hoping to attract Spider-Man and then says that he actually wants to help him out by casting him in a Hollywood movie where he'd make money. It turns out to be a trap where Goblin and the Enforcers ambush him and Goblin confirms that the real plan was to kill him to improve his street cred all along.
  • Foreshadowing: Ditko confirmed that Norman Osborn was always intended to be the Green Goblin and there are many hints to his appearance and identity.
    • He appears early in the background of Jameson's gentleman's club and has his first speaking role in the Crime Master 2-Parter, where he asks Jameson about Foswell, the reporter assigned to investigate the Crime Master and Green Goblin gang war.
    • One glimpse of the Goblin's secret identity, face covered in shadow (pg. 20 of ASM #27) shows his silhouette having the striated corn-row pattern that is uniquely Norman Osborn's hair-style.
    • When Norman Osborn appears as a character in ASM #37-38, he is shown wearing a green suit. In #37, when Mendell Stromm attacks his office and Spider-Man appears, Norman Osborn's thought bubbles about Spider-Man interfering with his plans doesn't make sense if that was Norman's first meeting. Likewise, in the course of the fight, Norman punches Spider-Man in the back with enough force to briefly knock him out, which given Spider-Man's super-strength makes it unlikely for a normal man.
    • In Issue #38, he wears dresses himself up with a fake beard and siccs a mob on Spider-Man hinting at his sneaky double nature, his tendency to put on masks and disguises that only Goblin shares.
    • For a non-Green Goblin example, Ditko went to the effort of including J. Jonah's familiar flat top haircut to his silhouette before he's revealed to be Mac Gargan's boss.
  • Friendless Background: Peter in this era has no friends growing up. No one at high school among his peers, and the closest bond he has is with Betty Brant, his girlfriend (albeit that relationship grows fragile) and also Frederick Foswell who's one of the few in the Daily Bugle he takes a shine to later on. When he goes to college, he and Harry Osborn have terrible first impressions of each other, which they only got over after Ditko left.
  • Gallows Humor: Peter gets a little in Issue #38 when he returns home:
    Aunt May: Sleep well, Peter dear! I'm glad you turned off the TV! Some of the news items can give a body nightmares!
    Peter Parker: Not much chance of that in my case!—I only have them when I'm awake!
  • Gaslighting:
    • An accidental one on Mysterio's part where his criminal activities as an impostor Spider-Man looks so genuine that Peter starts wondering if the stress of his double life has caused him to develop a Split Personality. It makes him so paranoid that he seriously considers going to a therapist as Spider-Man but bails at the last minute.
    • Mysterio later does it on purpose. Inspired by Jameson's latest scheme of using word on the street testimonials to slander Spider-Man, Mysterio masquerades as a psychiatrist who publicly diagnoses Spider-Man with crazy. Using elaborate projectors and sets with Alien Geometries, Mysterio was close to convincing Spider-Man that he was going insane and to reveal his identity to be rid of the stresses of the double life... were it not for Jameson and Flash bumbling their way into the situation and revealing Mysterio's illusions.
  • Hand Wave: Nobody Peter personally knows ever recognizes Spider-Man by his voice because, in a throwaway line in ASM Annual #1, Betty mentions how his mask muffles his voice enough to make him unrecognizable note .
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason the Hulk attacks Spidey. He stumbled onto the Green Goliath while he was hiding in a cave, and therefore must die, before he tells the world about the Hulk's secret identity. Never mind that Peter doesn't know it, and would never get anyone to believe him anyway. Hulk's charmingly, murderously paranoid like that.
  • Heroic BSoD: Considering the World of Jerkass he lives in and his status as a Butt-Monkey, it seemed that every story arc had to include Peter feeling depressed about his heroics.
    • The first was Uncle Ben's death.
    • His first true defeat at the hands of Doctor Octopus convinced Peter that he wasn't up to snuff and considered retiring. It's only after an assembly where the Human Torch gave somewhat generic encouraging words to the students that Peter gets his act together and realize one defeat doesn't mean anything.
    • Peter discovering that he was seemingly losing his powers sends him into another depressive episode, skipping school and wandering around a bit until the Sinister Six kidnaps Aunt May and Betty.
  • High Turnover Rate: When Betty Brant quits as secretary at the Daily Bugle after the Master Planner arc, Jameson hires replacement secretaries. The gag is each new issue after that would have a new secretary only to be fired since no one other than Betty can tolerate Jameson.
  • His Name Is...: The Crime Master croaks before he can reveal who the Green Goblin really is.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Aunt May dislikes Spider-Man but likes Doctor Octopus. Why? The latter was Affably Evil and served her and Betty tea. The former smashed open a door in his hurry to rescue them.
  • Hot-Blooded: Pete Parker and Spider-Man has a notable volatile temper in this run. While he won't flare up right away and usually responds by sarcastic put-downs and mean insults, he does set off very quickly.
  • Iconic Outfit: Steve Ditko designed the iconic looks and outfits for Spider-Man and his rogues that more or less, with only slight alterations, remains the defining look. In the case of Dr. Octopus, he evolves in his outfit in his first appearances before sporting the green and orange jumpsuit he sports in the Master Planner Arc that has remained his default outfit for decades.
  • Informed Attractiveness: When Peter goes to college, while Ditko draws him looking a little older, he doesn't look much different than how he did while in high school. However, according to Sally Green and Gwen Stacy (in thought balloons), Peter is a dream-boat! Sally notes that he has a "dreamy smile", and with Gwen huffing that she never thought someone so "manly looking" could be so cowardly.
  • Karma Houdini: Unlike all of Spidey's other villains, Green Goblin manages to keep on evading any kind of justice. Spider-Man never defeats him in battle, he always escapes, and Peter has no clue at all to his identity. This alone elevated him to a much bigger threat compared to the other rogues. Indeed, Norman Osborn wouldn't go to jail until The Pulse, an issue that in real-time was published nearly forty years after his first appearance.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: A roundabout vice versa way that pops up enough times to count as a Running Gag. People either admire Spider-Man and shrug off Peter as a coward or fear/hate Spider-Man and see Peter as a sweet, friendly boy.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Norman Osborn appears several issues before he is formally introduced, as a member of Jameson's gentleman's club, in a story involving the Green Goblin.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Mary Jane and Peter just keep missing each other. In Ditko's last issue, Peter returns to his room and gets out of costume while Aunt May is saying goodbye to Mary Jane. When Peter comes down, he barely glimpses her driving away, with Aunt May telling him that she was Anna Watson's niece.
  • The Mob Boss Is Scarier: None of the Big Man's arrested subordinates are willing to give any information on him because they're too scared of him and the Enforcers. Spider-Man only manages to get one to talk by threatening to sic a (fake) Giant Spider on him.
  • Mob War: Multiple stories involve supervillains trying to take over New York's criminal underworld by force.
  • Mundanger: The most consistent threat to Aunt May's life isn't any member of Spidey's Rogues Gallery, but ordinary illness.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: The Green Goblin abandons the Enforcers after Spider-Man turns the tables.
  • Not Me This Time: After the Ringmaster's minions steal paintings from an art exhibition, Peter (not unreasonably) thinks they're operating under the Ringmaster's orders. Little does he know that the Ringmaster is completely innocent this time: they quit en masse and made the Clown their new leader. That being said, the Ringmaster does plan to steal the paintings from his treacherous former minions and sell them so he can hire a new, more loyal gang.
  • Oh, Crap!: Liz Allan and Betty Brant's first glimpse of Mary Jane Watson (whose face is covered by a flower pot) has their jaws drop and their eyes go wide as their thought bubbles convey their panic at the third girl in their rivalry for Peter's affections. This is the reader's first hint that Aunt May's Blind Date is indeed really beautiful and someone who both Liz and Betty believe they can't hope to compete withnote .
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: In Issue 13, Flash tells Liz "I almost didn't recognize you! You're beautiful now!" Liz coldly asks him what he thought of her before.
  • Operation: [Blank]: At the beginning of Issue 10, the Big Man calls one of his jobs "Operation Hi-Lift".
  • Operation: Jealousy: Betty tries to make Peter jealous by going out with Ned Leeds (or at least pretending to do so).
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: A mild case: Liz Allen, alongside Flash Thompson, was one of Peter's most recurring bullies during the run. It's later revealed that she did it out of peer pressure, and feels guilty about the way she treated Peter.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Peter all but admits that his glasses were only there for show by issue 8 when Flash accidentally breaks them.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Liz Allan drops out of Spider-Man in ASM #28, the graduation issue. She runs into Peter briefly in ASM #30 but after that she drops out of Amazing Spider-Man before returning in ASM #132, some 102 issues later.
    • Betty Brant disappears after the Master Planner Saga, dropping out until returning in ASM #41.
  • The Real Heroes:
    • Jameson argues that Spider-Man undermines the efforts of normal hardworking servicemen (for instance, his astronaut son John Jameson) in favor of encouraging reckless vigilante behavior.
    • The doctor's internal thought bubbles at the end of Issue 33 feels that Peter Parker, the poor young kid caring for his Aunt, is a much bigger hero than Spider-Man.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In Amazing Spider-Man #12, Peter battles Doctor Octopus while weakened by a cold to save J. Jonah Jameson and Betty Brant. He is beaten and unmasked, but everyone refuses to believe he was really Spider-Man because of the poor fight he put up, thinking he just disguised himself as Spider-Man to save his boss and girlfriend. While Flash Thompson thought Peter was being dumb, Liz Allan was impressed with Peter's bravery. When Liz asks if Peter can go to a party she's having, Peter rejects her for Betty, saying she can take Flash while insulting their intelligence, saying they both deserve each other. While Flash gets angry as Peter walks away, Liz admits they both deserve that for the way they treated Peter.
  • Red Herring:
    • It initially seems like J. Jonah Jameson might be the Big Man... but it instead turns out to be Frederick Foswell.
    • Later on, it seems like Foswell might be the Crime Master... but in fact, the Crime Master is a man named Nick Lewis.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: At one point, Peter tries to defy this. Desperate for money after Aunt May suffers another heart attack, Peter decides to sell his web fluid formula to a paste company. His live demonstration actually impresses the chemists and they say as much that it could make them a fortune. Unfortunately, Peter forgot about its evaporation properties and the chemists are immediately doubtful of its benefits, despite Peter offering to modify the formula to make its lifespan permanent.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: Flash and Liz's relationship is pretty...ambiguous at best. Whether or not they're dating is never really clear, especially when Liz actively crushes on Spider-Man and/or Peter while Flash insists that she's his girlfriend.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant:
    • Doctor Doom fights Spider-Man early in the run. The first Marvel-wide villain Spider-Man fights (and indeed a battle that kind of established Doom's elevated status in the Marvel Universe) and the first from someone else's rogues gallery.
    • Spidey fights the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime as refugees from the recently cancelled first The Incredible Hulk series.
    • He also goes up against the Beetle, who at that point was exclusively an enemy of the Human Torch, who shows up in that issue. Beetle would go on to be a generally recurring Marvel baddie, going up against Spider-Man plenty of times.
  • Series Fauxnale: Issue #33 (see above) touts itself as "The Final Chapter!" The title continued to reach 800 issues (ignoring the All-New, All-Different Marvel relaunch) until the numbering reset itself for Nick Spencer's run.
    • End of an Era: It can serve as a pseudo-finale for the Ditko run in generalnote , as it marked the end of Peter's high school career and was his first college story, transitioning the series from the story of high-school teen to one of a young adult.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Downplayed due to Liz already being quite the Dude Magnet. In one issue, she noticeably glamours herself up to impress Peter but the only one she manages to stun is Flash, who accidentally implies she wasn't pretty before.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Betty Brant, a high school dropout working for the tyrannical J. Jonah Jameson, is attracted to the shy, book-smart Peter Parker who comes in to deliver his photo's of Spider-Man. Unfortunately, his dual identity cases him to fall short on the boyfriend front.
    • After Peter seemingly impersonated Spider-Man to save Betty from Doc Ock, Liz starts crushing on him too, even reprimanding Flash on his behalf, and starts displaying concern whenever he disappears to change identities.
  • Smoky Gentlemen's Club: Jameson and Osborn are both members of one.
  • Spoiler Cover: Ditko's covers often outright spoil or ruin major plot points in stories. Like Issue 14 outright reveals that the Green Goblin is a villain and the Hulk shows up in the cave when in the story both are major twists.
  • Story Arc: There were many running throughout the run, some of which were picked up or dealt with only after Ditko left. It was also pretty unique for a superhero comic to have this kind of serialized sustained storytelling and mystery:
    • Frederick Foswell is a character with a rather compelling arc. He's a Daily Bugle reporter who becomes a gangster (called the Big Man) imprisoned by Spider-Man who later reforms in prison and is rehired by Jameson as a second chance and then becomes a kind of Intrepid Reporter and partner to both Peter and Spider-Man, anticipating the kind of character and role Ben Urich would play later.
    • Aunt May and her illness is a constant one for Peter. He backs out of a fight from Green Goblin when he hears his Aunt is sick. The "Master Planner" arc has him saving her from death's door, and Peter constantly worries about her.
    • From Issue #15, Aunt May is quite insistent to set Peter Parker up with a date with Anna Watson's niece, who Peter keeps dodging and making excuses to avoid because he's just sure his Aunt won't find him anyone cool. However, when Liz Allan and Betty Brant meet Mary Jane Watson, their thought bubbles confirm that she's beautiful enough to be an actress even if her face is obscured. Her final "pre-appearance" is in fact at the end of Ditko's final issue.
    • Who is the Green Goblin? Of all of Spider-Man's foes, the Goblin is the only one who evades justice, who Spider-Man never really defeats in battle, and who he knows nothing about. The mystery of the Goblin's identity is revealed finally in the first issues after Ditko left.
  • Superdickery: Issues 16 and 17 have covers featuring Spider-Man respectively fighting Daredevil and the Human Torch. The former makes it appear that Spider-Man is butting into Daredevil's attempts to apprehend the Ringmaster while the latter seemingly shows the Torch defending the Green Goblin.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: A hallmark of this run is events happening as realistically as they could, from Peter being unable to cash a check due to lacking a bank account in Spider-Man's name to buying a crummy Spider-Man costume from a store, which gradually shrinks in the water and during battles. Peter also had to sew his costume himself, as he couldn't go elsewhere for repairs.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Par for the course for a Silver Age Marvel comic written by Stan Lee, as there's nary a panel where people stay quiet and not describe what Spider-Man is doing while they fight.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: In the comics's early days, JJ's motivation for hating Spider-Man was built on his feelings of inadequacy compared to Spidey. This is summed up in Issue 10, where Jameson has a private moment of reflection:
    Jameson: Am I always to be thwarted, embarrassed, frustrated by Spider-Man?? I hate that costumed freak more than I've ever hated anyone before!...All my life I've been interested in only one thing—making money! And yet, Spider-Man risks his life day after day with no thought of reward! If a man like him is good—is a hero—then what am I??...Spider-Man represents everything that I'm not! He's brave, powerful and unselfish! The truth is, I envy him! I, J. Jonah Jameson—millionaire, man of the world, civic leader—I'd give everything I own to be the man that he is!
  • The Team Wannabe: Peter Parker auditions for the Fantastic Four hoping they will take him in, mostly because he has bad publicity and he needs money. Reed Richards firmly tells him that the Fantastic Four do not work that way, they don't get paid conventionally, and he needs better reasons to sign up with them than "improve my PR". Spider-Man sulks and this rejection stings him, leading to a long lasting tendency to be a lone-wolf. This later informs his decision to decline an invitation to join the Avengers. He eventually relents in New Avengers. Peter and the Fantastic Four became closer over the years with Spider-Man occupying a "fifth Beatle" status, officially joining the Future Foundation during the Human Torch's brief death.
  • Technology Porn: Ditko really loves elaborate panels showing how the web-shooting gizmos, as well as other gadgets Peter creates, as well as the tech of the villains really work and function.
  • This Is Reality: Issue 25 has Betty thinking to herself that her attempts to sabotage Jameson's robot would've worked "if this were just a story".
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Spider-Man is refreshed by the Ringmaster's audience actually being glad to see him as opposed to demanding his head on a pike.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Over the course of the run, Liz becomes considerably nicer — at least to Peter.
  • Two Decades Behind: Both Lee and Ditko were grown adults when they wrote about Spider-Man and neither of them were in synch with emerging youth culture at the time. As such their portrayal of high school life and culture is still very pre-war in a lot of respects rather than the post-war baby boom era. The portrayal of Peter's dynamic with his Aunt and Uncle feels more like something from a story from the Great Depression than The '60s. Yet the character still struck a chord with readers.
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Jameson says this exact phrase when giving a speech at Peter's high school during graduation.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Despite this era of comics codifying Peter Parker as a teenage superhero in high school, very little of the run actually deals with high school, with Peter being too much of a loner, and his classmates bullies, for him to hang out with other students. Peter even graduates by issue 28. Most of the stories follow Peter working at the Daily Bugle and trying to earn a living, or working as Spider-Man. Later adaptations would put much more emphasis on his high school social life.
  • Undying Loyalty: Flash proves that his status as Spider-Man's biggest fan isn't exaggeration as he usually ends up being the only one to call bullshit when his hero supposedly pulled a Face–Heel Turn or is apparently revealed to be a Dirty Coward.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Early in the run, Peter has a crush on Liz Allan. However, she is Flash's girlfriend and initially considers Peter something of a loser, even taking part in the general ridicule that Peter endures on a daily basis. Later on, she hears an ailing Peter had donned a Spider-Man costume in order to save Betty Brant from Doctor Octopus and develops a crush on him. By this time, however, Peter's interest has waned considerably, as he notes that Liz never showed any real interest in him until he began dating Betty Brant and assumes that Liz's feelings are little more than a schoolgirl crush.
  • The Un-Smile: Jameson's smiles creeping people out serves as a Running Gag.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: The Green Goblin is always able to retreat when he has to.
  • Villains Want Mercy: When Spider-Man manages to defeat his goons, Lobo drops on his knees and begs.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: This was where Spider-Man and the Human Torch's friendship began. Cue massive Snark-to-Snark Combat. Considering they are two teenagers with loads of Testosterone Poisoning and a similar need to be taken seriously, it's unsurprising that they butt heads all the time.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: A story arc involving Spider-Man seemingly exposing himself for the Dirty Coward he is has Jameson sport an issue-long shit-eating grin. The Daily Bugle staff are very irritated by Jameson's newfound enthusiasm and friendliness that they hope Spider-Man makes a comeback just so he'll stop. He does, and Jameson is back to his Da Editor attitude, much to everyone's relief.
  • What You Are in the Dark: After Peter and Flash get into a fight provoked by Flash, the Principal of Midtown High calls Peter to his office. Flash is impressed that Peter took the blame himself, then went and confessed his side to it to the principal without Peter knowing he did it until finding out issues later. This doesn't improve things much but it does set the ball rolling for Flash's eventual move from bully to friend.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Since the Fantastic Four were the major title that established Marvel and Spider-Man started as the new guy, the Four made a number of appearances in Spider-Man's early history. Likewise the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #1 has the Four with Spider-Man (and it's drawn by Jack Kirbynote ) and Dr. Doom fights Spider-Man.
  • Worf Had the Flu:
    • Issue 12 has Doctor Octopus easily defeat Spider-Man... because he was suffering from a 24-hour bug at the time. When he's well enough for a rematch, he pulls off a win.
    • Spidey was actually forced to retreat from his first encounter with the Enforcers because he'd recently given blood to help Aunt May and was still weakened from it. Things go better for him when he fights them a second time.
  • World of Jerkass: Something that this period is fairly notorious for. Virtually everyone other than Peter (and even him depending on the issue), Aunt May, and a handful of bystanders are jerks, including Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn. The biggest of them all is of course J. Jonah Jameson.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: The Spider-Man of this run is reluctant to harm women, something Princess Python takes advantage of.
  • You Bastard!: Issue 16's cover cheekily tells the reader that they'll lose Marvel Comics' respect if they don't agree that the issue is awesome.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: During the whole "Spider-Man movie" story, Spider-Man notes how the actors playing the Enforcers look a hell of a lot like the real deal. They are.

Alternative Title(s): The Amazing Spider Man 1963, Lee Ditko Spider Man