It’s All-Amazing, the series where I review every issue of The Amazing Spider-Man and tell you all about it. Today, Spider-Man meets a guest from someone else’s rogue’s gallery…
The Amazing Spider-Man – Issue 5 – Review
Amazing Spider-Man 5 is kind of special, y’know? This marks the first time in Spider-Man’s history that he fights a villain from someone else’s book. This is also the first issue not to introduce any major players to the Marvel universe. Our story begins with Peter Parker and his friends watching Spider-Man get trounced by the press again. His friends all love Spider-Man so Parker comes up with an ingenious plan to throw them off the scent.
Meanwhile, they aren’t the only ones watching, because Doctor Doom is also taking in a little TV and he decides Spider-Man is just who he needs. The press is so convinced Spider-Man is New York’s greatest villain, Doom decides to try and hire him to defeat the Fantastic Four. He does this by putting a spider into a transmitter and using it like a CB radio. It’s sort of like Gene Hackman’s supersonic broadcast in Superman: The Movie, except dumb.
Spider-Man picks up the signal and follows it back to Doom, who puts the offer to him directly. Spidey appears to consider it seriously for a moment, before remembering he’s supposed to be the hero of the book and webbing Doom up. At this point Doom reveals Spider-Man has been talking to a dummy the whole time, and Doom has actually been stood three feet away in the closet. This was the point I realised that 1963 Spider-Man isn’t all that bright. What I am starting to notice however is just how right Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in Civil War is to this era. His Peter Parker is reluctant, goofy, and nerdy too; he can’t stop talking, he seriously considers terrible ideas, and he dramatically underestimates how far over his head he is. So, moments later, Doom kicks his ass. Parker escapes unscathed, but he has to dive out the window to do it. By the time he gets back, Doom has fled, and our hero gets the blame for the devastation once again.
This creates a problem for Doom, Spider-Man knows he’s in the city and is on the case, and Doom has a pathological need for revenge. Now he knows Spider-Man is a hero, he also figures he can threaten his life, and the Fantastic Four will come running to his rescue instead. This is a pretty nice touch really. Doom isn’t my favourite Marvel villain, but even an amateur admirer like me knows his main beef is with Reed Richards, and that comes through. Even when Spider-Man’s in his grasp, The Fantastic Four are his endgame. With all this in mind, Doom develops a device that will actually use Spider-Man’s spider sense against him, tracking him down anywhere in the city.
Coincidentally, at exactly this moment, Flash Thompson and Peter’s 1960s, white toothed, dead-eyed school chums are planning on scaring Peter by having Flash jump out dressed as Spider-Man and surprise him… do I even need to tell you where this is going?
The rest of the book unfolds pretty neatly from here, Doctor Doom goes on TV and reveals to the world that he has kidnapped ‘Spider-Man’, and if the Fantastic Four don’t disband immediately he’s going to murder him, Parker finds out about the planned prank and figures out who must be in the Spider-Man costume (and, I shit you not, considers leaving Flash to die), and Aunt May makes Peter promise not to leave the house and get hurt. Peter does it anyway, because he’s a jerk.
He makes a fairly rapid entrance to Doom’s hideout after deducing that Evil Genius Doctor Doom probably only designed traps to protect against the Fantastic Four. He gets in by climbing down the air vent, because Reed Richards could never do that or nothin’…
There our intrepid hero fights Doom while being subjected to various traps, including another robot, something lightning related, and a machine with lots of spinning balls on it. The fight lasts a while, but neither has the upper hand, in a way that feels a bit too much like Stan Lee not wanting to let either of his babies look soft. It only ends when The Fantastic Four arrives to save the day. Flash Thompson unfortunately survives.
This is an interesting issue, because the addition of Doctor Doom is clearly supposed to be a big draw. His name is as big as the title on the cover, and he drives most of the plot forward. He’s a pretty brutal opponent too, he never loses a fight and he outsmarts Peter several times. The only problem is nobody really loses anything at any time in the book. It’s like play-sparring where you know there are no real consequences, and Doom is exactly what he always is, the most cliche and moustache twirling villain in the Marvel library.
The issue is fun at times, but separated from the hype, it just feels like a bit of a distraction. For a series that has prided itself so much on developing Spider-Man as a real character, there’s none of that here. Even Flash’s stupid prank feels more like a chance to have Doom make his scary message than part of Parker’s personal life story. It’s not bad, it’s just very safe, like neither character could step too much on the other’s toes.
One thing I did really love about this issue though was the art, which was heavy and stylised all the time. Ditko has always been a bit off-model for me, but here he really finds his groove and every panel looks great. Top notch stuff.
That’s all for this time, but coming up next we have a hell of a villain making their first appearance.