April 13, 2013

Ye Olde School Café: The Amazing Spider-Man #11

Hello and welcome to another week of old school comic book greatness! This week, we’ll look at a story that features two characters that are larger than life right now, with Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man! Way back in ASM #11 (and #12 next week) Spidey and Ock were just in the infancy of their rivalry, but as we know now, they’re inseparable…literally. Thanks to Dan Slott, we have Spock (Spidey/Ock), and even though that seems to be coming to an end by summer, it’s been one of the most talked about Spidey stories ever to hit the universe. Back in the day, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were at the helm, and although the stories weren’t quite as intricate, they did set a foundation of characters that are still not only relevant, but are kicking some serious tail! OK, now that all that is out of the way, let’s get down to one of the earliest stories starring these two adversaries! Amazing Spider-Man #11, written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Steve Ditko (1964).

To set the scene, we have Spider-Man, loved by few, hated by many, thanks in part to J. Jonah Jameson, and also fear itself. Peter has a love interest, too, and no it’s not Mary Jane, and again, no, it’s not Gwen Stacy. It’s a girl named Betty Brant, whom he works beside at the Bugle, and he’s crazy about her, and she seems to be in love with him, as well. As we see Spidey swinging around the city, he makes a turn towards the local prison. You see, today is the day that Doc Ock is going to get out of prison, and Spidey wants to plead with the warden to stop that from happening. He’s not very successful, and Otto leaves the prison. Spidey is distraught, but he’s even more angry when he sees his love interest, Betty Brant, picking up Otto from prison with her car!

The next day, Betty meets with her brother in Pennsylvania, where we find out that her brother owes gambling debts to a hood named Blackie Gaxton. Bennett Brant asked his sister, Betty, to get Doc Ock to help “spring” Blackie from prison to help cover the gambling debts. Now, Peter is at home with Aunt May, and she tells him to have a safe trip to Pennsylvania. Peter then comes face to face with Betty, and the two embrace. Meanwhile, Doc Ock is creeping around Philly, and scheming about what he’ll do when Blackie pays him the one hundred thousand dollars for getting him out of jail. After Ock easily does that, Blackie double-crosses Bennett aboard a ship. Spidey allows himself to be captured to find out what they’re up to. At this point, Ock tells Blackie that he’s taking over now, but before he can respond, Spidey punches two of Blackie’s henchmen, sending them into Ock and knocking him down the steps.

Spidey quickly pounces on the other goons, and then turns his attention to Blackie. The two struggle, but Blackie manages to get a few rounds off, and one of them hits Bennett dead center. He collapses, and dies right in front of Betty. She blames Spidey, but he can’t worry about it now, because Doc Ock is getting away. Spidey follows after him, but Ock gets the upper hand. Spidey then outwits him by blinding him with a fire extinguisher. Ock then runs away towards a boat, but knocks out two more of Blackie’s goons, and grabs the money. He attempts to take Betty hostage, but Spidey stops him. The two then battle more while on a speeding boat, but when it crashes, the police show up, and Ock is gone.

In the end, Spidey is left feeling terrible about what happened to Betty’s brother, and also annoyed that Ock got away with the money. Peter shows up later to console Betty, and she’s an emotional mess. Peter leaves and is very unstable at the moment, as well.

Well, that’s it for now, but be back next week for the conclusion of this early meeting between these two celebrated foes! Will Spidey be able to stop Doc Ock and repair the relationship between himself, his alter-ego, and Betty Brant? Be here next week to find the answers!

Billy Dunleavy



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