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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Silver Age Spider-Man Key Comics Part 5


In Part 4, we got to Steve Ditko leaving the Spider-Man title and Marvel Comics and John Romita Sr. reluctantly picking up as the main artist for the comic series. In this part here, we are definitely getting into the reign of John Romita Sr. and his vast contributions to the character of Spider-Man. 

Steve Ditko helped to create many of Spider-Man's most classic and iconic villains such as Electro, Lizard, Green Goblin, Sandman, Vulture, Mysterio, Doctor Octopus, Kraven, etc. John Romita Sr. would also co-create some classic Spider-Man villains, supporting cast, and designed the look of Peter Parker's most popular of leading ladies. 

Needless to say that Romita Sr.'s influence and contributions to the Spider-Man mythos is legendary. His work on the character is just one of many reasons he's considered a legend in the world of comics.

Romita would redefine the character of Spider-Man and is noted for making the character appeal to a wider audience and becoming more mainstream. He had a long run on the series, even if he didn't always pencil the issues.

Here are more Silver Age Spidey key issues with ole "Ring-A-Ding" John Romita's work on Spider-Man.

  • Origin of the Green Goblin
  • 4th John Romita Spider-Man

After Green Goblin reveals his identity to Spider-Man, his origin is finally told for the first time. Most know of the origin from Sam Raimi Spider-Man flick.

Experimental serum, accidental explosion, gets super-strength and agility, gets smarter as well but goes coo-coo because of it. It's a pretty in-depth origin.

Definitely an important Spider-Man and Green Goblin key issue. It ups the stakes for Peter Parker and the dynamic between him, Harry, and Green Goblin.

At the end of the story, Gobby gets zapped by one of his own weapons and gets amnesia. He forgets that he was ever the Green Goblin and that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.

Spidey also covers his ass by putting Normans in his regular clothes and burns the Goblin costume. When the authorities arrive, Spider-Man keeps Norman's criminal involvement as Green Goblin a secret. That would be prove to be a fatal mistake later. 

Both regular and UK pence data are available in the CGC Census for issue #40. First screenshot is for the regular cents copies.

So, first told origin of one of Spidey's most iconic archenemies and the 4th Spidey work that John Romita Sr. produced. June 9th is the copyright date for Amazing Spider-Man #40 and September, 1966 is on the cover of this comic.

1st appearance of Rhino

The Rhino is another Spidey villain I remember first seeing in a re-run of the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon. Although he is yet another classic foe for the webslinger, I really can't place why.

Always thought he was a bit goofy. Rhino is Aleksei Sytsevich  and was created by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.

Basically a dim-witted thug, Aleksei underwent experiments to augment his strength, speed, agility and durability. A thick polymer armor was bonded to his entire body at first but was destroyed and a second armor that could be removed was given to him.

Rhino's origin is not told in this issue. The character was portrayed by Paul Giamotti in the Amazing Spider-Man sequel and I thought his costume was pretty darn cool.

When it comes to the end of their 1st battle, the webslinger actually K.O.s Rhino by slamming his face into some concrete. 

I had gotten two copies of this comic way before Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the announcement that Paul Giamotti was cast. I sold one copy, and even though demand for this comic has simmered down, I'm still hesitant in getting rid of my 2nd copy.

Might have to do with the fact that it is early John Romita Spider-Man artwork. I believe it's his 5th Spidey work and Rhino is the 1st major Spidey villain Romita co-created that debuted in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man comic series.

Rhino isn't the 1st villain that Romita Sr. co-created that Spidey went up against since he did co-create the Masked Marauder, but those two duked it out first in Daredevil #17. So, technically, Rhino is the 2nd Romita Sr. villainous co-creations that Web-Head battled.

Copyrighted July 7th with the cover date of October, 1966.

1st battle with Avengers
2nd battle with Hulk
Spidey learns Hulks identity

Guess joining the Avengers in the world of Marvel Comics is like joining a street gotta be jumped in and prove yourself. So the Avengers decide to give Spidey a shot at joining Earth's Mightiest Heroes in this issue, but ole Web-Head can't even get a long with most of the group.

Actually, the Wasp already seems to dislike our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Perhaps she remembers the ass whoopin' she got in Tales to Astonish #57 when her and Giant-Man met and battled the web crawler for the first time.

So while the Avengers have no idea what kind of test they're going to put Spider-Man through, he loses his temper and starts to piss off Hawkeye. Spidey loses his cool and attacks Hawkeye.

When this brief battle ends, Thor admires the Web-Head's courage, but Iron Man gets the idea of another test. That test is to go after the Hulk and bring him to the Avengers.

Spidey doesn't hesitate to go after the green brute. It does not take long for him to find the Hulk and the 2nd classic battle between the two takes place in pure Marvel fashion.

The battle is more of Spider-Man evading the Hulk's attacks, but the Hulk turns into Bruce Banner. Bruce tells Spidey how terrible it is have this curse called the Hulk and yadedadeda until he once again Hulks-out!

Feeling bad for Bruce Banner, our hero decides to let the Hulk go and is not admitted into the Avengers. I already featured this issue in Part 5 of the Classic Comic Battles series, and it has classic battles on two fronts for Spidey.

So far no info concerning UK pence submissions, but here's the totals for U.S. cents copies in the CGC Census as of this writing:

Not that high at all so far, and Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr. are credited for the cover artwork to this issue. Cover dated November in the Library of Congress, Amazing Spider-Man Annual or King-Size #3 has the copyright date of August 2nd, 1966.

1st time M.J. face is shown
1st John Romita Sr. Mary Jane
2nd appearance of the Rhino

In this issue, we do see the 2nd appearance of the Rhino in about 9 panels on 3 pages. Spider-Man and Rhino do not meet again nor battle in this issue.

Rhino does try to break free and causes a little bit of mayhem before he's put down again.

In fact, Spidey battles John Jameson. In this issue, John discovers that he is infected by some kind of space spores he picked up from the latest space mission he came back from. These strange spores somehow give him super-human strength. Enter Stark technology and the Jupiter suit.

Under the behest of his father, John and his Jupiter suit goes after Spidey and the two eventually have a go.

Finally we come to this momentous event. With months and issues of teasing, Stan and John Romita Sr. finally unveil Mary Jane Watson and readers get their first full look at her.

As she famously says, "Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot!" Mary Jane isn't short on confidence that's for sure.

Of course, that happens at the very end of the book and Mary Jane only shows up in 2 panels.

Because John Romita Sr. was the first comic artist to draw Mary Jane's face in a published comic, he is also credited as a creator of the character a long with Steve Dikto and Stan Lee. This is the 1st John Romita Sr. Mary Jane artwork and comic history was written.

Mary Jane is the 1st of Peter Parker's major supporting characters that Romita Sr. co-created and designed. He modeled M.J.'s appearance off actress Ann-Margret from the movie Bye Bye Birdie.

She is definitely one of the more popular love interests of Peter Parker and eventually married him. In this issue, Peter Parker and Mary Jane finally meet for the first time face to face.

CGC Census U.S. Cents Stats

Some sources say this is the first full appearance of Mary Jane though Overstreet and CGC don't note it as such and are probably hesitant to do so since it's only in one panel. 

There's still a lot of other goodness to this issue like the 2nd appearance of Rhino and the 1st time Peter and Mary Jane finally meet.

August 9th is the copyright date and the date of November, 1966 is on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #42.

1st full appearance Mary Jane
3rd appearance of Rhino
2nd battle with Rhino
Origin of Rhino

Mary Jane is no longer the mystery girl and finally shows up more fully in this issue and story. CGC does note this issue as her 1st full appearance in their CGC Census and they do note it on some of their CGC labels as well.

As the Rhino escapes incarceration and rampages through the city, Mary Jane suggests that Peter and her go to the scene to see the Rhino up close and personal

While Mary Jane watches from the crowd, Peter slips away to suit up as Spidey and faces the Rhino for the 2nd time in comics. With the 3rd appearance of Rhino, we finally get his 1st told origin story as well.

In the end, Dr. Curt Conners creates a chemical that melts Rhino's suit and Spidey knocks him out for the win.

No submissions for UK or pence copies to date, but here's the census totals for the regular edition of this comic.

I wonder if we'll see this character again in the new Spidey reboot. I was hoping to see more of him after the sequel.

Mary Jane was played by actor Kirsten Dunst in the Spider-Man trilogy. Shailene Woodley was cast as Mary Jane and filmed scenes in the role for Amazing Spider-Man 2. Her scenes did not make in the film.

2nd Rhino cover, 2nd meeting and battle between Rhino & Spider-Man, 3rd appearance of Rhino, 1st full appearance of Mary Jane according to CGC, and the origin of Rhino concerning this issue. Amazing Spider-Man #43 has the cover date of December, 1966 and the copyright date of September 8th.

2nd appearance of the Lizard
2nd Martha & Billy Conners
2nd battle with Lizard
1st John Romita Sr. Lizard

Curt Conners as the Lizard returns for the 2nd time in comics. This would be the 1st John Romita drawn Lizard obviously and the 2nd battle between Lizard and the Web-Head. 

It appears that the antidote that Spidey gave Curt Conners to keep him from turning into the Lizard in issue #6 doesn't quite work anymore. Somehow, the potion or chemical that Conners created to help Spidey defeat the Rhino with has triggered the reaction in Conners that makes him turn into the scaly one.

So the Lizard lives again and there's the glorious rendering of him by John Romita Sr for his 1st artwork on the character. The scaly one and Spidey meet for the 2nd time and battle as well.

Lizard does best Spidey in their 2nd brawl and escapes. However, they would confront each other again in the next issue.

Before the battle, I do believe this issue also sees the first time that Peter introduces Mary Jane to his group of college mates. So Mary Jane meets Flash, Harry Osborn, and Gwen Stacy for the first time in this issue.

Needless to say, she makes quite an impression, but Gwen does seem a bit jealous at the end of their encounter. Oh, the drama of another love triangle in the works.

This issue has the 2nd appearance of Billy Conners, and as mentioned before in Part 1 of this key issues series, he would become Lizard Jr. in later comics.

Doctor Conners as the Lizard last appeared fully and in an actual story that wasn't a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #6, his debut issue.

1st Romita Lizard, 2nd appearance of Lizard & Billy Conners, 2nd Lizard cover (discounting Marvel Tales #3 which basically has the cover of issue #6 on the cover of that comic), 1st time Mary Jane meets Flash, Gwen Stacy, and Harry Osborn. Lots of stuff going on besides the 2nd appearance of the Lizard in Amazing Spider-Man #44, and it has the copyright date of October 11, 1966 but is cover-dated January, 1967.

3rd appearance of the Lizard
3rd appearance Martha & Billy Conners

In the previous issue, it was revealed that the Lizard is unaware that he and Dr. Curt Conners are actually the same person. Arriving at his laboratory to find his notes on the formula that turned him into a human lizard and intent on creating a lizard army with it, the Lizard realizes that he doesn't understand the scientific gibberish and sets off to find him.

Spider-Man is on the hunt for Lizard and eventually finds him. After defeating Lizard in this bout, Spidey takes Lizard back to Conners' laboratory and concocts another formula that turns him back into Curt Conners. 

Despite Parker's good deeds as Spider-Man, he once again realizes that it comes with a price and a sacrifice. Having to break off a date with Mary Jane, he gets upset when he finds Mary Jane riding shotgun in Harry Osborn's car.

CGC data below for both regular and pence copies:


Kinda interesting that this issue has a higher CGC Census total than Amazing Spider-Man #44 when it comes to the regular cents covers. Is there something else about this issue that would have collectors send it into CGC to get graded more than the previous issue?

Perhaps issue #44 is a bit more scarcer? Just an assumption there.

3rd appearance of the Lizard, Martha & Billy Conners, 3rd meeting and battle between Spider-Man & Lizard, and 2nd John Romita Lizard, Amazing Spider-Man #45 has the cover date of February, 1967 with the copyright of November 10, 1966.

1st appearance & origin of the Shocker

The Shocker will finally make his on-screen debut in Spider-Man: Homecoming coming out in summer of next year or 2017. Bokeem Woodbine apparently will play Herman Shultz.

Created by John Romita Sr. and Stan Lee, Herman Shultz was a petty crook who had engineering talent that he preferred to use for criminal gain. He created his famous gauntlets that could produce blasts of air that vibrated at high frequencies to escape from prison.

Extremely deadly, he also created a protective suit that could absorb the shock his gauntlets produced. These shocks can crumble solid concrete and therefore can heavily damage the human body as well as organs.

Set photos of the Shocker were revealed back in July, and fans are excited to see this Spidey villain for the first time live-action. Because of this leak, Shocker's 1st appearance has been a hot comic this year, but who knows for how long.

Here's the cover to the pence copy of Amazing Spider-Man #46. You can click the link to enlarge the image for a better view if you're interested in UK variants or editions. 

Whatever you want to call 'em. I just call 'em pence copies.

Shocker is the 2nd Spidey villain that was co-created by John Romita Sr. to debut in the Amazing Spider-Man comic series during his run, and his next full appearance is in Amazing Spider-Man #72.

This issue also has Peter and Harry move into an apartment together and become roommates. Another step in the development of their friendship. 

Cover-dated March, 1967, the 1st appearance of Shocker in Amazing Spider-Man #46 has the copyright date of December 8, 1966.

1st John Romita Sr. Kraven
1st Peter & Mary Jane date
5th appearance of Kraven the Hunter
4th Kraven cover

The hunt is on again, and Kraven is back. Admittedly, this character inspired the title of the "On the Hunt" section of this site. With Romita taking over the pencils, this issue is the 1st time the legendary comic artist does published artwork for Kraven the Hunter.

I'm considering this a 5th full appearance. He was shown in a one panel cameo in issue #18 after Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. If you count that cameo appearance, this would be his 6th appearance ever in comics, discounting his 1st appearance story reprinted in Marvel Tales #10 which came after this comic anyway. Marvel Tales #10 was a reprinted story of Kraven's 1st appearance as well.

This issue also has the 4th cover appearance of Kraven, his 3rd cover being in Amazing Spider-Man #34, 2nd cover on Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, and 1st on Amazing Spider-Man #15.

Mary Jane and Peter Parker finally go on a 1st date in this issue and Kraven is the lucky villain to bust in on that looking to get information on where Norman Osborn is from Harry. Gotta admit, Kraven sure knows how to make an entrance when money is involved.

Beginning of the comic the story is told in flashback and has a Gobby cameo. Apparently, Gobby paid Kraven the Hunter $20,000 to kill the webslinger in the past. This information was not told in any of Kraven's prior appearances that showed the two battling, so this is new retconned information.

Kraven wants his money and had tracked an underling to Norman Osborn's house (past untold events). Unaware that Norman is Green Goblin, first revealed in Amazing Spider-Man #39, Kraven thinks Osborn is the Green Goblin's flunky.

So the drama begins and Kraven wants his money but meets and battles Spidey for the 4th time in comics. 'Nuff said.


Overstreet does note this as Peter and Mary Jane's first date as well as Kraven's 5th appearance. Kraven's 4th cover appearance, 1st Romita Kraven artwork, and 4th battle between him and the Web-Head aren't noted yet. Cover date April, 1967 and copyright date January 10th for Amazing Spider-Man #47.

1st Blackie Drago as Vulture

Blackie Drago is a minor villain that actually masqueraded as the Vulture for a bit. Yep, the Vulture in this comic is not the Adrian Toomes version.

Apparently, Adrian Toomes is in a prison hospital and dying. He asks Blackie to take on the mantle and finish the job of destroying our favorite Web-Head.

With information on where Toomes buried his vulture wings, Blackie sets off to fulfill the request.

Kraven has a cameo in this issue and is not really part of the story. He's seen on TV in a news report which blames Spider-Man for interfering with the Police's ability to capture Kraven.

Wonderful to be a super-hero in Marvel Comics, eh? Kraven does make his 6th appearance and 5th cover appearance in the next issue #49 which this story is continued in. In the next issue, Kraven and Blackie as the Vulture have a three-way battle royal with Spidey.

Obviously there are pence copies of this issue that exist in the secondary market. 

Not really that sought-out of a key issue over-all. Could be considered the 4th full appearance of the character of the Vulture, but it's not Adrian Toomes. The character of Adrian Toomes as himself shows up in about 8 panels, in which 7 are identifiable, on only two pages.

4th full appearance of Adrian Toomes? Maybe. February 14th and May, 1967 are the copyright and cover dates to Amazing Spider-Man #48.

1st appearance of Kingpin

Hot comic when Vincent D'Onofrio was cast as this classic and iconic baddie in the first season of Daredevil on Netflix. His performance and the way the character was written was widely well received.

I've discussed this villain a few times already, and he is one of the more popular street-level Marvel villains. Using Kingpin in the Daredevil comic series also helped in the eventual popularity of this villain.

His real name of Wilson Fisk was not named until a later issue, and the character was just known as the Kingpin of Crime. Fisk is an organized crime boss that is intent on controlling New York's underworld.

Although he appears fat, it is actually muscle and the Kingpin is a very strong and adept fighter. He has taken on the Punisher in throw downs and won, including his first meeting with Frank Castle.

Can't really say enough as to why this 1st appearance key issue is one to definitely own. Another classic villain that John Romita Sr. co-created with Stan Lee, and the legendary artist based the character's appearance off of actor Sydney Hughes Greenstreet.

Frank Miller would later use the character and sort of reinvent him as a cold, calculating, crime lord and eventually became recognized as being the archenemy of Daredevil. 

The character of Kingpin have been portrayed by three actors to date. He was first portrayed by John Rhys-Davies in the Trial of the Incredible Hulk TV movie. Michael Clarke Duncan (R.I.P.) in the 2003 widely panned Daredevil flick. As mentioned before, Wilson Fisk is played by Vincent D'Onofrio in the Netflix Daredevil series.

Definitely an important first appearance for both Spidey and Daredevil fans, Amazing Spider-Man #50 is cover-dated July, 1967 with the copyright date of April 11th.

1st Kingpin cover 
1st meeting & battle Spider-Man & Kingpin
2nd appearance of Kingpin
1st Joe Robbie Robertson cameo

The Kingpin returns and gets a cover spotlight for the 1st time. In this issue, the Kingpin and Spider-Man do finally meet in his 2nd appearance in comics.

There's more key issue goodness than just the 2nd appearance of Kingpin in this issue. Not always do villains meet and battle in their first appearances.

The iconic villain of the Kingpin actually has his 1st meeting and classic throw down with our web-slingin' hero in this issue. 

Furthermore, we finally get the 1st cameo appearance of Daily Bugle editor Joe "Robbie" Robertson, who is the 1st major supporting character in Spider-Man comics.

A close friend and confident of J. Jonah, Robbie is often the voice of reason when it comes to Jameson's quest to discredit the web slinger. He is seen as more supportive to Daily Buble staffers, especially Peter Parker, and it was later revealed that Robertson's supportive attitude towards Spider-Man was because he knew that Parker was the masked hero.

Hmmmm? I suppose it only took Robbie Robertson one issue to get grey hair? Talk about a stressful job. 

In Gerry Conway's run on The Spectacular Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man comics, he connected Robertson's past with the villain known as Tombstone. I was glad to see this character in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man flicks.

Bill Nunn played the character in the Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, and just like the comics, I immediately liked the character. The casting choice was perfect in my humble Spidey-fandom opinion.

So there is more than meets the eye for this comic here. Amazing Spider-Man #51 and the 2nd appearance and 1st cover appearance of Kingpin has the date of August, 1967 on the cover but was copyrighted May 9th of that year.

1st appearance of Joe Robbie Robertson
2nd Spider-Man and Kingpin battle
3rd appearance of Kingpin

Story is continued from the previous issue and Spider-Man has wrench himself and J. Jonah Jameson from the clutches of the Kingpin and his goons. Therefore Spidey has his 2nd fight with the Kingpin.

Fredrick Foswell (Big Man) also helps J. Jonah to escape, but he is shot and killed by Kingpin's thugs. Although Spider-Man also helped Jameson escape, J. Jonah blames the Web-Head for Foswell death and vows to blast the hero in the papers.

According to Overstreet, Robbie Robertson makes his 1st appearance in this issue as well, but he only shows up in 2 panels on one page. Don't know why that's not just considered a cameo.

Perhaps it's because most of his early appearances are cameos. Robbie Robertson's last name is revealed in this issue, however, and he does not show up in the next issue. Kingpin does not appear on the cover of this issue. He next appears in a cameo in Amazing Spider-Man #59.

June 8th is the copyright for Amazing Spider-Man #52 and the cover date is September, 1967.

We are well into the John Romita Sr. era of Spider-Man and there's a few more issues to highlight in Part 6 concerning keys that the legendary artist contributed to. Although nearing the last of John Romita Sr.'s work on Amazing Spider-Man, he did layouts, corrections, touch ups, and sometimes only covers.

John Buscema would have a short stint on the Amazing Spider-Man comics until Gil Kane eventually became the regular penciler, but during this time of the Romita Sr. era, Peter Parker and Spider-Man were definitely growing up. U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was referenced quite a bit since the character of Flash Thompson volunteered to join the Armed Services.

Since Peter and many other supporting characters were students at Empire State University, politics and student activism of the time were also captured in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man to an extent.

Want more Spidey key comics from the Silver Age? Swing into Part 6 by using the navigation links below. Actually, you can navigate to other parts of this Silver Age section if you missed 'em since I'm blasting it out all at once. Hope you continue to enjoy!

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