Saturday, 13 February 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #20. The Scorpion makes his debut

Amazing Spider-Man #20, on his first appearance, the Scorpion holds the helpless Spider-Man aloft, ready to finish him off, origin
(Cover from January 1965.)

"The Coming Of the Scorpion!"

Written by Stan Lee.
Drawn by Steve Ditko.
Inked by Steve Ditko.
Lettered by Sam Rosen.


A man has to learn from his mistakes and Spider-Man has to do it the hard way in this tale.

I'll say it openly, this is probably my favourite story of the whole Steve Ditko era, mostly because of the sheer nastiness of the Scorpion. He's not just bad, he's positively evil, his mind warped by the potions of Dr Farley Stillwell. It also helps that he was created especially to fight Spider-Man, meaning he has just the right tools in his armoury to give our hero a good hiding.

And he does exactly that. In fact, he knocks out Spidey and leaves him for dead not once but twice in this outing. Never has an issue of Spider-Man been so brutal in its treatment of our hero. And that's the whole point of the tale. Seemingly outclassed by his foe, and lucky to survive his first two encounters with him, still Spider-Man drags himself to his feet for another go and, having learned his lesson not to try and slug it out with a stronger opponent, eventually triumphs by being too clever for a powerful but inexperienced foe.

For me, Steve Ditko's art reaches its peak in this issue. His use of light and shade plus the quality of his figure drawing and panel composition are simply outstanding here.

On the domestic front, Ned Leeds didn't last long After a couple of issues he's already written out, despatched to Europe. All of which makes you wonder why he was introduced in the first place, when he didn't really do anything while he was here. Presumably he was introduced as a love rival for Peter Parker but his disappearance after two issues - one of which saw Peter seemingly not bothered about his presence - means he never had chance to really become that.

Good to see J Jonah Jameson get so much of the action. He really is a dunderhead. As with the earlier Kraven the Hunter tale, he's trying to get someone to beat Spider-Man for him. Again he gets it disastrously wrong. And, like Spider-Man before him, will he learn his lesson?

I think we can assume he doesn't.

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