"Captured by J Jonah Jameson!"
Written by Stan Lee.
Drawn by Steve Ditko.
Inked by Steve Ditko.
Lettered by Sam Rosen.
Amazing Spider-Man #25; it's a landmark issue in a whole bunch of ways, featuring the debuts of two characters and a robot we'd get to see a zillion times again.
But I don't care about that.
All I care about is the middle panel of page three.
Because it backs up the theory I outlined reviewing Amazing Spider-Man #23.
What was it I said?
I said Norman Osborn seemed to be making a cameo appearance months before he's supposed to have even made his debut in the Amazing Spider-Man. And blow me down with a feather if he doesn't do it again.
I don't care what anyone says, it's definitely Norman Osborn, being spoken to by Daily Bugle publisher J Jonah Jameson about placing an ad in his paper and meeting him later at the club. Bearing in mind the Steve Ditko quote I posted then, about him having planted a character in the strip who'd later be revealed to be the Green Goblin, and him being associated with Jameson, and I'm now convinced Steve Ditko really did intend Norman Osborn to be the Goblin all along.
I don't like to boast but I feel like I've suddenly reinvented comic book history. For my next trick I'll no doubt be proving it was Martin Goodman who actually created all of Marvel's Silver Age heroes while Stan Lee and Jack Kirby simply watched in awe. Well, when you're on a roll...
As for the main story, it's no secret I'm not a fan of the Spider-Slayer - mostly because I keep telling everyone I'm not. Mainly it's because it kept coming back, for no noticeable reason and to no good effect, but, on its first appearance, it really is a bizarre contraption, with its legs that seem able to extend forever and its metal tentacles. So, just for its oddness, right now I can forgive it its future sins against entertainment. It's also interesting to see Professor Smythe being portrayed in a totally different way to his future appearances, with his virtual indifference to the failure of his machine. Compare that to his later maniacal quest to gain vengeance on Spider-Man for nothing much in particular and it's an entirely more refreshing portrayal.
Meanwhile, it's good to see Spider-Man getting hoist by his own petard. Thinking himself incapable of losing to such a silly-looking robot, Peter Parker goads J Jonah Jameson into setting the Spider-Slayer on Spider-Man, only to find that, when it happens, he can't figure out a way to either defeat or escape it.
Clearly Steve Ditko was in a generous mood this issue because, apart from Norman Osborn, we get another cameo, as Mary Jane Watson at last appears in the strip.
Admittedly, thanks to a strategically placed flower, we don't get to see her face, and Ditko's depiction of what we can see looks like something from a whole different era compared to the swinging groover Jazzy John Romita introduces later on but it means there are now three hot chicks in Peter Parker's life to compete for his affections - and we haven't even met Gwen Stacy yet.
I don't know, whatever happened to that kid who couldn't get the girls?