Thursday, 21 January 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #4. The Sandman

Amazing Spider-Man #4, first appearance and origin the sandman, flint Marko(Cover from September 1963.)

"Nothing Can Stop The Sandman!"

Words by Stan Lee.
Art by Steve Ditko.

"Nothing can stop the Sandman," boasts the story's title. Well, nothing except the sea coming in, presumably.

But, despite that and the less than magnificent cover, the strip really had hit its stride by this point. After giving us one great villain last issue, the comic gives us yet another in the Sandman, a villain so powerful, he went on to become a recurring foe for both the Fantastic Four and even the Incredible Hulk. Anyone who can hold their own in such company's clearly not to be sneezed at.

Well, not unless his sand gets up your nose.

Admittedly his menace in this tale's somewhat undermined by the fact he's defeated by a vacuum cleaner, a device that wouldn't even defeat me but he gets some good knocks in first, including a surprisingly brutal scene, for the early 1960s, where he repeatedly head butts Spider-Man.

The humorous side of the strip really hasn't been in evidence before but, here, we can see it first start to show through, as Spider-Man's threatened with legal action by a gang of crooks he prevents from robbing a jewellery store, Peter Parker's forced by Aunt May to take an umbrella to school, J Jonah Jameson loses his trousers, and Peter Parker has girl trouble. Bit by bit, the elements that made The Amazing Spider-Man unstoppable are being added - presumably intuitively - to the strip.

It's clearly an issue for first appearances because not only do we get our first meeting with the Sandman, we also get our first encounter with two women who'll rapidly become important in the life of Spider-Man; Liz Allen/Allan and Betty Brant. When we first meet Liz, it seems Peter Parker's already made a date with her, a date he inevitably has to cancel, and Betty Brant's trying to avoid J Jonah Jameson.

Something that doesn't make its debut is Aunt May's ill health. Four issues in and there's still no sign of Aunt May fainting, having a heart attack or being in any way shape or form ill. Just when will all the facets that made May Parker so annoying make their debut?

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