Saturday, 23 January 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #5. Dr Doom

Amazing Spider-Man #5, Dr Doom fires shots at Spidey as the wall-crawler jumps out of the way, Steve Ditko, first meeting(Cover from October 1963.)

"Marked For Destruction By Dr. Doom!"

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

Need legal advice? Then Dr Doom's your man. The man who the Fantastic Four are convinced they can never arrest because he's broken no law, despite breaking just about every law under the sun every time he sets foot out of his castle, is back; and Spider-Man discovers that the best kind of attorney is a punch in the face.

As if flinging Dr Octopus and the Sandman at Spider-Man over the last two issues wasn't enough, now Stan Lee and Steve Ditko bring in the biggest gun in their arsenal, as arguably Marvel Comics' greatest villain makes a house call on Spider-Man's mag.

In fact, its a somewhat silly version of the good Doctor that we get; one who comes up with a plan that, like most super villain plans, makes no noticeable sense. You see, having decided he can't defeat the Fantastic Four on his own, our villain's decided to enlist the aid of Spider-Man.

The only trouble is, Spider-Man doesn't want to team up with Dr Doom and doesn't want to kill the Fantastic Four. Upon hearing this, Doom does what you expect him to do in such circumstances and, instead, tries to kill Spider-Man. You can't help feeling Doom's life would be so much less stressful if only he'd stop trying to kill everyone.

Needless to say, his latest attempt at homicide fails and Spider-Man escapes.

Doom, however, is really into this killing thing, like other people are really into the hula hoop, and later captures Flash Thompson who's disguised as Spider-Man. He then uses this captive "Spider-Man" as bait to lure the Fantastic Four into fighting him.

It's a great plan.

There's only three things wrong with it.

1. He doesn't actually tell the Fantastic Four where he is.

2. He doesn't need to give Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, and Sue and Johnny Storm a reason to fight him. In case he hasn't noticed, he's their arch-enemy and menace to mankind. All of which means they'd be perfectly happy to smack him in the kisser any old time.

3. He's said, at the start of the tale, that he wants to enlist Spider-Man because he can't beat the Fantastic Four on his own. So how come now, eight pages later, he's planning to take the Fantastic Four on on his own?

Actually, just like Victor's plan, as a tale it's somewhat unsatisfactory. Basically it's Dr Doom throwing unlikely gadget after unlikely gadget at Spider-Man who keeps dodging them, until, at last, Steve Ditko gets bored with it and Spider-Man finally fails to dodge one, at which point the Fantastic Four turn up and Dr Doom, who wanted the Fantastic Four to turn up, so he could defeat them, decides he can't defeat them and runs away. Oh, Victor, will you never learn?

So, despite it being Spider-Man's first run-in with an established Marvel villain, and his millionth encounter with the Human Torch in just five issues, the tale's more notable for the private life of Peter Parker, as Flash Thompson, who's been a somewhat two dimensional character so far, is revealed to be a huge Spider-Man fan, even to the extent of dressing up as the super hero in order to give Peter Parker a shock. Interesting that when Flash goes missing, it's Peter that Liz Allan and the other kids phone to try and sort the mess out for them. Clearly, they must, deep down, have plenty of respect for Peter, no matter what they say.

Meanwhile, Betty Brant reveals she has certain feelings for Peter Parker. Feelings that it seems are mutual. Peter Parker's remarkable ability to attract attractive women - despite him always claiming to be unlucky in love - has at last made its debut.

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