Friday, 12 February 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #19. The Sandman, Enforcers and Human Torch

Amazing Spider-Man #19, Spider-Man swings out of the cover at us, the Sandman, Enforcers, Human Torch, Steve Ditko(Cover from December 1964.)

"Spidey Strikes Back!"

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

Somehow I suspect they won't be handing out prizes for guessing who the guest star is this month.

That's right, it's the Human Torch. He's spending so much time in this mag it's a miracle he doesn't just quit the Fantastic Four and move in with Spidey.

So, having shown his face, what does the fiery one get up to?

Mostly he hangs around in a big glass case, having been captured by the Sandman and his cronies the Enforcers. Why the Sandman and his cronies capture him isn't entirely clear, nor is any other part of their plan - assuming they have one and aren't just committing random acts of villainy - but, having got him, they decide he's a great hostage to use in their war against Spider-Man. It never seems to occur to them that, if they make it common knowledge they have the Human Torch then the rest of the Fantastic Four'll come down on them like a ton of bricks. Happily for them, it doesn't seem to occur to the Fantastic Four either who make no appearance till the story's all over.

As always, the Enforcers turn out to be as much use as a parasol in a monsoon, which makes you wonder why the Sandman's teamed up with them. It also makes you wonder why Stan Lee and Steve Ditko kept bringing the useless bunch of bums back. My lack of respect for the less than stellar Kangaroo's no secret but I have the feeling that even he'd wipe the floor with the Enforcers and that's saying something. I suspect Ditko was just getting into drawing rambunctious Kirby-style fight scenes by this stage and simply liked to show Spidey knocking them about a bit.

In truth, the main story's a fairly disposable bit of fun that's there more to reintroduce Spider-Man to the world of bad-guy bashing than anything and was probably forgotten by most readers by the time next month came round. The most important development is in fact that we get to meet the new man in Betty Brant's life.

His name's Ned Leeds and the whole caboodle is a little odd as Peter Parker doesn't seem in the slightest bit bothered to see the woman who up until this tale has been his girlfriend suddenly hanging round with another man.

Ah well, given his ubiquitousness lately, perhaps Pete was just relieved the new man in Betty Brant's life didn't turn out to be the Human Torch.

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