Thursday, 11 March 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #32. Dr Octopus and the Master Planner

Amazing Spider-Man #32, dr octopus master planner, steve ditko cover
(Cover from January 1966.)

"Man On A Rampage!"

Scripted by Stan Lee.
Plotted, drawn and inked by Steve Ditko.
Lettered by Artie Simek.

This is more like it. After a whole string of stories that would've made me give up on the project if not for my bloody-mindedness, at last the Amazing Spider-Man gets good again as Peter Parker discovers that, thanks to his radioactive blood, the transfusion he gave Aunt May back in Amazing Spider-Man #10 is what's responsible for her condition now. Seeking the help of Dr Curt Connors, AKA the Lizard, he realises that, to save her, he's going to need to get his hands on a rare isotope.

The only problem is, as it's on its way, it's stolen by the Master Planner's gang. Cue Spider-Man tearing half of New York apart to try and find the Master Planner.

He finds him, in his underwater base, and learns that his opponent's none other than his old foe Dr Octopus. For once, Octopus is no match for his hyped-up nemesis and tries to flee but, in his fight with the villain, the ceiling collapses, trapping Spider-Man beneath a pile of concrete and steel as the river starts to leak into the base, and time ticks away for poor old Aunt May.

It's great to see some genuine urgency and drama back in the strip, the sense that events actually matter; also the irony that it's Peter's earlier attempt to save Aunt May that's now responsible for her potential demise. We might love Peter Parker but that's the kind of torment we want to see him put through at every possible opportunity.

The ending's the sort of torment we want to see him put through too, as the odds are stacked well and truly against our hero as he gives in to despair and the knowledge that he's failed when he most needed to succeed. There's even been time for Peter Parker to cram in a bust-up with Ned Leeds along the way. If only every issue of Spider-Man from this era had been like this.

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