Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #57

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: From The Beginning

This review was first published on: 1 Dec 2017.

Background...

If you search your memory for the Spidey stories from this period, you’re likely to come up with the “Spider-Man No More” Kingpin trilogy, the four issue “Doc Ock Wins,” and “The Coming of the Brainwasher” trilogy and leave it there. If so, you are missing two solo issues wedged in between; ASM #57 and ASM #58. “Well,” you might say, “they’re easy to forget, surrounded as they are by these other great stories.” But ASM #57, at least, should not be forgotten because ASM #57 is exceptional. Not only is it thrilling in its own right but it continues a major thread from the Doc Ock storyline because Spider-Man still has not regained his memory which makes him more vulnerable than he’s ever been. And Peter’s prolonged absence takes a toll on his friends and family. Let’s jump in!

In Detail...

"The Coming of Ka-Zar!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #57
Feb 1968 : SMURF 057.500 : SM Title
Summary: Ka-Zar in New York
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  Don Heck, John Romita, Sr.
Inker:  Mickey Demeo
Cover Art:  John Romita, Sr.
Staff Only
Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Kazar (Vol. 1) #3
 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #3
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility #2
Articles: Watson, Anna, Aunt May Parker, George Stacy, Gwen Stacy, Jameson, J. Jonah, Ka-Zar, John Jameson (Man-Wolf)

Let’s begin with the cover. There is nothing particularly eye-catching about this one. Spidey perches on a cornice as Ka-Zar and Zabu attack him from each side. There is a sketchy series of buildings below them with a couple of cars and a few bystanders. Ka-Zar does look very threatening and is drawn with his fists right above Spidey so it looks like he’s ready to land a couple of haymakers. The motion lines help this effect. Zabu should be even more threatening but is not since he comes from below. Actually, I think the most interesting part of this cover is that Spider-Man has his back completely turned to us. There have been many covers where Spidey is turned away but we can still see one eye lens or his chin but not this time. I can think of only one other cover so far where this is true. Which is it? I’ll let you work on that and I’ll tell you down below in the Milestones section.

The cover copy shows Stan in his worrywart persona. “You may like this yarn or loathe it,” he says, “But we promise you this…you’ll never forget it!” which is funny, considering I started this review under the assumption that most people do forget it. But don’t worry, Stan, because I love it! I love it!

Spidey’s back is also turned to us on the splash page. He is perched upside-down, checking out a penthouse party. It is an odd position for him with his left hand clinging to the wall and his right hand adhered to an awning. Since he doesn’t know who he is and doesn’t know where to go, he has been wandering around and is now “half-starved.” Shooting out some webbing, he snags a sandwich and yanks it away. A fellow named Lester sees the sandwich flying but when he mentions it, he is accused of “drinking too much punch.” Around the corner, out of sight of the party, Spidey sticks to the wall, removes his mask and starts eating the sandwich…though how he got that webbing off of it is beyond me. Now that he knows he won’t “starve for a while,” he tries to find a good place to sleep. “My best bet is to seek the heights…where the police won’t find me,” he decides. He finds a spot under a ledge but it starts to rain. “I’ve got to find a dry spot somewhere,” he decides. “Boy, I may not know my name but I’m sure of one thing…I’m probably the original hard-luck Charlie.”

He web-swings out into the rain, deciding to put his mask back on before he goes. (“There must be some reason why it’s part of my costume!” he thinks.) He winds up in Grand Central Terminal where he falls asleep atop a sign that reads, as far as we can see, “ELANE.” Does anyone have any idea what this means?

Spidey may be finally getting some sleep but his Aunt May is too worried to stay in bed. She gets up, thinking of calling Harry Osborn for any word and worrying that her friends are keeping bad news from her. She doesn’t make it to the door for “Exactly fifteen seconds later,” according to Stan, she collapses and Anna Watson finds her on the floor. Anna calls Dr. Bromwell. “You’ve got to come at once!” she says with tears in her eyes, “Or…perhaps it would be better…to send an ambulance!”

Now, either Spidey and May are in bed very early or there’s a late-night city council meeting going on. Members grill John Jameson on his decision to let Spider-Man escape in our last issue. Captain George Stacy, who “acts as a special consultant to the City Council on police matters,” is there. (In case you were wondering how Captain Stacy is able to keep sticking his nose in places when he is retired.) Also there is Colonel Jameson’s superior officer, a General. That General defends John, saying, “His orders were to retrieve the stolen nullifier…not to apprehend costumed criminals!” (Which he did.) But the General also asks John why he let Spidey go free. “Because he had saved my life three times in the past, Sir!” says John. Now if you think you’re going to have to come up with those three times on your own, Captain Stacy has you covered! ”I’ve made a study of Spider-Man’s record,” says George, “One of his earliest exploits was saving a space craft which the Colonel was piloting…while he later rescued him from the Rhino and finally from Dr. Octopus himself!” And if you think you’re going to have to come up with those three issues on your own, Stan has you covered! “Spi #1, 41, and 56,” he writes in a footnote. (You could add #42 as well when Spidey shocks the space spores out of John.) The meeting breaks up and John’s father, J. Jonah Jameson, is waiting out in the hall. “Is it true? Did you let that webbed weasel escape?” asks Jonah. John tries to introduce JJJ to Captain Stacy but Jonah is too concerned about how “my own son” let “that masked murderer go scot free.” When George informs JJJ that there is no proof Spidey has murdered anyone, Jonah replies, “Who needs proof? Everyone knows he’s a rotten low-down no-good killer!”

The “More Triumphs for Marvel” page is an “Another Marvel Masterpiece” page this time because it only spotlights one issue: Marvel Super-Heroes #12 featuring Captain Marvel. It is the first appearance of Marvel’s Captain Marvel, as they snag the name away from DC who let things lapse with the original Captain Marvel whom they gobbled up from Fawcett when they sued them for supposedly ripping off Superman. This Captain Marvel eventually dies of cancer in Jim Starlin’s Marvel Graphic Novel (No. 1) Death of Captain Marvel but, in seeking to keep the rights to the name, Marvel has imposed it on several other characters. The latest “Captain Marvel” is Carol Danvers who was once Ms. Marvel and will soon have a movie of her own, which should cement her right to the moniker. This is also the first issue of “Marvel Super-Heroes” since the series was known as Fantasy Masterpieces for its first 11 issues. Except there was a Marvel Super-Heroes #1 (1966) that reprinted Avengers #2, November 1963, Stan’s first ever story from Captain America Comics #3, May 1941, Daredevil #1, April 1964 and a Golden Age Human Torch vs. Sub-Mariner story from Marvel Mystery Comics #8, June 1940, all of which was previously reviewed. Besides Captain Marvel, this issue features reprints from Men’s Adventures #27, May 1954, All-Winners Comics #12, Spring 1944, Men’s Adventures #28, July 1954, Black Knight #1, May 1955 and Sub-Mariner Comics #38, February 1955. And having puffed this issue all up the way I have, I should probably mention that the Captain Marvel story isn’t very good. And speaking of Marvel Super-Heroes, I’ll expand my review of Marvel Super-Heroes #14, May 1968 not long down the line.

There’s one more panel to the John, Jonah, George scene. Jonah states “There’s someone arriving in the city…someone who’ll be able to make mincemeat of that costumed creep.” He finishes with a rather nasty “I’ll find a way to do what my own son wouldn’t do!”

Who is that “someone arriving in the city?” The scene shifts to JFK airport where Lord Kevin Plunder, known as Ka-Zar, is mobbed by reporters. Ka-Zar is dressed in a green suit with a white ascot and he has Zabu, his saber-toothed tiger, on a leash walking next to him. He is pelted with reporters’ questions, none of which he really answers. One reporter asks, “Lord Plunder, is it true that you prefer being called Ka-Zar, Lord of the Jungle? And would you tell us why you’ve come to the United States?” “It is purely personal!” Ka-Zar replies, “I must discuss legal matters about my estate with my lawyer!” To the question, “What about the fact that it took an Act of Congress to allow you to bring that beast with you?” Ka-Zar answers, “I travel nowhere without Zabu!” (I’d love to see Congress agreeing enough to issue an Act like that nowadays.) To all the other questions, Ka-Zar simply says, “I have nothing more to say!”

But there is more to say about Ka-Zar for those who are unfamiliar with him. Actually, Ka-Zar can be considered the first Marvel hero. Well, not this Ka-Zar but another Ka-Zar who appeared as the eponymous hero in three issues of a pulp magazine starting in 1936. When Marvel Mystery Comics #1, October 1939 came out, Ka-Zar was included with a story rehashing his origin from the pulps. That Ka-Zar was David Rand, a Tarzan knock-off, who was raised in Africa by his father after their plane crashed, killing his mother. After his father is killed, David becomes Ka-Zar, which means “friend of Zar,” Zar being a lion that David befriended. That Ka-Zar doesn’t stick around very long. His last appearance is Marvel Comics #27, January, 1942. Then he is pretty much forgotten by everyone except Stan, who gradually introduced new or updated versions (or simply lifted the names) of Golden Age Timely characters in his Silver Age Marvel books. By the time Stan gets to Ka-Zar, he has already used the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, Captain America, the Angel, the Black Widow, Electro, Jack Frost, the Human Top, the Ringmaster and probably some others.

The Ka-Zar we know arrives in The X-Men #10, March 1965. In this version, Ka-Zar is orphaned in the Savage Land, which is somewhere in Antarctica but is an underground tropical jungle with dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. He is raised by the saber-tooth tiger Zabu who becomes his companion. This time Ka-Zar means “Son of the Tiger” in the language of the Man-Apes who live in the Savage Land. None of this information comes from that first X-Men appearance where the only background we get is when Ka-Zar says, “Many moons ago…other men…on surface…attacked Ka-Zar! Ka-Zar fled…down here! Will never flee again!”

Ka-Zar’s next appearance is in Daredevil #12-14, January-March 1966. Here, we are introduced to Lord Parnival Plunder, the Plunderer (#12). He reveals that Ka-Zar is his brother Kevin (#13). He tells the story of his father, who discovers a “vibrating ore.” “Enemy agents learned of his find, and hounded him! He flew away with Kevin, to escape them…back to the hidden jungle where he had first found the ore! He and Kevin never returned!” (This explains the “other men” who “attacked Ka-Zar” in the quote from X-Men #10.) The Plunderer captures Ka-Zar and takes him back to Britain. He wants the other half of a medallion, held by Ka-Zar and made of the ore. This gives him access to a supply of the stuff with which he creates his vibra-ray gun. Daredevil eventually defeats him (#14) and Ka-Zar is left in the hospital recovering from a gassing. In Daredevil #24, January 1967, DD learns that “Ka-Zar [is] barricaded within Plunder Castle, while the police prepare to take him…by force if necessary! They’ve been referring to him as…the murderous Midnight Stalker!” So, apparently Ka-Zar is the rightful heir to the Plunder fortune rather than Parnival. He also has Zabu with him even though he first came to England as the Plunderer’s captive, without Zabu. (Did he take a trip to the Savage Land to get Zabu and then return to Plunder Castle?) Daredevil joins Ka-Zar and they discover that the Plunderer is actually the Midnight Stalker, planting clues to implicate Ka-Zar so that he can inherit the fortune instead. But DD and Ka-Zar defeat him and reveal his plans to the police. So, presumably the lawyer Ka-Zar has come to see in our current issue is Matt Murdock. And that’s all we need to know, I think.

Ka-Zar and Zabu are chauffeured to…someplace. Is it a hotel room? An apartment? There’s a “3A” on the door, for whatever that’s worth. Once in the room, Ka-Zar rebuffs his press agent. Alone, he tears off his shirt and jacket so fast that the jacket hangs in the air even as the shirtsleeves are still on his arms. “At last, I can move, I can breathe…I can be…Ka-Zar!” Which is when J. Jonah Jameson comes knocking at his door, which opens, allowing Zabu to put the saber-tooth tiger hug on Jonah. Ka-Zar calls Zabu off and tells Jameson he doesn’t want to be disturbed but JJJ tells him he has something “vitally important” to say and Ka-Zar lets him in.

It’s what you’d expect. Jameson offers Ka-Zar “ten thousand dollars to defeat Spider-Man in battle.” “Money means nothing to me,” says Ka-Zar so Jonah goes into his Spidey is “a dangerous deadly menace!” routine. Ka-Zar is not sure. “If I could but find the one called Daredevil to advise me,” he says. (Aren’t you going to see your lawyer, Ka-Zar?) “Nuts! You don’t need him!” says Jonah, “I publish the most important newspaper in the city! Anyone can vouch for J. Jonah Jameson! I’m just talking to you as one public-spirited citizen to another!” Ka-Zar agrees to keep listening.

“In another part of town,” Harry Osborn worries about Peter’s long absence. Harry has changed his tune from last issue when he griped about Peter, “If you ask me, he gets his kicks by acting like a mystery man.” Now he is afraid he’s to blame. “He was probably worried or in trouble and I gave him the brush!” he says. The last time Peter and Harry talked, back in Amazing Spider-Man #54, it did not go well, although I wouldn’t call it “the brush.” That was when Peter locked up his room so that Harry wouldn’t see the web fluid he was making and Harry yelled, “If you’re afraid I’ll steal something, just move out!”

Peter’s door isn’t locked now. Harry goes in to see if he can find some clue to Pete’s disappearance. He doesn’t see a batch of web fluid or anything like that but he does find a spider-tracer sitting on the closet floor. He picks it up and realizes “It’s some sort of miniaturized electronic wireless device! It can only mean the web-slinger was here…he captured Pete!!”

Meanwhile, Spidey wakes up and overhears a radio announcement coming from a transistor radio stuffed in the back pant pocket of a painter who is up on scaffolding near where Spidey slept. “A missing college freshman is reported to be a victim of Spider-Man,” he hears, and it is nice to know that Peter is still a freshman even though he’s been in college since Amazing Spider-Man #31, December 1965. The radio report goes on to say that Colonel John Jameson is still maintaining Spider-Man’s innocence. It also mentions Peter by name. So, Spidey decides he should seek out John Jameson even as he wonders “Peter Parker! Wonder why that name seems to ring a bell.” The name is on someone else’s lips, too. Spidey swings by May Parker’s hospital room. Anna Watson and Dr. Bromwell are with her. “Her condition is 90% emotional,” says the Doc, “Her best medicine would be knowing that her nephew is safe and well!” “Peter,” May mutters.

Spidey notices a “sudden twinge” as he passes the hospital but he doesn’t know what it means. He arrives at police headquarters, figuring to find John Jameson there, God knows why. But he’s right. He swings into the window of what appears to be a spacious apartment but is, apparently, Captain George Stacy’s office. (If you’re wondering why Stacy has a big office at police headquarters when he is retired, you’re not alone.) George and John Jameson are both there. “Listen!” Spidey implores, “Before anyone says anything, I need help! I don’t know who I am…or what I’ve done! I don’t know anything! I’ve lost my memory!” “You mean…you’ve got amnesia?” asks John. (Yes, John, I think that’s what “I’ve lost my memory” means.) “It could be the answer!” says George. “But how do you explain teaming up with Dr. Octopus?” asks John. “I can’t explain it!” says Spidey, “I can’t explain anything!” And just then, Gwen Stacy bursts into her father’s office to ask if he’s had any word about Peter only to run into Spider-Man.

Bursting into tears, Gwen tries to pound on Spidey’s chest, saying, “What have you done to Peter Parker?? Where is he??” Spidey replies, “I don’t know, Miss!! Honest!” but he is thinking, “Why do I feel as though I know her?? Her perfume – the very touch of her –makes my heart pound!!” Deciding, “We’re not getting anywhere!” Spidey webswings away. “I though you’d be able to help,” he says, “but I’m more confused than ever!”

Even as Spidey leaves through a window, Ka-Zar leaves through a balcony door. Jonah has convinced him that Spider-Man is a villain worth tackling. He leaps off the balcony to grab a flagpole, saying, “The man Jameson reminds me of a human jackal but it is not for Ka-Zar to judge!” (Except you’re judging Spider-Man from the words of a “human jackal,” Ka-Zar.) Needing a weapon, Ka-Zar alights on a partially constructed skyscraper and steals a rope with a grappling hook attached to it. (Do they have grappling hooks lying around on construction sites?)

Ka-Zar starts at Grand Central Terminal, as suggested by Jameson. He picks up Spidey’s scent. “The spoor tells me he left…scant minutes ago!” he says. (Spidey has to have left longer ago than that.) He follows the trail, finding a tiny piece of Spidey’s costume clinging to a building, then arriving at police headquarters to eavesdrop on John, George, and Gwen as they still talk about Spider-Man’s visit. Finally, he spies “the faint trace of a gossamer-thin webbing” and knows that “I am almost upon him.”

And where is Spider-Man? Deciding that “a newspaper might help me to remember,” he arrives at the Daily Bugle, entering through a window where he finds…J. Jonah Jameson. Except that Jonah was at Ka-Zar’s hotel/apartment not long ago. Has it really taken Ka-Zar so long to track Spidey that Jonah has had a chance to return to his office? Or has he taken up teleporting?

Anyway, Spidey admits that he has lost his memory and is looking for evidence of his relationship with Dr. Octopus. (“The law thinks I was the partner of Dr. Octopus! But…I can’t believe it!”) Jonah realizes he has Spidey right where he wants him. He pretends he is one of Spidey’s biggest fans. “You’re my absolute idol!” he says, “though I like you better without your mask!” Falling for this act, Spidey starts to remove his mask, just enough so that we can see his chin. This is carefully designed to be the last panel on a right-hand page so that the reader has to turn the page to see what happens next. And what happens at the top of the next page? Ka-Zar bursts in, breaking the window, preventing the unmasking. “Not now, you fool,” says JJJ, “I almost had him!”

(Ka-Zar leaps over a big orange chair that looks like the big orange chair in his apartment. Which would explain how Jameson got to his office so fast…he didn’t. He’s still in the apartment. Except…Spidey came to a newspaper office, not to an apartment. Aarghh. It’s a bit of a mess.)

Jonah tries to get in Ka-Zar’s way. “It’s my chance to really be a hero! He was just starting to trust me,” he says. As the Ka-Zar/Spidey fight begins, Jonah holds his head in his hands, agonizing over his missed opportunity. “Who needed Ka-Zar?!!” he says, “Another two seconds and I’d have known who he is!!” (We know that Jonah is right since we know that Spidey is Peter Parker but it’s interesting that Jonah seems to think he will recognize the man under the mask when it could be anyone of millions of New York residents.)

Spidey leaps out of the now-broken window but Ka-Zar snags his right ankle with his rope. Spidey clings to the wall, using leverage to yank Ka-Zar out of the room. Ka-Zar saves himself by grapping a flagpole. (They’re everywhere in 60s Marvel New York.) Ka-Zar gets Spidey in a scissor hold but the web-slinger elbows him in the jaw, causing Ka-Zar to fall.

Back in Ka-Zar’s hotel room (finally identified as a hotel room) Zabu “senses the grave danger which confronts his jungle-bred master.” So maybe the hotel is right next door to the Daily Bugle? That would explain both Zabu’s “sense” and Jameson “teleportation.” Zabu breaks down the room’s door and exits through the lobby, sending people scrambling. Ka-Zar, meanwhile, saves himself by snagging the grappling hook onto the ledge of a building. Spidey tries to web him up, only to discover he is out of web fluid. (Something that, having lost his memory, he didn’t know could happen.) He finds cartridges in his belt and assumes they are web fluid replacements but “I don’t remember how to use them! And they feel empty, anyway!” When Ka-Zar starts climbing the rope, Spidey beats a hasty retreat. “I’m not nutty enough to fight someone when I don’t know why!” he thinks as he wall-crawls. He then tightrope walks on a telephone wire. “So long, muscle-bound!” he calls out, “I’ll send you a post card some time.” But Ka-Zar perches on a television antenna, swings it back (“This flexible steel device is like a jungle sapling!”) and catapults himself right onto Spidey. Ka-Zar’s additional weight snaps the wire.

Now, it turns out that they are above a park. (Not sure why a wire extends from a building to a park but…what the heck.) As Spidey grabs the wire to stop his fall, Ka-Zar grabs a tree branch. They end up grappling on the ground. ”Here in this park…it is like fighting in my own natural habitat!” says Ka-Zar but Spidey finally decides to use his full strength and Ka-Zar discovers that he can’t break his grip. Spidey clips Ka-Zar on the jaw, knocking him to the ground. But then Zabu appears, in a great Romita-Heck panel that is all movement and menace. (There are three moments of movement. Ka-Zar falling to the ground. Spidey spinning to confront Zabu. And Zabu springing out of nowhere to attack Spidey.) Claws extended, teeth bared, Zabu slams into Spidey, taking both of them into a lake.

As Ka-Zar recovers, Zabu emerges from the water. Spidey does not appear. “I must plunge below and see,” says Ka-Zar as he dives in. He finds Spidey, unmoving, near the bottom of the lake. Carrying the wall-crawler’s limp body out of the water, Ka-Zar states, “The battle has ended…Forever!”

And Stan tells us in the very last caption, “You must BE here next issue!” We will, Stan! We will! But we have a little detour to take first.

It’s Marvel Bullpen Bulletins time, entitled “Face Front! Hang Loose! Nuff Said! (It’s Easier Than Thinking UP a New Title!)” The items plug the new war series, Captain Savage and His Leatherneck Raiders, the Captain Marvel story in Marvel Super-Heroes (again) and Tales to Astonish #100, featuring a full-length battle between the Sub-Mariner and the Hulk. (I remember how psyched I was as a kid to get this issue.) Two other items tout the arrivals of George Tuska and Archie Goodwin to the bullpen. And then there’s this…”the third rank of Marveldom Assembled – the three letters which are destined to become an everlasting part of literary lore and legendom – namely, TTB (Titanic True Believer), the hard-earned and well-deserved title for anyone who has ever won a noteworthy, non-negotiable No-Prize! But, we still have a couple of more titles waiting backstage, so don’t miss this page next month, when we clue you in on the munificent meaning of – K.O.F.”

We’re still not finished with the MMMS members. Here are the 26 from this issue. Jerry Wayne of Cynthia, Kentucky; Irwin Nemitz of Montreal, Quebec; Mike Tucker of Fort Worth, Texas; Arthur Taylor of Jackson, Michigan (my mother’s home town!); Thomas Reynolds of McArthur, West Virginia; Jack Thornton of Dorchester, Massachusetts; Barry Routh of Palisades, California; Bruce Nagle of Mastic Beach, New York; David Reese of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Brent Laird of Bensenville, Illinois; Rick Notte of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Daniel Navarro of Oxnard, California; Fred Nemiroff of Forest Hills, New York (just like Peter Parker!); Brand Haskell of Reno, Nevada; Mike Repak of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Mitchell Lakelman of Montreal, Quebec; Barry O’Hnion of Lynbrook, New York (that’s how Barry’s last name is spelled in the issue but I suspect it is a typo and should be “O’Hinion.” Can you imagine being poor Barry when he finally saw his name in this issue and it was misspelled? I feel for you, Barry!); Marty Tenney of Toronto, Ontario; Jeff Taylor of Akron, Ohio; Paul Reyes of Lovington, New Mexico; Paul Newton of Detroit, Michigan; Larry O’Hara of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Brad Nowak of El Paso, Texas; Larry Niler of Brooklyn, New York; James Thompson of Chicago, Illinois; and Donald Rehm of Chicago, Illinois. As usual, if any of you are out there, drop me a line!

In the Spider’s Web, Peter Sanderson Jr. of Milton, Massachusetts (and later of Marvel and DC Comics) writes “The trouble with Mysterio is that he lacks mystery…I’d like to see Mystie get real supernatural powers somehow...Even if you don’t go along with my suggestion, next time let Spider-Man have a hand-to-hand fight with him so Mysterio can show off his spider-sense-jamming device, his web-dissolving mist, and his other weapons built into his costume.” “What other weapons, Pete?” asks Stan, “Hah! You aren’t really sure, are you? But don’t think we’re gonna be knocked for a loop just because we don’t know either!” Scott Thurlow of S. Portland, Maine notes “Also, MJ has been out of the picture for the last few issues. What’s up? Is she moonlighting or has she turned into a hermit?” Stan replies, “As for the missing Miss Watson, let’s just say she’s been out of sight lately – but don’t worry, with her looks it isn’t likely she’s been farmed out to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!” (I mentioned this bit only because I love cultural references like that. But does Stan think “Sgt. Pepper’s” is a real lonely hearts organization?) Jim Balmer of Mill Valley, California says, “I’m writing for several reasons, the first being to congratulate you on ish #53. After reading the last panel I was left with the impression that many interesting developments are about to unfold.” And they are still unfolding four issues later, Jim! Jim continues, “The second reason is to ask you, to beg you, to reprint the cover of ish #50 in a poster-like form.” Stan replies, “As for your pulsatin’ poster proposition, we’d try it if it weren’t for one small hang-up – namely, you’re the only one who’s asked so far!” I’d like one too, Stan! And finally, Terry Levin of Chicago, Illinois says of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4, “Let us know when the movie begins to be released.” Stan answers, “But don’t hold your breath until the Torch vs. Spider-Man flick is released ‘cause the Wizard never put any film in the cameras! A dolled-up villain he might be, but a Fellini he’s not!”

The yellow “Next Ish” caption at the bottom of the page promises, “you’ll see more galvanized action with Zabu and his long-haired human playmate – plus the return of an old-time foe of Spidey’s – probably the last supper-baddie you’d ever expect – and possibly one of the most dangerous of all!” Psst! It’s Professor Smythe and his Spider-Slayer robot. Did you guess?

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen Goodnight (Love the first public comment on this link):

Spidey still hasn’t officially gotten over his amnesia but he will soon enough. So, are there any other times that Spidey loses his memory? Well, there’s Spider-Man Newspaper Strip: 3 August 1983 – 23 November 1983, “The Day of the Assassin” in which Peter loses his memory and thinks he is Rolf Trask, the hired killer known as the Eliminator. You can find this story in The Amazing Spider-Man: The Ultimate Newspaper Comics Collection #4. There was also, apparently, a digital comic called The Amazing Spider-Man: Who Am I? in which Spidey loses his memory but I never read it. Did any of you?

As mentioned, Ka-Zar previously appeared in X-Men #10, Daredevil #12-14 and Daredevil #24 before now. His next appearance is…next issue!

Zabu previously appeared in X-Men #10, Daredevil #12, 13, and 24 but not in #14. His next appearance is…next issue!

In General...

Milestones (Landmark events that take place in this story.)

  1. Second time Spidey has his back turned so thoroughly to us on the cover that we can’t even see an eye lens. (The 1st was Amazing Spider-Man #32, January 1966 and the next will be Amazing Spider-Man #67, December 1968, unless you count Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5, 1968.)
  2. Aunt May collapses! I’ve lost track of how often this has happened.
  3. Sam Rosen letters the Captain’s last name as “Stacy” on page 4 panel 2, then “Stacey” two panels later. (It’s “Stacy,” if you’re wondering.)
  4. Aunt May, Anna Watson, Dr. Bromwell, Captain Stacy, Gwen Stacy, J. Jonah Jameson, and John Jameson all appear within the first nine pages of this issue. (What? No Betty or Robbie? No MJ?)
  5. A half-built skyscraper has a grappling hook and rope lying around.
  6. Peter Sanderson has a letter printed.
  7. Surprise! Spidey still does not regain his memory.
  8. Surprise! Spidey dies! Well, probably not.

The 1969 Marvelmania International Spider-Man Portfolio checklist entry for this story:

Romita-Don Heck-Demeo/Lee/Rosen

  • "The Coming of Ka-Zar" – Spidey still has no memory – Aunt May collapses – JJJ sets Ka-Zar against Spidey and Ka-Zar wins.

    Overall Rating...

    What a great underrated issue this is! Stan keeps the ball rolling and the suspense moving. Spidey may no longer be under Doc Ock’s influence but his amnesia makes him more vulnerable than ever. It is more than having to sleep in Grand Central Terminal because he doesn’t know where he lives. It is the emotional turmoil of dealing with Gwen’s accusations of kidnapping Peter Parker and not knowing if they’re true, never suspecting that he is Peter Parker, even as the sight and scent of Gwen confuses him more than ever. It is the moment where JJJ almost convinces him to remove his mask, one of the more suspenseful moments in any Spidey comic, only to be rescued with a sound-effect-less crash as Ka-Zar smashes through the window. It is the underlying consequence of the amnesia; Peter Parker’s disappearance that brings about Aunt May’s collapse, Harry’s discovery of a spider-tracer, and a situation such that Peter will not just be able to show up without some sort of explanation. That is, if Peter ever does show up because it looks like Spidey is dead, killed by Zabu, in the second effective surprise attack in this issue, after Ka-Zar’s crash through the window. It is all ably illustrated by John Romita with help from Don Heck that is so smoothed over by inker Mickey Demeo (Mike Esposito) that it’s hard (but not impossible) to separate the Heck from the Romita. Oh, and the seven page battle between Spidey and Ka-Zar is pretty great too. No major villain? No problem! This is one of the best Spidey issues ever.

    By the way, that’s three 5-web issues in a row and six out of the last eight. 1967-68! What a great time to be reading Spider-Man!

    Footnote...

    Next: Our esteemed Editor already reviewed the Spidey-Man story in Not Brand Echh #6 way back in 2002! But what about the rest of the issue?