Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #36

 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)


Suddenly he's cool again (if he was ever cool before). He only appeared three times in three decades but has doubled those appearances in the last several years or so. Almost certainly a sole creation of Steve Ditko in his last few issues of Amazing, Norton G. Fester seemed to thoroughly embarrass Stan Lee. The writer referred to the villain as a "part-time nut", then never used him again. But let's face it... the costume and balloon contraption are pretty cool at that. Here's the first appearance, by request, of the Looter.

Remember last time when Stan said they almost named the new character The Meteor Man? Gerry Conway preferred that name, using it for the character in Marvel Team-Up #33, May 1975. Instead, Stan and Steve went with the more pedestrian name of The Looter, a name the character now seems stuck with. Steve, at this point, seems more interested in the look of his new characters than their names or backgrounds and with his white and purple outfit, Kabuki mask, and self-inflating balloon, the Looter has a very cool look. Stan, though, never seemed to care about him, never using him again.

Story 'When Falls the Meteor!'

The cover reveals our brand-new villain running towards us, carrying some sort of flare gun in his right hand while he turns slightly and punches Spidey with his left. The web-slinger is diving into the scene with his arms outstretched as if to nab the bad guy. This all happens amidst a representation of the sun encircled by the orbits of planets. (They circulate around the flaming center from all angles more like electrons around an atom than like the solar system but I think we can assume that they are planets because the one in the lower right has a ring around it like Saturn. Or least as Saturn was depicted in 1966.) The cover blurb reads, "Spidey as you like him! In college! In trouble! In action! Action! Action!" This is all true. But let's see how well it all fits together.

The splash page depicts another original fight scene. This time the two combatants are high up in the air. Spidey seems to be falling after being struck by a punch by his opponent (if the follow-through of the left hand can be believed). The villain has his back to us, revealing a green backpack with cables extending up off of it. To what do the cables attach? Well, on this page, they attach to the word balloon that contains our title: "When Falls the Meteor!" What does a meteor have to do with any of this? We're going to find out in the very first panel of the story. But first, let's look down at the lower left corner where Stan introduces our bad guy as "the Uncanny Looter!" (Not to be confused with the Uncanny Unicorn or the Uncanny X-Men.) On with the show.

As I said, the first panel gets right to the meteor as it falls, aflame, right past an airplane. Stan riffs off of the title with his very first words: "A meteor falls!" He is almost as succinct in panel two. "A man reaches the scene!" The man is dressed in green pants, green hat, brown pants and a tan backpack. He has a small brown goatee and thick black eyebrows and he arrives at the crater created by the meteor. He is thrilled by his discovery since the meteor is "just the type I've been seeking". The meteor is now small enough for him to hold it in two hands. He breaks into a smile. This meteor could be just the type for him to prove his theory that "meteors contain microscopic living matter". "With this", he continues, "I might solve the riddle of the universe!" (Sure, microscopic living matter... riddle of the universe. That follows.) But the man (whose name is, we learn in panel 4, Norton G. Fester) needs money to finance his research. He first tries a lab where he is told that they are more interested in "making new miracle ingredients for hair tonic". A balding gray- haired man in a bow tie and a lab coat recommends he "try a bank!" He tries a bank but they won't give him a loan. (Maybe it's because he declares he will be as famous as "Darwin, Galileo, Aristophenes". Uh, Norton... Aristophenes was a playwright!) He calls his friends on the phone from his lab but they all think he's a nut. ("They mock me because I'm too smart to work, too clever to hold down a job.", he thinks, "Everyone's jealous of me!") But that's OK, he decides. He may have flunked science in school, but that doesn't mean he can't stumble on some great discovery if he chips away at the meteor. "Maybe I'll accidentally stumble over something, like Isaac Newton" he thinks. And as Norton places a chisel on the top of the meteor and prepares to hit it with a mallet, wearing no protection but some goggles, Stan feels compelled to tell us "You guessed it, friend! N.G.F. is a part-time nut!" (I have no evidence for this whatsoever but I suspect it is this type of thing that got Steve so angry at Stan's scripting.)

And, sure enough, Norton stumbles on something. A gas pocket, to be precise. As soon as he whacks the chisel into the meteor, he is enveloped by a greenish- white mist that shoots out of the meteor and covers his head. He frantically backs away trying to escape the gas ("Can't breathe! It's choking me!... It's clinging... seeping right into my skin!"), bumping into a large wooden cabinet which topples over, pinning him to the ground. For a few moments Fester lies unmoving. Then the gas dissipates and Norton comes to again. He notices something lying on his back and, without thinking, he lifts the cabinet off with one hand. When he realizes what he is doing, he is shocked. The cabinet, after all, "weighs at least a hundred pounds" and he is "lifting it like a feather". Testing himself, he lifts a steel safe in one hand and he realizes that "my strength has been multiplied many times!", thanks to the mysterious meteor gas. "This means good-bye to Norton G. Fester, professional failure" he announces to himself, "And it means hello to... to... what?"

Deciding to "examine [himself] more completely", he reaches down and grabs himself by the calves. He now realizes that his entire body feels "strangely different" and he tests himself by leaping. His powerful legs shoot him up at least twenty feet in the air where he grabs hold of a metal railing and easily twists it in his hands. (But where the heck is he, anyway? For someone who admits to being a "professional failure", Norton certainly has an elaborate, several-storied laboratory.) He realizes that he will never have to worry about money again... if he uses his power to become a crook, that is. "The world can eventually belong to Norton G. Fester", he decides in a great Ditko close- up, "if I plan carefully".

"And now, before some Brand Echh dropout suggests that we change the name of this mag to The Amazing Fester-Man" (classic Stan narrative), we switch to Empire State University and college student Peter Parker, who is ruing the fact that "recent battles with Kraven and the Molten Man" (in ASM #34, March 1966 and ASM #35, April 1966) have forced him to miss classes and prevented him from forming new relationships. He decides he should start to mix with the other students before he is left entirely out of the loop. "I'll start making with the charm now!" he thinks.

But first... "Two More Triumphs for Marvel!" featuring Fantastic Four #50, May 1966 which not only concludes the first Galactus/Silver Surfer story but features Johnny Storm's first day in college and Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #2, April 1966 for which there is already a Lookback entry. Check it out!

(And hey, look! On the very next page: "Polaris Nuclear Sub... Over 7 feet long... Big enough for 2 kids... Fires rockets and torpedoes... Only $6.98... Money back guarantee." Admit it. You want one! But back to the story.)

Just as he feared, Peter's attempts to make small talk are thwarted because "They've all formed their own tight little groups". When he approaches four guys hanging together and asks "How's it going?", he gets "Fine!" "Can't complain!" "Mumble" and "C'mon or we'll be late!" "P. Parker Esquire is on the outside looking in again as usual", our hero thinks. But, meanwhile, Sally Green, who is dressed in green and Gwen Stacy watch from nearby as Peter heads to class. (There was some speculation, particularly in The Official Marvel Index to the Amazing Spider-Man #2, May 1985, that this Sally "may be the character Sally in Amazing Fantasy #15, August 1962" but that was invalidated when Kurt Busiek turned that Sally into "Sally Avril" in Untold Tales of Spider-Man #1, September 1995. Sally Green appears again in ASM #38, July 1966 and then disappears with Ditko. Perhaps Steve had some plans for her. We'll never know.) Sally doesn't believe Gwen's assertion that Peter is a snob and she plans to prove Gwen wrong. Sally approaches Peter and invites him to a "get-together at my place later" just for the kids in the English Lit class. Peter is happy to accept. Sally is very taken by him. "Why, he's just as sweet as can be!", she thinks, "And, oh, that dreamy smile!" Pete is glad that his luck has turned. Gwen, watching from afar is stunned that the two have hit it off so well. But while Gwen thinks Sally has "said the secret word", the young woman in green then says the absolute wrong thing. She tells Peter she is glad he will come because she wants at least one brainy guy amidst "all those brawny athletic types". Now, ordinarily, you would think this would be a compliment but Peter is tired of being thought of as an Egghead. His feelings hurt, Pete turns snide and brusquely tells Sally "if I can make it, I'll let you know! I might be pretty busy tonight". He walks away, leaving Sally completely confused. (And me, too. Who cares if his feelings got bruised? I thought he wanted to start making with the charm!) When Gwen approaches, Sally tells her she was right. "I tip my wig to you, lady!" she tells Gwen (I love that line), "Just when I thought he was acting human, he gave me the brush.. but good!" "Welcome to the club, Sal!", says Gwen, "Now you're one of us!" And Peter? He regrets his actions but he couldn't stand the thought of getting into another "Betty Brant situation". After all, "she only liked me for my brains, too! And I couldn't go thru that kind of heartbreak again!" But as he thinks this, he turns and watches a smiling woman in a purple dress running up to meet a smiling blonde man in an orange shirt. Pete may have avoided heartbreak but these two look a whole lot happier.

At the same time, at a midtown Manhattan bank, a man in a purple and white costume knocks the security guard aside with one punch. He calls himself "the Looter" but he is more than an ordinary crook. He proves this by leaping "fifteen feet high!" over the plexiglass shield that protects the tellers. He takes as much money as he feels he needs out of the till, then uses a "dazzle light" (which he has holstered like a gun) to blind all the eye- witnesses as he bounds over the plexiglass again. He leaps from the bank entrance to the roof of a nearby parked car, then leaps again onto the top of a truck, to the roof of a building, and away. As he runs, he has an epiphany. "Now I realize why I never made the grade as a scientist" he thinks, "I was never cut out to be a scientist! My greatest talent lies in crime! There can be no doubt, I was born to be a master criminal, a super- criminal. I was born to be the Looter!" (Until he changed his name to the Meteor Man, of course. Until, that is, he changed it back again.) Back at his hideout (called an "apartment lab" by Stan... with the highest ceilings of any apartment I've ever seen), Norton G. Fester removes his Looter mask, holds a big wad of stolen bills in his hand and decides that "This was only the beginning! Each job will be bigger, more spectacular". And so, in the succeeding days, "he becomes a one-man crime wave", robbing wall safes, bank vaults, and armored cars in a nice symbolic Ditko panel showing the Looter grabbing loot in both hands as he looms over the blown open vaults with money floating out as if caught in a wind.

All this activity attracts Spider-Man's attention. He has heard rumors of the Looter's super-power and thinks he is one of the few who may be able to stop him. Plus he'd love to get a look at the dazzle light. But, on this night, the Looter seems to be laying low or, as Spidey puts it, "the Looter is probably out playing pinochle". But the real reason for the Looter's disappearance is that Norton Fester has discovered that all the mystery gas has escaped from his meteor fragment. (He has it under glass with what looks like a giant chesspiece on its top.) He decides that he needs to find another meteor just like it, in case his powers start to fade.

"And now that we've pretty well telegraphed what's gonna happen next", Stan says (is this Stan's usual self-deprecating humor or is he miffed at Steve's plot?), "let's rejoin Mr. Parker, a few days later." Peter has some time to kill before looking for the Looter this evening and so, being the card-carrying geek that he is, he heads to the museum to check out the new space exhibit. Gwen Stacy is behind him in line. (Gwen was also a science major, remember?) Seeing Peter, Gwen wonders "if this is fate". She decides that she could "accidentally" run into Pete and use that as an excuse to get to know him. But, instead of going right up to Peter, Gwen lingers in the main hall, hoping that Pete will come up to her. But, Pete is too preoccupied by the exhibits to notice his classmate. ("He's studying those displays like they're pin-ups!" Gwen thinks, and who can blame him? There are all sorts of nifty Ditko space stations and space capsules and drawings of planets and moons and incomprehensible machines here.) Gwen can't decide whether Pete hasn't noticed her or is intentionally ignoring her. She watches as Peter heads to a display of "a newly discovered meteorite fragment". On a ledge, outside a window, the Looter has his eye on the same exhibit since it looks just like the meteor he found. "If it contains a gas pocket, I've got to have it to insure my power" he thinks.

With the great cry of "Disperse, you weaklings!", the Looter leaps down into the Museum right behind Peter who doesn't know why the Looter is here but knows that "I can't let him get away!" So, Peter runs off to change to Spider-Man, unaware that he is being observed by Gwen Stacy (standing over by a big painting labeled "Mars") who is appalled by her classmate's actions. "Why the unmitigated coward!" she thinks, "He's running away! He's frightened!" (This is a far cry from the pacifistic Gwen of some later issues who quivers at the thought of Peter putting himself in any danger.)

So, Fester charges toward the meteor, punching a guard in the face and leaping over a spaceship display. Then, he halts in the glow of the spider-signal, as Spidey leaps down and announces "It's time we got to know each other better!" The Looter wants nothing to do with Spidey. He leaps up to evade the web- slinger, then lands a hard blow on Spider-Man's jaw. Pete realizes that the reports of the Looter's strength are not exaggerated. "He's plenty strong! Perhaps stronger than I am!" Even as he thinks this, Spidey strikes back with a punch of his own, which staggers the Looter. For three panels, the two costumed men trade punches, with Norton proclaiming, "This should teach you not to go around looking for trouble! This time you found it!" and Spidey replying, "Thanks for the advice, masked man! But I still prefer getting it from Dear Abby!" Finally, the Looter breaks the pattern of the fight by lifting an exhibit (that Spidey proclaims is "worth a fortune" though I'll be damned if I can figure out what it is) off its stand and thrusting it at the wall- crawler. Spidey grabs hold to protect the piece, which leaves him wide open to a big right-hand smash from the Looter. The villain then shoves the exhibit piece, smashing Spidey's face between the object and the wall. With that, Norton attempts to flee, since, as he tells Spidey, "I'm not a common brawler as you seem to be!"

But Spidey is not ready to toss in the towel. He leaps right through an exhibit of the sun and the orbiting planets (in a great Ditko panel that shows us the cover scene from another angle) to tackle the Looter again. "Come back, little Sheba!" he tells the Looter, referencing the Willian Inge play (Sheba, by the way, in the play, is a dog.) as he grabs for him. Relentlessly, he hammers away at the bad guy's jaw. ("I keep punching and he keeps coming back for more!" he thinks as he punches, "I wonder if he's paying off an election bet or something!") The Looter realizes that he can't out-fight the wall-crawler so he draws his dazzle gun from its holster and fires its blinding light in a wide dispersal. But, the gun doesn't work on Spidey. The Looter runs, firing the gun again and again without effect. He thinks his gun has failed him but the truth is that Spider-Man merely closes his eyes (unseen behind his mask) and uses his spider-sense to pursue the villain. (See, Spidey? This is why you don't let the whole world know about the spider-sense. It's a great secret weapon.) Still, though Spidey has kept from being dazzled, the rest of the museum attendees have not. The Looter takes advantage of this. He upends a "giant iron ship model" and Spidey must stop to catch it in order to save several temporarily blinded bystanders. The web-slinger places the model back on its base as the Looter makes his escape. Spidey follows as far as the ledge outside the window where the Looter made his entrance but he realizes that Fester "could have run off in any direction" so he returns to his Peter Parker duds. Since all seems back to normal, he decides to view the rest of the exhibit where he finally notices Gwen Stacy. But Gwen no longer wants to see him. She gives him the brush-off, angrily thinking "it's hard to believe that anyone so manly-looking could be a coward!" Pete scratches his head, thinking, "How can anyone so pretty be such a nut?" Hmm. Even within the insults, Pete calls Gwen, "pretty" and Gwen calls Pete "manly". You don't think Stan is maybe setting us up for a future relationship? (And, really. Take a look at these close-ups of Gwen. Check out those barrettes on each side of her forehead. Check out those upswept black eyebrows. I'm not entirely sure I'd call that "pretty". But she does have a wicked "Jessica Alba pout" on page 14, panel 4.)

Back at that huge apartment that Stan insists on calling a "little hideout", Norton Fester is kicking himself for charging into the museum with no better plan than to push people aside. He is still obsessed with the notion of stealing the meteor but decides he should case the joint before trying again. This he does the next day, dressed in a green suit with green hat (and he's not at all conspicuous in the Ditko world of 1966). He notices that the museum now has armed guards. He doesn't dare risk "another frontal assault" but must have the meteor one way or the other.

Over at ESU, Flash asks Peter to throw the football around with him while he waits for his regular pals. Peter, in a rush, refuses, needling Flash with "if I out-threw you, you'd have a fit!" Gwen listens nearby (Sally Green is there, too) and she breaks out in a laugh. "Peter Parker out-throwing Flash!", she cruelly says, "That's the funniest thing I've heard all day!" Peter leaves, wondering why he always gets interested in the girl "that can't see me for dust". (Aha! There, see? He admitted it. He's interested in her.) Flash doesn't know why Pete is on Gwen's "hate parade" but, he figures, "if you gotta hate somebody, Parker's the perfect choice!"

Later, Spider-Man lingers near the museum. He knows the Looter was interested in stealing something. He also knows the Looter left empty-handed last time. Several nights go by with no sign of the villain but at the end of the week, Norton Fester shows up by the museum's garages, wearing a device on his back that looks like a green hubcap attached to a green thermos bottle. He has been waiting for the night that the exhibit is moved elsewhere. The plan is to steal the meteor as it is being loaded onto a truck. But a certain wall-crawling hero is at the scene as well.

Two workmen wheel a large pedestal out. Tied to the pedestal is the meteor. The Looter makes his move. He brushes the men aside, breaks the string that holds the meteor and prepares to hook a special device to the stone. But Spidey swings into action and the rattled Fester strikes back by throwing the meteor at his nemesis.(Good thinking, Norton!) Spidey evades it, wondering out loud why anyone would want to steal such a thing "but I guess some fellas would steal anything that isn't nailed down!" Spidey shoots some webbing at his foe but Fester evades it. The Looter then escapes by inflating the hubcap on his back. It is actually a large balloon and the release of gas from the thermos- like helium container sends the thief soaring into the sky.

The Looter thinks he has eluded our hero once again. He even scoffs at Spidey's attempts to pursue by climbing a nearby wall. But declaring, "us Spider-Men are a hardy breed", the webhead reaches a flagpole and uses it as a springboard to jump high into the air. (Giving us the obligatory "Geronimo!" as he does so.) The Looter still thinks Spidey is doomed. "You can't reach me! You'll fall to the ground!" But he doesn't account for the wall-crawler's webbing. With two loud Thwips! (one colored orange and the other one blue), Spidey attaches two webstreams to the Looter's balloon. Then, hanging there, he tries to duke it out with his opponent.

The Looter is still confident since Spidey can only punch with one hand while holding on to his webbing with the other. The Looter, meanwhile, punches back with both fists. Then, the webbing comes loose from the smooth surface of the balloon and Spidey starts to fall. (As represented by our splash page this issue, you'll recall.) "Hah! I warned you!" crows the Looter. "Don't start gloating yet!" Spidey replies, "That big foot of yours is just what I need" and Spidey reaches out, while falling, and grabs the Looter's left foot. Norton tries to kick the webslinger away but the acrobatic webhead uses the momentum to flip over and lock his legs around the Looter's waist. Then, quipping all the way, ("Have you ever considered medical help because of your anti-social tendencies? Why is it that everyone I fight is overflowing with neurotic hostility? I must be mad to be in this line of endeavor in the first place! I'm not even entitled to fringe benefits! I don't get social security or paid vacations or even a Christmas bonus. But it has its compensations! I get lots of fresh air, and I'm my own boss!") Spider-Man rains blows onto the Looter's jaw, until he knocks the powerful villain unconscious.

With the Looter helpless, Spidey decides to remove his mask to see who he is. "No wonder he wore a mask!", he says as he looks, "He sure wouldn't win any beauty prizes! But I never saw him before in my life!"

The police have gathered down below. Spidey figures out a way to slowly release air from the balloon and he and the Looter drift back to earth. Before reaching the ground, the webslinger leaps to a nearby wall. He looks down at the scene from a rooftop, shining his spider-signal, as the cops run to collect the Looter. (Or "Lootie" as Spidey calls him on page 20, panel 4). Pete still doesn't know why the crook was after a meteor but he hopes to read about it in the paper the next day... "with my photos in it... I hope!" And Steve reserves the last panel for a drawing of a green blob with five tentacles and four yellow spots and a robot with a steel rod for a torso. "Coming next... the Menace of... the Rampaging Robots! 'Nuff Said!" reads the copy. Admittedly, it doesn't look like much but let's wait and see, shall we?

On the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page, we're asked, "Have you heard about Smilin' Stan's first "vacation" in years? He took a whole weekend off, as he and his lovely blonde wife hopped a train to Toronto. Why didn't they fly? Because the train gave him time to bat out a couple of SCRIPTS on the way, natch!"

And the 26 M.M.M.S. members for the issue are: Jeff Legge of Lafayette, California. John Elder of Woodlawn Park, Colorado. Arnold Fromowitz of Asbury Park, New Jersey. (Home of Bruce Springsteen.) Joseph Cassinelli of Hartford, Connecticut. Kevin Stephenson of Kilgore, Texas. Jim Easterbrook of Portland, Oregon. Mike Roark of Socono, New Mexico. Bruce Krejcik of Jamestown, California. Lloyd Greene of New York, New York. George Bunac of San Francisco, California. Louis Morales of New York, New York. Henry Baca of Warner Robins, Georgia. John Murphy of Brooklyn, New York. Larry Rettig of Connoquenessing, Pennsylvania. David Lally of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dan Anschutz of N.E. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Larry Orman of Hedrick, Iowa. Donald Kruger of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Peter Kostonponios of Stratford, Connecticut. George Taylor of Ontario, Canada. Mike Krawson of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Mark Wade of Livermore, California. J. Collins of Hanover, New Jersey. Ken Maness of Memphis, Tennessee. Doug Goldman of Hingham, Massachusetts. And George Brooks of Winser, Louisiana. (And let's have more guys from places like Iowa next time, okay? Rather than getting me to type states like Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Louisiana.)

On the following page, Spidey crouches down on one knee, taking a picture while announcing, "Face Front! Our super-special sweat shirt has flooded us with such a mountain of mail orders that we're repeating it again this month!" A caption to the right of this adds, "But if you haven't latched onto your own Jolly Green Garment yet do it fast, willya? We're getting mighty tired of lookin' at this same old agonizin' ad!" Me too! I'm not even going to describe it this time. You all know it by heart anyway.

In the Spider's Web page, the Kevin Johnson from Tooele, Utah is not the former professional basketball player and the Johnny Carson from Minneapolis, Minnesota is not the late late-night talk-show host. But I'm pretty sure that the Alfred Attanasio from Linden, New Jersey is A. Attanasio, author of Radix, Solis, and The Serpent and the Grail among others. He "really enjoyed the parts where Spidey knocks crooks around. (Referring to "Man on a Rampage" from ASM #32, January 1966.) If he did that all the time, there would be fewer crooks because they would be afraid to meet an angry web- spinner." Stan replies, "But if there were fewer crooks, Al, there'd be no one around for Spidey to fight - and then where'd we be? Cheee - you 'n your ideas!"

Elsewhere on the page (right above Alfred's letter, in fact), Carl Freedman of Bloomington, Indiana wants to learn more about Flash Thompson... and then goes way off-script altogether. "We know he's Pete's classmate" he says of Flash, "but how about showing some of his football exploits? If he's good enough to get into college on a football scholarship, he must be pretty good. What position does he play? You might be able to make a funny yarn out of some diabolical plot centered around a football game where Flash gets into some odd predicament (like swallowing the football or turning into a bubble)." Not to be outdone, Janice S. Chase of Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland asks, "Why not have Spidey fight a demon crab?" (Um... sure, okay.) And finally, Kent Thomas of Madison, Wisconsin is fed up with the romance, continued stories, and similar situations happening with several different characters: "For instance: Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Thor all love a girl desperately, but don't dare express their feelings. Every two pages we get a spew of this sickening lovey junk. Save it for Patsy Walker!" Stan replies, "Are you kiddin', Kent? Ol' Patsy wouldn't read a super-hero comic mag on a bet! (My note: But she's going to be starring in them someday!) And anyway, Thor has already revealed his secret identity to Jane! (Me Again: In Journey Into Mystery #124, January 1966.) So there! Nyaghhh!"

Summing Up:

Not much to mention here. The Looter doesn't appear again until Marvel Team-Up #33-34, May-June 1975 when he calls himself the Meteor Man.

Sally Green shows up one more time in ASM #38, July 1966.

And, I don't know about you but I sort of have this feeling that Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy may eventually get together.

General Comments

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

  1. First appearance of the Looter.
  2. First appearance of Sally Green.
  3. First time Peter calls Gwen "pretty" and Gwen calls Peter "manly".
  4. First time Peter admits to being "interested" in Gwen.
  5. Second straight issue without Aunt May or J. Jonah Jameson. (Jonah's back next issue but May doesn't show up again until ASM #38, July 1966.

The 1969 Marvelmania International Spider-Man Portfolio checklist entry for this story. Warts and all:

"When Falls the Meteor" - Spidey fales a new foe, the Looter, who must steal meteors to maintain his Super-powers.

I think that should be "faces a new foe."

Overall Rating

You just can't help but get the feeling that Stan didn't care for this issue and the Looter. Oh, he goes along with it like a trooper, contributing some nice characterization between Peter and his classmates and hitting us with some nice one-liners. But he's betrayed by his "part-time nut" comment about Fester and his remark that "we've pretty well telegraphed what's gonna happen next". If it's true that Stan didn't like this story then I have to tell you that Stan is wrong. This is a terrific little action tale. Norton Fester's origin is not as dopey as Stan would like you to believe. (There's plenty of dopier origin tales in comics, believe me.) If nothing else it provides a great motivation for his robbery attempt in the science exhibit. The Looter has a great costume, some great paraphernalia with that dazzle gun and helium balloon, and provides a real challenge to Spider-Man. (I have to admit to being a little tired of Spidey winning fights by just out-punching the other guy, though.) The scenes with Gwen, Sally, and Flash keep the soap opera aspects going very well and it's possible to catch the first glimpses of Peter and Gwen's love for each other. The problem here is simply that this is Steve's story, not Stan's, and Spider-Man is increasingly becoming Steve's book. The series wasn't big enough for the both of them. Something's got to give. And very soon after the publication of this issue, something did.

Not Stan or Steve or Spidey at his best but still pretty fun stuff. Three and a half webs.


Next: Robots, robots, robots. ASM #37.

 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)