MARVEL TALES #53/AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #70 - Wanted...Dead or Alive!

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Chuck Gower

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MARVEL TALES #53/AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #70 - Wanted...Dead or Alive!

 

The Amazing Spider-man was the comic I liked the most growing up. Occasionally something would strike me as interesting, but it seemed whenever I read an issue of ASM it would just entertain me in a way that the others just couldn't compare.

Before I became a regular reader around 1975 or so, I remember having #43, #75, #80 and Spectacular Spider-man (Magazine) #2. Over time I would pick up an issue here and there and discovering Marvel Tales, really helped me find some classic reprinted stories.

Even now, as evidenced below, I can pick up certain issues of Marvel Tales because they'll feature an issue that I loved and want to read again. It's unfortunate that they felt the need to edit and recolor Jazzy John Romita's original cover (inked by him - which is always the best) because it captured the mood of the story perfectly in how it already was.

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(MARVE TALES #53 cover-dated September 1974, on newsstands June 4th, 1974, with cover art by John Romita from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #70 cover-dated March 1969, on newsstands December 12th, 1968)

 

As much as I love Romita's own inks - I think he is the greatest inker of the Silver Age - because he's my favorite artist of the Silver Age - I sometimes forget that there was one inker who did a run on the books with him that really did an outstanding job. Jim Mooney.

More on that in a minute...

Below: I love when an artist is able to be creative with the whole 'let's get you caught up' angle that Marvel Comics used to use at the beginning of continued stories. And in this instance, it's a classic - Spidey wanted by the law, reminding us of the Clay Tablet and that he has been falsely 'partnered' with the Kingpin - while we see the Kingpin furious behind bars. Great opening.

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(MARVE TALES #53 cover-dated September 1974, on newsstands June 4th, 1974, with art by John Romita (layouts) and Jim Mooney (Finishes) from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #70 cover-dated March 1969, on newsstands December 12th, 1968)

 

 

Jim Mooney really captured a dark mood in the book during this run. I seem to remember it began around #67 (part 2 of the Mysterio arc, and through the Clay Tablet saga) which didn't actually end in #75 (though the basic plot did). This is classic Spider-man, that might've even made Ditko proud if he had cared about such things. 

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(MARVE TALES #53 cover-dated September 1974, on newsstands June 4th, 1974, with art by John Romita (layouts) and Jim Mooney (Finishes) from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #70 cover-dated March 1969, on newsstands December 12th, 1968)

 

 

And of course, there was the romance! Whereas Clark Kent always gave a knowing wink to the comic reader, when Lois would say, "Oh Clark, if only you could be more like Superman", the weight of responsibility of being Spider-man would torture Peter Parker, and continuously isolate him from his friends and loved ones. 

Understanding that... these scenes, meant to give the book a 'romance' angle - take on a much, much deeper, darker meaning. And NOW, knowing what eventually happens to Gwen... even more so. Has there ever been a mainstream superhero with more of a classic tragedy within his story?

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(MARVE TALES #53 cover-dated September 1974, on newsstands June 4th, 1974, with art by John Romita (layouts) and Jim Mooney (Finishes) from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #70 cover-dated March 1969, on newsstands December 12th, 1968)

 

 

How many of us could put up with being labeled a coward by the person we loved - seen as always running off when trouble showed up? When in reality we were risking our lives? The original run of the Amazing Spider-man, especially up through the first 150 issues was so great... so perfect... not sure there'll ever be anything like it again.

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(MARVE TALES #53 cover-dated September 1974, on newsstands June 4th, 1974, with art by John Romita (layouts) and Jim Mooney (Finishes) from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #70 cover-dated March 1969, on newsstands December 12th, 1968)

 

 

I find it peculiar that many of the people who talk in awe of Stan Lee are the same people who complain about politics in today's comics, and use words like 'snowflake' and 'liberal' and 'social justice warrior', etc. Stan was VERY much a liberal voice in comics (as were many of the creative types of the day) and very much a social justice thinker. 

Even though much of it was written as a peaceful compromise (such as below), just giving a VOICE to students, especially black ones, back in 1968, would NOT have been seen as a MAINSTREAM idea, especially in the South.

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(MARVE TALES #53 cover-dated September 1974, on newsstands June 4th, 1974, with art by John Romita (layouts) and Jim Mooney (Finishes) from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #70 cover-dated March 1969, on newsstands December 12th, 1968)

 

 

Romita had such a great foundation in romance, so his men and women always looked All-American - his cities looked well done - his standard scenes of non-action efficient - but on top of that... when it came time to have action, he was as good as anyone Marvel ever had. 

I was never a huge Kingpin fan, but the one on one fights between him and Spider-man were always good, and Spidey was usually twice as wise-cracking as usual during it...

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(MARVE TALES #53 cover-dated September 1974, on newsstands June 4th, 1974, with art by John Romita (layouts) and Jim Mooney (Finishes) from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #70 cover-dated March 1969, on newsstands December 12th, 1968)

 

I don't know if it was Stan's idea or Johnny's or what, but what a great ending to the issue here as Spider-man - hunted by the police, shunned by his girlfriend, and then interrupted from capturing the Kingpin by JJJ, confronts the loud mouth publisher...

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(MARVE TALES #53 cover-dated September 1974, on newsstands June 4th, 1974, with art by John Romita (layouts) and Jim Mooney (Finishes) from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #70 cover-dated March 1969, on newsstands December 12th, 1968)

 

 

...only to make things worse! It's weird to think that, despite very minimal use of a villain (and NOT a supervillain at that), or anything that would have a long term effect on the story or future of the comic... I'd rate this a 9/10 comic book. Just a fantastic issue!

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(MARVE TALES #53 cover-dated September 1974, on newsstands June 4th, 1974, with art by John Romita (layouts) and Jim Mooney (Finishes) from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #70 cover-dated March 1969, on newsstands December 12th, 1968)

 

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