Pantomime of Crime!
The cover: 3 stars
Not the greatest of covers by a long way, in fact it’s probably the poorest one to date. Spidey battles one of Marvel’s newest heroes, Daredevil … still in his original costume, the setting is in a circus big top … and there appears to be a pantomime villain in the background.
Duel With Daredevil (22 pages)
Marvel has had a history of using one comic series to promote another character or team, usually when they’re new or even sometimes when that comic is struggling in an attempt to stimulate sales. So here we have Daredevil, the man without fear, being saved by Spider-Man in his alter-ego disguise of blind attorney, Matt Murdock.
Daredevil, of course, gets to return the favour by fighting a hypnotised Spidey and breaking his trance allowing our hero to wipe the floor with Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime.
Okay … now let’s face it, the Ringmaster is a second rate … no … a third rate villain, his only power is a spinning hypnotic disc on his top hat, his Circus of Crime is a bunch of clowns and acrobatic thugs that wouldn’t intimidate my cat. The plot is ridiculous … hypnotise the whole audience, rob them blind … then, of course, they’ll all think they’ve had their pockets picked and just go home … the perfect crime!
It’s a fantastic issue because this is exactly why Spider-Man became one of the greatest and most popular comic book heroes of all time. Unlike most of Marvel’s other heroes, Spidey still takes on the everyday criminal, minor league villains and the occasional heavyweight super-villain, he has to contend with the mollycoddling and nagging from Aunt May, his love life is a mess and he’s still ridiculed by most of his classmates, not to mention J Jonah Jameson who crucifies Spider-Man and takes advantage of Peter Parker. This is why Peter/Spider-Man works so well with the average comic buyer … because he could be you … the kids reading these comics in the early sixties could never be Thor or Iron Man or The Hulk or The Human Torch or Cyclops … but maybe, just maybe they could be Peter Parker … The Amazing Spider-Man.
Last issue we had the first reference to Mrs Watson’s niece, this month we have her name … Mary Jane Watson.
Pete blows another date with Betty Brant.
The Circus of Crime strike terror into the heart of our hero … honest!