Spider-Man: 1982

SPIDER-MAN IN THE 1980s, pt. 3 of 12.

1982: The Death of Captain Marvel; the birth of future Marvel stars Hayley Atwell and Cobie Smulders. The debut of Cheers; the exit-stage-left of Belushi. And a particularly memorable year for film (Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, The Thing, and two films that have just been re-made in 2015: Poltergeist and The Road Warrior.) 

How did it go for Spidey? Let's take a highly arbitrary, long-as-$#%* tour through his '82 adventures and see for ourselves.


Not exactly the most sophisticated insert (from ASM Annual 16), but the art is great. Either Marie Severin or John Romita, Sr., I'm not sure. Maybe neither. The whole composition of this cracks me up, especially Peter's awkward posing.

The soap opera continues anew in '82. His old supporting cast continues to mix pretty well with his new. Again, this sort of thing prepped me pretty well for soap opera dynamics later in life. I wish one could get certificated in such so I could put it on my resume: Highly proficient in soap opera absurdity.

Liz and Harry are still happy newlyweds.

The two panels above amuse me. Like I say elsewhere, these sort of thought-balloon catch-me-ups were just part of the ozone back then, but sometimes they're unintentionally surreal. As is comics-logic, as evidenced in panel two. (Both from SSM 63.)

I enjoyed the then-and-now contrast between the above and the reprints in Marvel Tales:

"She" being Liz.
Or with Betty Brant, who went on the marry Ned Leeds in ASM 156.
But more on that when we get to the Marvel Tales portion of the program.
Ned becomes attached to Peter's professional rival, Lance Bannon.

I love that Peter's rivals in the early 80s are named Lance and Biff.
Anyway, the story Ned and Lance are chasing weaves in and out of things for a few issues.
I liked this reference to Miller's Daredevil. (i.e. Josie's)

Back to the present, no-longer-ashamed-to-be-a-brunette Marcy Kane offers to help Peter catch up on all the education that he missed; but then his homework was never quite like this. (pantomimes guitar)

My Van-Halen-ing aside, they don't hook up or anything. Peter thinks they will, but Marcy kicks him out. He monologues for several panels, then decides some web-slinging will make him feel better. As per usual.

The Debbie Whitman saga takes a tragic turn. 

After Biff and Peter get into a shoving match and Peter trounces him, she begins to grow suspicious.
This knowledge proves too much for Debbie, so it's off to the mental hospital.

This may appear to 2015 eyes as a slightly cruel and sensationalist way to write her out of the book. It's perfectly within parameters of soap opera plot developments, then or now, but it's a little end-of-the-original-Psycho-sounding now. Not as bad as that. Actually, as far as these sorts of things go, this is pretty mild. So off to the nuthouse with you, Debbie Whitman.

Otherwise, Peter's life at ESU is going pretty well... until:
Missed too much class. Adios, Pete.

Elsewhere, Aunt May seems to be getting very serious with Nathan - who's Nathan? Who cares, ya old bag

Just kidding. Actually, Nathan (Aunt May's boyfriend) is all right. Yay, old people sex.

And one of Peter's special project students at ESU turns out to be the second Foolkiller. (At least the second super-villain of Peter's ESU inner circle.) The whole gang watches as the drama unfolds...


All issues written by Bill Mantlo. Pencils by Ed Hannigan (62, 65 – 67, 69-70, 72), Greg Larocque (63), Bob Hall (64), Luke McDonnell (68), Rick Leonardi (71), and Al Milgrom (73).

This run features the debut of Cloak and Dagger, who stick around in the Spideyverse for years to come.

They got their powers in sort of a Lot 6 sort of situation, though instead of being college-age volunteers, they were teen runaways.
They've now sworn revenge on all drugs and drug-pushers. Perfect Reagan-era heroes.
Nice title page from SSM 69.

ROGUE’S GALLERY: Gold Bug, Molten Man: 

Liz's step-brother. I should have mentioned that in the soap opera section, probably.

Evil synthetic drug dudes, Kraven the Hunter and Calypso, Electro: 

More on Electro when we get to Marvel Tales, but what a great cover.

Boomerang (working for Kingpin), Medelstrom robot, GUNS THEMSELVES, Doc Ock, and The Owl.

Some other nice title pages: from 68 -
and 71. Maybe it's the titles I like more than the compositions themselves, actually.

My favorite was probably 72:

The leader of a local super-villain's fan club
finds the apparatus of his idol, Doctor Octopus -
and immediately begins to loot the city for its comics, candy, and toys.

Naturally this brings him to the attention of Spider-Man. It's a fun little issue. The Spider-titles were always good at this sort of thing. In other hands, these kinds of stories would provoke massive eyerolls among my friends and me.

3. MARVEL TEAM-UP 113 - 124

Written by Mark Gruenwald (113) and J.M. DeMatteis (114 - 124). Penciled by Herb Trimpe (113 - 118) and Kerry Gammill (119 -124).

ROGUE’S GALLERY: Lightmaster, The Mind-Bender, a Nigerian crimelord and his Young Watcher infiltrators, Professor Power, Mentallo, and Turner D. Century: 

The issue itself - while not bad - is nowhere near as mysterious and complex as this panel.
Speed Demon, who is bested with a little help from Leap Frog/ Frog Man (someone we'll be spending more time with later in the 80s):

and Solarr. 


Really plays up his Green Lantern underpinnings in this ish.

The Falcon: 

Thor, Valkyrie, Wolverine, Professor X, and the Gargoyle - this one is tad on the melodrama side, but DeMatteis had real affection for the character, and that shines through: 

Nice ending.

Dominic Fortune, and Spidey's oldest super-powered buddy, at least in the old continuity, Human Torch: 

I love this angry-fist-shaking Spidey, here.
Always enjoyed their bickering.

Man-Thing / Fate, Daredevil, and The Beast. (The Beast one kinda blows.)

This is the best year we've seen yet for MTU. Having only a couple of writers and a couple of artists on the book definitely helps out. It was always going to be the third-in-line Spidey title, with an emphasis on one-and-done stories. Nothing wrong with that, and it was a fun way to meet other characters in the Marvel Universe. 

Old-school coloring fx! Courtesy of Bob Sharon.

The annual (written by Mark Gruenwald and penciled by Jim Mooney) involves the Serpent Crown and is uber-Gruenwaldian, meaning it encompasses every bit of Marvel history from 4 million BC to the present, and Quasar shows up. These two things accompany practically every Gruenwald story I've ever read.

I exaggerate. RIP, Mark Gruenwald.


A new entry this year, one that will appear only once more in the posts to come. 

Fanfare was Marvel's new showcase series, edited by Al Milgrom. The idea was to charge a little more so they could run it without ads and publish it on better paper, and pay the creators a little more along the way. Here's Al (and Jim Shooter) to tell you a little more:

Things kicked off with this Savage Land two-parter written by Chris Claremont and penciled by Michael Golden. The Angel is hired to go to the Savage Land and search for a friend's long lost love. 

Peter Parker is sent along by the Bugle to officially chronicle the trip. (Kind of flimsy, that, but okay.) They're immediately captured by a mad scientist (Brain Child) who mutates them into monsters at his command, necessitating the intervention of Ka-Zar.

I normally love Michael Golden's work, but not so much here. It might not, however, be his fault. It's another of those annoying re-colorizations that obliterates the choices made by the original art team. So, everything looks a big mess. I don't have before-and-examples, but here's the "after"s at any rate:

Oy vey. I wish Marvel would knock this crap off when reprinting their old stuff.


Two things Spidey always seems to be doing, year-in, year-out: accidentally drinking sour milk from his fridge - 

and fixing his costume(s). 

As far as I know, he was the only superhero to ever be seen doing either of these things.


Written by Roger Stern (224 – 227, 229 - 235) and Jan Strand (228). Penciled by John Romita, Jr. (224 – 227, 229 -235), and Rick Leonardi (228).

Great year for Amazing. Roger Stern and JRJR really clicked on this title. (Wait 'til next time.)

ROGUE’S GALLERY: The Vulture (actually a pretty cool little issue, and I'll never stop pointing out that Arjen Robben should be cast as the Vulture, verdammt), Foolkiller, Unnamed Spider-Manipulator, Juggernaut: 

This two-parter is a hell of a lot of fun.

The Cobra: 

The villain who can slither through any sewer pipe or toilet in the city! Awesome.

Mr. Hyde: 

Quick sidenote: I was surprised to discover how off-the-radar this character seemed to so many people in the wake of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s2. Granted I never mistook him for one of Marvel's greatest villains or anything, but this storyline and the one where the Masters of Evil trash Avengers Mansion loom large in memory.

Again with the garish re-coloring. Ugh! Tough to be a Bronze/Cooper Age guy in a Gredo-Fires-First World.

and Tarantula and Will o’the Wisp round out the year.

A story that continues over into 1983.
So I'll cover it in more detail then.

GUEST STARS: Spider-Man drops in on Doctor Strange an awful lot when the good Doctor isn't home. I've come to enjoy the little back-and-forth he has with Wong, butler to Earth's Sorcerer Supreme. Again, at least in mach-1 continuity - we've covered how I'm spotty on Marvel continuity after 1990 or so, yes? Whatever happened to Wong? (You hear that sound? That's the sound of me not googlin'.)

The more significant guest-star/ plot-foil is:

who returns and promises to go straight in return for Spider-Man's love.
I always liked Spidey and the Black Cat.
Too bad these kids could never make it work.

This ending in particular hit me pretty hard. I was still new to the comics game, so the "she must be dead, she fell into the river, for eff's sake" trope was brand new to me.

And though I'm tempted to wrap it up with some Marvel Tales talk, let's spend a minute on the Annual, written by Stern with art by JRJR. It's a backdoor pilot for the new Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau (ahem), a new character and a ubiquitous presence of 80s Avengers (along with Starfox and the Wasp.) 

She wasn't a bad character or anything, but that name never made any sense. It never made any sense to me as a name for Mar-Vell, either. (I always thought that was lame.) Captain Marvel is Shazam, period. I just looked up whatever happened to Monica, and now she goes by the name Spectrum. Which makes more sense given her powers. 

It is, her wiki tells me, her 4th name change.

7. MARVEL TALES 133-135, 143, 146

Reprinting ASM 156-158 (Written by Len Wein; penciled by Ross Andru) and ASM 6 and 9 (written by Stan Lee; penciled by Steve Ditko.) 

ROGUE’S GALLERY: Pt. 1: Mirage, Hammerhead’s Ghost, and Doc Ock.

I love these three issues. Just a great story, all of which flows from that W.H.O.-dunit one last time around. I love the weird little relationship Aunt May and Doc Ock have over the years. Again, not sure if anything ever came of it, but she always had a soft spot for Otto Octavius.

Pt. 2: Lizard, Electro. 

At some point in 1982, Marvel Tales re-set the reprint clock all the way back to Amazing Fantasy #14. So for the next few years, my subscription to Marvel Tales allowed me to read things from the beginning. Including the first appearances of some of Spidey's greatest villains:

This is partially why I rolled my eyes at casting Jamie Foxx as Electro in Spider-Man 2. Not because the character has to be white, just because it meant it was another character from my childhood that was being replaced by a new character. I hate the discussion that always seems to envelop this topic, though, and don't really care. Especially having waded through the response (and appropriation) of Michael B. Jordan's recent comments. Long story short(er): I'd like to see just one Fantastic Four movie that is at least as faithful to the Lee/Kirby or Byrne or Simonson years as, say, the Peter Jackson movies were to Lord of the Rings without an often-absurd discussion shouting it down. 

As far as Electro, it's not like the guy was so unique and wonderful you can't reboot him the way they did in the movie. It's just I spent time with the character as a kid is all. But that's why they invented blogs. 

Anyway, both the people writing the headlines and the people leaving the comments often sound worse than the thing they allegedly hate.

You'd think people arguing about cartoony super-villains would be more cognizant of this.

An appropriate segue to:


Here we go.

Would you believe the above is the abridged version of this post? Phwew. Lots of Spidey-talk, bra. But I want to avoid any two-parters for this series. So, word-and-'cap-bloat, I embrace you.


"There was a huge amount of fan mail from readers (asking) for the return of the Green Goblin, who at the time was dead. There had been other guys who wore the costume, but I called them "fake Goblins." (...) These guys weren't super-strong - how did they avoid horrible groin pulls while they were flying around Manhattan straddling a jet engine? (...) I decided to meet the fans halfway - I would come up with a new character who had stolen the Goblin's equipment and part of his schtick, but he would be a very different character. The one thing that would be similar to the Green Goblin was that no one would know who he was. Unlike Norman, who was as crazy as a soup sandwich, this guy would be frighteningly sane. A megalomaniac, sure, but he knows exactly what he's doing. He doesn't do stupid things. He does coldly rational things, which makes him even scarier." 
- Roger Sterrn, Back Issue 11.