In my last post I talked about how Marvel became a  publishing juggernaut during the Silver Age thanks to their creation of more naturalistic, relatable superhero characters.  Instrumental in this was their flagship character, one of the most recognisable and beloved superheroes of them all: The Amazing Spider-Man! Their new approach to superhero characters was epitomised in the troubled teenager Peter Parker, who wields his great power as Spider-Man with a sense of great responsibility instilled by the memory of his Uncle Ben, killed in a random shooting Parker could have stopped if not for a moment of spiteful inaction borne from his overconfidence in his new-found abilities.

What’s It All About?
Still new to the superhero game, and struggling to make ends meet for him and his Aunt May, Peter Parker tackles the seemingly untouchable thief known as the Sandman in the hope of both gaining some credibility and respect as Spider-Man, and snagging some valuable shots of the showdown for J. Jonah Jameson to help pay the mounting bills. But how can a teenager, even with the Amazing powers of Spider-Man, hope to beat a foe he can’t even hit?

Creatives
Written by Stan Lee
Penciled & Inked by Steve Ditko
Lettered by Sam Rosen

What’s Good?
Steve Ditko’s Art. The perfect balance of fun and pathos resulting from Peter Parker’s messed up life. Stan Lee’s signature sensationalist writing style.

What’s Bad?
As much as I love Stan Lee, some of the dialogue is a little clunky by today’s standards. Also, Sandman has no real motivation for his villainy here other than him just being a bad guy.

Why You Should Pick This Up?
Because it’s FUN! Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s run on Spider-Man is one of the greats. It’s so vibrant and colourful without being garish, and there’s something deeply satisfying about the way they show Peter struggling to balance his life as a normal teenager with his extraordinary abilities and  the unquenchable desire to do good. It’s everything I love about Spidey. The seeds are sown here for a rich character, the crops of which are still being reaped by Dan Slott’s current run on Spidey. Steve Ditko’s art is wonderfully expressive, with a pleasing contrast between the slender, acrobatic Spider-Man and the blocky, immovable Sandman. You can find this issue in the first volume of Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man or, if you’re on a budget and don’t mind black and white (although it really should be read in colour), in the first volume of Essential Spider-Man. Both collections are jam-packed with excellent Spidey action. Oh, and also, you’ll no doubt want some context for this last image:

It’s stuff like this that makes me love the Silver Age.