August 2, 2008

Marvel Tales #151 [1983]

The chronological reprints of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN continue this issue, following an odd aberration the previous month where the first Annual is reprinted out of order, before the first appearances of Kraven and the villain of this piece, Mysterio. Because you can't have a double-sized issue be anything but a multiple of 50, I guess.

Anyway, this issue reprints THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #13 [1964], both the cover and the 22-page story "The Menace of Mysterio", both by Steve Ditko. The cover has more than the usual tweaking, eliminating one of the two bottom panels, extending the other, and sundry other changes. The story opens with "Spider-Man" stealing some money in one of those conveniently labelled "$" bags.  This causes the public to turn on our hero, much to the delight of publisher J. Jonah Jameson, who feels vindicated.  Peter Parker, of course, is confused, and wonders if he's developing a split-personality, given all the pressure he's under, including financial, and even goes to a psychiatrist before realizing how bad an idea that is.  A new costumed figure, Mysterio shows up to challenge Spider-Man, with the backing of JJJ. Of course, you know how that turns out, Mysterio is revealed as the fake Spider-Man, Peter gets some photos of the action in their big battle, clearing the good name of his alter-ego, making a few bucks and tweaking old JJJ.

Great little issue, especially for those who like a solid dose of Parker in their Spider-Man comics, with some good scenes of his evolving interaction with his classmates, Betty Brant and JJJ. The psychiatrist scene is pretty funny and insightful as a quick innovative take on the whole super-hero alter-ego thing. And Mysterio is yet another in an incredible string of villains introduced to torment Spider-Man.

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