Tuesday, December 9, 2014

This Cover Made Me Buy This Comic Book

Doug: I recall spying this one on the spinner rack at an Osco drug store when I was 10. It immediately went into my little mitts. I recollect that it was summer, but looking at the cover date I see that it must have been autumn. And how about that cover art from Our Pal Sal Buscema? Tangent: How in the world does the Tarantula walk? Tangent the Second: The corner box art on the early issues of Peter Parker may be my favorite of all the various Spidey corner boxes.


William said...

Oh Yeah! I remember picking this up when it came out. I also remember being really confused by the fact that it was a first issue. I was like "But Spider-Man already has his own solo book, so how can he be in another one?" For a second I thought maybe it was a reprint. I think that back then I had no idea what the original Amazing Spider-Man #1 even looked like. So, I thought maybe that was it. (Until I read it that is). After all we didn't have all the TPBs and reprints that we do today.

Anyway, it was a great book and I really enjoyed it. But somehow, I missed the next few issues, so I didn't start collecting the series regularly until issue #10 (which was part 2 of a 2-part Spider-Man / White Tiger team up). I bought it from then on, and eventually picked up the issues that I'd missed.

There were some pretty good and memorable stories in PPTSSM through the years, but like most people, I sort of always considered it the poor stepchild of Amazing Spider-Man. I personally would have been just as happy if they'd simply stuck with ASM, and MTU.

Humanbelly said...

"This Cover Made Me Mad At Marvel" might be more accurate in my case. I was HARD PRESSED to scrape together cash at all for even my regular comic purchases the month this appeared, and suffered that familiar acute pang of "I'm gonna miss something important, but I can't afford to buy this book-- DAGGONE IT, MARVEL!" It may have been the first major instance of having to consciously choose to NOT pick up an issue that I was so sorely tempted to purchase.
Something that did help tip those scales, though, was that I've always, always found the Tarantula to be an impossibly lame Spidey-foe. There's simply no getting past that incredibly stupid-looking, and inherently non-functioning, boot-gear.

You CAN'T WALK STRAIGHT FORWARD with something like that stuck on your feet. Period. Ultimately, he would succeed in nicking his own ankle (and poisoning himself) long, long before he could do anyone else any harm.

Hoo-boy-- but I've jumped right on the nit-pick trolley again, haven't I. . . ?


Anonymous said...

I never understood why American Marvel comics were dated three months ahead so a Christmas themed story would have a March cover date. I'd been wondering if the BAB masthead would have a festive theme - perhaps one of those Holiday Grab-Bag scenes with the Marvel characters riding a sled or decorating a tree. Well, I've learned something new today after googling Kwanzaa :)

J.A. Morris said...

I enjoyed this issue, and the next two that completed the arc. And I love the cover, even while acknowledging that Tarantula's boots are ridiculous.

But Tarantula is part of one of my favorite comic creator disagreements (for lack of a better word).
Roger Stern killed off the Tarantula because he thought that villains like him weren't anywhere near Spidey's class. Which makes sense, he's just some martial arts expert with poison boots.

Then Gerry Conway returned to Marvel in the late 80s to write
'Spectacular Spider-Man'. In his first issue back, he introduced the new Tarantula. Some other guy from the same country who also happened to have two flunkies that were identical to the ones who worked with the first Tarantula. Because Tarantula was created by Conway.

Edo Bosnar said...

If I had seen that cover on the spinner rack, I probably would have bought it. Like William, my first issue of PPTSSM was #10, and that was definitely a case
of the cover making me buy it. I just had to know who that guy in what looked like a bleached Spidey suit was, and why he was apparently kicking Spidey's butt.

Martinex1 said...

Loved the cover and it always draws my attention; even today when I see it grouped with other books. I like the yellow backgrounds that Marvel used frequently back then. I think the reds stood out nicely on the yellow background. The confrontation between the two main characters is nicely balanced. But even as a boy I questioned those shoes. The spikes are just so huge and clumsy looking. I don't recall, were they really drugged spikes? What would you need drugs for;if you got hit by one of those you'd be impaled like Dracula. I always wanted Spidey to plant Tarantula in the muddy ground like a garden spike. Still a great action cover.

Martinex1 said...

Also other than the shoes, Tarantula really had a nice costume. It was almost heroic with a nice composition and color scheme.

Steve Does Comics said...

It's a nice cover, though it does bear a remarkable resemblance to the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #134.

pfgavigan said...


Response to Colin Jones;

I believe the reason for covers being dated several month behind their actual release date was a theory that it prolonged their shelf life. It started during the Forties when newstands made up the bulk of comic sales, at least in New York City where the publishers offices were located. Competition for space was fierce and magazines were rotated on and off based on cover dates.

Maybe they thought they could confuse the poor guy who had to organize everything into keeping the magazine in circulation longer.

That's what I read, who knows if it worked or even if the story is accurate. One thing I've learned from listening to comic book pros is not only is their knowledge of history personal, it's malleable.


david_b said...

William, my sentiment exactly from back in the day... "Why another solo mag..??"

ASM, MTU,the Tales reprints and the occasional stand-alone special/annual/giant-sized special/treasury editions/etc were great engaging titles at the time filled with excitement for our favorite neighborhood webslinger, now it just seemed like Marvel was becoming disengenuous with this gratuitous title and Spidey Super Stories, like somehow 'Greed had somehow won over craft'.

Granted this was just before I fully realized that it's just a publishing business.., but for this still-wide-eyed Zuvembie, it just didn't seem right. And now at 25 cents, I felt like I couldn't afford all my Spidey stories any longer..

So yes, I would have been MUCH happier with just ASM, MTU and the reprints...

William Preston said...

It's not just comics that carry the odd dating: all the pulps did (and do: I'm occasionally published in Asimov's Science Fiction, and the dates are two to three months off).

I was so thrilled when this came out. (Was it around the same time as Ms. Marvel 1 and Nova 1? Marvel tried to rope in both readers and collectors.) And I thought the stories were excellent. I loved the idea that there was a parallel mag for Spidey adventures. (Well, another parallel, since there was already MTU.)

Martinex1 said...

I always was under the impression that the cover date was in notice to the newsstand of when to pull the periodical from the stand. It was the date at which the periodical was returnable.

Anonymous said...

Our Pal Sal was the perfect artist for this book, and he returned to it some years later for a really stellar run with writers Conway and Dematteis, if I'm not mistaken.
For some years this was just a good, solid entertaining comic, and I give a lot of the credit to Sal Buscema. mp

Dr. Oyola said...

I WISH I had gotten this and that I still had it (and the issues that followed). As it was, one of earliest ASMs I bought had Tarantula on the cover.

As a kid I loved Tarantula - as he was the first Latino Marvel character I knew of (White Tiger would not reappear for years) - even if he was a bad guy.

However the thing that bugs me about Tarantula is that his pointy shoes seem like a pretty obvious Puerto Rican joke (even though the character himself is from a fictional Latin American country) - a play on "Puerto Rican fence-climbers" - pointy dress shoes that people "joked" that PRs wore in order to climb a chain-link fence while carrying stolen goods. Since the Marvel writers were all NYers back in the day, it makes sense to me that this joke of the late 60s and throughout the 70s would be something they were aware of.

In the newspaper version of the Spider-Man strip, Spidey and Tarantula are allies.

Anonymous said...

Hmm yeah this is definitely a classic Spidey cover. Even if you didn't know or care who Tarantula was, it was excellently crafted covers like these that probably enticed young readers (or more likely their exasperated parents!) to part with their hard earned 30 cents.

It's funny but yes looking back after all these years Tarantula's boots really do seem like a lame weapon. I'm in the Roger Stern camp in that I've always felt he didn't belong in the same class as Spidey.

- Mike 'speaking of shoes I gotta go to Payless soon' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Robert L. said...

I just read the Marvel: Essentials book with this same cover. It has the first 30 issues of Spectacular Spider-Man written by Bill Mantlo.

Ironically the book was more interesting than the (then current) story lines in Amazing Spider-Man. It was like watching old friends again. The White Tiger, Moon Knight...Spidey's old villain, the Tarantula, all had appearances in the first issues. It was a great time for Spidey back in 1977.

The Spectacular title was the beginning of the multiple-Spider-Man magazines that convoluted the continuity of the character.

You needed a road map to figure out where all the story lines converged. If you missed one title it may have continued in Amazing or Spectacular. It was all a marketing gimmick to get kids to buy comics.

However Spectacular was a good book and I always bought it each chance I could along with all my other Marvels. It makes me cringe when I see that they were only 30 cents each! Today comics are $3.99 each or more. Good thing I only restrict my comics purchases to Marvel Essentials or anything under $20..it's all I can afford with all my other expenses!

Robert L. said...

You've got to credit artist Our Pal Sal Buscema...as Anonymous has said.

His clean and clear style of art sold this magazine to me as a fan. I really liked his run on this title. Sal was one of those work horses that could get the comics out in a timely manner and still provide decent art. He's one of those unsung artists that deserved a lot more recognition in the 1970's. Without Sal, Marvel would have missed a lot of deadlines and the books would have never hit the stands on time.

Robert L. said...

I may be wrong...but didn't the Tarantula's sharp talons on his feet retract when he was walking? He only used them when he was attacking Spidey. The only reason I remember him was when he made his debut with the Punisher in Amazing Spider Man. The Tarantula was classic seventies villain that would need quite a bit of up-dating and re-imagining if he were to be a Spidey nemesis today. However the character worked for me in the 1970's. While not a major villain, he did present quite a nuisance to our favorite wall crawler.

The Prowler said...

Just to put the jot and tittle on things, when Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man made his debut, Nova was in its fourth issue and Ms Marvel would debut the next month.

To briefly expand on a point that Comicsfan makes so much better in his Spider-Man meets Dr Doom posting on his site, Peter/Spider-Man always had a varied and diverse supporting cast. Home life, work, social as well as school, a case could be made where he needed more than one book just to give some pages to people who would otherwise be neglected. Then again, it all got so crazy in the end.

(War war is stupid and people are stupid and love means nothing in some strange quarters).

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