Schooling Spider-Man: Spider-Man No More!
Peter Parker gives up his crime-fighting career!
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #50 by Stan Lee and John Romita started off like many of the issues that came before, with the title hero making short work of a bunch of wannabe thieves. However, the 1967 comic took more than a few wild turns before the last page. Even though he saved a man and woman from the robbery, the former still worried about the masked man’s presence thanks to all the mud J. Jonah Jameson slung his way. Clearly it bothered the young hero as he thought, “The public! The more I help them…the more they hate me!” after changing back into his civvies.
Just as he arrived at the apartment he shared with Harry Osborn, Peter got terrible news that Aunt May had taken ill. Feeling guilty about not being around when she needed him, Peter let May get some rest and headed back into the world—but of course, he couldn’t focus. The stress led to a worried night that distracted him from studying for a big exam the next day. He also had to turn down an invitation to Gwen Stacy’s party and questioned whether he really knew Mary Jane Watson that well or not!
Wracked with guilt and feeling unappreciated and even hated because of Jameson’s most recent tirade against him, Spidey took to the streets, wandering around and trying to figure out what to do with his life. Ultimately he decided to literally trash his Spider-Man costume and move on! Of course, the suit soon made its way to Jameson’s office at the Daily Bugle and he made a huge deal about playing such an integral part in getting the Webslinger to apparently quit the vigilante business.
Even though he didn’t appreciate Jameson framing his old costume and putting it up in his office, Parker still felt pretty good about leaving the life behind at first. He even got to ostensibly quit his photog gig to focus on school. He spent time with Gwen, Mary Jane ,and Aunt May, which made him feel good about his decision.
However, nature and bad guys abhor a vacuum, so with the hero out of the picture, Kingpin kicked off a crime wave that threatened to wipe the whole city away. Pete thought about running off to help, but remembered he’d quit. Later, though, he couldn’t let a mugging go by without jumping in to help. He then remembered how his lack of effort lead to Uncle Ben’s death and made a pledge to return to his alternate identity.
“I can never renounce my Spider-Man identity! I can never fail to use the powers which a mysterious destiny has seen fit to give me! No matter how unbearable the burden may be…no matter how great my personal sacrifice…I can never permit one innocent being to come to harm…because Spider-Man failed to act…and I swear that I never will!”
With that, Peter scaled the Daily Bugle building, broke into JJJ’s office, donned the costume, waited around to rub it in the old walrus’ face and swung off to take on the Kingpin in the next issue!
A Tangled Web
After Alistair Smythe accidentally killed Marla Jameson while aiming for her husband, Spider-Man took that pledge from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #50 up to another level. In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #655 by Dan Slott and Marcos Martin, Peter first attended Marla’s funeral and then suffered through a gut-wrenching nightmare. With a new outlook, he climbed up and made a new vow to the world: “I’m done,” he said. “Done accepting things the way they are. I swear to you…from now on…whenever I’m around, wherever I am…no one dies!” That theme became a huge one for the rest of Slott’s run on that volume and on through to the current one.
The Wall Crawler tries to deal with Kingpin’s plans and a crisis on campus in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #68 from 1969.
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