Wednesday

OMU: Spider-Man -- Year Three

As Spider-Man continues his undergraduate career, he struggles to balance his life as a student with his activities as a costumed vigilante and encounters foes both old and new. But the most significant events of the next twelve months of the character’s life focus around Peter Parker’s budding romance with Gwen Stacy. It’s a rocky road to love, to be sure, and complicated by her father’s habit of getting mixed up in the schemes of Spider-Man’s enemies. But the sudden death of Captain George Stacy sends Peter Parker’s life spinning off into a dark new territory. Stan Lee & John Romita continue to orchestrate some of the most powerful Spider-Man stories ever produced to cover the third year in the life of Marvel’s flagship superhero.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Continuing on with... The True History of the Amazing Spider-Man!


January 1964 – During his winter break from college, Peter Parker gets some great photos of a jet-powered robot rampaging outside the Daily Bugle building. Peter is thrilled when his photos are featured on NBC’s The Huntley-Brinkley Report. After several days, the robot’s crime spree is halted by Thor. Soon after, Peter is worried when he hears the ransom demands broadcast by the terrorist organization HYDRA. They threaten to release a deadly spore into the atmosphere unless the nations of the world submit. Luckily, the terrorists are soon defeated by S.H.I.E.L.D.

Peter finally discovers how to attune his spider-tracer tracking devices so he can locate them using only his innate spider-sense, rather than a handheld electronic device. He builds a number of new units, pleased with his own ingenuity.

Peter comes down with a bad cold just as the new semester is starting at Empire State University. He and his roommate, Harry Osborn, brave the blizzard to go to campus for Introduction to Biology II with Professor Miles Warren. Peter is glad to see Gwen Stacy in class, but his sickness forces him to go home and get back in bed. Later, Peter sees a TV news report that an escaped criminal called Blackie Drago is terrorizing the city as the new Vulture. It is reported that the original Vulture, Adrian Toomes, died in a fire at the prison infirmary. Though he considers leaving Drago to be captured by Daredevil, Peter’s sense of responsibility soon drives him to go into action as Spider-Man despite his illness. He soon finds the new Vulture, but the fight does not go well. Though he manages to rescue the villain’s hostage, Spidey passes out during the battle and Drago escapes. Spider-Man comes to later, drags himself home, and collapses into bed.

The next morning, Peter feels much better, due to his remarkable recuperative powers. Nevertheless, when Aunt May and her roommate, Anna Watson, stop by to visit, Peter is forced to spend half the day in bed pretending to be sick. After hearing a news report that Blackie Drago is fighting with Kraven the Hunter at one of the city’s exhibition halls, Peter changes into Spider-Man and sneaks out while Aunt May is napping. Spidey makes short work of Kraven and the new Vulture, and gets home just minutes before Dr. Bromwell pays him a house call. To Aunt May’s relief, the doctor declares it must have been a 24-hour virus. To celebrate, Peter takes his aunt and Mrs. Watson out to a movie.

February 1964 – While stalking a gang of safecrackers, Spider-Man has a strange sort of seizure, which allows the crooks to beat him up. Despite the terrible pain in his head, Spidey manages to drive them off and make it back to his apartment. The next day, still feeling ill, Peter follows an odd compulsion to take a plane down to New Orleans, where he realizes it is Mardi Gras. As Spider-Man, he wanders through the crowds of revelers until feeling drawn to a particular warehouse. Inside, he is attacked by a large, strange-looking blue-skinned android. Spidey quickly discovers that the android can alternate between being rock-hard and stretchy like rubber. The mysterious pain in his head prevents Spidey from fighting effectively, but just as the android is about to kill him, it abruptly ceases its attack and wanders off a pier into the Mississippi River. Just as suddenly, the pain in Spidey’s head vanishes. Confused, Peter returns to New York.

Peter temporarily abandons his Spider-Man identity when the pressures of his double-life become too much for him. Unsatisfied with dating Mary Jane Watson, Peter wishes he could ask Gwen out, but he believes she is in love with Flash Thompson, who is off at basic training. After Aunt May falls ill again, Peter bombs his Biology exam, prompting Professor Warren to speak to him about his poor grades. Thus, Peter must decline Gwen’s invitation to a party, just as he had to decline an offer to work part-time at Norman Osborn’s chemical laboratory. When J. Jonah Jameson then offers a $1,000 reward for information leading to Spider-Man’s arrest and conviction, Peter has had enough. He takes his Spider-Man costume to a nearby alley and dumps it in a garbage can. Over the next few days, the Daily Bugle leads a media frenzy of speculation over the end of Spider-Man’s career. Visiting the newspaper office, Peter is surprised to see his Spider-Man costume in Jameson’s personal trophy case. Despite a crime wave sweeping the city, Peter resists the urge to resume his superhero ways. However, when he witnesses an elderly night watchman in danger of being thrown off a roof by a gang of robbers, Peter cannot stand idly by. He attacks the crooks, knocking them out while keeping to the shadows. He then slips silently into the darkness as the night watchman thanks him. Peter realizes that the old man reminded him of his deceased Uncle Ben, and, feeling guilty, decides that giving up being Spider-Man was a mistake. At dawn, Peter breaks into Jameson’s office and retrieves his costume. Spidey waits around to taunt Jameson when the publisher arrives for work.

Spider-Man is dismayed to learn that, while he was out of action, a crime boss known as the Kingpin finally succeeded in uniting all the city’s mobs into one organized syndicate. Spidey tracks the Kingpin to his penthouse headquarters, where he discovers that Daily Bugle reporter Frederick Foswell has returned to a life of crime, apparently serving as one of the Kingpin’s lieutenants. They have kidnapped Jameson, so Spidey brawls with the Kingpin. Though the criminal mastermind appears to be morbidly obese, he surprises Spider-Man with his fighting prowess. Spidey is gassed into unconsciousness. When he wakes, he finds himself in a deathtrap with Jameson. Spidey saves them from drowning with a web cocoon, then fights his way through the gun-toting gangsters for a rematch with the Kingpin. Unable to defeat Spider-Man a second time, the Kingpin escapes down a pneumatic tube, which explodes behind him. Spidey returns to the basement to ensure that Jameson made it out safely, only to find that Foswell was fatally shot while protecting Jameson. As the police arrive, Spidey overhears Jameson instructing reporter Ned Leeds to write up the story in such a way as to make Foswell the hero.

March 1964 – Believing the Human Torch to be on a rampage, Spider-Man tries to capture him, only to discover that the Torch is shooting a scene for a film directed by Federico Fellini. Spidey is embarrassed when his gaffe is played up in the media. However, he soon receives an offer from Paragon Productions in Hollywood to make a movie about the incident. Expecting to make a lot of money, Peter takes a plane out to Los Angeles at once. While heading to the studio the next morning, Spidey runs into the Human Torch, and they agree to set aside their differences and cooperate for the duration of the project. But, while shooting their first scene, the Human Torch attacks Spider-Man without warning. After a quick battle, Spidey drives his rival away, then pursues him across the studio lot. Finding the Torch inside his trailer, Spider-Man attacks again and their battle continues. When they are both nearly killed by a hidden ray gun, the two heroes realize they’ve been tricked: the Torch who started the fight was an impostor. Working together, Spidey and the Torch discover that Mysterio and the Wizard have teamed up against them. The criminals are captured and turned over to the police, and though the movie studio is revealed as an elaborate front, Spidey does split the reward money with the Human Torch. Peter returns to New York, glad that the trip wasn’t a total waste.

Peter is excited when Gwen Stacy agrees to join him at a special science exhibition with Professor Miles Warren. However, this causes friction with Flash Thompson, who is on leave between basic training and shipping out to Vietnam. Still, Gwen insists on attending the exhibition, to Professor Warren’s delight. Unfortunately, the exhibition is disrupted by Doctor Octopus, intent on stealing a new missile component called a nullifier. Spider-Man stops the robbery and drives the villain off, planning to track him down later using a spider-tracer he managed to plant on Doc Ock during the melee. The next day, Peter is shocked to discover that Doctor Octopus has rented a room at the house Aunt May shares with Anna Watson. Despite Peter’s protests, Aunt May is convinced Otto Octavius is a kindly gentleman. Stymied, Peter leaves, but, after dark, Spider-Man confronts Doc Ock at his bedroom window. The subsequent battle with both Doctor Octopus and members of the Master Planner’s gang leaves a huge hole in the side of the house. Though the henchmen are captured, Doctor Octopus escapes. Peter swears vengeance on his foe for putting his aunt’s life at risk.

While searching for Doctor Octopus, Peter checks in at the offices of the Daily Bugle. Betty Brant introduces Peter to the new city editor, Joe “Robbie” Robertson. Peter finds the level-headed Robertson much easier to deal with than the hot-tempered J. Jonah Jameson. Later, after Doc Ock succeeds in stealing the nullifier from a military convoy, Spidey tracks his enemy to the Stark Industries weapons factory in Flushing, Long Island. Their furious battle ends when Doc Ock turns the nullifier on Spider-Man, its rays inducing a form of total amnesia. Stripped of his identity, Spider-Man is easily persuaded by Doctor Octopus that they are partners-in-crime. Thus, they escape together and take the nullifier to Doc Ock’s secret hideout.

Over the next few days, Spider-Man hangs around Doc Ock’s mansion while the villain works on modifying the nullifier for his own use. Despite his amnesia, Spidey remains suspicious of Doctor Octopus, and keeps his guard up. When Doc Ock sends Spider-Man to steal a special chemical compound he needs from a nearby military base, Spidey does so, but intentionally leaves behind a map to lead the authorities to Doc Ock’s hideout. When the soldiers descend on the mansion, Spider-Man refuses to fight on Doc Ock’s behalf. The troops are able to use the nullifier to deactivate the villain’s mechanical tentacles and take him into custody. Spidey decides to flee the scene rather than be captured, and for some reason he does not understand, the colonel in charge lets him go. Spider-Man returns to Manhattan and seeks refuge among the rooftops of the city, uncertain of where to go or what to do next.

April 1964 – Spider-Man haunts the rooftops of New York for some time, bereft of all memory or sense of identity. He steals food as the opportunity arises and sleeps on a high perch inside Grand Central Station. Eventually, he hears a radio news bulletin reporting that he has been accused of kidnapping a college freshman named Peter Parker. The report notes that Air Force Colonel John Jameson maintains that Spider-Man is innocent of the accusations made against him. Curious, Spidey decides to check out this Colonel Jameson, hoping to learn more about his forgotten identity. This leads him into a strange confrontation with Colonel Jameson, an elderly former police captain, and the policeman’s gorgeous blonde daughter. Overwhelmed by the experience, Spidey swings away. He seeks information on his past at the offices of the Daily Bugle newspaper. There, the publisher claims to be Spider-Man’s biggest fan and convinces him to take off his mask. Before Spidey can do so, however, he is attacked by a shirtless man called Ka-Zar. Their battle leads them into Central Park, where Spidey is surprised by Ka-Zar’s pet sabretooth tiger. The prehistoric cat knocks Spider-Man backwards into the lake, where he hits his head and loses consciousness.

Spider-Man comes to on a rooftop, having been resuscitated by Ka-Zar. He immediately realizes his memory has completely returned. After explanations are made, Spidey and Ka-Zar part on friendly terms. Unfortunately, before Peter can contact anyone, he is attacked by a new “Spider-Slayer” robot built by Spencer Smythe. Following a destructive chase across the city, Spidey tricks Smythe into overloading the robot’s systems until it explodes. Exhausted, Peter returns to his apartment, only to discover that Aunt May was hospitalized while he had amnesia. When Peter reaches the hospital, Aunt May is greatly relieved to find he has turned up safe and sound. Peter then reports to police headquarters to deal with his alleged kidnapping. Upon arrival, he recognizes the retired police captain as Gwen’s father, George Stacy. Peter claims to have been held captive by the amnesiac Spider-Man, who mistook him for an enemy spy, but was released as soon as the wall-crawler regained his memory. The matter settled, Peter accompanies George Stacy home to discuss the older man’s theories about Spider-Man. When they arrive, Gwen is overjoyed to see Peter and embraces him. Peter is a bit embarrassed but happy to know she cares about him. Gwen insists on taking Peter to meet up with Harry at the campus coffee shop, where he tells them the same story he told the police.

Over the next few days, Peter struggles to catch up on the schoolwork he missed during his fugue state. However, Spider-Man is drawn into stopping the Kingpin’s scheme to brainwash various city officials when the crime boss uses Mary Jane Watson as an unwitting pawn to capture Captain Stacy. During a fight at the villain’s lair, the Kingpin drives Spidey away by subjecting him to a powerful electric shock which induces a severe case of double-vision. Forced to leave Captain Stacy behind, Spidey heads home to recover. Growing impatient later, Peter rides over to the Stacys’ townhouse to check on Gwen and finds her father is back at home, though his manner is now cold and menacing. While Gwen is making coffee, her father attacks Peter with his cane. Peter accidentally knocks Captain Stacy down while defending himself, and when Gwen enters the room, her father accuses Peter of beating him. Distraught, Gwen throws Peter out of the house.

Convinced that George Stacy has been brainwashed to serve the Kingpin, Spidey follows the ex-cop as he escorts some mobsters into police headquarters so they can raid the vault of police files and destroy evidence. Still too weak to stop them, Peter realizes the only way to save Captain Stacy is to publish the incriminating photos he took from outside the window. J. Jonah Jameson is more than happy to do so, running a special edition of the Daily Bugle exposing George Stacy’s involvement with organized crime. The next day, Peter is horrified to discover that both Gwen and her father have been kidnapped by the Kingpin’s thugs. A clue found at the nightclub where Mary Jane had been performing leads Spider-Man to Osborn Laboratories, Inc. Spidey smashes his way in, finding the Kingpin holding the Stacys prisoner, and beats the crime boss senseless. His lackey, Dr. Winkler, tries to shoot the hostages, but he is stopped by Norman Osborn. Winkler’s gun goes off, hitting the brainwashing machine and causing an explosion that stuns Osborn and kills Winkler. Spidey gets the Stacys to safety as the lab goes up in flames, but the Kingpin escapes. In the aftermath, Osborn corroborates George Stacy’s story about being mind-controlled by the Kingpin, and so the former policeman is exonerated. However, though she’s grateful to Spider-Man, Gwen is now convinced that Peter Parker is a vicious coward who betrayed them.

Depressed about Gwen and overwhelmed with schoolwork, Peter decides to ride his motorbike out into the countryside to relax and clear his head. He soon finds himself in Westchester County, where he has a close encounter with an egg-shaped UFO and a giant robot spider. Changing into Spider-Man, he fights with the robot, finally getting it to destroy itself with its own weapon. However, he is knocked out by the resulting explosion. When Spidey regains consciousness, the UFO has disappeared, but Cyclops, Angel, Iceman, and the Beast of the X-Men attack him, accusing him of being in league with “Factor Three.” After a brief brawl, the boys realize there has been a misunderstanding: the robot was the “spider menace” the X-Men had been searching for. Spidey is too angry to accept the mutants’ apology, and he is even more annoyed when they drive off in their Rolls-Royce. Soon, Peter is back on his second-hand motorbike riding back to Manhattan.

May 1964 – Gwen refuses to speak to Peter for the remainder of the academic year. Realizing he’s fallen in love with her, Peter is too depressed to do well on his final exams. He is disappointed with the grades he earns for his freshman year, feeling he has let Aunt May down.

One afternoon, Spider-Man and Thor assist Daredevil in convincing the Fantastic Four that he is not an impostor. On the roof of the Baxter Building, Thor battles the Thing while Daredevil fights with Mister Fantastic. Spider-Man draws the Human Torch into a separate duel across the rooftops nearby. Spidey defeats the Torch, and when they return to the Baxter Building, the Invisible Girl convinces her teammates that it was merely another revenge scheme hatched by Doctor Doom.

Peter celebrates his 19th birthday with Aunt May, Anna Watson, Mary Jane Watson, and Harry Osborn, though he’s still upset about wrecking his chances with Gwen. Also, Peter begins to feel uncomfortable living with Harry rent-free while Norman Osborn pays all the bills.

June 1964 – After Spider-Man has a chance encounter with Medusa, one of the Royal Family of the Inhumans, Peter Parker visits the Stacys’ townhouse, hoping to patch things up with Gwen. She is still angry with him, and Peter fumbles his explanation since he can’t admit to being Spider-Man. He returns home with a heavy heart. That evening, Spidey is duped into fighting Medusa by an unscrupulous executive for a hair spray company. After going a few rounds with the angry Inhuman, Spidey realizes they’ve been set up. Thus, after Medusa departs, Spider-Man hangs around to talk to the reporters who’ve appeared on the scene. He describes Medusa’s hair as “wild” and “uncontrollable” and such, to undermine the executive’s plan to exploit her for advertising purposes. Later that evening, Peter runs into Mary Jane. She flirts with him, but he’s too heartbroken about Gwen to even play along.

July 1964 – While moving an old steamer trunk into the basement for Aunt May, Peter discovers newspaper articles inside that reveal the truth about his parents. He is shocked to learn that Richard and Mary Parker were accused of treason against the United States before being killed in a plane crash in Algeria. Distraught, he confronts Aunt May, who tearfully reveals that she and Uncle Ben sought to shield Peter from the shame surrounding his parents’ deaths. For many days, Peter goes about his daily routine like a man in a daze, obsessed with these stunning revelations. He has too many questions and very few answers. Finally, he determines to find out the truth about his parents, even if it means traveling to Africa in search of 15-year-old clues. With no money for a plane ticket, he seeks help from the Fantastic Four as Spider-Man. Mister Fantastic agrees to give him a lift to Algeria while testing a new airship for Stark Industries. Hours later, Spider-Man finds himself in the historic Casbah section of Algiers, the capital city. Acting on the scraps of information Aunt May could provide, Spidey tracks down the man who identified his parents’ bodies. Spider-Man intimidates the man into admitting that Richard Parker was a covert operative for a locally-based subversive organization. Raiding the organization’s headquarters, the wall-crawler finds evidence that appears to confirm that his father worked for the Red Skull. Consumed with rage and shame, Spider-Man attacks the man claiming to be the Red Skull, as well as his henchmen and assassins. During the fierce battle, Spider-Man forces his foes to confess to framing Richard Parker, who was working in counterintelligence at the time and had never gone rogue. With a renewed determination, Spider-Man routs his enemies and destroys their headquarters, but not before making off with evidence to prove that his parents were not traitors. Exultant over his victory, Peter Parker makes his way back to the United States.

August 1964 – Peter spends several weeks meeting with intelligence officials to see about clearing his parents’ names. He is ultimately successful, resulting in a small story running in the back pages of the Daily Bugle.

September 1964 – Peter begins his sophomore year at Empire State University. Though he is glad that Gwen Stacy is his classmate in Biology 201 with Professor Miles Warren, she is still angry with him and ignores him. After school, Harry reads Peter a letter he’s received from Flash Thompson in Vietnam. When Norman Osborn arrives in an agitated state, Peter worries that his memories of being the Green Goblin may be starting to return. Wanting to give the Osborns some privacy, Peter heads over to the Daily Bugle, where he finds the original Vulture, Adrian Toomes, still very much alive, fighting with his would-be successor, Blackie Drago. When innocent bystanders are threatened, Peter changes into Spider-Man and intervenes. Toomes quickly defeats Drago, who is taken into police custody. Spidey then battles the original Vulture, despite some interference from J. Jonah Jameson. Unfortunately, the Vulture gets the better of the hapless hero, and though Spider-Man damages his flight mechanism, Toomes escapes. Badly beaten, Spidey passes out in the street as a crowd gathers around him.

When Spider-Man regains consciousness, he finds himself in a prison infirmary. He overhears George Stacy and attorney Franklin “Foggy” Nelson discussing the legal implications of removing Spidey’s mask without his consent. Assured that his secret identity is safe, Spider-Man fades in and out of consciousness until awakening the next day, feeling much recovered. Before leaving the prison, though, Spidey is called upon to rescue Captain Stacy from a gang of convicts attempting a jailbreak.

The next day, Peter is disappointed when he must sell his motorbike to a pawn shop to raise some desperately needed cash. His mood improves dramatically, however, when Gwen comes running up to him, explaining that her father has finally regained the memories of what happened while he was brainwashed by the Kingpin. Thus, Gwen now knows Peter never really attacked or betrayed him. Peter is overjoyed, and, over the course of the day, he and Gwen realize they have truly fallen in love with each other.

That night, Spider-Man answers a challenge issued by Mysterio to a showdown at the now-abandoned TV studio where they fought their first battle. There, Mysterio tries to trick Spidey into believing he’s been shrunk down to merely six inches tall, but Spidey eventually sees through the ruse and defeats Mysterio once again.

After harassing J. Jonah Jameson about giving some good press to a new superhero called Yellowjacket, Spider-Man is surprised to receive an invitation to the wedding of Yellowjacket and the Wasp. Spidey arrives at Avengers Mansion to find Captain America, Iron Man, and Hawkeye, as well as Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Thing, the Human Torch and his new girlfriend Crystal, Doctor Strange and his new girlfriend Clea, Daredevil, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, and the Beast. Spidey is introduced to the Black Panther, the new Black Knight, the Vision, and Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D. The ceremony goes well, but when the Wasp and Yellowjacket are cutting the cake afterwards, a giant python bursts out of the cake and attacks them. The Avengers ask their guests to step out while they deal with the situation. About half an hour later, the police arrive to take the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime into custody. The guests return to the party and are surprised to discover that Yellowjacket is none other than the Wasp’s old beau, Henry Pym.

At ESU, Peter meets freshman student Randy Robertson, the son of Daily Bugle city editor Joe Robertson. Through Randy, Peter learns of some campus protests being organized by a student activist named Josh Kittling. After school, Peter and Gwen go to visit Aunt May to tell her that their relationship has gotten serious. Aunt May is delighted by the news. The next day, Peter worries that Josh and Randy’s protest rally will escalate into a full-blown campus riot. When the Kingpin and his henchmen take advantage of the chaos to steal an ancient stone tablet from ESU’s exhibition hall, Peter changes into Spider-Man to stop them. However, the Kingpin gets away with the tablet when Spidey is distracted saving Randy’s life. Spidey then pursues the Kingpin and manages to retrieve the tablet, but when he attempts to approach the police outside, the cops open fire on the web-slinger. Angry and frustrated, Spider-Man takes the tablet back to his apartment and hides it in the closet.

The next day, after arguing with Gwen over his frequent disappearances, Peter decides to try to cash in on the tablet’s notoriety, only to learn the Kingpin has implicated him in its theft. Thus, later that night, Spider-Man draws the Kingpin into a confrontation, but their fight is interrupted by J. Jonah Jameson and Ned Leeds. A woman in a black sedan helps the Kingpin escape, prompting the furious Spidey to vent his rage at Jameson. However, when the newspaperman suffers a sudden seizure and collapses, Spidey flees the scene, fearing he has driven Jameson to a fatal heart attack. In the morning, Peter is relieved to learn from Joe Robertson that Jameson is expected to make a full recovery. Robertson also gives Peter a far more generous payment for his photos than Jameson ever offered. Thrilled, Peter changes into Spider-Man and delivers the ancient tablet to George Stacy, trusting the former police captain to see that it is returned to its rightful owner. Immediately afterwards, Spider-Man meets Quicksilver when the former Avenger tries to bring him to justice. After a brief battle, Spidey defeats the mutant speedster. Peter is happy when the next edition of the Daily Bugle uses his photos to exonerate Spider-Man.

While web-swinging around the city, Spider-Man overhears a radio broadcast by an unidentified super-villain who threatens to cause a nationwide power outage unless his demands are met. Spidey thinks the voice sounds familiar, but he can’t place it. Ultimately, nothing comes of the threats.

October 1964 – Spider-Man battles the Shocker, learning that the crook has stolen the ancient stone tablet from George Stacy’s wall safe. The Shocker is defeated, but Spidey has no idea where his foe hid the tablet. Still, Peter is happy to have been able to send Aunt May on a trip to Florida with her friend Anna Watson, and the Daily Bugle has been much more positive about Spider-Man with J. Jonah Jameson in the hospital. Unfortunately, his mood is ruined when Peter argues with Gwen after she flirts with Flash Thompson, who is home from Vietnam on leave. The next evening, Spider-Man pays a visit to George Stacy to ask him about the Shocker’s attack. Stacy directs Spider-Man to the Shocker’s girlfriend, a stripper who lives in the theater district. At her apartment, Spidey finds the woman being menaced by a Maggia enforcer called Man-Mountain Marko, who knows she’s hiding the ancient tablet. Spidey prevents Marko from killing the woman, but fails to stop him from escaping with the tablet.

Further investigation leads Spider-Man to attorney Caesar Cicero, a notorious “mouthpiece” for the Maggia crime syndicate. There, Spidey discovers that the Maggia has kidnapped Dr. Curt Connors and his family for some nefarious purpose. Cicero escapes by triggering an explosion that destroys his office. After a day of searching, Spider-Man finally tracks down Man-Mountain Marko, finding him in an office building, struggling with a young man called Silvermane. Spidey is confused, for he knows the infamous Maggia boss by that name is about 80 years old. The web-slinger quickly defeats Marko, but is shocked to see Silvermane is rapidly aging backwards. Spider-Man realizes that the hieroglyphics on the ancient tablet must have been a formula for eternal youth, which Dr. Connors deciphered, though something has apparently gone wrong. Silvermane rapidly progresses from adolescent to child to infant before becoming a whimpering mass lost within his pile of clothes. Astonished, Spider-Man defeats the remaining gangsters and rescues Martha and Billy Connors. There is no sign of Curt, and they worry that he has once again changed into the Lizard.

Unable to pick up Curt Connors’s trail, Spidey changes back into Peter Parker and goes to make up with Gwen. Before taking her out on a date, Peter finds that George Stacy and Joe Robertson are meeting to compare notes on Spider-Man. Feeling paranoid, Peter evades their questions and worries that they will figure out his secret identity. The next day, Spidey finds the Lizard terrorizing the city and becomes frustrated when the Human Torch interferes. The Torch treats the Lizard only as a dangerous monster that must be stopped at all costs, while Spider-Man wants to capture the Lizard without harming him. Spidey finally rids himself of the Torch by claiming that his “spider-sonic hearing” has detected a distress call from the Fantastic Four. As the Human Torch blazes back to the Baxter Building, Spidey traps the Lizard inside a chemical supply warehouse and succeeds in changing him back to his human form. Safely reunited once again, the Connors family expresses their unending gratitude to Spider-Man.

Before returning to Florida, Curt Connors looks over a chemical formula Spider-Man has been working on and makes a few suggestions. This allows Peter to finally finish the formula he started researching two years ago. Peter believes it will allow him to get rid of his spider-powers should they ever prove to be a threat to his health. However, Peter can't think of a way to effectively test it, so he never mixes up the actual serum.

A misunderstanding leads Peter to think Gwen is dating Flash Thompson behind his back. He is so upset that he has trouble dealing with a costumed thief called the Prowler, who tries stealing the Daily Bugle’s payroll. The Prowler is able to escape after hitting Spider-Man with a gas grenade. The next day, after angrily confronting Gwen, Peter becomes Spider-Man again and tracks down the Prowler. This time, Spidey easily defeats the Prowler and unmasks him, discovering him to be a disgruntled African American teenager named Hobie Brown. Discouraged by his defeat, Hobie admits that he planned to steal things as the Prowler and return them in his civilian guise to collect the reward money. Seeing a lot of himself in Hobie Brown, Spider-Man decides to let him go.

Harry and Flash confront Peter to explain why Flash was having coffee with Gwen: she only wanted to ask Flash about Peter’s mysterious disappearances, as she was afraid Peter was secretly seeing another girl. Feeling like a jerk, Peter calls Gwen to apologize. They agree to meet up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where Gwen’s dad is acting as a security consultant for a special exhibit. Trouble ensues when Captain Stacy is framed for an art heist by the Chameleon. With Joe Robertson’s help, Spider-Man baits a trap for the Chameleon and soon captures him when the spy tries to steal a fortune in bonds. The following day, Peter picks up Aunt May at Penn Station as she returns from Florida. Their reunion is interrupted when Spider-Man must capture an Australian bruiser known as the Kangaroo before he accidentally unleashes a deadly plague on the city. Spidey manages to get the vial of experimental bacteria away from the Kangaroo, but the villain escapes.

Frustrated with his lack of spending money, Spider-Man arranges to appear on The Merv Griffin Show. Though nervous, the network executives are willing to take a chance since rival Johnny Carson has recently scored a ratings coup by booking Daredevil, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch on The Tonight Show. Unfortunately, the production is wrecked by Electro, who invades the studio and attacks Spider-Man. Though Spidey manages to drive Electro off, the studio is left a shambles. Peter knows no producer will risk having Spider-Man on TV again.

After taking Flash Thompson to the airport to return to Vietnam, Peter and Gwen go for a walk, only to be caught in the path of an out-of-control truck. Forced onto the sidewalk by a black sedan, the truck crashes and rolls on top of them, with only Peter’s super-strength saving their lives. He wedges a broken parking meter under the truck so he can drag his girlfriend to safety. With Gwen recovering in the hospital, Peter changes into Spider-Man and goes in search of the sedan. This leads him into the middle of a gang war between the Kingpin and a rival crime boss called the Schemer. As a blizzard paralyses the city, Spider-Man searches for the Schemer, intent on collecting the $5,000 reward for his capture. He finally finds the Schemer and the Kingpin fighting each other at an elegant mansion. However, despite Spidey’s best efforts, both of his foes manage to escape. The next day, Spider-Man finally apprehends the Schemer, only to be lured into a trap by the Kingpin. Caught in a magnetized steel-cable net, Spidey can only watch as the Schemer reveals himself to be the Kingpin’s estranged son in disguise. Having thought his son was dead and now learning that shame drove the young man to seek to destroy his father’s criminal empire, the Kingpin suffers a nervous breakdown. Spider-Man finally breaks free of the net, but decides to leave the Kingpin’s family to sort out their problems.

On the way back to his apartment, Spider-Man begins to feel seriously ill. When he finally arrives, battered and bruised, Peter is confronted by George Stacy, Gwen, and Harry, who are worried about his involvement with a dangerous character like Spider-Man. Peter refuses to back down and Gwen storms out in tears. Harry goes after her. Captain Stacy leaves Peter with a few words of advice that make Peter worry that the elderly ex-detective may have guessed his secret. Later, unable to concentrate and thinking he may be losing his powers, Peter goes out as Spider-Man to exercise, only to be attacked by the Black Widow. The former Soviet spy derides Spidey for his inability to effectively fight back against her. Angry, Spider-Man rallies enough to drive her off, then staggers home. After sleeping through most of the next day, Peter begins to fear that the radiation that gave him his spider-powers is now killing him. Following a nearly disastrous outing as Spidey, Peter wanders over to the Stacys’ townhouse for Gwen’s 19th birthday party. When he arrives, he holds up his mask and announces to everyone that he is Spider-Man. After apologizing for all the trouble he’s caused, Peter wanders off in a daze. His friends are too shocked to know what to do.

Convinced that he’s dying, Peter changes into Spider-Man and goes to the nearest hospital, where he collapses. He awakens hours later to be informed by the doctor that he merely had a very bad case of the flu. Feeling like an idiot, Spidey tracks down Hobie Brown and enlists his aid in convincing his friends that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are two different people. Returning to the Stacys’ townhouse that evening, Peter explains that he was delirious from the flu last night and didn’t know what he was saying. Hobie then comes in the window, wearing Spider-Man’s costume, and discusses with Peter their deal regarding the photos Peter takes. The ruse works, and Peter and Gwen make up.

The next day, Peter rushes to the studios of WOR-TV to photograph Captain America battling Batroc the Leaper, Whirlwind, and the Porcupine. Afterwards, Peter takes his photos to the Daily Bugle and sells them to J. Jonah Jameson. However, Jameson informs Peter that what he really wants are photos of the Black Widow.

Two days later, Professor Warren warns Peter that his grades have slipped to the point that he is endangering his scholarship. After school, Spider-Man battles Doctor Octopus at John F. Kennedy International Airport when his old foe hijacks a jet carrying a Chinese delegation. While Spidey keeps the villain busy, the plane is evacuated. However, when Doc Ock tries to escape by taking off again, the jet crashes at the end of the runway and explodes. Spider-Man leaps clear, but Doctor Octopus is presumed to have been killed in the fireball. The next day, though, when no trace of Doc Ock or his metal tentacles has been found in the wreckage, Spider-Man scours the city searching for his arch-enemy. He finally finds Doc Ock smashing up a power plant, but, after a furious brawl across the rooftops, the villain defeats Spidey and gets away. Peter recuperates at Gwen’s house, then rushes home to prepare a variant of his web-fluid designed especially for Doc Ock. That evening, Spider-Man tracks down Doctor Octopus again, and they continue their rooftop battle. Spidey’s web formula disrupts the tentacles’ reception of impulses from Doc Ock’s brain, causing the metal arms to go out of control. As they flail about madly, the tentacles smash a chimney, sending a mass of broken bricks plummeting to the street below. Spider-Man watches in horror as George Stacy is killed while saving a young boy from the falling debris. Doctor Octopus escapes as Spider-Man swings down and pulls Captain Stacy from the rubble. With his dying breath, Stacy reveals that he knows Spider-Man is Peter Parker and tells him to take good care of Gwen.

Devastated by the death of George Stacy, Peter and Gwen spend the night at Aunt May’s house in Forest Hills, Queens. In the morning, they sit numbly in front of the television, watching coverage of a takeover of Manhattan by the international criminal cartel Zodiac. Peter is relieved when Zodiac is finally defeated by the Avengers and Daredevil. The following day, they attend Captain Stacy’s funeral. Gwen reveals that, like most of the public, she blames Spider-Man for her father’s death. Wracked with guilt, Peter can find no words to defend his alter-ego. The general public is unaware that Doctor Octopus was even at the scene, leaving Spider-Man to take the blame.

In the days that follow, Spider-Man is made more of a pariah than ever before, especially in the pages of the Daily Bugle. Also, Sam Bullit, a candidate for district attorney, relentlessly attacks the wall-crawler in the media to bolster his campaign. Finding Bullit’s “law and order” message appealing, Gwen volunteers as a campaign worker. Soon after, Bullit has two thugs beat Peter up for refusing to tell what he knows about Spider-Man’s whereabouts. Peter immediately changes to Spider-Man and punishes the thugs, then returns to his apartment. As soon as he arrives, though, Spidey finds Sam Bullit and Gwen are already there. Deciding he needs to take drastic action, Spider-Man grabs Gwen and leaps out the window. On a nearby rooftop, he tries to convince her that her father’s death was an accident. Gwen refuses to listen, but then Spider-Man is suddenly attacked by Iceman, who is intent on rescuing the girl. When the police surround the building, Spidey abandons the fight and swings off into the night. Peter lays low the following day, worried that Bullit’s soaring poll numbers mean he might actually be the next district attorney.

When Peter finally tells J. Jonah Jameson and Joe Robertson about being beaten up by Bullit’s goons, Robertson succeeds in convincing Jameson to withdraw the Daily Bugle’s endorsement. Robertson produces a file that could end Bullit’s political career, and so Jameson calls Bullit to deliver the bad news personally. Later, Peter sees Bullit’s thugs kidnapping Robertson. After changing into Spider-Man, he follows their sedan across town, though he has to fight off Iceman along the way, as the young mutant has decided to capture the web-slinger for the police. However, when they reach the warehouse and find Bullit calling the tied-up Robertson racist epithets and threatening to have him killed, Spider-Man and Iceman agree to team up. Bullit orders Robertson’s execution, then leaves for a fundraiser. Spidey and Iceman leap down and easily defeat the thugs, freeing Robertson. They race to the fundraiser, where Bullit’s crimes are made public, and his campaign collapses just days before the election.

November 1964 – With Sam Bullit under arrest and discredited in the Daily Bugle, Franklin “Foggy” Nelson wins a landslide victory in the race for district attorney. Also, Senator Morris N. Richardson defeats Lyndon B. Johnson and is elected the next President of the United States. However, Peter is more concerned with pulling up his grades so he does not lose his scholarship. As such, he spends less time swinging around the city as Spider-Man and more time studying. He wants to help Gwen deal with the loss of her father, but feels so guilty when they are together that he ends up avoiding her most of the time.

While fighting a gang of two-bit hoods one evening, Spider-Man is briefly interrupted by Daredevil, who decides not to get involved. Spidey remembers his suspicion that Daredevil was really Matt Murdock, but dismisses the notion since Murdock was reported killed in an airplane crash recently.

Spider-Man meets the Silver Surfer when a web-line accidentally snags his flying surfboard. A misunderstanding leads them into a fight, and though he can’t match the Surfer’s cosmic power, Spidey decides the enigmatic alien is too unpredictable and dangerous to be allowed to run around loose. However, Spider-Man realizes he’s misjudged his silver-skinned opponent when the Surfer withstands an artillery barrage in order to save the life of a young boy.

Soon after, Peter is fascinated by the TV news coverage of the Apollo astronauts landing on the moon. The mission is a success despite months of frustrating mishaps and setbacks. Days later, Peter invites Gwen to Thanksgiving dinner with Aunt May and Anna Watson at their house in Forest Hills. There is friction between Gwen and Mary Jane Watson, and so, after an awkward meal, Gwen leaves early, claiming to not feel well. Mary Jane also leaves to meet up with Harry Osborn for a date, leaving Peter frustrated and angry.

December 1964 – After passing his final exams, Peter finally goes to spend some time with Gwen. He is stunned when Gwen tells him that her uncle, Arthur Stacy, has invited her to live with his family in London, England. Peter nearly proposes to her to get her to stay, then stops when he realizes she’d be devastated to learn he is Spider-Man. Gwen takes his indecisiveness as a rejection of her love. Peter leaves, torn about what to do. He vents his rage in a nearby alley, then changes into Spider-Man and goes web-swinging to clear his head. Finally, Spidey decides that if he truly loves Gwen, he can’t go on living a lie. He has to tell her the truth about his secret identity. On his way back, though, Spider-Man is attacked by the Prowler. Hobie Brown is convinced that his recent impersonation of Spider-Man was somehow part of the wall-crawler’s plot to murder George Stacy. Spidey draws the angry Prowler away from Gwen’s townhouse as they battle. Though Spider-Man soon defeats him, the Prowler is badly injured. Spidey quickly throws his Prowler costume and gear into an incinerator and carries Hobie to the nearest hospital. When Peter finally returns to Gwen’s townhouse, he finds she has already left for England. He tries to intercept her at JFK airport, but arrives too late.

Depressed, Peter wanders through the city all night until finally making his way to Aunt May’s house the following afternoon. After taking a nap on the couch, Peter learns from Anna Watson that Aunt May has been taken hostage by the Beetle, who was apparently robbing the grocery store where she had gone to buy some milk. Peter races from the house, changes to Spider-Man, and catches up to his armored foe. Spidey realizes the Beetle was not robbing the grocery store, but rather a vault on the other side of a common wall. Enraged, Spider-Man quickly rescues Aunt May and attacks the Beetle with uncharacteristic savagery. He knocks the Beetle through a skylight into an indoor swimming pool, where the villain’s heavy armor causes him to sink to the bottom. The Beetle panics, but Spider-Man doesn’t save him until he is nearly drowned. Leaving his foe webbed up for the police, Spider-Man changes back into Peter Parker and catches up with Aunt May. That evening, she tries to comfort Peter over having lost Gwen.

Days later, Spider-Man participates in a Toys-for-Tots program sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps. He joins Captain America, Thor, and the Black Panther in distributing toys to a crowd of underprivileged children. Then, on Christmas Eve, Spidey teams up with the Human Torch to track down the Sandman. The Torch is in a very foul mood due to having had a fight with Crystal. Not wanting to discuss his personal problems, Spider-Man claims to have a date with his own girlfriend later. They track the Sandman to Fort Lee, New Jersey, rescuing various bystanders along the way, before catching up to him entering the house of a bedridden old woman. The Sandman explains that the woman is his mother, whom he always visits at Christmas. The heroes agree to give him five minutes alone with her. But, though the Sandman promised to come along peacefully, he escapes down a drain in his mother’s bathroom. Outside, Spider-Man and the Human Torch decide to call it a night and go their separate ways. Christmas is a melancholy day for Peter without Gwen to share it with. He spends the day with Aunt May, thinking about the Sandman’s poor old mother.

Soon after, Spider-Man gets into a fight with the Falcon when the rookie hero tries to abduct Harry Osborn. Wondering what the Falcon or his partner, Captain America, could want with Harry, Spidey decides to look into it. He catches up to them in Harlem and a fight breaks out. Spidey learns that the Falcon was trying to prove himself to Cap by bringing the web-slinger to justice, and had mistakenly deduced that Harry was Spider-Man. The three heroes settle their differences, then team up to rescue a government official from the local crime boss called Stone Face.

Peter decides he must go to England and convince Gwen to come home. At the Daily Bugle, Joe Robertson agrees to advance Peter the money for the trip as long as he brings back some newsworthy photos. Soon, Peter is aboard a jet heading east across the Atlantic Ocean. However, when the plane lands at Heathrow Airport, Peter is forced to go into action as Spider-Man to rescue an American diplomat and his young son from a group of terrorists. Scotland Yard is willing to give Spider-Man a chance, so within hours he has apprehended the terrorists and rescued their hostages. But, as news of Spider-Man’s adventure spreads across the city, Peter realizes he can’t suddenly turn up at Arthur Stacy’s doorstep without blowing his secret identity. Sadly, he decides to return to America without seeing Gwen, trying to convince himself that she must not love him anymore. Back in New York, Robertson accepts Peter’s photos of Spider-Man’s battle with the terrorists as fulfillment of the assignment. Having broken even on the trip, Peter returns to his apartment to spend a miserable New Year’s Eve alone.


Notes:

January 1964 – Peter Parker’s photos of the rampaging robot Replicus are on display in Thor #141. Spidey hears HYDRA’s ransom demands in Strange Tales #156. Then, Spider-Man’s adventures resume in Amazing Spider-Man #48 and following.

February 1964 – Spider-Man attends the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans and fights the Synthetic Man in Marvel Super-Heroes #14. He never discovers the mastermind behind the attack was an old man calling himself the Sorcerer.

March 1964 – Spider-Man and the Human Torch team up against Mysterio and the Wizard in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4. Federico Fellini, Italian film director and “close personal friend” of Stan Lee, is referred to as “Bellini” in this story. Stan enjoys regaling fans with the tale of Fellini’s surprise visit to the Marvel Comics offices in 1965. While Spidey is fighting Doctor Octopus on the grounds of Stark Industries in Amazing Spider-Man #55, Iron Man is off in Vietnam dealing with Half-Face and the Titanium Man. This incident prompts S.H.I.E.L.D. to assign Jasper Sitwell to Stark Industries on a full-time basis, since Iron Man is not always available to defend the facility. The colonel in charge who lets the amnesiac Spider-Man go free is John Jameson, who is indebted to Spidey for saving his life on numerous occasions.

April 1964 – Spider-Man tussles with the X-Men after destroying Factor Three’s spider-robot in Uncanny X-Men #35.

May 1964 – Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Thor go up against the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #73, one of the few times Spidey was featured in a comic drawn by Jack Kirby.

July 1964 – Spider-Man learns the secret of his parents’ deaths and fights the Communist Red Skull, Albert Malik, in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5. Spidey does not realize there are two different Red Skulls at this time. After escaping the destruction of his headquarters at the end of the story, Malik goes into hiding, afraid that the original Red Skull, recently revived from suspended animation, will seek to kill him for usurping his identity. Incidentally, this is the first time Spider-Man intentionally allows one of his foes (the assassin known as the Finisher) to be killed.

September 1964 – Spidey harasses J. Jonah Jameson in Avengers #59. He then attends the wedding of Yellowjacket and the Wasp in Avengers #60. Though Clea remains behind the scenes, Doctor Strange would certainly have brought her along. Spider-Man may or may not recognize the voice of Egghead in Sub-Mariner #14, as they had met once, briefly, some 20 months earlier.

October 1964 – While trying to divest himself of his spider-powers in Amazing Spider-Man #100, Peter says he finished his formula “months ago.” Since it is based on the antidote he created for the Lizard, it seems likely he would consult with Curt Connors before finishing it. In Amazing Spider-Man #82, The Merv Griffin Show is obfuscated as “The Midnight Show,” but “Marvin” and his well-spoken sidekick bear striking similarities to Merv and his side-man Arthur Treacher. Spidey remains unaware that Electro had made a deal with Jameson to defeat the wall-crawler on live television in exchange for $5,000. Peter photographs Captain America’s battle with a trio of second-rate villains in Captain America #130. His brief scene with Jameson in Amazing Adventures #3 actually takes place later the same day. Peter makes a cameo appearance during the Zodiac takeover of Manhattan, watching TV in Queens, in Avengers #82.

November 1964 – For the full story on President Morris N. Richardson, see OMU: POTUS -- Part Three. Spider-Man and Daredevil have a brief encounter in Daredevil #54. The battle with the Silver Surfer occurs in Silver Surfer #14. The Apollo moon landing took place five years earlier in the Marvel Universe than it did in the real world, due to advanced technology from Stark Industries and elsewhere. Peter’s distressing Thanksgiving dinner happens strictly behind the scenes, but this seems the most likely scenario.

December 1964 – Despite the cloud of suspicion hanging over him, Spidey participates in the Toys-for-Tots program in Avengers #85. Then, he and the Human Torch go after the Sandman in Marvel Team-Up #1. One of the people the heroes help out while searching for their foe is eventually revealed to be bionic-limbed private investigator Misty Knight. Spider-Man then joins forces with Captain America and the Falcon in Captain America #137–138. Peter’s return from England brings us up to Amazing Spider-Man #96.



Previous Issue: Spider-Man -- Year Two




Tuesday

OMU: Spider-Man -- Year Two

The next twelve months in the life of Spider-Man cover the remainder of co-creator Steve Ditko’s tenure on the title as primary plotter and sole artist, as well as the early issues of Ditko’s replacement, John Romita. As has been widely discussed in fan circles, Ditko became increasingly disenchanted working at Marvel in general and with scripter/editor Stan Lee in particular, and eventually terminated his association with the company.

However, a legend has grown up that Ditko quit The Amazing Spider-Man after an argument with Stan Lee over how to reveal the Green Goblin’s secret identity. The tale is told that Stan Lee insisted on the villain being a familiar face to satisfy readers’ expectations, while Ditko’s unbending personal philosophy dictated that the “face of evil” be anonymous. This legend has been pretty well debunked, though it never really seemed to hold water in the first place. First of all, it’s unlikely there was any “argument” between Lee and Ditko, since they were no longer on speaking terms by this time, dealing with each other through an intermediary, production manager Sol Brodsky. Lee has discussed how Ditko would turn in finished pages of art without any marginal notes to guide Lee, leaving him to puzzle out the story while writing the script. The best example of the problem with this situation is the confusion over who some costumed hijackers were working for in issues #30–31. Lee clearly had no idea where the book was heading or what Ditko was planning to do with the characters, but since sales were strong, he was content to let Ditko lead the way. For them to suddenly argue over a specific plot point would require a drastic change in their working relationship, and no one has ever claimed this took place.

Furthermore, Ditko had just done the “villain is revealed to be some unknown guy” routine with the Looter in #36, and was, I think, unlikely to repeat himself with the Green Goblin. In issue #37, he is clearly setting up Norman Osborn as a crafty villain who would bedevil Spidey again. Issue #38 would be Ditko’s last, so we’ll never know what he would have done had he continued. Unlike the grand finale Ditko provided for the “Doctor Strange” feature, the end of his run on Spider-Man offered no sense of resolution.

In the very next issue, Stan Lee took back control of the book and began altering Ditko’s status quo. Harry Osborn, who had so far treated Peter with nothing but contempt, suddenly became his friend. And the mysterious Green Goblin, whose face Ditko had made a point of never showing, ripped off his own mask to reveal himself as a crazed Norman Osborn. Within four months, Lee and Romita also revealed the face of Mary Jane Watson, ending one of Ditko’s long-running visual gags. It’s easy to see how fans assumed there had been a power struggle behind the scenes, which Ditko lost.

Other than a few cryptic comments, Steve Ditko has not, as yet, explained his true reasons for quitting Marvel Comics in 1966. Where the “Green Goblin argument” myth originated is not clear.

Nevertheless, this chronology covers a time of tremendous change in the life of Peter Parker which has never been equaled. He graduates from high school and enters college, moves out of his childhood home into a shared apartment in the city, and endures a painful breakup with his first love. This is the year that Peter Parker becomes an adult.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Now spinning out more of… The True History of the Amazing Spider-Man!


January 1963 – Peter Parker begins the second semester of his senior year in high school, along with classmates Flash Thompson and Liz Allan. Liz continues to flirt with Peter, much to Flash’s annoyance, but Peter remains committed to his rocky relationship with Betty Brant. In the late evenings, Peter continues to sneak out of the house in Forest Hills, Queens, where he lives with his Aunt May, to patrol New York City as Spider-Man. Selling photos of Spider-Man’s exploits to the Daily Bugle newspaper remains Peter’s sole source of income, which helps Aunt May make ends meet.

Peter learns that the internationally-renowned Kraven the Hunter, who normally deals in traditional big game hunting, has chosen Spider-Man as his latest prey. During their initial skirmish, Kraven scratches Spider-Man with a poison claw that makes his hands tremble uncontrollably. The effect lasts throughout the next day, causing problems for Peter at school. The following night, Spider-Man tracks Kraven to Central Park, where they have a major battle. Spidey overcomes Kraven’s attempts to handicap him and captures his foe, also bagging Kraven’s accomplice, the Soviet spy known as the Chameleon. Peter sells photos of their arrest to Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, soon after which the pair is deported.

Peter’s social life is complicated when Aunt May insists he go on a blind date with Mary Jane Watson, the niece of their elderly neighbor Anna Watson. Not interested in meeting someone new, Peter does his best to avoid Mary Jane, assuming from Aunt May’s description that she must be a homely girl. Nevertheless, the mere presence of Mary Jane and Liz in his life disrupts Peter’s relationship with Betty, who is very insecure.

When Peter sees a circus poster claiming that Spider-Man will be making a personal appearance, he decides it might be good publicity to go ahead and do the show. However, he soon discovers that it is all a scheme by the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime to boost attendance at their felonious carnival. Finding himself hypnotized by the Ringmaster’s mind-control technology, Spidey is forced to battle the superhero Daredevil, who appears unexpectedly at the scene. Daredevil proves to be immune to the Ringmaster’s hypnotism and manages to free Spidey from his trance. Enraged, Spider-Man defeats the entire Circus of Crime singlehandedly while Daredevil applauds his remarkable fighting skill.

After a close encounter with the fast-flying Thor, Spider-Man searches the city for his old foe Doctor Octopus, who has escaped from prison. While walking down the street in his civilian guise, Peter’s spider-sense alerts him to a suspicious character, but before he can follow the man, Peter is accosted by Flash Thompson and his pals. Flash challenges Peter to a fight, angry that Liz has been paying so much attention to Peter lately. Peter dodges Flash’s punches for a minute or two, then takes the opportunity to slip away when the fight is interrupted by a mysterious man in a dark blue cape. Peter quickly changes into Spider-Man and pursues the suspicious character, only to witness the man suddenly dissolve into a pile of empty clothes. Confused, Spidey heads home for dinner. When he arrives, though, he finds Aunt May in the attic, looking tearfully at old photos of his Uncle Ben. Overwhelmed with guilt and sadness, Spidey wanders the rooftops of Manhattan, brooding over how a single act of irresponsibility on his part cost Uncle Ben’s life. Suddenly, he stumbles and falls, shocked to discover that all his spider-powers are gone. Clinging precariously to a flagpole, Spidey watches helplessly as the Fantastic Four pass by in their Fantasti-Car. Though they see him, they offer no help, clearly assuming he is just clowning around. Peter saves himself and slowly makes his way home.

The next day, Peter skips school and wanders the city, confused, distracted, and depressed. By chance, he witnesses Giant-Man and the Wasp apprehend a gang of criminals at the waterfront, which makes him realize how much being Spider-Man meant to him. Later that day, Peter learns from Jameson that Aunt May and Betty Brant have been kidnapped by the Sandman and Electro. Suddenly, the Vulture appears in the window, instructing Jameson to publish a challenge to Spider-Man from the “Sinister Six.” Peter realizes that Doctor Octopus would know Spider-Man fought for Betty Brant twice before and must be the mastermind behind the conspiracy. Aunt May was clearly just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Distraught, Peter realizes that Spider-Man must attempt to rescue them, even without his super-powers.

Following the Vulture’s instructions leads Spider-Man into a battle with Electro at Stark Industries, just about five miles from the Parker home. During the confrontation, Spidey realizes he hasn’t lost his powers after all; it was merely a psychosomatic reaction to his loss of self-confidence. Emboldened, Spidey defeats Electro just as Iron Man shows up to investigate the ruckus. Leaving Iron Man to deal with the unconscious Electro, Spidey moves on to defeat Kraven the Hunter again at Flushing Meadows Park, three miles away, where the new World’s Fair is under construction. This leads Spidey into a fight with Mysterio and his robotic doppelgängers of the X-Men, followed by a struggle with the Sandman inside an air-tight trap. Finally, Spidey faces the Vulture in aerial combat and forces the villain to reveal the location of Doc Ock’s hideout. There, in a large manor house on eastern Long Island, Spidey captures Doctor Octopus and frees Aunt May and Betty, who spent their period of captivity quite comfortably in a well-appointed sitting room. The police soon arrive and take Aunt May home, where she claims to have found her infamous “host” to be very charming, giving Peter and Betty a chuckle. Later, Spidey swings by the city jail, hoping that Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Sandman, Electro, Mysterio, and Kraven the Hunter will all remain safely in police custody.

Spider-Man is suddenly attacked one day by Giant-Man and the Wasp, and their conflict goes on in cat-and-mouse style for quite some time before they realize they were tricked into fighting each other by the criminal mastermind known as Egghead. Giant-Man leads them to a warehouse on the Hudson River, where they find Egghead has just committed a major heist. Together the heroes apprehend Egghead and his gang and turn them over to the police. Spidey is irritated by the Wasp’s negative attitude toward him and departs in a huff, leaving the two Avengers to get all the credit for Egghead’s capture.

Peter learns that Flash Thompson is organizing a Spider-Man Fan Club and they will be holding their inaugural event at a posh Manhattan supper club owned by Liz Allan’s father. Flash is hopeful that Spider-Man will make a public appearance to support his fans, and Peter thinks it would be a good idea, especially in light of his recent public blunders. His decision is confirmed when he witnesses the Human Torch being cheered and congratulated after helping the police catch an armed robber. Plus, as it turns out, the event will allow him to put off meeting Mary Jane Watson. At the event, Spidey is surprised by the large turnout, although the audience includes detractors such as J. Jonah Jameson and the Human Torch. Unfortunately, his performance is interrupted by the Green Goblin, and Spidey tries hard to make the attack seem like part of the show, to prevent a panic. During the fight, however, Spidey overhears the maître d’ taking a phone message that Peter Parker’s aunt has been hospitalized. Frantic with worry, Spider-Man races out of the club, certain that the Human Torch can finish off the Goblin. Arriving at the hospital, Peter learns that Aunt May has suffered a major heart attack and is in surgery. He spends the rest of the night in the hospital waiting room. The next morning, Aunt May’s condition is stable, and after visiting hours, Peter finally returns home. He is thoroughly disgusted to find the media is abuzz with the story of Spider-Man’s “cowardice,” even though it was the Human Torch who let the Green Goblin escape.

In the days that follow, Aunt May is released from the hospital. Peter forgoes being Spider-Man to stay home and take care of her, with Anna Watson helping out while Peter’s at school. Worried about raising money to pay for Aunt May’s medical expenses, especially after a gloating Jameson claims he will buy no more photos of Spider-Man, Peter goes out as Spidey only to try finding other sources of income. He offers an exclusive contract to a trading card company, but they are not interested due to Spidey’s poor public image. He tries selling the formula for his web fluid to a glue manufacturer, but they reject it upon learning that it completely evaporates after one hour. On the way home, Spidey is chased by a jeering Sandman, who has already escaped from jail. Unwilling to risk a confrontation, Spidey refuses to fight the villain, which bolsters the claims that Spider-Man is a coward. Peter sinks into a profound depression and is ready to give up being Spider-Man forever, until Aunt May chastises him for moping and worrying so much about her. Inspired by his aunt’s gumption, Peter rededicates himself to doing good as Spider-Man. He goes out later that night for a very successful campaign of crime-fighting. Renewed in spirit, Spider-Man publicly redeems himself the very next day by rescuing the Human Torch from the Sandman, the Enforcers, and their henchmen. The crooks are taken into custody and Spidey and the Torch part on amicable terms, sharing credit for the capture. After selling photos of the battle to Jameson for a premium price, Peter is feeling so good that he is even gracious when Betty introduces him to a man she’s been dating, reporter Ned Leeds.

February 1963 – A few days later, Peter realizes that J. Jonah Jameson has hired a private eye named Mac Gargan to follow him around for some reason. He decides to find out what Jameson is up to, but he is distracted when Betty asks him to accompany her to Idlewild Airport to see Ned Leeds off. Peter is happy to learn that Ned is going to be on assignment in Europe for the next six months, since he won’t have to compete for Betty’s affections. As soon as he is back in Manhattan, Spider-Man is attacked outside the Daily Bugle by a new villain called the Scorpion. They brawl on a rooftop while Jameson cheers on the Scorpion from his office window. The Scorpion manages to overpower Spidey twice, knocking him out both times, before their final battle in the Daily Bugle offices. There, Spidey is finally able to defeat his murderous foe by webbing his feet to the floor and ripping his scorpion-tail weapon off the back of his body armor. Jameson is somewhat conflicted that Spider-Man has just saved his life, and Peter is not surprised later when he finds Jameson has claimed the credit for capturing the Scorpion. Though Peter watches carefully for several days, Mac Gargan seems to have disappeared.

After spotting a Spider-Man impostor entering Avengers Mansion with Captain America, Spidey listens in on the argument between the impostor and Cap, Thor, Giant-Man, and the Wasp. He hears the impostor claim that Iron Man is being held prisoner at the famous Temple of Tirod in Mexico and realizes the Avengers are racing into a trap. He makes his way to Idlewild Airport, changes into Peter Parker, and buys a plane ticket for Mexico City, using up a good chunk of his savings. By the time Spidey arrives at the remote temple, the impostor has already defeated Giant-Man, Wasp, and Thor. Spidey saves Captain America from falling to his death, then attacks the impostor, who turns out to be a highly sophisticated robot. Spidey manages to outwit his computerized foe, leaving it smashed to pieces on the jungle floor. Spidey then races back to civilization to catch his return flight to New York. He is annoyed later when the Avengers make no attempt to thank him.

While running some errands on a Saturday afternoon, Peter helps out a pretty teenaged girl named Doris Evans, after she gets jostled by some roughneck children. Finding Doris has lost her billfold, Peter takes it to her house to return it to her. Doris is very friendly and invites him in for a Coke, and they seem to hit it off. Peter is feeling on top of the world when he meets up with Betty Brant to do some window shopping, but his mood is spoiled when the Human Torch suddenly accosts him, explaining that Doris Evans is his girlfriend. Betty is crushed to hear that Peter was hitting on some other girl, and Peter is furious with the jealous Torch for causing problems. He decides to get even by making a play for Doris as Spider-Man. However, as soon as he arrives at the Evans home, Spidey is attacked by the Beetle, an old foe of the Torch, and their battle causes a good deal of property damage. When the Beetle spots Doris, he grabs her as a hostage and flies away. Spidey pursues him and is soon intercepted by the Torch, who assumes Spidey has kidnapped Doris. Spidey leads the Torch to the Beetle and the two heroes attack the villain independently. Although they end up getting in each other’s way more than cooperating, Spidey and the Torch manage to defeat the Beetle and rescue Doris. She accuses Spider-Man of being in league with the Beetle, causing Spidey to take off, feeling angry, frustrated, and dejected.

The following weekend, Spidey happens upon the Human Torch arriving for a party at Doris Evans’s house. Still angry with the Torch because Betty has refused to speak to him all week, Spidey decides to crash the party. The kids jeer Spider-Man, knowing he recently wrecked the place, and the Torch tries to drive him away. Their fight takes them to a nearby beach, where the Torch’s teammates intervene. Spidey briefly tussles with Mister Fantastic and the Thing until the Invisible Girl stops the fight. Fed up with celebrity superheroes, Spider-Man swings off back to the city.

March 1963 – While Peter is visiting the campus of SUNY Hegeman, he once again runs into the Human Torch and the Thing. The Torch remembers him as the kid who tried to hit on Doris last month, and they trade insults. Peter decides that if the Human Torch is planning to go to that school, then he won’t enroll there.

A few days later, Peter and Betty finally make up and attend the opening of an art exhibition sponsored by J. Jonah Jameson. Unfortunately, the gallery is robbed by the Ringmaster’s Circus of Crime. Spidey tracks down the Ringmaster, only to learn that he’s been dumped by his gang, which is now being led by the crafty Clown. Cursing his luck, Spidey hypnotizes the Ringmaster with his own device, forcing him to reveal the likely hideout of his former cronies. Upon arrival at the warehouse where the circus is storing its equipment for the winter, Spidey easily defeats the Clown, Ernesto and Luigi Gambonno, and the Human Cannonball, but has a very difficult time apprehending their latest recruit, Princess Python, since he’s reluctant to hit a woman. Finally, the police arrive and capture her, along with the Ringmaster and the rest of the gang. Peter later sells photos of the arrest to the Daily Bugle.

Peter and Aunt May commemorate the first anniversary of Uncle Ben’s death.

Spidey feels insulted when he is not invited to the engagement party for Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Girl, especially when he learns the Avengers and the X-Men will all be there. Realizing he is persona non grata due to the incidents with Doris Evans, Spidey nevertheless swings by the Baxter Building and snags a piece of cake with his webbing. When he spots a strange-looking “flying saucer” approaching the building, he swings away, not wanting to get involved.

Peter becomes suspicious when Frederick Foswell, the former crime boss known as the Big Man, gets out of prison and is given his old job back at the Daily Bugle. Trailing Foswell gets Spider-Man involved in a gang war between a mobster called Lucky Lobo and the Green Goblin. Lobo and his gang end up getting arrested, but Spidey is unable to stop the Green Goblin from getting away. Peter is also troubled to discover that Betty has been exchanging letters with Ned Leeds while he’s on assignment in Europe.

April 1963 – Peter feels increasingly agitated and paranoid, worrying about investigative reporter Frederick Foswell discovering his secret identity, struggling to keep up in school while needing to make money selling crime photos, fretting about winning a scholarship to Empire State University, and fuming about Betty writing letters to Ned Leeds behind his back. When Liz Allan asks Peter to tutor her in science so she won’t fail the class, he agrees to do it, partly because he wants to get back at Betty. After this, he becomes convinced Flash Thompson is following him.

Peter’s worries are magnified when he reads in the Daily Bugle that the noted European psychiatrist Dr. Ludwig Rinehart is convinced that Spider-Man is suffering from acute psychological problems and is heading for a complete nervous breakdown. On his way to the newspaper office to learn more about Rinehart, Spidey is attacked by phantoms of Doctor Octopus, the Sandman, and the Vulture. Fearing that he is now having paranoid hallucinations, Peter starts to panic, imagining what would happen if an insane Spider-Man were unleashed on the world. Thus, Spidey goes to visit Rinehart, where more hallucinations convince him he is in need of immediate psychotherapy. Rinehart attempts to convince him that his only hope of remaining sane is to abandon his Spider-Man identity, but their session is interrupted by J. Jonah Jameson, who accuses Rinehart of being a fraud. Flash Thompson stumbles in as well, causing Rinehart to bolt for the door. Spidey chases the psychiatrist, discovering that the “hallucinations” were all generated by Rinehart, who is revealed to be Mysterio in disguise. With Mysterio captured, Jameson is forced to retract the entire series of fraudulent articles, since the real Ludwig Rinehart is dead. Peter is relieved to know he’s just stressed out, not going crazy.

Realizing his Spider-Man costume is starting to get a bit worn out, Peter begins working on making himself a new one. He finds it to be a difficult and frustrating process.

May 1963 – Peter meets the robotics expert Spencer Smythe when the scientist tries to convince J. Jonah Jameson that his latest invention could capture Spider-Man. Jameson is reluctant to finance the scheme, but Peter talks him into it, hoping to profit from selling photos of Spidey fighting Smythe’s robot. He comes to regret it, however, when the robot proves to be far more formidable than he expected. After an exhausting chase all across the city, Spidey is finally captured in the robot’s unbreakable metal coils. Worse, he is forced to listen to Jameson’s incessant gloating via the robot’s viewscreen. When the screen goes blank, indicating Jameson and Smythe are on their way, Spidey breaks into the robot’s chest panel and figures out how to deactivate its offensive systems. Wanting to play a prank on Jameson, Peter rigs up a dummy made of webbing inside his costume and leaves it in the robot’s clutches. From a hidden vantage point, he takes photos of Jameson’s enraged antics when the publisher discovers Spidey’s made a fool of him again. Unfortunately, Peter is forced to leave his costume behind when Smythe stays late trying to repair the robot. When Peter gets home, Aunt May scolds him for having missed another chance to meet Mary Jane Watson. She is more angry, though, to have found the Spider-Man costume he was working on. Peter tries to explain away the unfinished costume, but Aunt May just decides to get rid of it. After Aunt May goes to bed, Peter searches the house but is unable to find it. He realizes he is now a superhero without a costume.

The next day, after getting into a fight with Flash Thompson at school, Peter hits on the idea of buying a Spider-Man outfit from a costume shop. He finds one for a good price but soon discovers that the elastic in the costume is worn out, so the gloves and boots keep falling down, the shirt rides up, and the mask won’t stay in place. He is forced to use webbing to keep the cheap costume from falling apart. He soon learns from Jameson that Spencer Smythe has his real costume. Spidey’s clothing proves to be a constant distraction as he investigates a new gang war between the Green Goblin and a masked mobster called the Crime-Master. Peter suspects that Frederick Foswell is one or the other and spends the evening looking into it. Despite being captured and chained up by the Goblin, Spidey fights off the Crime-Master’s entire gang, with the help of some officers of the NYPD. The Green Goblin soon abandons the fight and flies off into the night sky. Spidey chases the Crime-Master but loses him in the sewers. Convinced Foswell is behind one of the masks, Spidey races to the Daily Bugle, only to learn that the Crime-Master has been gunned down in a battle with the police and revealed to be a mob boss named Nick “Lucky” Lewis. Spidey receives assurances that Foswell is involved strictly as an investigative journalist.

The next morning, Peter decides to sell his photos of last night’s escapade to the Daily Globe, since he is annoyed with Jameson. He visits the offices of the rival paper and meets their picture editor, Barney Bushkin. Though Bushkin happily buys the photos, he asks so many questions about how Peter got such shots that Peter decides he is better off just dealing with Jameson. Left without a usable costume, Peter decides he’s too busy finishing up the school year to go out as Spider-Man anyway. Instead, he spends as much time as he can with Aunt May, taking her out to the movies and other fun diversions.

A week or so later, Peter celebrates his 18th birthday at home with Aunt May. He and Betty Brant are still angry with each other, so Peter avoids going to the Daily Bugle.

June 1963 – As the school year at Midtown High winds down, Peter decides to give up trying to make a new Spider-Man costume and to just get his old one back from Spencer Smythe. He retrieves his costume from Smythe’s laboratory but is drawn into conflict with Smythe’s violent lab assistant, Mark Raxton, when an accident mutates him into the Molten Man. During their battle at Raxton’s apartment building, Spidey tries to avoid getting punched in the face, not wanting to look bruised at graduation. He finally manages to bind the super-strong Molten Man with extra-thick webbing and leaves him for the police.

Peter attends the graduation ceremonies at Midtown High, where Principal Davis announces that he has won a science scholarship to Empire State University in the fall. Peter is thrilled that he’ll be able to afford to go to college, though he’s not too happy to hear that Flash Thompson will be attending ESU as well, on a football scholarship. Then, J. Jonah Jameson takes the stage to give the commencement address, causing the students to groan. After the ceremony, Peter meets up with Aunt May and her friend Anna Watson in the courtyard. Aunt May tells Peter how proud she is of him. Then Jameson joins them, trying to be charming, and Peter realizes he must have caught wind that Peter sold some exclusive photos to the Globe. Peter moves off to say goodbye to Liz Allan, who is depressed about becoming an adult. Liz admits she had a crush on Peter, though he clearly preferred more mature girls like Betty Brant. Peter feels bad when he notices Flash pays no attention to Liz as she leaves with her parents. Finally, Peter takes a last look at Midtown High School before heading home with Aunt May.

Soon after, on the wedding day of Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Girl, Spider-Man can’t help but swing by the Baxter Building to check out the event, which has turned into a media circus as crowds fill the streets outside the Fantastic Four’s headquarters. Spidey is surprised to find Captain America and Hawkeye fighting with the Cobra, Mister Hyde, the Executioner, and the Enchantress in the street, and uses his webbing to save Hawkeye from a falling safe that materializes out of thin air. Realizing a super-powered slugfest is raging all around the building, Spidey gets out his camera and starts taking pictures. He gets some spectacular shots as Mister Fantastic, the Thing, the Human Torch, Daredevil, Captain America, Hawkeye, Thor, Iron Man, Quicksilver, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, and the Beast battle a horde of villains including Electro, the Beetle, the Black Knight, Diablo, the Eel, the Grey Gargoyle, the Human Top, Kang the Conqueror, the Mad Thinker and his Awesome Android, the Mandarin, the Melter, the Porcupine, the Super-Skrull, and the Unicorn. That evening, Peter sells his photos to J. Jonah Jameson for a handsome sum. Peter and Betty make up and agree to go out on some dates again, though their relationship remains strained.

Later in the month, Spider-Man fights with two burglars who appear to be in a trance, after he spots them coming out of an attic window in Greenwich Village. Spidey trails the thugs back to their master, a wizard named Xandu, but in the ensuing altercation, Spidey finds himself falling through a portal to another dimension. Luckily, he snags the wizard’s magic wand with his webbing and pulls it through the portal with him. His gambit pays off, as the thugs soon appear to capture Spider-Man and take him back to the wizard’s lair. Returned to Earth, Spidey finds Xandu battling Doctor Strange, the mysterious occult expert. Strange contacts Spidey telepathically, instructing him on how to defeat the ensorcelled thugs. Once that is accomplished, Spider-Man joins Doctor Strange in attacking Xandu, and they finally manage to separate him from his magic wand. Doctor Strange uses his magic amulet to drain all the power out of the wand, and casts a spell that removes all knowledge of black magic from Xandu’s mind. Somewhat mystified, Spidey watches as Doctor Strange floats off into the night. The next morning, Peter wonders if any of it really happened.

July 1963 – Peter sees Betty Brant infrequently, and generally finds the summer to be lonely and dull. He finds few opportunities for newsworthy photos and consequently spends little time at the Daily Bugle. His activities as Spider-Man are limited to stopping petty street crime and the occasional cat burglar.

Peter is astonished when the news breaks that the Hulk is actually the alter-ego of Dr. Bruce Banner, one of America’s leading nuclear scientists. The Hulk is thought to have been vaporized following an altercation with the U.S. military in Washington, DC.

Late in the month, Peter is startled when the entire sky is suddenly engulfed in flames. The city is gripped in a panic, although his spider-sense tells him there is no immediate danger. After a while, the flames vanish as mysteriously as they appeared, though other bizarre aerial phenomena follow over the next week.

August 1963 – For a few days, a curtain of space debris circles the globe, darkening the sky with asteroids, though, again, Peter’s spider-sense indicates there is no immediate danger. The debris vanishes as a gigantic figure appears briefly on the roof of the Baxter Building and encounters the Fantastic Four. After the giant disappears in a flash, J. Jonah Jameson publishes an editorial in the Daily Bugle claiming that the entire “Galactus” incident was a hoax.

Spider-Man defeats the Scorpion again when the villain breaks out of prison and tries to get revenge on Jameson. Their fight wrecks some of the offices at the Daily Bugle, and Betty is terrorized in the process. Peter is upset when he realizes that Ned Leeds, who has just returned from his assignment in Europe, is taking much better care of Betty than Peter ever could. Later that night, Spidey becomes more frustrated when he fails to prevent a gang of costumed crooks from hijacking a truck laden with radioactive materials.

The next day, Peter is shocked when Betty tells him Ned has proposed to her. Realizing that he’s lost his first love and that Spider-Man is mostly to blame, Peter responds with anger, lashing out at Betty. He storms out, changes to Spider-Man, and takes out his frustrations on a gang of armed bank robbers. In order to avoid Betty’s phone calls that evening, Peter goes out as Spider-Man to try claiming the $1000 reward J. Jonah Jameson has offered for the capture of the notorious Cat Burglar. Unfortunately, though he is able to track down the Cat Burglar, the police manage to arrest the crook first, thus depriving Spidey of the reward money. Peter confronts Betty at the Daily Bugle in the morning, telling her they’ve nothing more to say to each other.

September 1963 – Spider-Man comes across the same gang of hijackers he encountered last month, and though he crashes their helicopter, he again fails to stop them from escaping with the containers they’ve stolen from a nuclear research complex. He does not pursue the matter in the days that follow, as he is distracted with the beginning of the fall term at Empire State University. Peter is excited as he attends orientation and registers for his courses. However, the night before classes are to start, Aunt May falls ill and must be hospitalized. The next morning, Peter is so exhausted and sick with worry that he can’t concentrate on his professors and is too distracted to even greet his classmates. Thus, his Introduction to Biology class with Professor Miles Warren does not get off to a very good start.

The second day of classes doesn’t go any better than the first, as, desperate for money to pay Aunt May’s medical bills, Peter spent the previous night as Spider-Man searching for crimes to photograph. Thus, he barely notices when one of his new classmates, Gwen Stacy, tries to strike up a conversation. He rushes off to visit Aunt May before going on the prowl as Spider-Man again. Spidey manages to finally foil the costumed hijackers with the help of an underworld informant known as “Patch,” but he is unable to capture them or get any photos, so his victory is a hollow one.

At the hospital the next day, Peter learns that Aunt May is dying of radiation poisoning due to the blood transfusion he gave her last November. Mad with rage, guilt, and grief, Spider-Man tracks down Dr. Curt Connors for help devising an antidote to save Aunt May. The vital component in Connors’s proposed serum is a rare chemical called ISO-36, but their supply is stolen from the airport by the same gang of costumed hijackers. Enraged, Spider-Man hunts them down, finally discovering their hideout at the bottom of Upper New York Bay. There, he learns that the gang is in the employ of Doctor Octopus, so Spidey fights his old enemy viciously to retrieve the canister of ISO-36. Unfortunately, the structural damage caused by their battle causes tons of cast-iron machinery to topple over onto Spidey, trapping him. Doc Ock escapes, but, with tremendous effort and determination, Spidey frees himself from the wreckage, fights his way through his foe’s remaining henchmen, and delivers the ISO-36 to Dr. Connors. The antidote proves effective, and, after receiving a total blood transfusion, Aunt May begins to recover. Meanwhile, Spidey gives Frederick Foswell a scoop on Doctor Octopus and his gang, getting exclusive photos of the gang’s arrest. Peter then demands enough money for them from Jameson to pay Aunt May’s hospital bills and cover Connors’s research expenses.

As Aunt May recovers, Peter finally meets some of his classmates, such as Harry Osborn and Sally Green, and first notices how attractive Gwen Stacy is. He also discovers that the other students think he’s been snubbing them because he’s full of himself for winning a scholarship. Peter starts trying to make up for his bad first impression, though he is still spending as much time as he can taking care of Aunt May. When a phony Spider-Man further trashes his reputation by relentlessly harassing J. Jonah Jameson, Peter sets out to track the impostor down. Spidey quickly discovers that Kraven the Hunter has been impersonating him as part of a revenge scheme. Their battle is constantly interrupted by mobsters eager to capture Spider-Man for some reason. Annoyed by the distraction, Kraven helps Spidey defeat the mobsters so they can focus on their personal combat. Spidey finally knocks out Kraven and leaves all the crooks webbed up for the police.

During a sudden blackout of the entire east coast of the United States, Peter stays home with Aunt May so she won’t worry. Soon after, Spidey catches the Molten Man when he tries to rob a jewelry store. While trying to sell his photos of the incident to Jameson, Peter learns that Betty has quit her job. When Jameson’s new secretary mentions that Ned Leeds has also left for the west coast, Peter assumes that the couple has run off to get married. He returns home feeling depressed.

October 1963 – Peter makes more of an effort to socialize with his college classmates, but things do not go well at first. Over the course of a week, Spider-Man tries to capture a costumed thief known as the Looter. He finally succeeds when the Looter tries to steal a worthless meteorite from Empire State University.

Next, Spidey trails Frederick Foswell around, hoping the investigative reporter will lead him to some opportunities for newsworthy photos. From Foswell he learns of Professor Mendel Stromm, a scientist who has just been released from prison after serving ten years for embezzlement. Stromm has sworn revenge on his former partner, the industrialist Norman Osborn, father of Peter’s classmate Harry. Spidey stops a strange amoeboid robot sent by Stromm to destroy Osborn’s electronics factory, but not before it burns down the main building. With the help of the informant known as “Patch,” Spidey is able to locate Stromm’s hideout in time to stop a more traditional robot from assassinating Norman Osborn. Spidey is knocked out in the melee, but Osborn manages to escape from the robot. Spidey then tracks the robot back to Stromm’s hideout, where he is finally able to destroy it. A sniper tries to kill Stromm before he can reveal a secret about Osborn, but Spidey pushes him out of the line of fire. Though Spidey tries to apprehend the sniper, his assailant mysteriously vanishes. Returning to Stromm, Spidey finds the revenge-seeking scientist has died of a massive heart attack. Later, the sniper incident leads Peter to worry that there’s something wrong with his spider-sense.

As the weather starts turning chilly, Spider-Man comes into conflict with Daredevil when he begins to suspect that DD might be in league with the criminal mastermind known as the Masked Marauder. Daredevil launches an unprovoked attack on Spidey, during which the Marauder and his gang steal an experimental auto engine. Spidey uses his spider-sense to track Daredevil down, but it leads him to a law office in which he finds only a woman, a blind man, and a short, pudgy guy. Since none of them could possibly be Daredevil, Peter’s concerns about his spider-sense grow. When J. Jonah Jameson announces that the Masked Marauder failed to steal the formula for the only fuel that works in the new engine, Peter realizes the Marauder’s gang is sure to strike again. Thus, Spidey stakes out the building where the formula is kept, and when the villains finally arrive, Daredevil appears and helps Spidey capture them. Unfortunately, the Masked Marauder manages to escape. Spider-Man and Daredevil part on friendly terms.

November 1963 – While at the Daily Bugle, Peter runs into Ned Leeds and discovers that he and Betty didn’t run off together after all. In fact, Ned has no idea where Betty is. Peter worries about Betty until he is distracted by a super-strong troublemaker in a green-and-orange costume. Changing into Spider-Man, he attacks the strangely silent man, trying to stop his rampage. Unfortunately, the man overcomes Spidey, throwing him into a garbage dumpster. By the time the dazed Spidey emerges, the man is long gone. That evening, another wave of mobsters attack Spidey, intent on capturing him, and he is forced to fight them off. He stumbles upon his unnamed foe battling a gymnasium full of prizefighters and decides to intervene, only to find himself attacked by one and all as soon as he enters. Spidey learns from the prizefighters that some underworld figure has put out a contract on Spider-Man worth $20,000, which is why so many ordinary crooks have been willing to attack him lately. During the fight, the man in the green-and-orange costume loses his super-strength and comes to his senses. As the police burst in to break up the brawl, Spidey learns that his mystery foe was just a guy named Joe Smith, who gained his temporary powers in a freak accident. Later, Peter is disheartened to learn that Joe Smith has signed a lucrative deal to star in a new superhero TV series, while Spider-Man remains a pariah.

Peter comes down with a bad head cold, but still goes to campus since he’s already had too many absences. He finally hits it off with Harry Osborn, who opens up to Peter about the troubles he’s had recently with his father, Norman Osborn. Peter is sympathetic, revealing that he can’t even remember his own father, who died when he was very young. Harry’s previous animosity toward Peter is forgotten. After classes finish up for the day, Peter decides some web-swinging might make him feel better. Before long, Spider-Man breaks up a robbery on the observation deck of a skyscraper. One of the crooks hits him with a gas grenade, though it seems to have no effect. After leaving the robbers for the police, Peter stops off at the Daily Bugle on his way home, still fretting about the false impressions he’s received from his spider-sense lately. There, he and Ned Leeds come to an understanding about Betty, and Peter assures Ned he has no intention of standing in the way of their relationship; whatever was once between Peter and Betty is now over. Peter then heads home to his house in Forest Hills.

When he arrives at home, Peter is shocked to find the Green Goblin waiting for him, and he realizes his spider-sense has completely failed. Worse, the Goblin has somehow discovered that Peter Parker is really Spider-Man. Worried that Aunt May will witness their battle, Peter allows himself to be captured and carried off to his foe’s hideout. Once there, the Green Goblin pulls off his mask and reveals his true identity to Peter—he is Norman Osborn. Peter tries to keep him talking to stall for time, and Osborn tells him something of Harry’s childhood, his history with Mendel Stromm, and how he became the Green Goblin. Peter goads him into a final showdown, so Osborn releases him from his bonds and allows him to don his Spider-Man costume. Their battle tears up the place, causing Osborn’s equipment to short out, catching the building on fire. Finally, Spidey kicks the Green Goblin into some damaged machinery near his chemistry bench, causing the villain to receive a staggering jolt that erases his memory. Spidey burns the Goblin’s costume and carries Osborn out of the fire, leaving the scene just as the police and fire department arrive. Free of the Goblin’s chemical gas, Peter’s spider-sense soon returns to normal.

While buying a used motorcycle to help him commute between Forest Hills, Queens, and the ESU campus in Manhattan, Peter runs into Betty Brant outside a coffee shop. She has just returned from her trip, having left town to try and get her head together. Peter quickly realizes he and Betty have become virtual strangers to each other, and he is actually relieved when Ned Leeds shows up. Later that night, Spider-Man stops a powerful thug called the Rhino from kidnapping Colonel John Jameson, the astronaut son of the Daily Bugle’s cantankerous publisher. At school the next day, Peter shows off his motorcycle to Harry, Gwen, and Flash. When he arrives home, he learns that Anna Watson has invited him and Aunt May to a Sunday dinner so Peter can finally meet her niece Mary Jane. Though he is now interested in Gwen Stacy, Peter decides to just get this Mary Jane business over with.

Spider-Man is invited to try out for membership in the Avengers, so he goes to the team’s headquarters and meets with Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Goliath, the Wasp, and Hawkeye. After a few misunderstandings, the team sends Spidey to track down the Hulk, who has been spotted in the city lately, and to then lure the green behemoth back to Avengers Mansion. Spidey sets off immediately, thinking that the Hulk is pretty stupid so he’ll be easy to trick. After hours of searching, Spidey finally finds the Hulk hiding out near the Gamma Radiation Research Center. It’s been nearly a year since their last encounter and the Hulk clearly doesn’t remember Spider-Man. As they fight, Spidey begins to feel guilty about hounding the Hulk, who seems like he just wants to be left alone. When the Hulk accidentally smashes a gamma ray machine, he is bathed in radiation that turns him back into Bruce Banner. Spider-Man and Dr. Banner have a few moments to talk before he changes back into the Hulk. This convinces Spidey to let the Hulk go free, thinking he couldn’t live with himself if he kept persecuting the misunderstood brute, and that a great physicist like Bruce Banner deserves better than to be a prisoner of the Avengers. Thus, Spidey swings back over to Avengers Mansion and tells the team he couldn’t even find the Hulk. They are disappointed, but Spidey leaves before they can ask any questions.

Along with the rest of the class, Peter and Gwen give tissue samples to lab assistant Anthony Serba in Miles Warren’s Intro to Biology class. After doing some routine experiments on the cells they have collected, they forget all about it.

While Peter is at the bank one morning, his spider-sense alerts him to a bomb hidden inside a locked money bag. He changes into Spider-Man, breaks into the vault, grabs the bag, and hurries away to the Queensboro bridge, where he drops the bag into the East River seconds before it explodes. He knows Spidey will be accused of robbing the bank until they can determine that there’s no money missing, but there’s nothing he can do about it. Later that evening, he is accosted by Colonel John Jameson, who has somehow acquired super-strength. John announces his intention to use his new power to bring Spider-Man to justice for robbing the bank, but soon becomes completely irrational. Spidey is only able to defeat him by luring him inside a power station and hitting him with a massive surge of electricity. John collapses and reverts to his normal size, losing his powers.

On Sunday, Peter has a restful day before heading next door with Aunt May for dinner at the Watsons’ house. Peter is amazed when Mary Jane Watson arrives and turns out to be a stunningly beautiful redhead. Peter is smitten with her and learns that she is an aspiring actress taking drama lessons. Following dinner, Mary Jane accompanies Peter into the city when he learns from the TV that the Rhino has escaped from jail and is on another rampage. She is happy to wait in the crowd while Peter goes off to find a vantage point from which to take photos. He quickly changes into Spider-Man and attacks the Rhino. Unfortunately, the Rhino knocks Spidey for a loop and escapes. After changing back into Peter Parker, he spots a small piece of the Rhino’s hide-like costume in the rubble and slips it into his pocket. After dropping Mary Jane off at her apartment, Peter pays a visit as Spider-Man to Curt Connors’s lab. Connors helps Spidey analyze the fragment from the Rhino and develop a means to dissolve the villain’s protective armor. Thus armed, Spider-Man is able to stop the Rhino’s second attempt to kidnap John Jameson. With his armored hide destroyed, the Rhino is taken into custody by federal agents.

On the way home, Peter runs into Harry, Gwen, and Flash and learns that Flash is joining the Army to fight in Vietnam. A few days later, Spider-Man is recruited for the X-Men by Iceman and the Beast. However, after his recent experience with the Avengers, he declines their offer. He then writes a letter to the blind attorney Matt Murdock, having deduced that Murdock must be Daredevil. Peter remembers that the Masked Marauder’s dazzling “opti-beam,” which temporarily blinded him, seemed to have no effect on Daredevil. Likewise, the Ringmaster’s hat, which hypnotized Spidey, failed to work on Daredevil. This would make sense if Daredevil were blind. Peter also realizes that his spider-sense had, in fact, led him to Daredevil last month, but he dismissed Murdock due to his blindness and focused on his law partner instead. He speculates that Murdock must possess some kind of extra-sensory perception to compensate for his lack of sight. Hoping to make some kind of personal connection with another superhero, Peter mails the letter, but never receives a response.

Peter forgets about his letter to Daredevil when President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Both he and Aunt May are shocked and saddened by the event, which casts a pall over their Thanksgiving dinner with the Watsons.

December 1963 – On doctor’s orders, Aunt May takes a vacation to a warmer climate. While seeing her off at Penn Station, Peter spots Martha and Billy Connors, just arrived from Florida and looking very worried. Curt Connors has disappeared, Martha explains, and she fears he has turned into the Lizard again. Spider-Man searches the city for a while before heading to ESU. At the coffee shop after class, Peter introduces Mary Jane to his classmates. He notices that Gwen seems jealous when Mary Jane invites him out on an impromptu date. The next evening, Spider-Man finally tracks down the Lizard. However, after a fierce struggle, the Lizard causes Spidey to sprain his arm before escaping. Worried his sprained arm might compromise his secret identity, Peter cancels his next date with Mary Jane. At school the next morning, Peter claims that he injured himself riding his motorcycle. When he tells Harry he’s worried about earning enough money to pay for Aunt May’s trip to the seaside, Harry offers to put in a good word for Peter with his father, certain that Norman Osborn could find a place for a science-whiz like Peter at his company, even just part-time. Peter says he’ll keep it in mind.

Later, Spider-Man catches the Lizard attempting to hijack a traveling exhibit of reptiles, leading them to a fight atop a speeding freight train. Spidey defeats the Lizard by luring him into a refrigerated train car. The cold makes the Lizard sluggish, allowing Spider-Man to finally knock him out. He administers the antidote to turn the Lizard back into Curt Connors and reunites him with his family. On the way home, Peter discovers that Harry and Mary Jane are out on a date together. Deciding that Mary Jane is pretty but shallow and somewhat annoying, Peter realizes he actually prefers Gwen, even though they haven’t really gone out yet.

Harry asks Peter if he wants to be his roommate in an apartment near ESU that Norman Osborn is renting for him. Peter is unsure about leaving Aunt May alone, until, upon returning from her vacation, May informs him that she has decided to move in with Anna Watson. Peter then accepts Harry’s offer, excited about the prospect of having his own place in Manhattan. Despite his sprained arm, Spider-Man is able to defeat a costumed criminal called the Shocker after a destructive battle at the Federal Reserve Bank.

Peter gets settled into his new apartment with Harry and continues to go out with Mary Jane, though he hopes to woo Gwen. He soon “meets” the amnesiac Norman Osborn, and they hit it off well. While with Mary Jane at a football game between Empire State University and Metro College, Peter is startled when a strawberry-blond girl in a yellow catsuit materializes on the field in a flash of light, with a gigantic bulldog at her side. They disappear again after speaking briefly with one of the Metro College players. Peter tries to sell his photos of the incident to the Daily Bugle, but Jameson dismisses it as a publicity stunt.

Gwen hosts a farewell party for Flash Thompson, as he will soon be leaving for basic training. Peter invites Betty Brant and Ned Leeds to join him and Mary Jane at the party. The festivities are interrupted by Kraven the Hunter, who crashes into the soda parlor and grabs Harry, demanding to know where his father is. Peter assumes that Kraven must have had some dealings with Norman Osborn when he was the Green Goblin. He slips out, changes into Spider-Man, and attacks Kraven. The other kids help Harry get to safety as Spidey lures Kraven to a construction site across the street. After several minutes of battle, Kraven gains the upper hand by hitting Spidey with an energy ray that jangles his central nervous system. The villain’s attention is diverted when Norman Osborn himself appears on the scene in a taxi. Kraven grabs Osborn and demands the $20,000 the Green Goblin owes him. Osborn doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and, as Spidey recovers, Kraven flees the scene. Flash is thrilled that his going-away party culminated with seeing his hero, Spider-Man, in action. Afterwards, Peter shakes Flash’s hand and wishes him luck in Vietnam.

Spider-Man runs into Daredevil, who is searching for Stilt-Man. When Daredevil makes no mention of the letter Spidey sent to Matt Murdock last month, Peter begins to doubt his conclusions. Later, Spidey comes across Stilt-Man breaking into a jewelry store and tries to apprehend him. Unfortunately, Stilt-Man manages to surprise Spidey with a gas grenade and escape.

Peter and Aunt May have a fun Christmas with the Watsons and the Osborns. Despite enjoying all the festivities, Peter finds he can’t stop thinking about Gwen Stacy.


Notes:

January 1963 – The adventures of Spider-Man continue in Amazing Spider-Man #15 and following. Spidey runs into many of his fellow superheroes and battles the Sinister Six in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. The mysterious man in the dark blue cape is, of course, Doctor Strange, though Peter is too preoccupied to notice that fact. The suspicious character who disappears suddenly is the Sandman. Of Spidey’s six foes captured in this story, only the Vulture would stay behind bars for more than a few weeks. Later, Spider-Man teams up with Giant-Man and the Wasp to battle Egghead in Tales to Astonish #57.

February 1963 – Peter is unaware that Mac Gargan and the Scorpion are one and the same. Spidey then saves the Avengers from a robot impostor sent by Kang the Conqueror in Avengers #11. As pointed out by continuity-pioneer George Olshevsky in his Marvel index series, the Spider-Man / Human Torch back-up story in Amazing Spider-Man #8 must logically follow the story in Amazing Spider-Man #21, in which Peter meets Dorrie Evans for the first time.

March 1963 – Peter runs into the Fantastic Four at “State University,” the alma mater of Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, and Victor Von Doom, in Fantastic Four #35. In Amazing Spider-Man #22, we see Peter reading up on the latest research by Dr. Henry Pym. Spidey then pays a discreet visit to the Baxter Building during Reed and Sue’s engagement party in Fantastic Four #36. The “flying saucer” is being piloted by the Frightful Four.

June 1963 – Following his graduation from high school in Amazing Spider-Man #28, Spidey makes a brief appearance at the chaotic wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm in Fantastic Four Annual #3. Afterwards, he and Doctor Strange team up for the first time in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2.

July 1963 – The Hulk’s secret identity is revealed to the world in Tales to Astonish #77. The Watcher causes the “flaming sky” phenomenon in Fantastic Four #48.

August 1963 – Galactus menaces the world in Fantastic Four #48–50.

September 1963 – Peter starts his college career in Amazing Spider-Man #31. Spidey remains unaware that the underworld stoolie known as “Patch” is really Frederick Foswell in disguise. In Amazing Spider-Man #34, the mobsters and Kraven are all trying to claim the $20,000 bounty the Green Goblin has placed on Spider-Man’s head. The blackout of the entire east coast of the United States occurs in the S.H.I.E.L.D. flashback story in Strange Tales #161.

October 1963 – In Amazing Spider-Man #37, Spidey remains unaware that Norman Osborn is working against him, knocking him out with a blow from behind during the battle with the mechanical robot. Osborn is also the sniper taking aim at Mendel Stromm from a high window. Presumably, Osborn used his goblin glider to reach the precarious vantage point and to disappear so quickly. Later, Spider-Man and Daredevil battle the Masked Marauder in Daredevil #16–17.

November 1963 – Spider-Man battles the Hulk while trying out for the Avengers in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3. Peter and Gwen are seen giving their tissue samples to Miles Warren’s lab assistant in a flashback in Amazing Spider-Man #148, thus setting the stage for the whole business of the Jackal and his clones. Spidey runs into Iceman and the Beast in Uncanny X-Men #27. Spider-Man’s letter to Daredevil, which is intercepted by secretary Karen Page, is revealed in Daredevil #24. Peter would not learn that he was correct about Matt Murdock being Daredevil until Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #110, though Matt Murdock discovered that Peter Parker was Spider-Man in Daredevil #103. The Kennedy assassination occurs behind the scenes, but this satisfies my initial research question as far as Spider-Man is concerned.

December 1963 – Peter witnesses the brief appearance of Crystal and Lockjaw at the ESU-Metro football game in Fantastic Four #61. Spidey’s brief battle with Stilt-Man occurs in Daredevil #27. This brings us up to Amazing Spider-Man #47.