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, and 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.



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