Back when the mighty mavens of Marvel certified their sovereignty over the spinner rack, they had a sparkling specialty for making every one of their monthly mags sound like unmissable masterpieces. The primary platform for this tantalizing touting was the Mighty Marvel Checklist bundled into the Bullpen Bulletins page. Even a surefire sensational seller such as Spider-Man was the beneficiary of such boasting. For example, Amazing Spider-Man #53, cover dated October 1967, was promoted powerfully: “Featuring the return of Dr. Octopus! Yep, Doc Ock, one of the most powerful, most deadly arch-foes in all of literature, returns with the most unexpected threat of all! And wait’ll you read that last page–!” Terrific, true believers! But does the story stand up?
In the titanic tale, Peter Parker is recruited by Professor Miles Warren to accompany him to a science expo which will feature a demonstration of the Nullifier, a daunting defensive against missile attacks. There’s yet one more ticket, which happily lands in the hands of gorgeous Gwen Stacy, who’d apparently rather itch than stitch.
Ol’ Peter Parker has had his eye on Gwen for quite some time, so their joint attendance of the science show is an example of his luck finally turning for the better. Since things can’t always go his way, there’s certainly catastrophe coming. That arrives in the fearsome form of the diabolical Doctor Octopus. The nasty nut nabs the nullifier, antagonizing the assembled as he does it.
It seems this is the most “unexpected threat of all,” but Doc Ock doesn’t actually return with it. He grabs it after he strikes the scene. The promotion seems misleading, at best. The multi-armed miscreant doesn’t even wield the device as a threat. After our hero blinds him with web fluid, Doctor Octopus simply drops it off a tall building, truly a terrible threat, but not that much different that if he hurled a Hemi engine over the ledge.
Doc Ock makes his escape while Spider-Man saves the innocents down below from the plummeting peril. Peter Parker then kiboshes the costume to convene with his cohorts, a flimsy fabrication forwarded for his obvious absence. The shaky story doesn’t matter, though, when a certain comely co-ed has decided he’s as delightfully delicious as perpetually poppable pistachios.
“Man-child” doesn’t seem like much a compliment, but that doesn’t seem to bother our hero. The vicious villain vanished, Peter and Gwen decide to join their pals at the local coffee house hangout, where none other than Peter’s Aunt May shows up with an insistent interjection of innocuous information.
Whoa, wait! Could that facet of fable foretell the fateful finale? Fast-forward a few flicks of the folio to that lauded last page. As Spider-Man swings above city streets searching for his awful adversary, May’s tender tallies a taker.
Definitely a drastic and devastating development! Could Spider’s central adversary sidle up his adored aunt, concocting a creepy coziness? Nah, that’d be nuts!