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A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 1

A fresh new year always seems to taunt me with the idea of doing a year-long bit, and you know what, I think this year I will do one! So here, for your entertainment, is the first of a series for the whole 2009 year – a once a day look at cool comic book moments!

Our first moment is perhaps the coolest (and most famous) moment in Spider-Man comic book history!


Amazing Spider-Man #33, by Steve Ditko (plotter/artist) and Stan Lee (scripter) was the last of a three-part storyline that pitted Spider-Man against the mysterious Master Planner who turned out to be Doctor Octopus!

Both Doc Ock and Spider-Man are searching for a serum called ISO-36. Doc needs it for his radiation research, while Spider-Man needs it to save Aunt May, who has become sick due to a transfusion she had received in the past from Peter – his radioactive blood now has terrible side effects on his aunt, and you better believe Peter is feeling guilty about that!!

So at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #32, Spider-Man managed to get the serum from Doc Ock, but not before the villain knocked a huge iron unit the size of a battleship down on Spider-Man, pinning him mere feet from the serum. The bad news gets worse when the underwater base is beginning to leak – not to mention that Octopus leaves his henchmen behind to shoot Spider-Man if he somehow escapes.

Not a pretty situation to be in, eh?

So #33 shows the mastery of Steve Ditko, as he depicts Spider-Man slowly but surely getting the gumption to free himself. This issue comes down almost entirely to Ditko, although I think Stan Lee’s dialogue for Spider-Man’s thought balloons are good (although, of course, one could argue that Lee perhaps overdoes it a tad bit as Ditko’s art may be evocative enough withOUT Lee’s dialogue, but I like it a lot still, especially the great line “Anyone can win a fight when the odds are easy! It’s when the going’s tough – when there seems to be no chance – that’s when it counts!” – awesome).

This issue has been re-done many, many times over the years – Spider-Man is in a tough spot and forces himself to dig deep into his inner resolve and sense of responsibility to get out of it.

Beautiful comic book storytelling and a very cool comic book moment.

Here are the three famous pages – click to enlarge!


That was the only issue of the Lee/Ditko Spiderman years that I didn’t find unbearably goofy.

Remember the one where he puts on a blue hat as a disguise without taking off his costume and IT WORKS?

My friends and I still joke about that.

This is a great idea for a year long column. I’ll be looking forward to it on a daily basis.

Its the water hitting him while he suffers and is trying to get out that makes the scene.

“Its the water hitting him while he suffers and is trying to get out that makes the scene.”

That, and how the panels grow with his determination.

Probably my favorite moment in all of comics. Waid and Marcos Martin a few months ago remixed this scene to great effect, with rats chewing on Peter as he lifted. I wonder if we’ll see that moment somewhere down the line.

Oh, what a great idea for a daily column! I’m looking forward to to the next 364 days!

Cool idea for a column!

Aren’t we still doing that 100 greatest fights? What happened to that?

I agree, awesome column idea, although I’m afraid we’ll be getting to Infinite Crisis crap by the end of 2009.

“Aren’t we still doing that 100 greatest fights? What happened to that?”

It ended already.

That issue defines everything that is great about Spider-Man (and, of course, Ditko).

And Cass is spot on pointing out Waid & Martin’s awesome recent arc on ASM as great homage to this issue. Perfect use of the term “remix” too!

Don’t forget that Sam Raimi did a great job bringing this to life in SPIDER-MAN 2. Different equipment, different lives at stake, but the feeling was the same. And I loved the simplicity of Peter telling MJ, “This is really heavy.”

But it only made it to thirty.

Yes, but the top 25 had been revealed earlier.

So, so beautiful. Spider-Man is Marvel’s best known property because it’s so easy to relate to him, and the art in this makes you feel like you’re the one trapped under there – and the one freeing yourself.

One of my favorite comic moments, even if I never understood why Spidey didn’t just climb out the back.

Raimi should have recreated this scene in SM2when Ock throws him into the wall in the cafe. Then that whole scene would have made a small amount of sense.

The final panel always struck me as atypical of Ditko. Did he ink that? It reminds me a lot of Gil Kane.

[…] some knowledge from the land of comic books – courtesy of Comics Should Be Good and Messrs. Lee and Ditko. it’s like Stan is telling my life through Spidey… from […]

Lee-Ditko “Spider-Man” is awesome.

ASM #33 is my all time favorite comic, pride of my 10K+ collection. My love for this issue is so well known by my friends and family that my brother got me a pretty good copy of this issue as my gift for being the best man at his wedding!

Philip Ayres

May 3, 2009 at 3:11 pm

For me that last panel is just streets ahead of anything else done at the time quality wise. Something about it just works for me

[…] but there are a lot of life lessons one can glean from them if they look in the right place. Take Amazing Spider-Man #33, for instance. For those of you who are not nerds, I’ll break it down quickly and easily for […]

You know, am I the only one who wonders if that last page was NOT drawn by Ditko? It seems to be way to detailed on the musculature for Ditko’s standards and pencils…….I have always wondered this….Perhaps Brian can do a Comic Legend on it…..

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