With the recent Batman v Superman movie, superhero fights are all the rage. We here at the Crawlspace know that the only thing better than a superhero fight is when one of those superheroes is Spider-Man. Spider-Man routinely goes around kicking other hero’s butts just for fun. He’ll even do it in their own books. So it is with great pleasure that we finally get to the first actual meeting between the Avengers and Spider-Man and wouldn’t you know it, Spider-Man kicks their butts. For good measure, he even tackles the Hulk.
As Peter spends a few panels weighing the benefits and cons of joining a super team, let’s assess this ourselves. We have the advantage of looking at history and seeing Spidey on teams and as a loner. Head on over to the message boards and take the poll on whether or not Spidey should be on a team or not.
Now, let’s jump right on in before we have to keep Thor waiting any longer (he is a rather impatient chap). ‘Nuff said!
Folks, it’s gonna cost you go get this one. For a low-end near mint, it will cost you over $200. Or you could just read it on Marvel Unlimited. This is considered the third annual, but it was not marketed as an annual, rather it was a king sized special. It has this story in it and two reprint issues featuring Doc Ock. The publish date is November 1966, so it has been a while since our last encounter with the Avengers. Our opening splash page credits the following:
Script Writin’ by Smilin’ Stan Lee
Layouts by Jazzy Johnny Romita
Pencilin’ by Dashin’ Donnie Heck
Inkin’ by Mirthful Mickey Demeo
Letterin’ by Adorable Artie Simek
The splash page shows the Avengers checking out a large image of Spider-Man shooting webs. This must be all that they have on the wall crawler since Captain America says, “We’ve studied this photo long enough.” Then they all have their say about what to do about offering Spider-Man membership in a typical Stan Lee overcrowded dialogue panel. Since there is not a unanimous agreement, Captain shows about as much leadership as Aragorn in Fellowship of the Ring and just hems and haws. Thor brings up that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are not around. He is told that they are Europe. The reason why, which is not given in this issue, is that their powers are weakening and they are in Europe investigating the cause of it. Thor doesn’t know this because he and Iron Man have been away from the Avengers lately pursuing their solo careers.
They continue to go around in circles until Thor finally has had enough and tells Cap to make a decision. Cap decides to find out more information on Spidey first. So they call in Daredevil by rigging some device that allows them to broadcast at a very high frequency so that only Daredevil can hear them.
Someone off panel asks why they are extending a membership opportunity to Daredevil and the explanation is that nobody has proposed him yet. In fact Daredevil is not offered membership until the Avengers Disassembled story arc (to my knowledge), which he turns down, and doesn’t join until he joins the New Avengers in 2011.
So, who cares about Daredevil, right? He gives the thumbs up and they decide to give Spidey a test. But first they have to find him. It is Thor that does and he is quite the jerk about it to Spidey. You’d think after his run in with robo Spidey he would be a little less antagonizing to him. Spidey gets angry that Thor is so pushy and before they start to fight, Thor gives Spidey a timeline of 24 hours to come to the Avengers mansion.
Spider-Man considers himself a loner here. This is a mindset he’ll have for several more years (decades, even) despite having a team up book just for him. However, once the dam breaks, Spider-Man will go on to join all sorts of teams. He has been a member of all sorts of Avengers, including Avengers Unity Division, the regular Avengers, the Mighty Avengers, the New Avengers, the Secret Avengers, The Superhuman Task Force, and the Brooklyn Avengers. Although he was denied in his first issue, he goes on to join the Fantastic Four, the New Fantastic Four, and the Future Foundation. He’s not a mutant and was pursued to join the X-Factor (he kicked their butts instead), but he does eventually join Jean Grey’s X-Men school and teaches their Special Class (which operates as a team). He joins the Marvel Knights, Heroes for Hire, the Mighty, and the Secret Defenders. On top of that, he joined and led several spider-teams such as: Spider-Army, Web-Warriors, Outlaws, Galactic Alliance of Spider-Men, Spider Society, and the Misfits. He even joined the Frightful Four once (O.K., he wasn’t quite himself, but he still was a member of the team). *Whew!* Did I miss any?
One of the things Spider-Man gets upset about with Thor is that Thor says he must be tested. Of course he doesn’t know that all they have is one picture to look at, but he does know that they couldn’t beat robo-Spidey when he could and they should have an idea about him from there. Of course you’re probably thinking that it makes sense to have protocol when someone wants to join the Avengers. In fact, Thor even says that ALL applicants must undergo a test. Sounds very official, right? ALL applicants. Well, that doesn’t really mean Captain America because his abilities were well documented. However, let’s take a look at Avengers #16 where we have the first non-WWII superheroes that wish to join: Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch. Whatever test they went through I’m sure sets the standard. Wait a minute while I dust off my long boxes and pull out my silver age Avengers….. No wonder Spidey is pissed off! Hawkeye (a known felon, mind you) just breaks into the Avengers mansion and ties up Jarvis. When they confront him, he says, “Lookie at what I can do,” and proceeds to shoot three arrows at one time at Jarvis to cut the ropes. They immediately welcome him in. But at least he DID something to show he’s pretty handy with a bow. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch just write a letter. I kid you not. O.K., Quicksilver does show off by racing Tony Stark home, but it was not a test, and when they are geeking out about how fast he is, he says, “well, you should see what my sister can do,” but he never tells them and she doesn’t show them anything before they are falling over their feet to vote them in.
To make matters worse, when Spidey does show up (after several panels of angst), they STILL haven’t decided on how to test him, but they do go ahead and introduced themselves to him despite the fact that all of them (except Cap) have already met Spider-Man (Iron Man – Avengers #3, Goliath and Wasp – Tales to Astonish #57, Hawkeye – Fantastic Four Annual #3, and Thor the day before). Spidey, being a hot head back in the good old days, gets angry at being told that he has to leave the room and wait (I have a hard time blaming him after Thor put a time limit on him) and thinks that THIS might be the test and proceeds to take on all of them.
I love seeing Spidey take on other heroes. We don’t get another good Spider-Man vs. Avengers fight ever. We come close when the Avengers fight Superior Spider-Man, but even then, action happens off panel and we are denied seeing it. We got another good chance right after Peter gets his body back from Ock, but they instead just wave off all past problems and chummy again (largely based on Spider-Woman’s assessment that only the real Spider-Man would wing around in a web diaper).
1. The Hulk is a challenge for the entire team, much less one person.
2. They tell him to bring the Hulk back to them. That means this UNTESTED hero will have to find a way to bring a huge, dangerous monster THROUGH the city to their mansion. That’s not putting the people of New York at risk at all. (For those of you who are tone impaired, I’m being sarcastic.) And no, this is not the Avengers Mansion that we will come to know later. Peter describes it as a townhouse mansion and it is clearly located right in the middle of the city.
Anyway, Spidey doesn’t know where to look and so we get one of the best panels in here when he decides to pop into Jonah Jameson’s office to snag a drink from the water cooler. The whole time JJJ is in the background ranting and raving. However, it is this little diversion that lets Spidey know where the Hulk is, so we are back on track soon enough.
When he does find the Hulk, he mostly just dodges the Hulk’s punches and attacks, but our boy in the red and blue webs does land a few punches of his own.
But then something strange happens. After getting bathed in more gamma radiation, the Hulk converts to Bruce Banner. Spider-Man, until now, did know the Hulk’s alter ego and feels sorry for him. Then, he begins to doubt the intentions of the Avengers for wanting the Hulk to begin with. He decides that all the money, fame, and respect that goes with being an Avenger is not worth messing with Bruce Banner’s life. Of course he doesn’t know that the Avengers are trying to help the Hulk (because they didn’t tell him) and so we get another round of the Parker luck the way it should be. He goes back to the Avengers and blows them off saying he couldn’t even find the dumb brute and swings off before they can question him about it.
So there you have it, friends. Spidey’s first true encounter with the Avengers and it doesn’t go quite as well as he hoped. He won’t meet up with them again for another three years (at the Pym wedding) and it will take five years before he sees the Hulk again. It’ll take fourteen years before he gets another offer to join (in Avengers #221). However, we can still hope that when he meets them on screen for the first time this summer that he thinks he’s supposed to beat them up to prove himself. That would be worth the ticket price.
Until then… Underoos!
“Amazing Spider-Man Special #3.” Comics Price Guide. N.p., 2015. Web. 2 Apr. 2016. <http://comicspriceguide.com/collection/marvel/amazing-spider-man/3/pkswk>.
“Daredevil (Marvel Comics).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia, 3 Apr. 2016. Web. 3 Apr. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daredevil_(Marvel_Comics)>.
Fettinger, J.R. “Spider-Man: Team Player?” Spidey Kicks Butt. N.p., 2007. Web. 3 Apr. 2016. <http://www.spideykicksbutt.com/DeepThoughts/TeamPlayer.html>.
Sjoerdsma, Al. “Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #3.” Spiderfan. Comic Boards, 2013. Web. 2 Apr. 2016. <http://spiderfan.org/comics/reviews/spiderman_amazing_annual/003.html>.
“Spider-Man (Peter Parker).” Marvel Database. Wikia, N.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Spider-Man_(Peter_Parker)>.
All scans are from Marvel Unlimited