When Falls the Meteor
Script and Editing by Stan Lee
Plot and Art by Steve Ditko
Lettering by Andy Simek
This issue opens up with part-time scientist Newton B. Fester. In the third panel Fester finds a meteor, just the type he’s been looking for, he notes, and says that it will be perfect to prove his theory that “meteors contain microscopic living matter” (Page 1) that are responsible for first bringing life to Earth. The comic makes it seem like this is an original idea, but this concept has been around since the fifth century. It’s regularly referred to as Panspermia, and it’s still considered a viable theory about the beginnings of life on Earth. I know this because it was on Stephen Hawking’s excellent show—one that Peter Parker would surely love—“Into the Universe withStephen Hawking.”
Fester tries to get funding for his science project but is rejected all over town. He starts messing around with the meteor in his basement lab and is hit in the face by a green gas. The gas causes him to have superhuman strength and the vain Fester decides, “I’m much too clever to waste such a golden opportunity.” (Page 2) And by “not wasting a golden opportunity,” he means he’s going to rob banks.
Peter Parker, meanwhile, is trying to get back to his classes. He notes that he’s missed a lot of school since he’s been fighting Kraven and the Molten Man. In true Peter fashion, he enters college life ready for all of his peers to hate him. Peter thinks that since he hasn’t been around his new college much lately that all of the other students have already made tight-knit groups and he won’t be able to join (Page 4).
A hot little number named Sally Green walks up to Peter and invites him to a get-together after school. At first Peter is all about it. Then, Sally says, “I was hoping you’d come because I’m so anxious to have at least one boy with brains instead of all those brawny athletic types.” (Page 5) Sure, it’s a bit of a back-handed compliment, but Peter doesn’t need to be insecure about his athleticism. Regardless, Peter jumps on the slight and embraces it like a long lost friend. He turns down the invitation. Poor little Peter.
Back to Fester, who has now christened himself “The Looter.” A moment to examine this name. Maybe it’s the times I live in, but to me, “looter” means that you’re taking advantage of a public crisis and stealing from stores because chaos is reining and the police are too busy to stop you. Really, the lowest form of crime. This is not what Fester is doing—he’s just rushing in, punching a bunch of people in the face and rushing back out again—but the losery name fits him well. He’s a cookie-cutter criminal that doesn’t deserve much better.
|I figure this is what would become of Fester had Spider-Man stopped his evil schemes in 2014.|
And, as with all thinly characterized criminals, his spree is interrupted by terrible planning. If The Looter’s crime spree were a business plan, no one would back it. Everything depends on finding more green gas inside meteors so that he can sustain his superhuman strength. When his stash is running out, he tries to rob a museum where a meteor is kept. Spider-Man finally catches up with this bozo and puts an end to his crime career.
A perfect issue? Certainly not. An important issue in the cannon of Spider-Man? Nope. But it had that spark that it seems like Stan Lee can’t help but add. The stakes were low, the villain was corny, even the Parker drama was childish to a certain degree, but everything was fun. And that's what counts, right? This issue made me happy.