"The Molten Man Regrets...!"
By Lee, Ditko, and Simek
Josiah here. In the last edition of It's Amazing #566, I wished everyone a Happy New Year. Then we (we being Sean and I, but really it was 100% me who caused the delay), went over a year without a new installment.
I'm sorry, my bad.
Anyways, the last issue had ended with Peter straight-up depressed about the state of his relationship with Betty. So Stan Lee starts out #35 with a splash page of Spider-Man webbing up The Molten Man and the declaration "IT'S CHANGE-OF-PACE TIME AGAIN, SO CLIMB ABOARD FOR THE ACTION...!"
Which was a welcome sight after how the last issue ended on such a downer note for Peter and this issue's story is entitled "The Molten Man Regrets!" so there was the fear that we were going to get more more navel-gazing in this issue.
Oddly, Molten Man has absolutely no regrets throughout the entire issue, even when he inevitably gets caught. It takes all of one page for Molten Man to go from being in jail awaiting his hearing, to getting pardoned at his hearing, to bending steel beems in his apartment and planning his next heist.
|Molten Man would like to come and meet |
us, but he thinks he'd blow our minds.
Molten Man is one of those characters that Stan Lee really excels at writing. Like Ben Grimm and Sandman, he's a great rough-and-tumble-street-level character that could have only come out of the New York City of 1960’s Marvel Comics. Plus, he is also a street-smart, super-powered heavy that also happens to be drawn in the likeness of androgynous rock and roll icon David Bowie in one panel on page two.
But whatever, a character like Mark Raxton isn’t necessarily an evil guy. Like a lot of Spidey’s antagonists, he’s just looking for the next score. The stakes aren’t always high when it comes to showdowns with a character like this, but nonetheless it’s a fun read.
Molten Man disguises himself as your run-of-the-mill Spider-Man bank robber, which brings Spider-Man to the robbery right on cue. It’s a quick fight as Spider-Man gets caught by surprise by a nasty right hook (and the first of many great sound effects in this issue, but more on that later).
Molten Man gets away, but it’s not long before Peter deduces that no normal man with non-molten fists could punch like that. So Peter—without due process—sneaks into Molten Man’s apartment and attaches a Spider-Tracer the size of a toddler’s fist onto the inside of the collar of Molten Man’s duster while he sleeps. Molten Man, unaware that he is carrying a hunk of metal giving off radio waves on his shoulder decides to move onto the next heist. Spidey shows up and we get a really fun seven page fight/chase scene between the two. The first of two highlights are when Molten Man decides to ditch the disguise and comes running directly at the reader. The second is a great sequence on page eleven with a pretty dynamic six panel fist fight with fantastic sound effects (which we even get a shout-out to letterer Artie Simek in the fight’s introduction):
Eventually Spider-Man hog ties Molten Man with extra-thick webs (though it’s hard to tell because this plot device just comes out of nowhere, the just sees bunch of purple rope that Peter grabs off a chair during the fight, maybe he made this up in his lab, I'm not sure). Peter leaves the Molten Man strung up for the authorities, then a few minutes later he stops by the police station to drop off photos of the robberies to help implicate Molten Man.
This issue was a nice synthesis of how Peter Parker and Spider-Man’s lives complement one another. Peter’s photos and scientific planning have just as much impact on all the proportional strength of a spider what-have-yous. The biggest criticism I could think of in this issue is the business with the mystery rope, but it’s a small quibble.
In an issue filled with lots of solid action, the best part might actually be the penultimate page when Peter realizes that Betty has quit the Bugle and split town with Ned Leeds. In six panels, Lee and Ditko take the reader through Peter’s following reactions in the follwoing order: anxiousness, nervous optimism, shock, resentment, sadness and resignation. It almost looks like Peter's eyes are welling up in the sixth panel.
|As a bonus in panel seven, we get to see Peter take his |
frustrations out on the wrong person in typical Parker fashion.
Peter takes one last look at the photo, throws it in the trash and goes home. It’s all pretty melodramatic, but effective. Sometimes it sucks seeing an ex’s picture when you least expect it, right Peter?
Anyways, next issue features: THIS GUY!
Let's meet him together, shall we?