While I’m not old enough to have read it when it was first published, I did get my hands on a copy of the a reprint during my comic book collecting days. Marvel Tales was reprinting the Stan Lee/Steve Ditiko era of Spider-Man and I clearly recall getting and reading this issue many, many times.
Issue 20 sees J. Jonah Jameson becoming so frustrated in his attempts to bring down Spider-Man that he invests his own money into creating a foe that is more powerful than Spider-Man and can finally eliminate him from the picture. So, JJJ finds a scientist who turns a seemingly ordinary criminal named Mack Gargan into the Scorpion. (The logic is that the Scorpion is the natural enemy of the spider).
Spidey and the Scorpion have an initial battle and it appears the Scorpion has eliminated Spidey. But the Scorpion starts to have some unintended side effects and blames JJJ for it, breaking off the battle and going after Jameson. Spidey is forced to overcome the Scorpion’s superior strength by using his own wits and understanding of his powers.
I love this issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. I find myself wishing that somehow Sam Raimi had seen fit to include the character in one of his Spider-Man movies (I get why we had Doc Ock and Green Goblin in the first two, but I’d much rather have had Scorpion over Venom in Spider-Man 3). Growing up, I was (and still am) fascinated by putting heroes up against villains who are designed to be the equal or more powerful than the hero and seeing how the villain is defeated. And while the Green Goblin and Doc Ock get more of the press, I still think the Scorpion ranks up there as my favorite Spidey villain. And a lot of it is from this issue — and another annual that I’ll get to at some point for a future installment of this meme.
Re-reading it years later, I can see that there are other, more definitive Spider-Man installments from this era. But yet there’s still not a comic that held my attention and made me want to re-read it many, many times like this one. And that’s just one of the reasons it’s one of my favorites….