In this issue, Peter Parker deals with his sick Aunt May and the repercussions of leaving the fight against the Green Goblin to be by her side in the last issue. The issue starts with prior foes and other Marvel heroes sharing their views as they learn the news of what happened.
This issue gets to the heart of what most Spider-Man stories are about (particularly for the Lee Ditko era). The balance between Peter Parker and his personal life and being Spider-Man, the hero. Another way to look at it, being Spider-Man has a cost to living as Peter Parker. Compared to other heroes, this is much more extreme. Peter is not rich, not an adult; he has responsibilities with his aunt and with school. At times, like this issue, he comes close to hanging up his mask to being just Peter. In the end, Aunt May and her advice snaps him out of it and makes him realize again that he must be Spider-Man.
Along the way, though, he tries to find ways to use being Spider-Man to make money to help his aunt ( other than selling photos he has adopted thus far). However, these efforts, in terms of trading cards and his adhesive webbing, end up as failures in his fundraising scheme.
The faces, the expressions, the smiles, frowns, and looks are what is telling of this tale. The combat and action is light this month but there is not a lot of story going on in its place and it really does show. Starting with J. Jonah Jamison’s grin to the crying Betty Brant to he worried look on Peters face about his aunt, and his other problems. Even the determination on Flash’s face as he suits up as Spider-Man.
Characters and Development
In this tale, we have Spider-Man, or rather Peter Parker, coming to make some tough life choices. Still, we also witness how people feel about Spider-Man and his dropping from the scene, from feelings of concern and betrayal to even dedication (in terms of Johnny Storm and Flash Thompson). It is a great chance to grow that is not squandered or ruined by combat and a stand out for its era.
Originality & Continuity
This, however, is where it starts to fall flat. We have a similar tale with a Sick Aunt, May. We witnessed Spider-Man’s need to retreat. But most of all, we witnessed Flash get himself in trouble by posing as (and being mistaken for) Spider-Man. Something that it’s surprising he would do again so readily given what happened last time.
Another issue regarding Continuity is the names; they accidentally renamed Mrs. Watson as Mrs. Watkins in this issue. This is not all that surprising given that the character and her more famous beach have yet to really become a thing (and keep in mind the same thing happened to the Hulk, as well as others in early Marvel continuity)