Weekend Coverage: Amazing Spider-Man #131
Here’s something special for all you lovers out there for this Valentine’s weekend: the romance between an octogenarian and an overweight octopus.
Of all the Silver Age comic book covers out there, Gil Kane’s Amazing Spider-Man #131 is one of the Silver-Age-iest. It’s the kind of cover that a ten-year-old kid would have seen in a drugstore and said “What the ****?” I mean, it’s Doc Ock marrying Aunt May. It’s Spidey’s worst villain marrying his best living relative.
Way back when we started this column, I wrote about a completely different, modern Spider-Man comic cover that had absolutely no character to it. A modern trend has been to get away from “eye-grabbing” covers and just do something that isn’t particularly descriptive of what’s contained within. The old Silver Age covers had the opposite effect: they were designed to take hold of the reader and demand they buy the thing, because why the heck is the Flash turning into a puppet? Why is Batman wearing a Zebra costume? And so forth. They were nutty enough that you just had to know what the deal was.
This cover illustrates what TV Tropes refers to as the “villain over for dinner” taken up a few notches. It’s when the villain infiltrates the happier, domestic parts of the hero’s life–in this case by marrying the hero’s beloved relative. The story inside is as wacky and unbelievable as it gets, with May somehow inheriting a nuclear power plant that Ock wants to take over for…reasons. Probably evil ones. How she ends up romantically entangled with Ock is beyond belief, and my recollection is that the story just sort of glosses over it. Ock had met May on a few occasions before this, and being the kind soul she is, took him to be a gentleman even though Peter couldn’t say anything.
Believe it or not, as ridiculous as this story was, it still manages to get mentioned from time to time. A touching example was Spectacular Spider-Man #173, where a lonely Doc Ock tries to visit May on Christmas Eve because she’s the only person who was ever kind to him. A not-so-touching one was in Amazing Spider-Man #699, where Spidey is trapped in Ock’s body and hits one of Ock’s memories of, erm, being seduced by May right before their wedding. There’s laughing about cheesy Silver Age stories, and then there’s taking the joke too damn far….
Anyway, this cover is a great example of what comic covers can do for us. They can shock, they can make us laugh, and they can make us pause and wonder what the hell we’re looking at. It’s a silly story by today’s standards, but it still has to be read to be believed. Happy Valentine’s Day.