AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #68-75 (1968-1969): Tablet Saga; 1st Silvermane, Man Mountain Marko

So there’s this magical tablet that can provide immortality, and Kingpin steals it. He sounds like Daffy Duck.

Spider-Man steals it back, creating a diversion by taking off his shirt.

I’m pretty sure this is the first time he’s fought topless in costume. Maybe the only time.

I hope so. Because he looks ridiculous.

The cops catch Kingpin, and he frames Spider-Man as an accomplice.

So Spidey has the tablet, and now he’s fed up with being a fall guy. This leads to a few super tantrums, most notably this one…

…Which gives J. Jonah Jameson a heart attack.

Quicksilver believes the hype and goes after Spider-Man. But before Quicksilver even attacks, Spider-Man shows remorse by turning the tablet in to Captain Stacy.

Shocker finds out…

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Stacy is becoming a major player in the Spider-Man world–and he’s starting to actually feed Spidey information and using him to capture criminals.  (He doesn’t yet know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.)

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But the development of the Stacy-Spidey-Stacy triangle is just one of the story elements in this saga.  This is Stan Lee at his best, weaving melodrama, romance, action, and incredibly novel super-heroes into one long-form epic.  It’s around this time that Lee’s Marvel work really took off: He was always a brilliant idea-man, but here we see he’s become a true storyteller.

Back to the story: Kingpin learns that Shocker’s now got the tablet. Actually, the entire Maggia knows. By the time Spider-Man shows up at Shocker’s girlfriend’s apartment, Kingpin’s lackey Mountain Man Marko is already there, seeking to obtain the tablet to prove himself to the criminal organization.

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This is Marko’s first appearance, as well as new Maggia boss Silvermane.

From here, Curt Connors manages to get the tablet–hoping it will regenerate his arm. Silvermane and Marko bust up his lab, and Silvermane activates the tablet…

And then the big finale. Spider-Man busts in and of course Curt Connors changes into Lizard.

And, in a terrific twist, the spell of the tablet backfires. And Silvermane appears to be reduced to a cellular level, effectively dying. I presume he turns into a fertilized egg cell, marking the first time that semen was a Spider-Man villain.

But that’s only page 18! From there, we see that Connors is still Lizard, and he’s on the loose.

That will be for next time.

This saga is one of Stan Lee’s most intricately plotted stories, and it’s great. Not only does it introduce several crime characters who will be around for decades, but Stan Lee also develops The Kingpin into the character he still is today.  Just look at these two sequences, which easily could have been from a Frank Miller issue of Daredevil:

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And last but not least, we’re treated to the first appearance of another crime boss: Silvermane.

In the end, we also get to see Doc Connors and the Lizard, who helps translate the tablet, which eventually turns Silvermane into a young man.  And then continues young-ifying until he disappears completely. 

Creators: Stan Lee and John Romita
Grade: A

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