AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #15 (1981): Frank Miller+How Strong is Spider-Man?

Punisher and Spider-Man fight Doctor Octopus.

First, Octopus beats Punisher up quite a bit. He captures him and then…

Poisons him. Otto’s plan is to put the same poison into the ink on the pages of the Daily Bugle.

I love how Ock is just smoking and casual, barely even noticing that Punisher is in the room. That is as it should be. Punisher is best when he isn’t overpowered or nearly superhuman–he’s just a streetfighter with drive and cunning.

And the rule should be, if Spider-Man can be beaten by Doctor Octopus then Punisher can be beaten by Doc Ock because Punisher can’t take Spider-Man…Or can he?

Punisher incapacitates Spider-Man so Pun can go for a killshot. That happens before Octopus humiliates Pun (above), such that Spidey has to foil the big plot…

Of course JJJ thinks it’s all Spider-Man’s fault.

The story is good, but it is in service to the art, which is great. The great comic history writer Sean Howe got his hands on an unfinished page…

That’s some good art.

Then there’s a back-up feature, “How Strong is Spider-Man.”

The top level seems about right. Then we move to “The Heavyweights.”

Not sure Sasquatch belongs in Thing-class. Or Black Bolt.

Luke Cage and She-Hulk should be up a notch.  And Surfer, Ghost Rider, and Bill Foster aren’t known for strength.

This one is weird.  Werewolf places above Captain America?  And so does Beast?  And Tigra?!?  And how is Wundarr not higher–he’s supposed to be a Superman analogue.

All these seem fine, except Cap.

And finally, an update on Peter’s pad.

2 thoughts on “AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #15 (1981): Frank Miller+How Strong is Spider-Man?”

  1. The lead story in this annual is nothing unusual-essentially just a typical ‘Spider-Man’ story, with Dr. Octopus and the Punisher. Doctor Octopus is more vicious than usual, but that is to be expected as he is on the bad side of time as of this story. The Frank Miller artwork is above-par, and, as all above-par artwork does, moves this story along quite nicely. However, the real selling-point of this annual is the highly-debated power-chart follow-up feature. Mark Gruenwald wrote it, and while he was alive, his wisdom on all matters Marvel were deemed to be universally sacrosanct. ( beyond debate-incontestable ) I’ll buy that, with but a few exceptions. Contrary to current popular view, Gruenwald’s ranking of Captain America at peak-human- that is, NOT super-strong- is correct. Marvel debated for the longest time as to whether the Capster was super-strong or not, ( as he was for a brief period of time in the 1970’s, beginning in ‘Captain America and the Falcon’#159 ) but ultimately decided against it, on the logic of having the Ultimate American being able to solve his problems without the unfair advantage of artificially-induced super-strength. Marvel wanted Cap to be relatable to readers who were “underdogs” themselves, like Steve Rogers was, before he underwent the Super-Soldier process. Like America herself was, when she declared independence from the oppressive Great Britain. So, in ‘Captain America’#218, Cap muses to himself how nice it would be to have back that super-strength he had for a while, and that’s it. Where all this confusion comes from is, of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Captain America, who is CLEARLY superhuman, with his being able to wrestle down escaping helicopters, ( “The Winter Soldier” ) leaping off the top of six-story high buildings and hitting the ground running, ( “Captain America: The First Avenger” ) etc. The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to have confused their version of Captain America with John Walker, the USAgent, who IS powerful enough to do all those feats of superhumanity. But the late Mr. Gruenwald understood that Cap is NOT of superhuman strength, and firmly established the Living Legend at peak-human strength, meaning he can bench-press at around 800 lbs. That’s just below superhuman strength, and that’s fine. Mark Gruenwald authored several of the most memorable storylines of Cap’s career, including the “Streets of Poison” arc, which dealt with superhuman strength, and what lengths some people will go to attain it. As for some of Gruenwald’s other rankings- I don’t understand why Nighthawk is even up there at all. His normal-human strength doubles at night, and triples three nights a week beneath the full Moon. I’m sure Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil are all losing sleep over this guy. During the day, which is fifty percent of the time, Nighthawk’s strength is normal human, so I’m not sure he even qualifies for a place on this chart! As a matter of fact, as I recall, isn’t Nighthawk supposed to be a paraplegic during the daylight hours, as of ‘Defenders’#93-??? If that’s changed, I missed the memo. I agree with Mr. Ekko over Power Man- he got shortchanged, here. I have always figured Luke was the ‘Demi-Hulk’, based on what-all we have seen him do, and to whom, meaning that Luke is roughly half as strong as the Hulk. ( Class 50 ) So, Cage needs to be in the “Heavyweight” class, with the Thing and the Sub-Mariner. And what’s with the Silver Surfer, down in the “Super-mediumweights” class-???!! What a rook!! The Silver Surfer has mentioned several times that he can make himself as physically strong as he needs to be, ( beginning in ‘Fantastic Four’#55 ) since the source of his strength is the cosmos itself, which is an infinite source of power, and I don’t see why the Surfer would have any reason to lie about it! So, technically, the Silver Surfer is, hands down, the physically strongest superguy UP there!! Mark Gruenwald had a total brain-fart on THAT one!! To the Silver Surfer’s credit, even though he IS, technically, the strongest superguy on this chart, he most graciously uses this strength very sparingly, apparently preferring to use his other cosmic-powered talents to solve problems and dispatch evildoers. How nice! Moving on to that other “strange visitor from another planet”, Mr. Wundarr, ( aka the “Aquarian” ) well, just because the dude is a “Superman analogue” doesn’t necessarily mean that he has the Man of Steel’s same level of strength. ( which is staggering, even for a comic-book guy ) So, probably not, meaning that Gruenwald probably got this one right. I figure the Beast is at Class 15, while the Werewolf ( By Night ) is at Class 5. So, they’re where they should be. I haven’t read hardly any ‘Captain Britain’ stuff, so I can’t comment on him. It seems to me that Spider-Man himself belongs in the ‘mediumweight’ division, not the ‘super-mediumweight’, but I will not argue with the consensus on this one. I figure Spidey is Class 10. Two candidates for this chart who are conspicuously absent: Daimon Hellstrom, ‘Son of Satan’, who I figure is Class 20 when he’s pissed, ( demonic side overwhelms him ) and normal human strength the rest of the time. And how about the Macabre Man-Thing??? Marvel’s house-ad for him in 1974 trumpeted “Mighty as the Hulk!! That’s the macabre Man-Thing, each and every month, in his own mighty monthly mag, from macabre Marvel!!” – Well- if he’s ( it’s ) as “Mighty as the Hulk”, as they say, then, doesn’t he belong up on this chart-??? I’d say SO!!! Especially since ol’ Manny could turn most of these people up here on this chart into his BITCHES!!! All except, I’d say, Thor, Black Bolt, ( one scream from this guy, and there’d be swamp-shit all over Citrusville!! ) and certainly the Silver Surfer, who could possibly even cure the Man-Thing back into a human being again. He could do it for the Hulk, ( ‘Tales of Suspense’#93 ) but not for an overpowered Human Torch, in ‘Fantastic Four’#325- so- who knows-?? So- anyway- that’s how I see it. I don’t know exactly which mortal babe was hosting the Valkyrie on this page up in the ‘supermediumweights’ section, ( Class 50, and thereabouts ) but ISN’T she LOVELY???? Tigra the “Were-Woman” ( technically that means “man-woman” HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!!!! ) is one cute kitty I wouldn’t shoo away, either, even she/it IS a “man-woman”!! Lovely visiting with you!!!

  2. Correction: The Silver Surfer’s aborted attempt to cure the Incredible Hulk of his gamma-ray affliction occured in ‘Tales to ASTONISH’#93, as opposed to ‘Tales of Suspense’#93, as I erroneously mentioned above. Duh’o!


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