It was contained in just three consecutive issues of Amazing Spider-Man, numbers 31 through 33. And it was plotted and drawn by the great Steve Ditko and scripted by Stan Lee.
Any comic book geek worth a durn knows about it. We call it “The Master Planner Saga,” for want of a better name. And for a lot of us, it moved “funny books” into the realm of literature.
It may even qualify as the first-ever genuine graphic novel.
The story’s been reprinted many times and is easy to find, so I won’t summarize it in detail.
Besides, I wanna talk about just one moment from the story.
Yeah, webheads — THAT moment. The one cleverly paid homage to in the second Spider-Man movie — you know, the really terrific one with Doctor Octopus.
Lemme set it up.
Aunt May lies dying in a hospital. Her only chance for survival is a vial of ISO-36 serum stolen by Doc Ock.
So Spider-Man and the Doc duke it out in the tentacled one’s secret lair beneath the Hudson River. When a support beam dislodges, Octopus disappears, tons of machinery collapse, and Spidey’s trapped helplessly under a unit the size of the USS North Carolina.
Ironically, the serum is just out of his reach, losing its potency with each passing minute.
Plus, the ceiling’s about to crash in and bring with it the surging river above!
So here’s “the moment”…
In a four-page sequence that still leaves me exhilarated when I re-read it, an exhausted but determined Spidey, after struggling panel after tortured panel, finally cries, “No matter what the odds. No matter what the cost — I’ll get that serum to Aunt May!
“Anyone can win a fight — when the odds are easy! It’s when the going’s tough — when there seems to be no chance — that’s when it counts!”
I’m getting gooseflesh just talking about this.
Are you feeling discouraged? Frustrated? Ready to give up your dream of dumping the old 9-to-5 lifestyle for one of greater freedom?
Right this minute, revisit a book, movie, TV show, anything that inspires you to overcome adversity and keep on keepin’ on. For me, it’s always been Amazing Spider-Man #31-33.
By the way, you’ll also find no shortage of inspiration at http://www.wallyconger.com/rhinotactics.
See ya in the funny papers.