December 9, 1963
- This issue sees Spidey face off against the mysterious Big Man. Though he might sound like a new villain for Giant Man, it's actually the intimidating name of a crime boss intent on bringing all the other New York mobsters under his control. His features hidden under a dapper suit and frightful mask, he exerts pressure via his three Enforcers who, though gimmicky (brute strength; quick reflexes & judo; mastery with a lasso), have no real superpowers. Though conceptually similar to Doctor Doom's recently-employed Terrible Trio, these baddies - and the Big Man himself - are simply gangsters; nothing more. In this way, the comic hearkens back to the Golden Age comics of the '30s and '40s, when powerful heroes like Superman and the Human Torch fought mob bosses, racketeers and other realistic villains far more often than fantastical, super-powered threats.
Big Man threatens.
- But if it sounds like a bunch of regular guys are too slight a threat for a hero who has faced the likes of The Sandman and Doctor Octopus, worry not. Following Aunt May's operation last issue, her doctor tells Peter that she requires a blood transfusion to recover. He initially panics at the thought that a diagnosis of his blood might reveal his super powers, but forces himself to quell his fears and hope for the best. He's relieved to find that the tests reveal none of his secrets ... but having lost a good amount of his super-powered blood, he's thus left in a significantly weakened state which lasts for several days. That, of course, is when the Big Man strikes...!
- Meanwhile, Betty Brant's secret continues. Having hinted last issue at a dark something in her past, Peter now comes across one of the Big Man's mobsters pressuring Betty for money. At some point she had borrowed from a loan shark - for reasons she refuses to disclose - and when Peter begs her to confide in him, she tearfully flees town, leaving not just Peter but her job at the Daily Bugle as well. Parker is left dazed, wondering what secrets she could be hiding to push her to such a state. He - and we - will have to wait till next issue to find out!
- Finally, the cover proclaims that this issue we "learn why J. Jonah Jameson really hates Spider-Man!" ("Secrets" really does seem to be the theme this time, doesn't it?) And y'know what? Not only is this not a case of false hyperbole, it turns out to be an answer so rich, and so fitting, that Jonah's revealing soliloquy - though only three panels long - has become one of the most famous scenes in Spider-Man history. One thing you've got to give Stan credit for is that he may not always remember to give his antagonists sufficient motivation - but when he does, it really resonates.