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Amazing Spider-Man #31: Review

Dec 1965
Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Story Name:

If This Be My Destiny...

Review & Comments

5 stars

Amazing Spider-Man #31 Review by (February 21, 2024)

Review: It really can’t be understated how monumental and important this issue is. First off, it’s the first part of the three part Master Planner storyline, one of the greatest and most famous stories in Spider-Man history! Second, Peter starts college this issue and with that comes the introduction of three very important characters, particularly Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy, who will be extremely important moving forward, as any Spidey fan is likely to know. It’s probably shocking to some newer fans that Peter didn’t meet them until college but here they are, soon elevating Peter’s supporting cast that much more! While they and Peter obviously get much closer later, both in their own ways, for now they don’t really like him, as Peter’s constant worrying of Aunt May caused him to ignore his classmates almost entirely! This same plot point was used in an earlier issue, but it’s used to greater effect here, as this is a lot of these characters’ first impression of Peter, and it’s off to a bad start!

We’re also introduced to Professor Miles Warren, in a single panel. He won’t be immediately important, like Harry and Gwen, but he’ll pop in here and there, before having a much more important and villainous role about a decade from now! This issue really lays the groundwork for this story wonderfully. There’s the mystery of who the Master Planner is, the secretive boss of the masked gang Spidey keeps running into. Peter starts off college in a rough way, barely getting any sleep and ostracizing his peers. Aunt May is very sick, and as we learn at the end of the issue, she doesn’t have long to live! Along with some cool Spidey action and great Steve Ditko art, this issue has it all, perfectly setting up the next parts of this story! Tune in for the continuation of this story, and the identity of the Master Planner, next issue!

Comments: First appearances of Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy, and Miles Warren. Peter Parker begins college this issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Amazing Spider-Man #31 Synopsis by Anthony Silvestro

Our story opens with a bunch of the masked mystery men from last issue in the middle of a daring heist at a radioactive plant! Quickly securing what they came for, they douse a guard with sleeping gas and load into their waiting aircraft. Having been nearby, Spider-Man jumps up to catch them, kicking the door off in the process. The goons pile on Spider-Man as another douses him in sleeping gas as well, forcing him to hold his breath. The masked men dispose of their stolen devices, dropping them into the river, where they are retrieved by another, underwater, team! Spidey continues to fight the goons but is starting to get groggy from the gas, and so whips the door he kicked off into the helicopter blades, as the goons knock him out of the plummeting aircraft. Spider-Man flips out of the way of the aircraft, as it falls into the river, where another underwater team rescues the goons and escapes, leaving Spidey confused.

The next morning, Peter heads out for his college registration, as Aunt May continues to hide her worsening illness from him. Peter goes through all of the rigors of college registration, filling out forms, meeting professors, and acquiring his books, ending the day feeling tired but accomplished. Just as Peter is going to turn in for the day, Aunt May suddenly faints, leading Peter to call for a doctor. The doctor admits that Aunt May must go to the hospital for special tests, where Peter leaves her, agonizing about not noticing her condition until now for the entire night, not getting a wink of sleep. Peter wearily trudges to his first day of college classes. At his first class, Flash Thompson is acquainting himself with two other new students, Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy. As Peter comes in, Flash attempts to introduce them to him but Peter just walks right past, still wrapped up in his own thoughts.

This pattern continues throughout the day, leading most of the other students to think that Peter is full of himself and is ignoring them on purpose, while Gwen thinks there might be more going on. In his last class of the day, Peter is still wrapped up in his thoughts, and Harry decides to play a little prank on Peter, slipping something into one of his chemical beakers, causing it to explode. This earns Peter a lecture from his teacher, Professor Miles Warren, as the students snicker to themselves, while Gwen bemoans Peter actually getting in trouble. Deciding they’ve teased him enough, Harry suggests they invite Peter out with them after class but Peter rushes out, only worsening their opinion of him. At the hospital, the doctor tells Peter that they still have to run more tests but that they can’t be too optimistic.

When Peter gets home, he sees all of the bills piled up and realizes he’ll need to get some money fast. He then goes out swinging as Spider-Man to try and get some photos to sell to the Bugle but finds the city distressingly quiet. Peter heads to class after yet another night with no sleep, as his classmates still think the worst of him, with Peter barely noticing. Meanwhile at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson wants some news to print in his paper and sends Frederick Foswell out to investigate the recent thefts that have been going on. Ned Leeds then stops by to see Betty Brant, asking if she has an answer for his marriage proposal. Betty tells him she should talk to Peter first, still feeling that Peter is hiding something from her.

Later, at a shady bar, Foswell, as Patch, overhears a known thug named Foxy Briggs asking around about the pier. Foswell, sure he’s planning a robbery, decides to tail the hoodlum but loses him in the crowd. Back at ESU, Gwen once again tries talking to Peter but he once again rushes off to the hospital, leaving Gwen frustrated. At the hospital, Peter learns that they still don’t have any answers but that they’re getting closer. As Spidey swings through the city, he is alerted by Patch, who tells him of the info he learned, and to check out the pier. Spidey gets to the pier, as the masked men are attempting another robbery. They attempt to douse Spidey in sleeping gas once more, but it has no effect. Spidey dances around the goons, webbing their attempted cargo to the pier, to prevent them from making off with it!

Spidey is snagged by a net from overhead, but easily breaks out of it, as the masked men dive into the river to escape. Spidey stays back, knowing they’ll have the advantage in the water, as the police arrive upon the scene with Patch. Spidey sees that the police have the situation in hand, while he laments that he didn’t get any pictures of the encounter. He did at least stop the robbery, showing that he had prepared a special breathing device under his mask to resist the effect of the gas. Then, back at his secret underwater base, the masked men’s boss, called the Master Planner, still unseen, laments Spider-Man’s involvement. Hinting that they’ve met before, the Master Planner promises that their next encounter will be Spider-Man last! Our issue ends back at the hospital, as the doctors finally come to the harrowing conclusion that Aunt May doesn’t have much longer to live!

Steve Ditko
Steve Ditko
Stan Goldberg
Steve Ditko (Cover Penciler)
Steve Ditko (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Plot: . Letterer: Sam Rosen.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Octopus
Doctor Octopus

(Otto Octavius)
J. Jonah Jameson
J. Jonah Jameson

(JJ Jameson)
May Parker
May Parker

(Aunt May)

(Peter Parker)

Plus: Betty Brant, Frederick Foswell (Big Man), Miles Warren, Ned Leeds.

> Amazing Spider-Man: Book info and issue index

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