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Amazing Spider-Man #4: Review

Sep 1963
Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Story Name:

“Nothing Can Stop…The Sandman!”

Review & Comments

4 stars

Amazing Spider-Man #4 Review by (November 9, 2023)

Review: Another issue, another classic villain introduction!  And this one can be stopped with the power of a hyped up dustbuster!  In all seriousness, Sandman is one of my personal favorite Spider-Man villains, so it’s cool to see his first appearance.  I find, however, that this is one of the goofier victories of early Spidey’s career.  Spider-Man is often very resourceful and uses his environment to his advantage when outsmarting his foes.  While that is still what happens, using a high powered vacuum that just kind of happened to be there, ends up with a less climactic victory than most, and an embarrassing turn of events for Sandman.  The vacuum was at least alluded to early in the issue so it doesn’t come completely out of nowhere.  Still, not the strongest first showing for one of Spidey’s most well-known baddies. I do like Pete’s little run in with the crooks at the beginning of the issue, as it shows that he is still very new at this and still learning the best way to do things.  Overall, another solid villain introduction issue, even if the outcome isn’t something Sandman’s likely to be bragging about in the future.

Comments: Sandman’s first appearance, origin, and first battle with Spider-Man. Betty Brant’s first appearance, though she’s only named Ms. Brant here. A female student on the last panel of page 12 was later retconned to have been Jessica Jones, many years before her own superhero career. Acccording to GCD, Art Simek and Sam Rosen were the letterers. 


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Amazing Spider-Man #4 Synopsis by Anthony Silvestro

Our story begins with Spider-Man bemoaning a billboard advertising J. Jonah Jameson’s anti-Spider-Man news articles.  Just then, Spidey spots some crooks about to break in to a store.  He swings down and webs them up, however one of the crooks says that he’s going to sue Spider-Man for assault and battery.  Spidey realizes he screwed up, as he should have waited for the criminals to actually break in to the store.  As they haven’t done anything illegal, the crooks call for a police officer to arrest Spider-Man, and Spidey cuts out, as he doesn’t have any evidence against the crooks.

Spider-Man blames Jameson’s articles about him, turning people against him to the point that criminals don’t even fear him anymore.  Spidey swings by the Daily Bugle to pay Jameson an angry visit but finds the place empty, so he leaves a little surprise for Jonah instead. Spidey then hears police sirens and sees a mysterious figure climbing a ladder to a roof and figures he must be who the police are after.  Spidey swings down on the figure, who introduces himself as the Sandman, and Spidey realizes that he’s wanted all over by the police.  Spidey tries grabbing him, but Sandman turns his body to sand and slips out of Spidey’s grasp, before turning his body rock hard to resist Spidey’s punches.

Sandman then knocks Spider-Man away, which ends up tearing his mask.  Peter then imagines that even if he captures Sandman, his identity will be out, and Jameson’s crusade will have him thrown in prison, leaving Aunt May to fend for herself.  Peter considers the risk too great, and so flees the scene leaving Sandman to head for a nearby bank.  There, Sandman uses his powers, including turning his finger into a sandy key, to break into the bank.  Back at home, Peter is attempting to sew up his torn mask, with a lot of difficulty.  During his struggles, he sees a news report on TV that chronicles how the Sandman came to be.  He was a career criminal named Flint Marko who was able to escape prison, and while hiding out at a nuclear testing center, was caught in an explosion which ended up turning his body into sand.

Peter suddenly hears Aunt May coming and throws his robe on to hide his Spider-Man costume.  Aunt May surmises that he must be sick due to how tightly he’s clutching his robe and Peter goes along with it to divert suspicion.  Meanwhile, Sandman evades capture by the police.  The next day, Peter heads to the Daily Bugle, where J. Jonah Jameson has discovered the surprise Spider-Man left him, as he gets webbed to his chair.  Peter runs into Betty Brant, Jameson’s secretary, on the way in, and she asks Peter to give Jameson a change of pants.  Peter obliges and asks Jameson for an advance on his next paycheck.  Jameson is not at all happy about Peter’s request and tells him not to come back until he’s gotten new pics they can use.

Dejected, Peter arrives at school where Liz Allan reminds Peter that they had date plans.  Peter realizes he forgot and tells her he can’t make it, as he was planning to hunt down Sandman after school.  Liz angrily storms off, giving Flash Thompson ample ammunition to insult Peter.  Nearby, Sandman is still evading the police but he’s getting tired and happens upon Peter’s school and decides it’s a good place to hide out.  Peter meanwhile, due to his woes, was spacing out in class and was then tasked with taking a box of old bottles to the janitor, where Peter finds him adjusting the new king sized vacuum cleaner the school had just gotten.

Sandman, now inside the school, ducks into a classroom and finds it full of people.  Sandman tries to convince the principal who’s there, Principal Davis, to give him a diploma, as Sandman views this as the perfect opportunity, given he never finished school.  The principal bravely stands up to Sandman, urging the students to escape while they can.  Having heard the whole thing from the hallway, Spider-Man suddenly bursts into the room and decks Sandman as the students cheer him on.  Realizing he’s too dangerous, Spider-Man tries to lure Sandman away from the students, leading him to the gym, and attempting to trap Sandman in his web to no avail.

After Sandman envelopes Spider-Man in his sandy body, Spidey rolls down the stairs towards the basement, and the landing frees him from Sandman.  Spider-Man threatens Sandman with a drill, knowing he’ll turn to sand to avoid it.  This gives Spidey the opportunity to grab the new high powered vacuum cleaner and he uses it to suck up Sandman, trapping him in the vacuum, thereby defeating him.  Peter then realizes he forgot to get any pictures of the fight so takes some nearby sand and punches and jumps through it to make it look like he’s fighting Sandman, rationalizing that it’s not immoral, as the actual thing had just happened.  Spider-Man hands the imprisoned Sandman to the police, as J. Jonah Jameson demands they arrest Spider-Man too.  Now with the day saved, Peter tries to re-make his plans with Liz, but Flash antagonizes him, telling Peter she’s already made plans with him.  Peter loses his temper but realizes he can’t fight Flash for fear of hurting him and so has to seemingly chicken out of a fight.  The issue ends with Peter hearing that the public still distrusts Spider-Man, leaving Peter to wonder if it’s all worth it.  He concludes, however, that he can’t give up being Spider-Man and hopes the world will understand one day.

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

J. Jonah Jameson
J. Jonah Jameson

(JJ Jameson)
May Parker
May Parker

(Aunt May)

(Peter Parker)

Plus: Betty Brant, Liz Allan (Liz Osborn).

> Amazing Spider-Man: Book info and issue index

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