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Amazing Spider-Man #8: Review

Jan 1964
Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Story Name:

The Terrible Threat of the Living Brain

Review & Comments

4 stars

Amazing Spider-Man #8 Review by (November 25, 2023)

Review: This issue is kind of a wacky one, as it actually contains two stories. The first story, with Spidey fighting the Living Brain is fun enough, though it’s mostly just Spidey trying to avoid the Living Brain until he can shut it off. The premise is pretty cool, if outdated by today’s standards. A super intelligent computer that looks like a goofy robot is very much a product of its time. I always found the boxing match between Peter and Flash to be the more memorable part of the story, with Peter actively trying not to hurt Flash, making for some more interesting character work. I do find it odd, that when the students are listing off what they know about Spider-Man for the Living Brain, they somehow know his exact height and weight. This story is also the comic equivalent of a bottle episode, in that it takes place entirely at Peter’s high school, with no location changes!

The second story involves Spidey crashing a party that the Human Torch is at and it feels very…weird. Honestly, Spidey’s kind of a tool in this story. Yeah, Spidey, especially early, is prone to bouts of hotheadedness and impulsiveness, but here he literally messes with the Torch unprovoked. Johnny honestly feels pretty justified at retaliating, though he goes a bit far. After all, flinging fire is way more intense than a goofy web prank. Then, when the other FF show up, Pete attacks them too, then leaves after saying Invisible Woman is the only cool one. It’s a weird little story, that felt a little forced to manufacture more of a rivalry between Spidey and Torch, but just of makes Spidey look like a jerk, to more of an extent than is typical, even for this era. We also get a rarity with Jack Kirby drawing Spidey in this story, and it’s certainly not his best work. They can’t all be winners.

Comments: This issue contains two stories and is the last to do so for quite some time. First appearance of the Living Brain. The Living Brain won’t show up again for more than two decades. In this issue, Peter’s glasses get broken and he stops wearing them moving forward. Peter’s teacher is a Mr. Warren, not to be confused with Miles Warren, his future college professor who even later becomes the Jackal. The two were later revealed to be brothers, however.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Amazing Spider-Man #8 Synopsis by Anthony Silvestro

The first story begins at Midtown High, where we find a strange machine wheeled into the science class of Peter Parker. Flash Thompson thinks the machine looks creepy to which Peter counters that it’s one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs in recent memory. This causes Flash to shove Peter, breaking his glasses and causes the two to almost come to blows, before they’re stopped by Liz Allan. Just then, Peter’s teacher, Mr. Warren introduces Mr. Petty, from I.C.M. Corporation, to demonstrate the machine for the class. Mr. Petty reveals that the machine, dubbed “The Living Brain”, is the most advanced electronic mind on earth, able to answer any question given enough data. Peter is picked to assist Petty with the machine, as he is the top science student in the class.

Meanwhile, the two men who helped wheel in the Living Brain look on and realize that they could use it to get rich, by having it predict elections and horse races, and conspire to steal the Brain. While the students debate on what to ask the Brain, Liz suggests that they ask it who Spider-Man really is, as that would really show off its power. The students list off everything they know about Spider-Man, and Peter feeds the information into the Living Brain, while worrying about what he’s going to do when the answer pops out. Fortunately for Peter, the answer comes in the form of a numeric code, that Peter will have to decipher, giving him time to think of something.

Flash demands that Peter give the answer slip to him and Peter shoves him off, leading Mr. Warren to suggest that they hold an impromptu boxing match, in order to work off some of their aggression towards each other. Peter and Flash get prepared for their sparring match and the gym coach notes that it’s sad that none of the other students are rooting for Peter and secretly wishes that Peter could somehow win. With the match started, Peter has his own problems, as his spider-sense keeps alerting him too quickly of Flash’s punches, making it look like he’s just running from Flash. Peter tries to hit Flash as lightly as possible, and still sends him flying out of the ring. Meanwhile, the two crooks try and steal the Living Brain, but are caught by Mr. Petty, bumping the Brain’s control panel in the scuffle, causing it to go haywire!

Back at the fight, Peter decides to end the fight finally but a scream from the commotion causes Flash to turn his head, just as Peter’s punch lands, making it look like Peter hit Flash when he wasn’t looking. A student runs in, saying that the Living Brain has gone crazy, prompting Peter to put Flash in the locker room and change to Spider-Man. Spidey intercepts the Brain, but finds that it’s harder to deal with than he thought, adapting to his movements, and tearing through his webbing. Eventually, after Spider-Man is forced to helped some students who remained trapped, the Brain knocks a door on Spidey and runs over him, with the two crooks not far after, allowing Spidey to hear the context of what happened.

Spider-Man, after avoiding strikes and defenses from the Living Brain, is able to jump on it, to get at its control panel. He finally stops it just before it goes careening down some stairs, Spidey with it. While Spidey is finally dealing with the Brain, the two crooks try escaping through the locker room, but collide with Flash, having just woken up, knocking out the crooks, and making everyone think that Flash heroically stopped them. Peter decides to have some fun, and plants the idea that Flash could be Spider-Man, given that he was nowhere to be seen when Spider-Man was around, and he tried to get the slip with Spider-Man’s identity from Peter. Flash tries to defend himself, as the other students agree with Peter, and Peter leaves, reveling in his little joke.


“Spider-Man Tackles the Torch!”    3/5

Writer: Stan Lee  Penciller: Jack Kirby  Inker: Steve Ditko  Colorist: Stan Goldberg  Letterer: Sam Rosen

The second, shorter story, sees Spider-Man looking in on a party the Human Torch is attending with his friends. Spidey decides to mess with the Torch, and crafts a web bat, that he sends into the party, scaring everyone. The Torch gets mad at Spidey’s little prank and chases him outside, where they tussle back and forth, the Torch throwing various forms of fire at Spidey, and Spidey hitting Torch with mounds of sand. After a bit, the other members of the Fantastic Four show up, and Mr. Fantastic reaches out a hand to Spidey who angrily webs him away. The Thing gets angry and Spider-Man ends up avoiding him too, before being caught by the Invisible Woman. She suggests that Spidey and Torch make amends but Spidey cuts out, saying Sue is the only good thing about the FF, and leaving her little heart spun out of webs.


Steve Ditko
Steve Ditko
Stan Goldberg
Steve Ditko (Cover Penciler)
Steve Ditko (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Art Simek.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Human Torch
Human Torch

(Johnny Storm)
Invisible Woman
Invisible Woman

(Sue Storm)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

(Peter Parker)

(Ben Grimm)

Plus: Dorrie Evans, Living Brain, Liz Allan (Liz Osborn).

> Amazing Spider-Man: Book info and issue index

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