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Cover Stories by Jon B. Knutson
Jon Knutson presents comic book covers with a common theme
and relates any information and comments about them.

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COVER STORIES for 10/08/2006

Welcome, faithful readers, to the 74th installment of the world's most popular Web column featuring comic book covers with a common theme (ok, so far as I'm aware, this is the only such column of its kind!)!

This time around, the theme is "Spider-Man Exposed!" Of all the Marvel superheroes with a secret identity, Spidey is the one who's most commonly depicted on covers as having his secret identity exposed to the world (or, at least, to someone else). Given that only a few months ago, Spider-Man willingly revealed his identity to the world, it seemed appropriate for me to feature this theme this time around!

Amazing Spider-Man 12

So, here's the first cover featuring Spider-Man exposed... by the magnificent Steve Ditko! This cover illustration, as promised, is not a dream or an imaginary tale... it really happened, just as it shows here!

"Unmasked by Doctor Octopus" was written by Stan Lee, naturally, with art by Ditko. In the previous issue, Doc Ock had escaped from Spidey, and continued committing crimes - but out west, where Peter Parker couldn't afford to go to follow him! However, he returns to New York, where he kidnaps Betty Brant (who had just returned to her job as J. Jonah Jameson's secretary) to draw Spidey out! Unfortunately, Peter Parker's got a virus, and isn't feeling up to snuff, but he goes out to Coney Island to face Doc Ock anyway.... And is soundly defeated and unmasked on page 9 of the story! Bizarrely, nobody really believes Parker is Spider-Man, so his identity is safe for now! After a good night's rest, he fights off the virus, and goes after Ock again... this time victoriously!

This issue of Amazing Spider-Man, #12, was reprinted in the second Marvel Masterworks Spider-Man volume, as well as Essential Spider-Man Volume 1, in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3 (along with issue 11), as well as in Marvel Tales #149. Oh, and it was also reprinted (smaller) in Pocket Books' Spider-Man Classics Vol. 2 and at full size in Marvel's Spider-Man Classics #12!

Now, how's about one of the most iconic Spider-Man covers of all time?

Amazing Spider-Man 39

Yep, it's the Green Goblin's unmasking of Spider-Man! No doubt most, if not all, of my readers have read this story one way or the other... but just in case, here's a brief synopsis (at least, as much as I can remember of it): The Green Goblin had exposed Spidey to a special gas that caused the Wall-Crawler's Spidey-Sense to shut down, and then Gobby followed him until Spidey changed back to Peter Parker, following him to Aunt May's house in the suburbs! Then, confronting Spidey, the Goblin snatched him up and flew off... revealing his own identity of Norman Osborn at the time!

By the way... did you know that it was Stan Lee's insistence that the Green Goblin be revealed as someone who had been introduced in the comic the reason that Sturdy Steve Ditko quit doing the book? Well, at least, that's what I've read.

Amazing Spider-Man 39 was written, natch, by Stan Lee, with art by Jazzy Johnny Romita, who would surely make his mark on the title (especially with his depiction of Mary Jane Watson, who hadn't been glimpsed from the front while Ditko was drawing the book). It was first reprinted in Marvel Tales 29 (and again in #178), and subsequently reprinted in Marvel Masterworks #16 (which was Spider-Man volume 4), and also in Essential Spider-Man Volume 2!

So, after having his identity revealed by others in issues 9 and 39... here we are at issue #87... and he's revealing it himself!

Amazing Spider-Man 87

Wow, what a cover, eh? Jazzy Johnny really whipped up a humdinger this time, didn't he, with Mary Jane, Harry Osborne, Captain Stacy and Gwen Stacy around Peter as he reveals his identity to them?

This issue was reprinted in Essential Spider-Man Vol. 4, Marvel Tales 68, and apparently nowhere else! Stan the Man wrote this one, too, unless I'm greatly mistaken.

Now, I know I've read this story (probably in the Essential Spidey volume, if not the Marvel Tales reprint)... but I'll be darned if I can recall the particulars of it! I'm guessing that Pete was suffering from another one of those viruses he was so prone to, and made his confession while feverish, so that nobody believed him.

But how long was it before his next exposure? Why... issue 106!

Amazing Spider-Man 106

"Squash! Goes the Spider!" features the Lee-Romita team again, and let's see if I can recall what happens here (I know I've read the Marvel Tales reprint, which I'll get to soon): A crimelord of some kind has planted these video cameras all over New York City (I think it was even some kind of scam on the city, that was supposed to help keep the people safe, but I could be misremembering). One of the cameras spots Spidey changing back to Peter Parker (no, I don't recall why his Spidey-Sense didn't tip him off... or even if it did, but he was just too tired to pay attention to it). Unless my memory's failing, Peter later created a rubberized mask of Peter Parker, plus another rubber mask besides, to trick the crooks into believing that he knew they were watching, and "revealed" himself as Parker to fool them!

Geez, almost sounds like a Silver Age Superman plot, doesn't it?

Anyway... Amazing Spider-Man 106 was reprinted in Marvel Tales #85, and later in Essential Spider-Man Volume 5.

All right... one more Spidey Revealed cover... here's Amazing Spider-Man 169!

Amazing Spider-Man 169

Now, this Gil Kane cover definitely looks familiar to me... but I'll be darned if I can recall any details! Inside, the art was by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, with the story by Len Wein. Apparently, this was all part of the Clone Saga, so maybe the less said about it, the better!

This story has apparently never been reprinted (although it will likely be in Essential Spider-Man Vol. 8, whenever Marvel issues that one).

So, that's your five Spidey Exposed covers for this week! Special thanks this time go to, whose website about Spidey was of invaluable assistance to me this time around when the Grand Comics Database was experiencing technical difficulties! Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," in which this column is "For The Birds," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at for other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !

Jon B. Knutson

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