The Molten Man returns.  The Steve Ditko version of MM is probably my least favorite Spider-Man foe from the first, magical 40-odd issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. 

Mostly because he’s really just a steel dude with strength.  Nothing “molten” about him.

See?  I’m not sure what Stan thought the word “molten” meant.

Anyway, the story is a fine done-in-one.  Not great by Lee/Ditko standards, but great by most others.  I included the sequence above for several reasons: First, in pretty much all the 1960s Marvel books, villains get out of prison.  A lot. Even when they’ve done wicked awful shit and caused all kinds of mayhem.  In the panels above, we see several lurking messages:

  • Judges let criminals get off because they feel sorry for them;
  • A compassionate judicial system is “soft” and lets the wrong people go;
  • Because Molten Man agrees to pay for the damage he’s caused, he gets out of prison—so money buys justice;
  • Rehabilitation is a sham.

Most of these are fairly conservative messages, when most of Marvel’s readers were left-coast or northeastern Americans, college-aged, and enjoying the beginning of the free/drugs, free/love movement of the late 1960s.


Creators: Lee/Ditko

Grade: B-

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