This issue of GIANT-SIZE SPIDER-MAN has what is still the only semi-decent reprint of the 18-page lead story from STRANGE TALES ANNUAL #2 (1963), an early team-up of the Human Torch and Spider-Man pencilled by Kirby and inked by Steve Ditko (there is a reprint of it in the recent ESSENTIAL HUMAN TORCH, but it’s a pretty splotchy reprint, unlike most of that book. The text page of this issue, which explains how the promised SUPER-GIANT 100 page line became the GIANT-SIZE 68 page line, mentions that they’d “only recently located the blamed artwork” for this story, so I guess they lost it again in the interim).
In this story an art thief, The Fox, decides to frame Spider-Man for the theft of a newly discovered da Vinci piece. Spidey goes to the Torch for help in clearing his name, just as the police call the Torch to ask if he can help capture Spidey. So of course they fight. Then, in the plot twist heard around the world, they team-up. Their meeting on top of the Statue of Liberty:
is one of the classic moments of the Marvel Universe. Ditko’s inks as usual complement Kirby’s pencils nicely, and keep Spidey looking on model perfectly as well. That last panel on the page above is excellent.
It’s a fun story, one that hopefully will see a decent modern reprint at some point (it would be a natural for the upcoming MARVEL MILESTONES series, especially with the upcoming Spidey/Torch team-up mini-series).