The Amazing Spider-Man #4: "Nothing Can Stop... The Sandman!"

The Amazing Spider-Man #4
"Nothing Can Stop... The Sandman!"
September, 1963

Script: Stan Lee
Art: Steve Ditko

The latest tourist attraction in New York is the costumed crime-fighter
known as Spider-Man. From the looks of things, J. Jonah Jameson is going
after the web-headed wonder in the pages of his newspaper. After
perusing the Bugle billboard, Spidey spots three thugs casing a jewelry
store, and watches as they move in after the proprietor has locked up for
the night. The three hoods are in for a surprise when pieces of webbing
falls around them. One of the thugs starts to panic when the
wall-crawler closes in, but another manages to keep his head. Instead of
fighting back, he threatens to sue Spider-Man for assault and battery,
and his crooked cronies will serve as witnesses. Since there is no law
against three citizens walking the streets at night, and since the
web-slinger swooped down to put a scare into them, it's obvious who the
menace is around here. Inwardly, the young hero realizes the mistake he
just made of not waiting until they had broken into the store. The three
hoods decide to yell for a police officer, with one appearing just
moments later.

When they tell the officer how Spider-Man attacked them for no reason,
the young hero decides to leave the scene. The police officer will not
be getting his report filled out, nor will he be privy to Spidey's real
name and address. The web-slinger has just learned that it's never a
good idea to charge into a situation without knowing what's happening.
On the other hand, he did stop the three hoods from breaking into the
store. The three citizens continue to jeer at the retreating figure,
until the beat cop tells them to move on their way, and admits that if he
were Spider-Man, he would have taken them on himself. On a nearby
rooftop, the young hero is looking up at the Bugle billboard, and knows
that it's Jameson who's been turning the public against him. He decides
to pay a visit on the Daily Bugle publisher, but Jolly Jonah is not in.
Just the same, Spidey decides to leave a small souvenir for Jameson to
remember him by. Once the deed is done, Spider-Man is about to swing
from a water tower, when he spots three police cars below. He watches as
a figure makes a frantic climb to the roof. Since he must be the one the
police are looking for, it should be a simple matter for Spidey to catch

The Spider-Man beacon shines in front of the culprit, to let him know
what he's in for. On closer inspection, Spidey doesn't know what to make
of this particular rooftop dweller. He calls himself the Sandman. The
wall-crawler has heard of the Sandman, but thought that the reports were
exaggerated. If what they say is true, he's a wanted man from Maine to
Mexico. The Sandman pushes him to one side, intent on keeping his date
with a couple of bank robberies. When Spider-Man grabs him from behind,
the criminal begins to sneer, and slips through his fingers like soft
sand. While the young hero wonders how his quarry managed to do such a
feat, the Sandman reforms his human shape, and stands there when Spidey
punches his fist right through him. The blow does not harm the bizarre
criminal, and when he hardens his jaw, it is Spider-Man who hurts his
fist from the next punch.

Like Reed Richards, the Sandman is able to change his form, and sends the
web-slinger staggering backwards. In the fall, Spidey's mask is torn,
and Peter knows that his secret identity is in danger. Even if he did
capture the Sandman, the criminal would tell the authorities everything,
and once the secret was out, J. Jonah Jameson would have a field day.
With her nephew in jail, Aunt May would have to support herself by
selling shoelaces for ten cents each. Peter is forced to flee the scene,
with the Sandman calling him a coward. With Spider-Man gone, he gets
down to business, and leaps off the roof. He turns into tiny, weightless
sand particles, and reforms on the sidewalk below. Now, it's time to
make a withdrawal from the bank.

At the bank, the Sandman reforms the particles of his index finger into
the shape of a key. Inserting the finger into the lock, the tumblers are
moved, and the door is opened. Now inside the bank, the bizarre criminal
slithers along the floor, beneath the electric eye beam, and fails to set
off an alarm. All that remains is to tackle the bank vault itself. Back
home, Peter Parker is hard at work on sewing his Spider-Man mask, and
realizes that he can't take it to a tailor shop. His task is interrupted
by a special television bulletin about the Sandman. Months ago, Flint
Marko was a prisoner at Island Prison. The inmate made his escape
through an unguarded drainage tunnel, and vowed never to be taken alive.
He remained on the F.B.I.'s most wanted list and managed to stay one step
ahead of the law. With the dragnet tightening around him, Marko hid at
an atomics devices testing center.

Flint Marko remained on the beach until the day of the nuclear test
explosion. The radiation caused his body's molecules to merge with the
sand beneath his feet. The escaped inmate was now virtually
indestructible. Hearing a knock at his bedroom door, Peter turns off the
TV, and hides his costume by throwing on a robe. Aunt May has brought
him some cookies and milk. Seeing her nephew clutching at his robe so
tightly, she figures that the poor dear must have a fever. When he
admits to feeling ill, Aunt May offers to bring up a thermometer and some
aspirins. While she's away, Peter tunes in to the news again. The bank
has been surrounded by police. The Sandman makes his exit from the bank,
with the bullets fired by the police failing to have an effect upon him.
While Aunt May pats his head, Peter hopes that he'll be able to sew his
mask, and catch the Sandman.

The bizarre criminal is making his way through the city, with the
authorities on his heels. After turning a corner, Marko drops his loot,
and wills himself to change. When the pursuing officers run past, they
pay little heed to the pile of sand in a vacant lot. The following
morning finds the Sandman still at large and Aunt May declaring her
nephew fit enough for school. Once she has left the room, Peter puts the
finishing touches on his mask, and puts on his costume beneath his
clothes. Breakfast is left for him by his aunt, and he tells her that
he'll be seeing Mr. Jameson later. Aunt May is familiar with the nice
man who publishes both the Daily Bugle and Now Magazine. She only hopes
that Peter doesn't exert himself or else he'll get another cold. After
promising his aunt that he won't exert himself, he agrees to take an
umbrella to school. At the offices of J. Jonah Jameson, the publisher
asks his secretary for the latest information on the Sandman and for the
file on Spider-Man. First the wall-crawler threatens the city, now the
Sandman. There must be a connection between the two of them, and what a
scoop that would be.

Now seated at his desk, J. Jonah Jameson notices the little gift left by
Spider-Man on the previous day. The Daily Bugle publisher is stuck to
his chair and can't get out. The webbing has given him a ringside seat.
He immediately tells Miss Brant to get him another pair of pants.
Outside the office, she spots Peter Parker, and asks the young
photographer to bring Mr. Jameson his pants. Inside the office, Jameson
is caught with his pants down, and asks if the freelancer has brought him
any more photos. Peter is asked to bring more pictures of Spider-Man, as
well as why he decided to stop by the office. When he asks for an
advance on his next check, he is reminded by the publisher that he is
only paid when he brings in exclusive photos, and not before. To J.
Jonah Jameson, teenagers are all alike, and don't know the value of a
dollar. Lacking the funds for new experiments for his webbing, Peter
must postpone his plans. Once he does get the photos of Spider-Man,
Jameson will run them with pictures of Sandman, and have a caption asking
the reader if they are the same man. After taking the bus, Peter arrives
at school, and overhears Liz Allen telling Flash Thompson how the poor
guy has got a date with her for tonight. Young Mr. Parker is thinking
about coming up with a way to pick up the Sandman's trail.

When Liz asks him when he'll be picking her up, Peter has to make an
excuse, and Flash decides to take advantage of the situation. Liz fumes
when Peter tells her how he has to study for tomorrow's exam, and being
the top student in class, he of all people should be able to afford one
night to be with a girl. Flash smiles and wonders where Petey left his
galoshes. While wondering why he should continue to be Spider-Man if
everything turns out wrong, Peter is admonished by the teacher for
daydreaming. Elsewhere, the Sandman is turning his legs into sand to
evade capture. The authorities may not be able to hold him, but they are
starting to wear him down. Marko must find a place to hide out until the
heat's off. The high school looks like a likely spot and no one should
think of finding him there. In the hallway, Peter Parker has been
assigned to bring some old bottles from the lab to the boiler room, and
he fails to notice Flint Marko lurking nearby. The janitor tells the
teenager to leave the box there, then works on adjusting the new
king-size vacuum cleaner. Peter envies the custodian, whose only worry
is to keep the high school clean. One floor above, Flint Marko hears
someone approaching, and ducks into a nearby room.

Unfortunately for the Sandman, the room is full, and the school principal
is about to say a few words. When Principal Davis asks what he's doing
here, Marko decides that since he never graduated, he wants a high school
diploma. A guy like him oughta have the best of everything, including a
diploma -- or else. Nothing would make the principal do a thing a like
that. A diploma is something that must be earned, and Marko's threats
are going to make him violate his trust or his duties. The students are
impressed by their principal standing up to the Sandman, and admire his
guts. Indeed, Davis tells the students in his care to run home, and call
the police. He will hold Marko off until they're safely away. The
Sandman is determined to teach Principal Davis a lesson, but Peter Parker
had overheard everything, and makes a quick change of clothes to enter
the classroom as Spider-Man. Marko is caught off-guard by the opening
punch, while the students all agree that this is much better than
learning Calculus.

As they cheer him on, Spidey wonders how loudly they'd cheer if they knew
they were cheering "Puny" Parker. Impressed by the web-slinger's
entrance, the Sandman says that he's ready for him now, and he's not
going to get away this time. Realizing that a fight in the classroom
might injure one of the students, Spidey decides to take the fight
outside. His spider-sense tingles when Marko makes his body rock-hard
once more. The wall-crawler grabs his opponent in a wrestling hold
before Sandman can completely change his structure, and flips him over
his head. Marko has left the classroom headfirst, with Spidey determined
to hold him at bay until the authorities arrive. In the confusion, Liz
wonders what happened to Peter, and Flash figures that the guy must have
his head under a desk somewhere.

The Sandman has recovered and begins his assault. Spider-Man acts
swiftly to maintain Marko's attention upon him ,while the others clear
the building. With Spider-Man out of the way, Marko figures that no one
will be able to beat him. The web-headed hero needs more fighting room
and leads the Sandman to the gym. Standing atop the backboard, he sprays
Marko with webbing, and watches as he pours right through it. The
Sandman reforms on the gym floor, with the battle back on.

He'll be darned if he knows how he'll beat Marko. He needs to catch his
breath for a moment, but the Sandman's got him trapped in a corner. He
can't run and his punches aren't affecting him. Marko makes himself all
sandy again and catches Spidey's fist when it goes through him. With the
wall-crawler stuck, the Sandman makes his own head rock-hard, and
delivers some love taps. Only his spider-strength keeps him from
blacking out, and he must come up with something. Using every last bit
of his strength, the Amazing Spider-Man manages to flip Marko over his
head, and against an iron stairway post.

Now, countless grains of sand are on the floor, and Spider-Man is free.
He has already begun to reform into a solid mass. If there was anyone
who wanted to trade places with him, Peter would be hard up to refuse
them. Marko oozes his grains of sand over towards Spidey... like
quicksand. He then leaps forward, and starts to cover him in a sand
trap. While Sandman tries to render him helpless, the web-slinger bends
down, and tries to make him into the shape of a ball. Down the basement
steps they go.

In the boiler room, the impact enables Spider-Man to break free. Flint
Marko is done fooling around, but Spidey's just getting started. He has
an electric drill that will bore through anything. All Sandman has to do
is to make his body like sand again. He is unaware that this is just
what the wall-crawler wants him to do. The drill passes right through
him, then with incredible speed, the web-slinger drops the drill for the
large industrial vacuum cleaner. Flint Marko had wanted a diploma and is
about to get an education --- courtesy of your friendly neighborhood

The heavy canvas bag will hold Sandy for sure. Since he couldn't get any
pictures of the fight for Jolly Jonah, the web-head decides to take his
camera from his belt, and sets the time to automatic. A bucket of sand
will help for effect. A handful of sand is tossed into the air, with
Spider-Man diving through it, and giving the impression that he's
attacking the Sandman in his sand-grain form. Since this occurred a few
minutes ago, it couldn't be unethical, and is more like a reenactment.
Outside the high school, the authorities have surrounded the building,
and J. Jonah Jameson has arrived on the scene. He asks the captain why
they don't charge in, and arrest the Sandman. The Police Captain reminds
the publisher that they must make certain that the students are clear
before the shooting starts.

Once the school has been cleared, Jameson calls for the officers to go
after the Sandman and Spider-Man. As far as the police are concerned,
they are not after Spider-Man, and as far as they know, he's helping them
against the bizarre criminal. Jameson continues to believe that they are
in cahoots, and are about to divide their loot. Even so, the Police
Captain will handle things his way. The Spider-Beacon shines on the
ground before them, with its owner on the roof of the high school, and
offering the canister containing the Sandman as a gift. The Daily Bugle
publisher insists that it's a trick and they must capture Spider-Man
before he escapes. The Police Captain calls for him to come down and
give them a full report, while J. Jonah Jameson wants to know who he
thinks he is by taking the law into his own hands. The young hero knows
that nothing he does will ever satisfy Jameson, and he'd better watch his
step or else the crowd will turn against him. Not only that, the police
may lock him up, too.

The canister containing Flint Marko is lowered via a web-line, but
Spider-Man does not join them on the ground below. Inside the school, he
has got other plans, and changes back to Peter Parker before they find
him. Seconds later, he hopes that no one connects his absence with the
disappearance of Spider-Man. When confronted by the publisher for
exclusive photos, the teenager hands over the undeveloped film. The
smiling Peter is told that the cost of developing them will come out of
his pay. There's no sign of Spider-Man, but there's nothing against him,
and they do have Sandman in custody. Jameson is planning on running a
story on how the web-headed menace caused untold damage to the high
school and public property. He insists that if the police had handled
things, Flint Marko would have been caught with little muss and fuss. He
is convinced that Spider-Man is in it for the glory. The police officers
present are all aware that the publisher is only interested in airing his
own personal grudge.

Peter Parker is a happy teenager. He beat the Sandman, got the money he
needed, and there's nothing to stop him from dating Liz Allen tonight.
Flash Thompson sees that the student has come out now that the fighting
is over. When he asks Liz for a date, he learns that she's made other
plans. When Flash tells him to run along with his umbrella, Peter grabs
him by the sweater, and promises to wipe the smirk from his face right
now. This is what Thompson has been waiting for, but Peter remembers
that with his spider-strength, he'd pulverize him. Liz Allen watches in
disbelief as her classmate begs off, and Flash remains convinced that
Parker is chicken.

When one of the students grasps him by the arm, he notices that Parker's
got muscles like a weight lifter. Liz notes that it's a shame that he
doesn't have the courage to match. Flash smiles and tells her to go
since he's starting to get bored. Now even Liz Allen thinks that he's a
coward. When Flash taunts him from the car, Liz tells him there's no need
to be that cruel to Peter. When it comes to women, Flash Thompson will
never understand them. While walking home from school, Peter overhears
the comments from the neighborhood. The Daily Bugle editorial makes some
think that Spider-Man is bad as Sandman. One kid wishes to be
Spider-Man, while the other wants to be the Human Torch. One shopper
agrees with Jameson that Spider-Man has no business catching crooks by
himself. A reader wonders what would happen if Spider-Man turned against
society, while the other wonders what kind of person would wear a
costume, and run around after hoods. He's got to be some kind of
neurotic with delusions of grandeur. Now in his bedroom, Peter Parker is
bewildered, confused, and bitter. Could they be right? Is he some sort
of a nut, wasting his time in search of fame and fortune? Is he more
interested in being Spider-Man than he is in helping others? Why does he
do it? Why doesn't he give the whole thing up? And yet, he can't! He
must have this great power for some reason. No matter how hard it is, he
must be Spider-Man and hopes that some day, the world at large will

This story was reprinted in The Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1.

On the cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #4, the web-headed hero catches
the Sandman, and is surprised when the bizarre criminal slips through his
very fingers.

On the splash page, the police are opening fire against an invulnerable
Flint Marko, while Spider-Man wages a desperate battle in the heart of a
captive classroom.

By his fourth issue, we see that Peter Parker has still got a lot to
learn about being a costumed crime-fighter.

Spidey made certain that J. Jonah Jameson would remain glued to his seat
at the offices of the Daily Bugle.

The Spider-Beacon would be later known as the Spider-Signal.

As we see in this story, it's not unheard of for Spidey' mask to be torn
during the blaze of battle.

Thanks to his powers, Flint Marko has found the key to successful banking
and robbery.

Peter can spin a web, but not thread a needle.

His high school classmates are above needling "Puny" Parker.

One wonders if Flint Marko is any relation to Cain Marko, AKA The

Peter is determined to let a smile be his umbrella.

By the end of this story, Flint Marko learns what it's like to live in a

Principal Davis is a man of principles.

I like how Stan and Steve had him stand up to the Sandman, as well as
illustrating how important a high school diploma really is.

When battling the Sandman, Spidey was truly caught between a rock and a
hard place.

Flint Marko thought he knew the drill, but Spider-Man had things in the

Peter might have had a lot of sand if he used the bucket for snapping
pictures was slightly unethical.

For a moment, Liz Allen sees the "Tiger" in Peter that Mary Jane Watson
would come to know in the years to come.

Steve Chung
"Nothing can Stop... The Review!"