Real Name: Joe Smith

Identity/Class: Human mutate

Occupation: works at a children's center;
   former actor, boxer, wrestler

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Captain America, Daredevil, Jonah Jameson, Spider-Man;
   Julia Trainor (former girlfriend and co-worker); Larry (worked with Joe, jr.)
   Tommy Tomkins (former manager); Marty Vigarro (former director)

Enemies: Mad Jack (Maguire Beck), Mysterio (Quentin Beck), Mysterio (Dan Berkhart); an unnamed gang of street criminals;
   formerly Captain America, Martin Harris, Larry Sawyer, Spider-Man;
   possibly the Red Bear

Known Relatives: Betsy Schneider (wife); Liz (ex-wife), Joe, jr. (son, deceased)

Aliases: Crimson Bat (acting role)

Base of Operations: Manhattan, New York

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man I#38 (July, 1966)

Powers/Abilities: Joe's powers are dormant most of the time, but when active, he has superhuman (Class 10) strength and durability. Though he doesn't have exceptional combat skills, his mind is often affected when his powers surface, leaving him in either a mental cloud or a violent rage.

   Even without his powers, Joe is more than willing to risk his life to try to help others.

Height: 6'1"
Weight: 225 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Reddish-brown

(Amazing Spider-Man I#38) - Joe Smith was a born loser with big dreams. He first tried his hand at boxing, but was knocked out in the first round. After a similar experience as a professional wrestler, his manager, Tommy Tomkins, got him a job as an extra in a TV fantasy film. Wearing a costume to appear as an alien invader, Joe pretended to on a rampage on the scene, but some flying debris knocked some electrical equipment into a pool of chemicals. Nearly electrocuted, Joe awoke in a daze, but during the next scene shoot he found he had gained superhuman powers. His mind in a daze, he went on a rampage for real, determined to take vengeance on all who had ever laughed at him. He tangled with Spider-Man a few times, and even helped him take out a group of assassins sent to kill Spidey by Norman Osborn. Joe held his own against Spidey for awhile, but after taking several punches, his head cleared and his powers faded.

   The details of Joe's accident were explained and he was cleared of charges due to presumptive temporary insanity. However, his performance had impressed the executives and Joe was signed on to a long-term acting career.



(Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man#1-3) - Though it was announced to the world that Joe had signed to star in a weekly television series, he'd actually landed the lead role in a low-budget science fiction potboiler called "The Alien and the Ozone," directed by Mr. Vigarro, for Toxic Shock Pictures. Joe's performance was somewhat unspectacular, but when a shoot was interrupted by an attack by Mysterio, Joe saw his chance to shine again. When Mysterio kidnapped Betsy Schneider and took off in a flying sphinx, Joe hitched a ride on its underside.
   When Mysterio appeared to be preparing to attack Betsy, Joe confronted Mysterio. However, between Joe's lack of powers and Mysterio's protective costume and other tricks, their struggle lasted about 5 seconds, with Joe falling to his seeming death. He was saved by Spidey, who went on to confront Mysterio. Joe rescued Betsy, and then he pulled the plug (literally) on Mysterio's power source, allowing Spidey to bring things to a swift conclusion.

   With Joe and Betsy, it was love at first sight...


BTS - but it was not to last. Though the reasons have not been revealed, Joe and Betsy went their separate ways at some point.




(Captain America I#246 (fb) ) - Apparently Joe's performance against Mysterio earned him a second chance, and he became the lead role in a show called the Crimson Bat. He met Liz, a script girl, at the studio and they fell in love and got married. The Crimson Bat ran for three years before low ratings killed it, after which Joe found that he had been typecast and couldn't get any more work. Fortunately, his manager had invested his money well, and they had enough to move back to New York and buy an old brownstone. Everything seemed ok and things were looking up when they had a son, Joe jr. However, they found that Joey had a severe birth defect which left him severely mentally retarded and with a very short life span.
   This was too much for Liz, and she left Joe and their son six months later. Joe, however, never gave up. He brought his son to a special care center every day, even when money began to become very tight.

   Joey eventually had an acute onset of severe convulsions and died within hours, despite immediate hospitalization.




(Captain America I#246) - The loss of his son pushed him over the edge, triggering a post-traumatic stress flashback. Joe's powers re-emerged and they again affected his mind, driving him to seek vengeance on bureacrats who had cut his benefits. He attacked and badly beat Martin Harris of the Board of Education for voting to cut his social security benefits, and then trashed the social security offices themselves. Captain America learned Joe's background from his friend Josh Cooper, who had worked in the same center where Joe's son had been cared for. Cap stopped Joe from killing another man, Larry Sawyer, and also managed to reach Joe. Cap realized that Joe actually blamed himself and his powers for his son's birth defect, and he convinced Joe that it wasn't his fault. After regaining his mind, Joe surrendered and was taken for medical care.

(Amazing Spider-Man Annual#28/3 (fb)) - Doctors were able to prescribe medications to restore Joe's sanity, and a judge released him on time served plus community service. He worked at a children's center, where he found his true calling. He began dating Julia, an employee at the center.

(Amazing Spider-Man Annual#28/3) - When the children's center was badly vandalized, Joe, still powerless, put on his old costume and tried to intimidate the criminals into surrendering. This plan fell through, and Joe was soon at the mercy of a gang of knife-wielding punks. Fortunately for him, however, his actions inspired the rest of the neighborhood to stand up to the gang, and they chased them off.

BTS - Joe was reunited with Betsy Schneider, and the two were married.

(Spider-Man: Mysterio Manifesto#1-3) - Joe was drawn into a plot of Mysterio and Mad Jack, who targeted both him and Betsy in an effort to take vengeance on any who had crossed the incarnations of Mysterio (Quentin Beck or Danny Berkhart) or Mad Jack (Berkhart or Maguire Beck). They became involved with the other victims of the plot, Daredevil, Spider-Man, and J. Jonah Jameson, who were all subjected to delusions of their fantasy lives. Joe's fantasy actually matched his reality with Betsy. The heroes broke them out of their stasis tubes.

   Joe fought alongside Spidey and Daredevil to defeat the various robots and other illusions, possibly regaining his strength in the process (this may have been another of the villains' illusions, and/or it may have been temporary). They uncovered and captured Mad Jack (Maguire Beck), and Betsy decided to write stories about her new hero: A Guy named Joe.

Comments: Created by Stan "The Man" Lee and "Sturdy" Steve Ditko.

Amazing Spider-Man I#38 marked the end of era, as it was the last Spider-Man on which his creators, Ditko and Lee, collaborated. It's probably my favorite of the whole batch.

Joe also appears in Spider-Man: The Secret of the Sinister Six, 2002 by Adam-Troy Castro, the 3rd in a novel trilogy (it is excellent, by the way). In that story a small-time criminal named the Red Bear is fleeing after stealing the receipts from a tiny art gallery (totaling about $200). Red Bear ran into an old lady and "was decked in retaliation by a second pedestrian outraged by such rudeness. The man who defeated him was not a super hero. He was just a retired stunt man and failed actor named Joe."
   Sound familiar? Anyway, since the novels aren't officially canon, I'm including it just in the comments. It would have taken place b/t Amazing Spider-Man Annual#28 and the Mysterio Manifesto.

Toxic Shock Pictures...go look up Toxic Shock Syndrome. That's an interesting choice of names.

1966, 1980, 1994, 1999, 2001...the dates on Joe's appearances are looking up. It looked for awhile that he might pop up every 14 years.

DC Comics had a similar character also named Joe Smith in Adventure Comics#233 (February, 1957). A glowing meteor (containing cosmic rays --Superboy allowed the meteor to smash into his body but the radiation reached Joe Smith) gives Joe Smith an auto mechanic super-powers (super-strength, invulnerability & leaping ability) for a day. He did good deeds with his powers, the con man or corrupt businessman who tried to profit of his powers was the bad guy.

Joe Smith has a profile in OHotMU Spider-Man 2005. His updated profile in OHotMU A-Z HC#10 revealed the last name of Julia and the first name of Vigarro.

not to be confused with:

images: (without ads)
Amazing Spider-Man Annual I#28/3, p6, pan4 (Guy Named Joe main image)
Amazing Spider-Man I#38, p2, pan1 (Joe Smith head shot)
Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man#2, p17, pan1 (Joe in "The Alien and the Ozone")
Captain America I#246, p11, pan3 (Joe as Crimson Bat)
Spider-Man: Mysterio Manifesto#1, p15, pan5 (Joe doesn't like action-figures)

Amazing Spider-Man I#38 (July, 1966) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Steve Ditko (artist)
Captain America I#246 (June, 1980) - Peter Gillis (writer), Jerry Bingham (pencils), Al Gordon (inks), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Amazing Spider-Man Annual I#28/3 (1994) - Tom Brevoort & Mike Kanterovich (writer), Anthony Williams (pencils), Keith Williams (inks), Danny Fingeroth (editor)
Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man#1-3 (January-March, 1999) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Michael Zulli (pencils), Michael Zulli (#1-2) & Vince Locke (#3) (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Spider-Man: Mysterio Manifesto#1-3 (January-March, 2001) - Tom DeFalco (writer), Lee Weeks (pencils), Bob McLeod (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)

First Posted: 04/27/2003
Last updated: 11/17/2020

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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