Professor Spencer Smythe was an expert in the fields of robotics, and well respected by his peers. One day he asked J. Jonah Jameson to fund his projects since he had become convinced by Jameson's slanderous editorials that Spider-Man was a menace, and needed to be put to justice. Smythe seen the project as a unique opportunity to prove his intelligence against a worthy foe, through over time would slowly grow more bitter and obsessed with each failure.
Spencer Smythe was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, first appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #25. His last appearance was in The Amazing Spider-Man #192 - 24 Hours Till Doomsday!.
Major Story Arcs
After a demonstration of how Smythe's robot could sense and track spiders based on their unique trails, Jameson hired Smythe to capture Spider-Man after Peter convinced him thinking he could easily beat the robot. Jameson himself controlled the robot, meaning that Spidey found himself chased by a machine with Jameson's face. The robot proved to be a difficult opponent as it was physically powerful enough to deal with a rookie Peter's offence, as well as his webbing, managing to grab Spider-Man in a vice However, Spider-Man escaped by removing a section of the robot's chest plate and disconnecting some wires, using his knowledge in electronics to disable the robot. He left his Spidey suit wrapped in the robot's tentacles while he puppeted his suit with some webbing making Jameson think he captured Spider-Man, outsmarting the pair.
Smythe, angered at the fact his robot couldn't capture Spider-Man, became obsessed with the Web-Crawler, turning to crime to pay his research after Jameson dropped him after his third attempt, constantly modifying his robots, which he started to call Spider-Slayers. However, Spider-Man always defeated them by utilizing a key flaw in their designs; the second one, for example, was capable of tracking a unique energy signature produced by spiders, but Spider-Man lured it back to Smythe's laboratory, which caused it to overload from the many of spiders Smythe kept there, and the fifth one via using the momentum while tied up to escape its large grasp. Smythe also began to set up cameras all over the city and began to work with gangsters by informing them of which directions police would come from so they could bypass them, a service he provided often to fund his continued and far more dangerous research. He also captured Spider-man with a modified version of his Spider-Slayers, but Spidey escaped and defeated Smythe as well as his criminal gang once more.
Eventually, Smythe's career came to an painful end when unstable radioactive isotopes used in the creation of the robots poisoned him and was doomed to a slow and agonizing death by radiation poisoning. He blamed Jameson and Spidey for his impending death so Smythe handcuffed the two of them together with a bomb which would explode in 24 hours so they would suffer the agony of inescapable death after tricking Jameson into working with him again and capturing Spidey via another Spider-Slayer which was able to subdue him. Unfortunately for Smythe, his disease was far too advanced for him to survive the 24 hours himself, and he died thinking he had killed Spidey and Jameson. Peter Parker, however, was able to abort the bomb by freezing its controls mere moments before it would have detonated due to his skill with mechanical devices. After his death his son Alistair took over his work and his revenge, blaming the hero for the death of his father.
Smythe was also a partner of Mark Raxton, until Raxton double-crossed him as he wanted to sell Smythe's unique bending metal formula to big investors. He found out about the scheme, however, and they the both fought. During this fight, Raxton became the Molten Man via the vat of formula pouring all over him, hardening his skin into a near unbreakable material.
Powers and Abilities
Smythe had no super-powers or any physical gifts, being of average stature and strength for a man his size. He was quite intelligent, capable of designing advanced robots that could pursue solitary targets, as well as be physically dangerous enough to overpower Spider-Man at multiple points, through these lacked the A.I. software that the likes of Hank Pym or whatnot would later innovate. While not near the status of a top genius within Marvel, he is considered far above the average mark, as well as his son.