THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #578
“Unscheduled Stop Pt. 1”
WRITER: Mark Waid
ARTIST: Marcos Martin
COLORS: Javier Rodriguez
LETTERS: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Mark and Marcos! Can there be a greater team? Spidey and Shocker! Can there be a greater pair-up? And what about J. Jonah Jame-
I’d better not spoil the curve ball conclusion! Join me as I review this spectacular issue of our favorite hero, and as I make an “unscheduled stop” to discuss why Peter Parker is so unique, and why millions of people love him and consider him the iconic comic book hero.
When it rains, it pours. That much is true for Peter Parker. But for New York and its people, today is the most dreary, rainy day the citizens have seen in a long time. But, after cracking open a fortune cookie and reading his fortune, it is professed that Peter will have luck on his side. Just then, out of nowhere, a subway fare pass blows through the wind into Peter’s rain soaked hand that so desperately needs carfare.
And, yes, things get better. Peter is crammed into a congested cart on the rails with a beautiful model, who happens to barely have much clothes under her trench coat, as she squishes herself against Peter. See, I told you. Suddenly Peter’s Spider-sense goes berserk, and the train crashes, trapping the citizens underground. Spidey learns that this incident is none other than a gang attack set in motion in an attempt to spark a mistrial and prevent a jury from reaching the court. Behind the targeted attacks is the crude Karnelli, an infamous underworld mogul.
Spidey realizes his old nemesis, Shocker, is behind the quake that buried them underground, and manages to stop the vibrating-villian…for now. However, one of the passengers reveals his identity to Spider-man, exposing his relationship to a particular pain in Spidey’s arachno-butt.
LIKES: The story was very well written as well as the art being phenomenal. I loved Peter Parker’s characterization, reminiscent of the Lee and Ditko/Romita era.
DISLIKES: …………there wasn’t much I didn’t care for.
Peter Parker has always been portrayed as the blundering nerd who always received the short end of the stick, that was until he married the girl of his dreams, and that plot mechanization was able to push forward. However, Brand New Day has brought readers back to that point in Peter’s life, erasing his marriage to M.J. and ending a, what I consider, vital and key part to Peter’s maturation as a comic book character as well as a human being. That’s right, a human being. Notice I haven’t called him by Spider-man or mentioned the conflicting elements that have affected Peter as a hero. That is because, for this review, I want to discuss Peter Parker as a person, a normal, distinguished being who has problems with girls, money, etc., LIFE IN GENERAL.
I have to be honest and tell you that I loved this issue. I thought it was extremely well written, in a manner that was easy to follow, and intellectual nonetheless. I tend to visualize comics as such because I find that many comics today lack the sophistication and uniqueness to stand out as an artistic medium or epic tale that has meaning. See, that is what Peter Parker’s life is all about. Meaning. Metaphors. Connecting with viewers or readers. Responsibility.
I know that you, the respectable fan and reader, may or may not agree with my opinion this or any other previous round, but you cannot deny Spider-man’s or rather Peter’s popularity as a an iconic character made known by his ability to connect with readers on realistic and convincing terms. Why?
1. Waid opens the story with the archetypical Peter Parker sequence. The first panel reads “today will be your lucky day” and we cut to seeing Spider-man perched on a roof top soaked and wet as rain pours on him. How can this be Peter’s lucky day? For Peter, this fortune is meaningless at first. He is used to getting the carpet yanked out from under his feet, so deep down, though he always retains that notable and courageous optimism that makes him a hero, he realizes that life is unfair, and that he can only do the best he can through his powers and the outlet created through his never-ending responsibility. And speaking of responsibility, that pops another key factor onto the table: will Peter’s life ever pay off? Will whatever governing intelligence that establishes fate and order within the world ever give Peter a chance to breathe?
2. Something subtle happens. Peter needs money for transportation, and out of nowhere, a Metro card for the subway blows into his hands. We cutaway to the fortune slip again. Is it the luck of an Asian cookie/treat that is allowing our hero to benefit from life’s glories, or is it just a coincidence?
3. Finally, Peter, on a congested cart, is squished between passengers. This includes a beautiful, stunning woman who claims to be a model. And she takes interest in Peter. She reveals she isn’t wearing much under her coat as the train pushes Peter in and out of her bosom. If that doesn’t get his Spider-sense going, I don’t know what will!
But here is the big disillusionment. Here is the big wool that Waid has pulled over us. Yeah, Peter mumbles nervously as he stares deeply into her eyes, classic Peter Parker moment, but this is where the rising action cuts away Peter’s luck, and moves the story into the plot- line and action. His Spider-sense buzzes ferociously, and he runs from the girl, who thinks then he is some loser. Typical Parker luck. Pete has these women waiting for him, whether he realizes it or not, but he can never seem to catch them. At this point, we should know this is too good to be true. Peter is and always will be the only comic book hero who just can’t seem to have luck. He is the only hero that realizes and accepts his utter unprosperity, though deep down I believe he questions his demises. This concept goes back to Lee and Ditko’s attempts to create a hero who would be perceived as human, but would be a little less far-fetched and a little more conceivable to viewers.
It goes back to Ditko’s belief in Objectivism, his whole idea of what Spider-man should be and why he left the project. Ditko wanted Peter to be less than heroic. Ditko believed that this hero should be portrayed as a teenager who has learned the values of nobility and courage at an early age. He believed that with Uncle Ben’s passing, Peter would be cast into a void that no other could ever step into, and that no matter how hard Peter would try, he still wouldn’t be happy, even though he should equally receive happiness through his deeds.
And what about the scene reminiscent of Amazing Spider-man 33? The panels where Spider-man must hold the weight of the collapsed tunnel so it doesn’t crush the passengers. This is a metaphor representing Peter’s life. Probably not many can appreciate this subtle implication, but this is what I have just been discussing in a nut shell. Peter must constantly hold the weight of the world on his shoulders, always balancing school, Aunt May, Hero-time, or girls. But does the pressure ever ease? Does Peter ever get a chance to let go of that weight, set it down, and go take a nap? No, he doesn’t. Instead his responsibilities take a toll on his body, I believe, scarring him internally and emotionally.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is why I loved this issue. It seems subtle, but upon analyzing the book, readers can begin to see Brand New Day finally accomplishing its objective, or rather that of Quesada’s: bringing Spider-man back to the old hero he once was and reestablishing that classic tone and pace reminiscent of the old era at the dawn and middle of Spider-man’s life.
To top that off, Martin’s art was stunning. His sense of movement through repetition of panels is genius and rarely seen, let alone successfully pulled off. I believe his work helped to bring Spidey back down to that pace reminiscent of the early Amazing Spider-man 100s.
RATING: 5 out of 5. I really enjoyed it. The Peter Parker in this tale is the one and only, reestablishing his characterization to an almost Lee/Ditko version.
COVER: I give the cover a 3 out of 5. It wasn’t my cup of tea. It lacked details and harnessed to much negative space.