Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Barry Kitson
Inker: Mark Farmer and Karl Kesel
Story Title: “Platonic”
Betty Brant spends the better part of a week trying to find Peter a girlfriend. During that time she ponders her friendship with Peter while looking forward to the birthday party she hopes he is planning. When her birthday arrives Peter shows up at her apartment with a DVD and Chinese food, she is disappointed until Peter explains that her decision to stay at the DB and some of the stories she has written since then has upset a good number of the people she considered friends. Peter manages to cheer her up though and her birthday is saved.
This story could have been a disaster. It really could have. While the final product was great the basic concept seemed kind of boring.
Well, maybe boring is a bit unfair. Small, character driven stories before a big, mega-storyline are somewhat old school for me. I got used to that when I was a teenager and followed the adventures of the other iconic hero in red and blue, so I appreciate where this story fits in the grand scheme of things. Despite those feelings this story is somewhat indicative of why the weekly format of this book is flawed. While it is cool to have a new issue of Amazing Spider-Man three times a month there is very little breathing room between stories. One rolls right into the other. If issue 580 had come out one month and then 581 and 582 came out over the next two months and then 583 came out this month there would have been enough time for the reader to digest all that had happened. Instead those four issues came out within five weeks of each other and that makes me as a reader feel like the stories are getting rushed.
Outside of those feelings I did like this story. Mark Waid is one of those writers that seemed born to write the adventures of Spider-Man, mainly due to the fact that he is so good with dialogue but also because he has a great sense of character. What made this story so enjoyable is the fact that Waid broke down what makes Peter such a great character by showing him through the eyes of one of his friends. This story was written from the perspective of Betty Brant; one of Peter’s oldest supporting characters and his first girlfriend. There is something to be said of how well that first love knows you or at least how well she thinks she knows you. The glue that held this story together was Betty’s internal dialogue. Waid pulled off a neat trick of making Betty’s doubts about Peter seem valid even though we know the real reason Peter is so flaky. It’s an old trick but Waid manages to make it seem fresh and I liked the story more because of that.
The reveal of why Peter showed up alone played out nicely as well, especially the way Waid paced out the “what really happened” moments with Aunt May, Harry and Robbie. The realization on Betty’s part was the pay off of the issue. Here is the woman passing judgment, even lovingly so, on Peter and then her foibles are thrust in her face and she is forced to not only deal with them but realize at the same time that the only person that is standing by her is the very same person she has been critical of. It’s not like I was excited by this. I wasn’t thinking, “Yeah, take that, Betty!” Far from it. I just liked the twist and how Mark made this supporting character more likable as the story progressed.
There were fun little bits of business strewn throughout as well. Betty and her friend getting drunk was an amusing sequence made even funnier by the fact that her thought panels were those of someone who had had too much to drink. I liked that a lot. I also loved the fact that the guy Betty is trying to set Aunt May up with is Jonah’s father. My hope…nay my dream is to see the cover of the issue where Jonah and Peter realize that there is a chance they might be related soon. Throw in a riff on the Step Brothers poster and it’s a done deal.
Not that I will ever watch that movie, but still. Just imagine Jonah and Peter in those same poses.
The Final Analysis
I was impressed with this issue. I really was. I wasn’t expecting much from the cover, which is by no means a shot against John Romita because I love the man’s art, but the whole “Tribute to Dating” thing, while cute, did not fill me with oodles of hope. This is one of those cases where I love being wrong. This wasn’t an Earth shattering, reality altering tale but it was character driven, funny and touching all at once.
And it had Barry Kitson art. I love me some Barry Kitson art.
4 out of 5 webheads.
Spider-Man helps out Barak Obama on the day of his inauguration.
I really don’t have too much to say about this story. It wasn’t bad. It had some amusing moments and was more of a shout out to President Obama than anything else, so on that level it worked. You can’t really judge something like this as if it were a standard story because it was conceived as a stunt. This isn’t Spider-Man selling out to Mephisto. This is the people at Marvel acknowledging the fact that the new President publicly admitted to being a fan of Spider-Man.
Oh, and selling a whole bunch of comics. But the acknowledgement was part of it.
The Final Analysis
A fun little story with only one hiccup in the form of one of the Secret Service guys suggesting they settle things with a game of one-on-one. Todd Nauck’s art is getting some heat online but I really liked it. Then again I have always liked Nauck’s art and he captured the fun and free spirited nature of the story. Overall a neat little story that gave this particular issue a lot more attention than it normally would have.
Oh and to the people at Marvel and by people at Marvel I mean Steve Wacker. Send a copy of the Obama cover to Brad Douglas, the webmaster for this site. He does a lot to promote Spider-Man and didn’t get one. Call it your good deed for the year.
4 out of 5 Webheads.