• Writer: Christos Gage
  • Penciler: Reilly Brown
  • Inker: Victor Olazaba
  • Story Title: “The Substitute” Part 2


Part of me thought it would be funny to continue The Substitute (as in the movie The Substitute) joke that I did in the review for the last issue. Another part me slapped that part and told it to go home. So there will be no Treat Williams jokes here. Sorry if this disappoints the two people that found that bit funny.

Anyway, Spider-Man faces off against the kids from the Avengers Academy this time out. How does that go for our favorite Web Head? Read on to find out.



Spider-Man is suddenly playing defense as the kids from Avengers Academy fall under the control of Psycho-Man. Reptil very nearly breaks free of the hate but fails to do so. After Spider-Man successfully defends himself from the Academy members’ attacks Psycho-Man turns them loose on to the streets of New York City. Eventually Reptil succeeds in breaking free of the Psycho-Man’s control and one by one the Academy members overcome the hate they are being forced to feel. Together they defeat the Psycho-Man. Spider-Man considers his substitute gig to be a failure but the kids all agree that it was the best day of school ever. Despite this the kids and Spider-Man agree that it should not be a regular thing.


The Commentary

The first example of why I liked this issue so much is right there on the first page. This issue has an honest to goodness, old school floating heads roll call up and down each side of the splash page. That is so awesome. I love it when a Justice League or Justice Society story does this and I dug it here as well, so kudos to whoever decided to put this into the issue.

The strength of this issue comes from Spider-Man trying his best to corral the kids from Avengers Academy without hurting them. The theme of responsibility continues here and it made the usual Marvel “hero fighting hero” thing work on several levels. There were some humorous moments as well and they all came from what was going on around Peter so once again the comedy isn’t forced. The thought panel (which does not sound as cool as thought balloon, by the way), “Y’know, there are times when I wish Uncle Ben had told me that with great power comes pie…” made me laugh out loud. The “Spidey Speak” was funny as well and Gage really has this sort of smack talk dialogue down when it comes to Spider-Man.

On the dramatic side of the story I liked that Psycho-Man’s back-up plan was to have the kids from Avengers Academy kill some hapless civilian if they couldn’t take down Spider-Man. This is something that would have just gnawed at Spider-Man if it happened not only because the kids were under his care at the time but also because they already have a few strikes against because of what Norman Osborn did to them so not only would Psycho-Man have won but Norman as well. That’s cool. There was a genuine creepy moment when the little kid gets near the mind controlled Reptil and he turns on the little boy but to me that made Reptil being the first member to break free of the mind control all that much better. It may have been a little hokey to see kids break free of the control one by one but it served the story well and led to that great ending of them pig-piling on top of Psycho-Man and taking the villain down.

The art continued to be strong in this issue. There were some shots that looked a little wonky, like the panel showing Spider-Man and the kids walking away from the battle but overall I think they continued to knock the action scenes out of the park and draw one kick ass Spider-Man as well. The facial expressions continued to be dead on as well, especially Mettle at the very end saying, “That was the best day of school…EVER!” You could see the joy in his face which has to be hard to pull off with a metal faced character. I would not be opposed to Brown and Olazaba coming back to this title and soon.

Actually I would really like to see Gage return as well, but that could just be me.


Parting Thoughts

This was a great issue and a great ending to a two-part story. I really enjoyed myself and that is always a good feeling while reading a comic. The Infested: Stage 3 two pager was surprisingly effective and showed that there is another type of responsibility beyond keeping people safe. I can’t decide if this was a shot at a married Peter Parker or not so I just assumed it wasn’t to save myself the aggravation. The Choice by Frank Tieri was also very good though I saw the ending coming a mile away. That didn’t diminish my enjoyment and here is continued proof that if I think a back-up is worth reading I will read it and probably enjoy it.


4 out of 5 webheads.