“With great power, comes great responsibility.” This maxim from Uncle Ben would go on to become the definitive statement of Spider-Man and the words that would govern the life of Peter Parker. As Roger Stern reveals in this issue, Ben had other maxims in life and I’m sure each of us do as well. The one that stuck with me and helps govern my life comes from a character that is arguably one of the most quotable characters (and by extension authors) of all time: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
What are some of your favorite maxims?
Peter Parker, Spider-Man 156.1: Old Haunts
Writer: Roger Stern
Artist: Roberto De La Torre
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Editors: Stephen Wacker, Tom Brennan
Cover Artist: John Romita, Jr.
Story: Peter Parker, our beloved web-head Spider-Man, is called in to repay a favor that Daily Bugle reporter, Norah Winters, made when she bought photos from Peter when he was ousted by Jonah Jameson for photography fraud and was short for cash. This favor involves Peter’s old skill-set of being a photographer, when Norah decides to stir up trouble by investigating the old ACME warehouse on the waterfront; the same warehouse Peter confronted Uncle Ben’s killer in years ago. While taking photos for her article on shady activity involving ACME, a security guard warns them they’re intruding on private property and Peter’s spider-sense goes off like an alarm so he gets Norah out of there. Back at the Daily Bugle offices, Norah berates Peter for being a wimp and as Peter’s leaving, Randy Robertson discovers what happens and explains to Norah about what happened to Peter’s Uncle.
Disturbed by what happened earlier Peter returns to ACME as Spider-Man. He discovers the Brand corporation is performing illegal excavations underground near the waterfront, with expendable foreign labour and explosive charges. Spidey gets in a fight with the security guard from earlier, another worker, and dispatches them quickly and with beautiful wit. The other worker reveals they lost contact with the workers underground and they’re in danger; Spider-Men webs them up quickly and heads down to help the workers. However, it turns out the workers only speak Spanish and Spider-Man struggles to make communication. Back above ground the security guard frees himself and decides to prime the explosive charges underground. Spider-Man manages to start an evacuation but is forced to sacrifice himself to save one of the labourers. Forced underwater by the explosives breaching the waterfront, Spider-Man luckily finds a grate leading to the surface before drowning. Spider-Man calls in the cops but the explosives inside the ACME warehouse go off as well thus collapsing the warehouse in on itself. Fortunately, the labourers were still in the elevator shaft and not in the warehouse itself and Spider-Man helps them out and gives them incriminating evidence against the Brand corporation.
Two weeks later, Mayor Jonah Jameson reveals that Spider-Man destroyed the ACME warehouse- purposefully swears Jameson- but in its place will be a new redevelopment project that will provide jobs and be the linchpin of the neighbourhood. Norah apologizes to Peter about bringing him to the ACME warehouse after what happened to Uncle Ben and Peter tells her it’s OK and that Uncle Ben use to say, “We’re not born knowing any of this.” Norah says he must’ve been something and while Peter reflects on Ben’s most famous maxim, he tells her he definitely was.
Thoughts: Man, this issue was packed full of nostalgia: having a Jameson that felt ripped straight out of the classic days of Spider-Man, bringing back cast members like Robertson, recapping the origin of Spider-Man, and bringing back some moments from Stern’s Amazing Spider-Man run which was all of ASM #224-252, save for #228. It really made me want to hunt down old issues of Stern’s ASM. I found the Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut two parter on the Marvel app, if you want to find something of it. This felt very much like a continuation of Stern’s run because the editors made several references to Stern’s issues pertaining to the Brand Corporation- for example, the turning of Tarantula into a monster in ASM #234-236. The best part of Stern’s writing was the fact he gave this story a timeless feel. Although built off what Stern wrote in the 70s, he made the transition to modern writing very well, something I know a few other classic writers can’t do.
As far as I know, this is Roberto De La Torre’s first issue of Spider-Man and man, does he work well with our beloved Web-Head. His faces could use work but his Spider-Man and his webbing are both visually appealing. De La Torre has this way of drawing things that look almost scratched, but that’s where colorist Matt Hollingsworth comes in to add vibrant colors to make the scratches stand out in a way that add to the mood.
Hollingsworth makes the spider-sense a eye drawing visual, using bright oranges and reds against monotone blacks and whites. Hollingsworth’s dark colors also help to set a moody tone for an issue that spends the majority of its time underground; the underwater scenes are incredible. That’s not to say he can’t do some fine work with lighter colors. Hollingsworth both opens and bookends the issue with some beautiful work using a light palette.
Verdict: The Point One Initiative has been criticized for a lot of things, like failing to help new readers like it was originally intended to do. Others would say it being downright pointless and a waste of money. Not only is PP,SM #156.1 a damn good issue for new readers of the Spider-Man, it is bringing back an old series with a great writer to celebrate something important: our beloved Web-Head turning fifty. This is a shining example of how the Point One Initiative could work. More importantly though, this is Roger Stern dishing out some damn fine character work- I love me a good Norah story too. Even if the story is nothing special, this issue has drawn some great artistic talent into Spider-Man’s impressive history.
Don’t forget to leave your favorite maxims in the comment section.