Alright folks. This week we’ve spent time walking down the memory lane of the Amazing Spider-Man. We’ve felt nostalgic, we’ve felt eh, and we’ve hated some stuff. And by we, I mean me. I would’ve said that this is the last time we’d see the Amazing Spider-Man for while, but…. yeah. Thanks everyone for putting up with me these last few days, and as always, I thank Mr. Douglas for giving me the ability to expound my thoughts.
The good news is: at least they saved the best for last.
STORY 1: “Spider-Man and the Human Torch Save the Universe”
Writer: Brian Reed
Pencils: Sean Chen
Inks: Sandu Florea
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
STORY 2: “What would Spider-Man Do”?
Writer: Kevin Crevioux
Artist: Lee Weeks
Colors: Rico Renzi
LETTERS: VC’s Joe Caramagna
EDITORS Tom Brennan and Alejandro Arbona [first story only, Brennan on both]
SENIOR EDITOR: Steve Wacker
EDITOR IN CHIEF: Axel Alonzo
CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER: Joe Quesada
STORY ONE: Peter gets to his apartment and tries to go to sleep. This eludes him since he is interrupted by the Human Torch who proceeds to tell him that the whole world is going to end today because of something Reed did. He explains the Calvin mechanism as something that Ben Grimm from the future (rocking the beard, because… future is now and beard are awesome) the previous night. Nevertheless Peter agrees to help when the rest of the FF show up. Johnny runs away and Ben, Peter, Susan, and Reed all chase after him. Earlier, when in Peter’s apartment he remarks about the Mary Jane picture next to his bed and how she’s hot. (duh) and so this gives him the idea that he can hide out in his apartment. Mary Jane greets her in fine Romita Fashion, complete with kakhis and the black tank top worn in her first real appearance. After asking if this is Superhero shenanigans, the rest of the Fantastic Four show up and make a giant hole in her wall. (Peter is not happy that they are making a giant hole in the wall) after a quick chat with MJ they let the four stay and wait til sundown. Upon reaching that point Peter opens the bag with the “Device” to reveal….. A note from Future Ben saying it’s all a joke. Peter makes it back to his apartment to sleep and Future Johnny tries to play the joke on Ben. (It fails. Thank god.)
THOUGHTS: Well… I loved this. It had its flaws. But besides Daredevil (Pre-OMD) the FF are my favorite guest-stars and I LOVED the interaction with MJ and Peter. While the clothes certainly date the issue (They’re wearing the Bryan Hitch/Mark Millar era outfits) the FF are fun and lovely. The artwork does its job and while awkward in spots it flows really well.
I know I’ve harped on the characterization of Peter throughout these five guest reviews, but honestly this is the one which feels the most like the Peter I like, nothing is forced and feels natural. Brian Reed writes a pretty good Peter here and it shows a competence to the character that I enjoyed. (YES… Before you say it…. I know he wrote that god-awful Secret Invasion Mini-Series. He also did the Sinister Spider-Man.) I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this if this is the level of output that we’d see more of. That’s the thing: he did well enough to make me think that this would’ve taken place anywhere from 2005 on (clothes not withstanding).
The other thing I enjoyed so much in this issue is that MJ is a character. She doesn’t feel out of place, she feels right at home. The dialogue for example:
MJ: “This some sort of Superhero shenanigans?”
Johnny: “Yes I need a place to hide”
MJ: Is my apartment about to be invaded by Mole Men?”
Is both fun and gives you an insight into her frame of mind. It works REALLY well. Seeing her and Peter interact with one another was also a highlight for me. Maybe I am just missing me some MJ and real-Peter time. I’ll digress.
As far as the practical joke, I have to say this is where the Guided-View on Comixology helped. I had no idea what was coming next and so I was really thrown for a loop when seeing the reveal of it being a joke. Good job by Reed and company. (Not Richards.)
STORY 2: Begins with a young boy being rushed into the ER by Spider-Man. Spidey feels guilty and Peter is still sulking later on. MJ arrives home from work and sees Peter depressed. The boy is dying. Peter explains that the boy tried to be a hero and that he was caught in the crossfire. He thinks he’s cursed and he feels responsable. He goes to the ICU where the boy is still out. He talks to him in his Peter Parker attire and the boys folks walk in. The parents are distraught and blame Spider-Man, and Peter agrees. Hours later the boy awakes. He requests his presence and Peter walks in. The boy knows who he is and that he is Spider-Man (saying he wasn’t asleep.) He reassures him an tells him his story of when he first saw him and why he tried to stop the robber. He tells him of a comic he made when he was 11. After Peter tries to tell him he’s not a hero the boy assures him that he is one right before he going into cardiac arrest. Later he is that the cemetery and the boys parents see Peter and ask him to give him something to Spider-Man… the comic he made when he was 11. The issue ends with “what would Spider-Man do?”
THOUGHTS: This isn’t the first time we have seen this type of story, but I don’t know about you, each time I find something to like about it. From that first time with the Kid Who Collected Spider-Man, to Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol II) 14, to even the reverse of that with the Fusion (II) story arc in Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol II) 30-32. This story kicks you in the gut and takes your lunch money. Every beat is felt thanks to some damn fine artwork by Lee Weeks. The scene with MJ an Peter is touching and hits the right notes: MJ is the only person truly who understands him because she’s been down this road before. (It’s also why I liked the last story too) Peter’s guilt is natural and the things he says ring true because he’s said those things before, he has felt those things before, and while he didn’t really learn that this wasn’t his fault his character feels that way because it’s true. That’s why I love this issue some much is that there isn’t leaps in logic, it’s just good storytelling at it’s finest.
While some will complain we’ve seen it before, I think that we need stories like this to remind ourselves that even in the world where dead is never dead and Mole Men can come out of your sewers and Raccoon that can talk, there are still stakes. Life and Death Stakes and this is what this showcases that something as a good seminarian can die in your arms trying to help…. whether you’re Spider-Man or not.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Overall, this series of Peter Parker Spotlights were a mixed bag really. These issues haven’t just blown my socks off but they’ve shown that this character still has legs and I think we’ll all be excited to see what happens next. I hope that for some, this wets the appetite for the next Amazing phase. While the Superior experiment is going well sales wise, and ASM is coming back, we don’t know what the future holds. It’s a times-a-changing with a new movie, a new book and more from Slott and Company.
Thanks for coming along for the ride!