TO PREPARE FOR SPIDER-MANS FUTURE WE MUST VIEW HIS PAST. Okay its nothing that dramatic…merely a flashback issue. Yet is this a flashback series that will go up in history like Slott’s previous mini-series Spider-Man and The Human Torch or are we destined to relive John Byrne’s Spider-Man Chapter One?
“Learning To Crawl, Part One: The Show Must Go On”
WRITER: Dan Slott
ARTIST: Ramón Pérez
COLORS: Ian Herring
LETTERS: Chris Eliopoulos with Joe Caramagna
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
PLOT: This issue begins days after Amazing Fantasy 15 and follows Peter as he wanders down a deserted street. He thinks to himself about the guilt he has over Uncle Bens death, and declares himself the new man of the house. The next Morning he awakens to find Aunt May cooking up a nice breakfast, unfortunately she is still setting a place for Ben unable to fully comprehend his loss. Peter tells her to take it easy and then gets in a discussion over the phone regarding Uncle Ben’s estate. We find out that they are in dire need of money causing Peter to continue his TV appearances. Back at school its revealed that Peter is missing classes (due to his TV appearances) and his Principal is trying to coax Peter into receiving guidance from one of the councilors at the school. From here we see a Young Liz Allan who invites Peter to her house to watch a live TV appearance of Spider-Man. For obvious reasons Peter has to make up a ham-handed excuse that angers Flash Thompson. The two almost come to blows but they are interrupted by the coach of the school.
From here we cut to Clayton Cole who was introduced in the backup story for Amazing Spider-Man #1 last week. His parents are debating on whether or not he should get early access to college but he is quite content to just sit an reminisce about Spider-Man. He buys tickets to go to one of Spidey’s live performances. It’s at the performance that he learns that Spider-Man designed his own web-shooters and realizes that he is just like Peter. From this revelation we go to Uncle Ben’s funeral, Aunt May is in good spirits seeing all the souls that Ben had touched throughout the years. She tells Peter that money is not the most important thing in life. The next day Aunt May walks Peter straight to school into the waiting arms of his Principal and The Coach who is going to be his guidance counselor. Peter lets out his frustrations with the counselor in the privacy of his office and runs off to do a show. Distracted and irate from the last scene he makes a miscalculation during his live performance and the entire set nearly crushes the audience. Spidey saves the audience but the stage owner angrily kicks Peter and his agent out of the building. In the last panel we see Clash suiting up for the first time.
STORY: This is a fantastic start to what looks to be a fantastic series. For the first time in a while I have no qualms about this issue it is perfect in every sense of the word. Peter feels like Peter, and the story introduces a plethora of small characters in the background, that will play a big role in Spider-Man’s life somewhere down the line.
The main reason that this book excels so much is because it taps into a previously unseen area of Spider-Man. In between Amazing Fantasy #15, and Amazing Spider-Man #1 there is a substantial time gap and this helps bridge it together perfectly. We see a brooding darker Peter who is still in mourning over Uncle Ben, and doesn’t exactly know how to channel his feelings. It feels like a very natural state of grief in this issue that works really well. Alongside Peter’s grief we see Aunt May’s grief. Her grief is more subtle as she is doing a much better show of staying strong than Peter is. She doesn’t wallow around doing nothing she makes an active effort to use tragedy in order to help Peter learn and grow. Exactly how Uncle Ben would have intended it.
The addition of Peter still doing TV performances makes sense, and the character of his Agent is the kind of slime ball business man that sixties J. Jonah Jameson would turn out to be. It also makes Peter’s interactions with Jonah a little more believable. This is Peter’s first job meaning he started out with a slimy Penny pinching boss, so naturally when Jonah treats him the same way he just assumes that’s how the working world works. It’s a nice bit of foreshadowing that you don’t really receive in the Agents small appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15.
Of course the main reason I love this book so much may be in part due to the time period its set in. My favorite and by far most knowledgeable area of Spider-Man revolves around the 60s and 70s appearances. It’s a time in spider history ripe with palpable drama, and engaging storylines. While this book hasn’t captured the fun Spider-Man in this issue it’s an important stepping stone for him to become that web-head we all know and love.
ART: I absolutely adore the art in this issue. It balances perfectly the modern, and the classic Spider-Man style. Little things like the glare of his glasses, or the stylized movement as he performs really get you drawn into the story. This really feels like someone walking through a three dimensional space. I would love to see Rodriquez used more in the main Spider-Man book as his talents are top notch. Along with this the cover is absolutely stunning. I don’t often talk about covers in my review but the Alex Ross image is just too good not to praise.
• Mr. Warren: This is professor Warren from the early Spider-Man stories, and is not in fact Miles Warren who would become the Jackal it is Raymond Warren. Although in Untold Tales of Spider-Man it was revealed that Miles Warren and Raymond Warren were brothers. Last seen in Marvel Knights Spider-Man #8.
• Liz Allan: Peter’s love interest in Amazing Fantasy #15, in the original story she makes fun of him and leaves with Flash and the gang. She would eventually go on to marry Harry Osborn and is the mother to Normie Osborn. Last seen Superior Spider-Man #31.
• Flash Thompson: Peter’s high school bully would eventually go on to befriend Parker in college. He loses his legs in the war (the ever changing war due to marvels sliding timeline) and eventually his attached with the Venom symbiote. Last seen Guardians Of The Galaxy Marvels free comic book day issue.
• J. Jonah Jameson: Publisher of the Daily Bugle and boss of Peter Parker in the sixties. Would become Mayor of New York before resigning due to the aftermath of Goblin Nation. Last seen Amazing Spider-Man #1.
• Chameleon: The first super villain Spider-Man ever fought. A character with the ability to change into the identity of anyone he chooses. Was once beat up by Mary Jane with a baseball bat. Last Seen Superior Foes Of Spider-Man #10.
• Quintin Beck: Eventually the villain Mysterio Beck’s early life revolved around TV and Film being a special effects master before turning into the master of Illusion. While his first official appearance is in Amazing Spider-Man #13, he was retconned to be the aliens that the Tinker was working with in Amazing Spider-Man #3. Killed himself at the end of Daredevil Guardian Devil…but then he actually didn’t. His claim to survival was simply that he was the master of illusion. Got trapped in the Ultimate universe after the Spider-Men series. Last seen in Cataclysm Ultimates Last Stand #3.
ON THE NEXT AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: Clash will….clash with Spider-Man. Spider-Man will be swindled out of even more money by his good pal Maxie, and wheat cakes will be consumed.