Before Spider-Man become “Amazing,” “Spectacular,” or even worthy to be called “Spider-Man” he was Spidey. These are those so called accounts. But is this blast from the past an actual blast, well you will have to read this review to found out.
WRITER: Robbie Thompson
ARTIST: Nick Bradshaw
Cover Artists: Jim Campbell & Nick Bradshaw
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editors: Axel Alonso, Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis
Plot– The first page is a splash page that through Spider-man’s narration summarizes the origin story of Spider-Man, which all fans and everyone alike should know by now. The second page continues with Spider-Man’s narration and him referring himself as “Spidey” because he does not feel quite worthy enough to be called “Amazing” or “Spectacular” just yet. This musing is cut short when he comes upon a robbery in progress. The robber is a young woman dressed in a bunny outfit, who has appeared in Amazing Spider-Man as a minor villain. He quickly stops her by using his super speed and webbing. In the next scene Peter arrives to school late and is surprised by a pop quiz in his history class. He seemingly fails the quiz which prompts his history teacher to request to speak to him privately. The teacher assumes that Peter’s lackluster performance in history class is a result of Peter’s uncle’s death. The history teacher, Maxwell, tells Peter what history teaches which is “to never give up” and assigns Peter a tutor who happens to be Gwen Stacey. While Peter is thinking about Gwen, Flash starts to bully Peter in the hallway. At that moment Peter thinks to fight back but before that Gwen stops Flash by giving him a right hook. Gwen comments that he needs Peter to be his tutor and tells Peter to get ready for their field trip.
The field trip is at Oscorp. In the middle of the tour, Doctor Octavius aka Doctor Octopus crashes through the ceiling proclaiming that he will steal the technology at Oscorp. After saving Gwen Stacey from the debris, he rushes to the bathroom to change into his Spider-Man suit. Spidey and Doctor Octopus fight and at first it seems Doctor Octopus has the upper hand. Doctor Octopus’s arms are too fast for Spidey and he (Spidey) is unable to stop Doctor Octopus from stealing information from a computer. Eventually Spidey gains the upperhand by pulling out a wire from somewhere and shocking Doctor Octopus. Doctor Octopus manages to flee and Spidey stays behind to save his classmate from more falling debris. Spidey uses the lesson that his history teacher taught him about never giving up to draw strength from. Spidey returns home to Aunt May who is happy to see him and asks him if he has learned anything today. He replies that he has learned to not give up. The scene then shifts to Norman Osbourne who is berating his head security for allowing both Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man to infiltrate the Oscorp building. He threatens his employee and then retreats to his own office. In his office he imagines the Green Goblin and the Green Goblin states that it is nearly time.
Analysis– This issue deeply disappointed me. I love the premise of the early years of Peter Parker being Spider-Man. At its the core the premise promises to highlight the reasons that everyone that loves Spider-Man, loves Spider-Man. The tropes that made me fall in love with the character that I thought would be present are of course: Spider-Man being an underdog, Spider-Man being hated by the public, Peter helping out his Aunt May out, and him trying to balance school, work and being a hero. “Spidey” #1 had none of those tropes that I love about Spider-Man. First let me start off by saying what I enjoy about this issue.
Pros– I like the fact that the origin story is summarized in the first page and that Spider-Man does not feel comfortable being called “Amazing” or “Spectacular” because it shows that he still lacks confidence. Him lacking confidence should be the case because he is just starting out as Spider-Man. Some of the banter or the quips are pretty funny. The banter between Spidey and Doctor Octopus about Spider-Man being a menace is pretty funny with Spidey saying that the Daily Bugle just made a typo. But this is where the positives for me end.
Cons– The first gripe I have is in the first page. I know I just said that I like that they summarized the whole origin story in one page and I still like that. The problem I have is with one line: “I made money. I helped my family”. At this moment Spidey is recounting the events that lead to his uncle’s death and that also lead to him becoming Spider-Man or Spidey. Spider-Man fans know that before his uncle’s death that Peter was a selfish jerk, he was not helping out his family. These two sentences clashes with the page and it stands out in a bad way. The next flaw comes with the scene between the history teacher and Peter and this is a big flaw. It is a big flaw because much of this story is built around it.
After a pop quiz the history teacher pulls Peter aside and schools him about the morals of history. Apparently a lesson of history is “to never to give up.” That is the first time I ever heard that one but it gets worst. The history teacher, Maxwell, then lets it known to us the readers know that Uncle Ben has died only a year ago. This fact has little bearing on the story for both Peter and Aunt May do not reference it and do not seem to be affected by it. Maxwell then tells Peter that he will tutor Gwen Stacey in science and she will tutor him in history.
The tutoring aspect is also puzzling for two reasons. Why would you make two students that are failing or struggling in a subject tutor each other? Are there no better tutors? The second reason is Peter’s reaction to the Maxwell saying the student would be Gwen. Why is Peter so shocked? What is their relationship (Gwen and Peter)? There is no background for Gwen, so there is no explanation as to why Peter reacts in the way he does. The issue provides some background on Flash who has such a minor part in the story but none for Gwen. And Gwen seems to be a more important character than Flash in terms of this issue.
But let’s focus on Flash and Gwen more for a moment. Flash’s only reason it seems to be there is to show us that Gwen is a strong female character which would be a positive but in the next scene, Gwen is shown to be damsel in distress when Peter saves her from debris.
Now on to the field trip. Another field trip, again really? Are all the conflicts going to be during a field trip? The origin story is during a field trip and now the Doctor Octopus story is during a field trip. Next the fight between Spidey and Doctor Octopus, it is disappointing. First disappointment being that this is not even their first encounter. You think that this supposedly being Spider-Man’s early days you would think that this would be their first encounter, but no. In addition, Spidey is too calm and confident when he faces off against Doctor Octopus. This is Doctor Octopus! The man who he will have brutal life and death fights with and he casually fights him and forces him to retreat in this issue. This does not feel like a Spidey that just started but one that has years of experience and who is brimming with confidence. Furthermore there is one line of narration that throws me off “His arms, they’re alive, thinking on their own. I’m not fighting an octopus. I’m fighting a machine.” Hold on a second, if the arms are alive then how is it a machine? Machines are not alive! Another issue I have with the fight scene is when Spidey holds up the debris to save his classmates and he musters the strength by remembering his teacher’s lesson about never giving up. Not only is this scene corny but it is further cheapened by the fact that it relies on nostalgia by attempting to replicate the scene in the original Amazing Spider-Man #33.
Then the story gets down right cheesy and feels like an afterschool special with a moral. The exchange between Aunt May and Peter is so cliche and does not feel earned at all. Aunt May asks Peter if he learned anything and Peter responds that he learned never to give up repeating his teacher’s saying. The exchange alone summarizes the issue in a nutshell and has me convinced that this issue only works if the target audience is for elementary or middle school aged children. The characters are incredibly shallow and none of the moments that are supposed to feel strong feel earned.
My rating for this issue is a
This issue suffers from poor characterization, awkward narration, and shallowness. If you want a comic book that chronicles Peter’s early days as Spider-Man or his lost days then you should check out the Untold tales of Spider-Man instead. I thought Spidey would be like Untold tales but instead it is a dumbed down version of it. The only reason I did not give this a lower grade is because I do like the idea of showing Spider-Man from this perspective and trying to highlight his early days. This issue just failed at carrying out that premise.