“Oh my god. He really is just a kid.”
Iron Man and Spider-Man has teamed up in different stories before. Is this story any
different? Does Iron Man become Spidey’s mentor? Does this mean that Spidey is an avenger in training?
Writer- Robbie Thompson
Artist- Andre Lima Araujo
Letterer- Travis Lanham
Cover Artists- Nick Bradshaw & Jim Campbell
Editors- Devin Lewis, Darren Shan, Nick Lowe, Axel Alonso & Joe Quesada
The Story- Spidey #6 starts off by showing us the result of Peter and Gwen’s tutor team up (in which Peter tutors Gwen in math and Gwen tutors him in history). It has been working out well for the both of them. Another result is that Peter’s romantic feelings for Gwen has grown as well. Because of these developing feelings, Peter wants to ask Gwen out to their school’s Winter Formal but is struggling with actually asking her out. Before Peter can muster the courage he leaves her because his Spider-Sense goes off.
His Spider-Sense leads him to a broken in Tony Stark building. Inside the building he finds the Vulture looting the place and taking a briefcase labeled “Stark.” The two engage in some combat before Vulture manages to escape. Spidey attempts to pursue the Vulture but is stopped by Iron Man, who thinks that Spidey is the one who broke into the Stark building. Spidey tries to explain that it is actually Vulture behind the break in and theft. Spidey is unable to convince Iron Man so instead he leads him to the Vulture.
Iron Man and Spidey team up and take down the Vulture and retrieve the briefcase that was stolen.
Analysis- The issues of Spidey has so far been chalk full of Spider-Man cliches but I have also noticed that this book can happily surprise you. Spidey #6 has decent characterization (save an important character) and offers further insight into Peter’s situation. I believe that although the story can be shallow in some areas it does serve as a good start in gaining some basic understanding on the wallcrawler.
Pro- (1) Past issues of Spidey set out to have each issue have a theme (usually some random cliché moral) and for the most part I did not feel like they fit for the overall story. The motif of the grading system they use this issue though, I feel works. I believe it works for a number of reasons. Firstly, it works because it ties to Peter’s character. Peter is an intelligent child in high school, therefore grades mean a great deal to him. Thus, the motif of grades. The second reason it is fitting is because he tries to apply his skills and grading system to life but it does not quite work out. Peter even jokes about getting a tutor for life not just history. This point pops up again later in the story organically making the motif even more appropriate.
(2) The character interactions between the Spidey and the Vulture and Spidey and Iron Man were great.
Firstly, The initial banter between the Vulture and Spidey is humurous. In particular this dialogue between them is entertaining: Spidey- “Do you want to go to the Winter Formal.” Vulture- “I’ll pass, Thanks.”
Vulture’s characterization is decent as well. From his dialogue and actions the reader can gather that this is an intelligent and vicious man. He is intelligent because he is about to deduce that Spidey is a child and he uses his environment to his advantage (when he puts people in peril in order to get away from Iron Man and Spidey). He is also vicious because after learning that Spidey is a child he still attacks him ruthlessly with swords and razors.
(2a)The interaction between Iron Man and Spidey offers some great insight into Spidey’s character and offers some touching moments. Admittedly I did not care too much for their initial interaction. When they first come face to face they engage in a bit of a hero to hero misunderstanding fight. It is extremely cliché and does little to progress the story. However, this fight does further Spidey’s character. Spidey effortlessly evades Iron Man’s attacks and Friday notes at how fast he is. There interactions to grow throughout the story and they work well together and it leads to them eventually stopping the Vulture.
(2b) In this adaption of Iron Man we learn that he is posing as Iron Man’s bodyguard which I believe is a tactic he employed in older comics. I found it amusing seeing him pretending to someone other than Tony Stark. It is fun to see someone compliment Tony Stark but he is unable to take the credit in person. His ego craves the attention but he is unable to bask in the compliment.
This characterization of Tony Stark/Iron Man also points to him being arrogant but a veteran nonetheless. At first Iron Man is a bit dismissive of Spidey but later on he realizes that this kid is the real deal. It is great to see his change of heart in how he sees Spidey.
(3)Spidey’s own character shines in this issue. The interactions with Iron Man brought out his character. I did not fully know what to expect in this team up. Of course, I knew the basics that they would team up to take down a villain but I did not know they would treat one another. This take of their relationship was quite entertaining, touching and interesting. Prior to completing the issue I thought Iron Man would outshine Spidey but on the contrary Spidey holds his own against this Avenger.
Iron Man even with his technology cannot see through Spidey’s mask because of an electromagnetic web lining in his mask. This shows off Spidey’s/Peter’s ingenuity and competence. Furthermore, despite being inexperienced (the premise of the comic book), Spidey is able to effortlessly evade Iron Man’s attacks.
(4) The selling point of the issue I feel though is when Spidey asks Iron Man for advice on how to ask out a girl. Initially I thought Iron Man would give a cliché response like “just be yourself” instead he says “Fortune favors the bold. Get to asking before your date has other plans.” I actually found this advice to be pretty solid and it ties to the story as well. Peter has been dancing around asking Gwen out, meanwhile other boys namely Flash will not hesitate in asking Gwen out. This hesitation later leads to Peter’s disappointment.
Other than giving solid advice this moment and the aftermath of Gwen’s reflection illustrates that Peter is still a kid and one that lacks a male role model. Although Spidey is a super-powered hero, he is still a boy that has lost his father/father figure in Uncle Ben. Peter yearns for masculine guidance but has no one to turn to. Iron Man for this issue at least serves as that masculine guidance and helps Spidey out when he feels heartbroken over Gwen’s rejection.
(5) The Artwork- The structure of the character’s bodies are fitting for the story. In particular Spidey’s body structure is what I would imagine a 15 year boy would look like in Spider-Man garb. Furthermore, time and time again people in the story has been about to deduce that Spidey is a child and the artwork strongly correlates with that deduction.
Overall, I am becoming more welcoming of Araujo’s artwork. In my opinion his artwork has improved his debut on the book in issue #4.
Con- Although I did find this issue to be enjoyable there were aspects of it that I found troubling. The first of those aspects is the characterization/character interaction of Gwen Stacey or lack there of. When describing Gwen, Peter says she is the “world’s greatest tutor. World’s greatest everything” and calls her “The Gwen Stacey.” My question is why does he feel this way. Is it merely infatuation or did they develop a deep bond over tutoring each other. It is all unclear because the book does not offer many moments with Gwen. Furthermore, Peter notes that Gwen and Flash’s relationship is “nothing serious” but how did this relationship happen in the first place and how did it get to be “nothing serious”? These questions are important because Gwen is a noble love-interest behind Mary Jane yet we get very little of her character. Furthermore in the first issue Gwen and Flash did not appear to be on good terms so how are they on good terms now?
The second problem I have with this issue is Spidey’s questionable Spider-Sense. In this issue it does not warn Spidey of danger rather it acts as a crime detector. Does Spider-Man’s sense detect wrong-doing in general?
The third problem is Spidey’s quips. I am a little confused the categorize the use of Spidey’s quips. I do not recall ever finding his quips amusing but awkward in this book. The awkwardness of Spidey’s quips could tie into this version of Spider-Man being “Spidey” and not quite “Spider-Man.” This could very well be the case but I do not this works very well for a Spider-Man story. Part of Spider-Man’s charm for me has been his quips. His quips have functioned to make me as well as other fans of Spider-Man laugh and can also be used to distract enemies.
Spider-Man’s quips are a part of his character and I feel it is a disservice to the reader to not have well crafted comedy for him.
Grade- I did enjoy Spidey #6 and believe it can be a great read for someone staring to read about Spidey particularly a young reader. However, the lack of characterization for Gwen and the poor quips prevent this issue from elevating past a B-.