We are six issues in and Spider-Man as we know him from the original series makes his true debut here. The previous issues have built up to this point of course and for the most part have done so quite beautifully. Once Spider-Man leaps into action for the first time with his mission to honor his Uncle Ben’s words fully intact, you know that Peter has very much traveled a long road to get here. He deserves it.
One critique you can have of the original story was how quickly Peter became Spider-Man. It’s like one day after getting the powers he decides ‘Hey, I think I’m going to kick some ass as a hero’ and went out into the world with his powers fully formed. In this series there is very much a training period for him to get through before he becomes the hero we know.
Take his spider sense. In the original story, he pretty much recognizes it for what it is right away. Here, it takes him a while to understand that that tingling he is feeling is warning him of danger. This issue is the first time where he reacts accordingly when danger is at hand with the Green Goblin attacks Peter’s school.
His webs were a work in progress as well. It was alluded to in an earlier issue that Peter’s father had created the formula for them but never got around to finishing it before he and his wife died. Peter for the longest time couldn’t make heads or tails of it but viola, he suddenly finds a way to get it working and he has webbing.
For all the strengths of the issue one thing has really crept into my head about Spider-Man. Maybe it’s the father in me but I just can’t see how Peter always pulls off the disappearing act. How does a fifteen year old find himself fighting the level of criminals he does without being tired as hell the next day? How can he go out and fight crime at night without his Aunt not Spider-Man is still in high school they try to have him doing much more than a kid his age would be able to actually do. Even if you gave a fifteen year old all the powers Peter has, that doesn’t mean he’s going to have a guardian who will be so absent minded as to not notice a teenage boy is not home. Hell, how does he have time to do homework if he’s off battling villains?
Is that too critical a thought for a comic? I guess. For some forms of entertainment you do have to have a certain level of disbelief. Take pro wrestling. One of the greatest stories of all time entailed the battle between Stone Cold Steve Austin verses his boss, the evil Vince McMahon. In the story, McMahon loathed Austin and wanted to do everything in his power to get a champion in place that he approved of. If you applied logic to that, you’d wonder what type of business person would care what type of champion his company had as long as that worker was making him tons of money. Yet for how it was presented on television each week, it ended up working. You could talk yourself into thinking that McMahon was so overtaken with hatred that all logic escaped his mind in his quest to rid his company of Stone Cold. So maybe I need to refocus on finding that type of logic for this story. I do know this is touched upon later when Brian Bendis gives Aunt May more to do in this comic than she ever really had in the original story. This will be resolved but I wish they addressed how he’s able to pull this off more than having him sleeping in class.
There was also a bit of business in the story which I loved. After the Goblin pumpkin bombs the school, we see Peter’s classmates freak out. Being kids, you see them all freaking out, looking for whatever exit they can to escape the danger. All but Kong. Kong to this point has kind of taken a bit of the mantle that Flash Thompson took in the original story. He’s a bit of a dick when you first meet him but you find out over the course of the story that he is not such a bad guy after all. Bendis doesn’t even really touch upon it. You just see a panel where Kong is grabbing a couple people and escaping the fire. When an explosion like that happens, to have the foresight of grabbing folks and saving them from danger is a real admirable thing to do and speaks volumes on how writers can show the audience the real character of a person without even having them speak.
This issue does have some flaws. The scenes with Harry Osborne at school are particularly weak and cringe worthy to get through. But for all those flaws, the strengths far outweigh any sort of weakness this story has. As I have stated over and over, anyone can look at any artistic work out there with a critical eye and find something wrong with it. While that critical eye may bring up some legitimate issues, nine times out of ten they bring up stuff that in the grand scheme of things boils down to subjective opinion. I will be the first to admit that the Harry Osborne scenes just don’t do it for me. They are important for the story as a whole for not only what it does in setting up the Green Goblin but it also gives us some interesting bits from Harry in the future. I simply didn’t care for it.
The art was spot on. A good portion of the issue boiled down to the action between Peter and the Goblin. At no time did I find myself lost in the action. The word panels were placed perfectly on the page with no confusion as to where to read next. When Spider-Man literally leaps into action for the first time, you feel his excitement mingled with terror just leaping at you from the page. This is a pure, unadulterated read from start to finish. The art makes the story better and vice versa.