Can this Peter Parker in High School book recapture Spider-man charm or is it plagued by the old Parker luck?
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Graham: Peter Parker goes back to school. Find out more as we take a look at Spidey, Volume 1: First Day, straight ahead.
Announcer: Welcome to the Classy Comics podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise Idaho, here is your host Adam Graham.
Graham: Spidey was a series from 2015 that offered some promise for fans weary of One More Day and just the general massive continuity of the Spider-Man series or was just nostalgic for the days with Peter Parker in high school, Spidey would fit the bill. I thought it might be something like Untold Tales of Spider-Man. This was a series from the 1990s that told tales from Spider-Man’s early days back in the 1960s and these were stories that were drawn in that style and intended to be slotted right in to the original continuity but what I found was that Spidey is actually set in the current day. It’s not set in the current timeline of the Marvel Universe as Peter Parker is in high school in current day. So, it’s out of continuity but we’ll go ahead and take a look at the issues.
Issue one opens with Spidey battling a young woman in a bunny outfit who’s robbing a bank. Now, I’m not aware of her actually being a marvel supervillain. It just looks like she decided to rob a bank while dressed as a bunny maybe hoping that with so many super villains running around New York City that it would just be assumed by the people the bank well we better do what she says because she probably has powers of some sort but Spiderman’s able to dispatch her even though she does throw a punch at him, a rabbit punch I guess, and Spidey makes some puns such as telling her what’s up doc and says silly rabbit bank robberies are for felons, which I thought was kind of funny if a bit groan inducing.
At high school Peter is struggling in history. However, his teacher arranges for him to get tutored by Gwen Stacy, who will be tutored by Peter in science so that she can do better in that subject. It’s a good mutual exchange. However, his efforts to get to Gwen are interrupted by Flash Thompson who does general bullying of him until Gwen punches Flash in the face and knocks him to the ground saying to Peter that I can’t have anyone knock your brains out before I can take advantage of them and I actually have a lot of problems with this scene. Where to start. First of all this isn’t really consistent with Gwen’s character both in punching Flash and in doing so for such mercenary reasons. We don’t really get to know a whole lot about her characterization isn’t all that great in this book or, to be honest, even in Stan Lee’s original writing of Gwen Stacy. In fact, Flash continues to bully Peter and she never does anything about it the rest of the book and it has no impact on Flash or his status in the school or as a bully. So, it’s incredibly pointless, has nothing to do with who the character is. So I think I’ve ranted enough about that scene.
Then Doctor Octopus shows up when Peter’s at a lab. They fight in some sort of random quick battle with Doctor Octopus getting away and him warning that he’ll see Peter again and this issue was really not all that focused.
Issue two is quite a bit better. The book features Spidey battling Sandman and also the events that lead up to that including Peter being nervous and Aunt May telling him to be himself and he reflects that being himself actually means different things because there are different versions of himself that appear in different situations and it’s an interesting observation and I think they do a good job using it as a narrative device in the story.
Issue three focuses on the importance of balance and finds Spidey encountering the Lizard in the sewers. It’s a kind of typical Lizard story though it lacks much of the compassion for the character that various writers have shown over the years.
Issue four is Doomsday Off and it finds Spidey trying to take a day off but instead he encounters Doctor Doom trying to rob an art museum but it actually turns out to be a doombot and there are lots of doombots that seem to be siphoning power off from the city and Doctor Doom actually addresses the idea of taking a day off and insists that people like him, who are so powerful and intelligent, don’t have the luxury of days off and Spidey ask if they just had a moment but doom was just trying to distract Spidey and hits him so hard that he falls several stories but does land safely in a park and he lands near a kid who has a Spiderman mask and they talk. It’s a cute little scene and Spidey takes fresh courage and get some inspiration from knowing that someone out there actually is cheering for him and he comes back to battle Doctor Doom and figures out what Doom is actually up t. It’s are really pretty fun story.
Issue five is a kind of good old fashion Spidey and Green Goblin fight. One thing that’s weird about this one is that the artist gives Norman Osborn black hair for some reason and Osborn has traditionally always been portrayed as a red head in comics. So, it’s a really weird choice and at the end of the story, it’s kind of cute. They both actually have reason to suspect the others identity because, of course, Peter and Norman meet each other in real life but dismiss it for their own reasons. It’s a fun little story.
Issue six is my favorite in the book and it features the vulture trying to rob Tony Stark. Spidey tries to stop them but Iron Man stumbles upon Spidey in the vault and comes to the wrong conclusion and, of course, there’s a brief tussle between Spidey and Iron Man before they eventually team up to take on and defeat the vulture and it ends with Iron Man praising them and saying that he’s got potential, even though he’s not an Avenger, as Spidey is eagerly begging for. Spidey then ask for dating advice as Peter wants to ask Gwen Stacy out but is nervous about doing so and Iron Man says he really is just a kid and encourages him that fortune goes with the bold and to ask her quickly before someone else does and Peter goes out and ask her but unfortunately someone has already asked her. She has agreed to go with Flash Thompson, who she punched out which, I guess, this is going to be a weird sort of relationship but Spidey goes to the city somewhat dejected about being rejected but Iron Man shows up, apparently sensing that he was probably going to be too late, with Iron Man admitting that he had, at least once, he really fudged on it, had found a woman had actually already had a date and then he asked Peter the most important question for getting over a broken heart. He says, “ever punched a dragon?” and Spidey says, “excuse me, come on an actual dragon?” and yeah it turns out that Fin Fang Foom was out. So, Iron Man takes Peter on an adventure to fight Fin Fang Foom and that ends with this note from Spidey, “Question, how do you get over a broken heart? Answer, find and punch a dragon.”
Overall, I did have some issues with the book and I’ve discussed most of them but I also mention one of my big ones which is that every issue, except for one. So in five of the six issues, the opening page of the book is exactly the same detailing the story of Peter getting his powers, becoming a wrestler and Uncle Ben dying over the course of a single page and I think that’s really a lazy bit of art. These books were not any extraordinary length. So, taking an entire page of art and just copying and pasting from one book to another is really not cool. Although, I will say that in some cases they did change the lettering and some of the details in the words so that it would fit with the content of the book. But still, despite my problems, I actually found myself enjoying this book pretty well after the first issue and I think the big challenge is to find out where the book fits. It’s not an Untold tales of Spider-Man and it’s not tales of the main Marvel Universe Spider-Man and Brian Michael Bendis, in his run on Ultimate Spider-Man, already told a tale of a teenage Peter Parker getting his powers in an era closer to the modern era than the 1960s.
This book is actually, I think, excellent for kids. It’s rated T for teen. I honestly don’t know why. There’s nothing in this book that, to me, screams like it is like P.G. 13 or anything. You have six tales of Peter as a teenager going through problems that come with being Spider-Man and come with being a teenager. The stories have a fun and light tone without the baggage of any heavy plot arcs. It’s the type of book I could see getting for a kid if you wanted to get them interested in Spider-Man but didn’t want to risk him getting bored or bogged down reading about the Lee and Kirby stories from the 1960s, though these stories are certainly not on that level. It’s also great for an adult fan if you just want to read some simple basic Spidey stories and have some nostalgia for Spidey in high school. So, it’s got a limited appeal but I will still give it a rating of somewhat classy.
All right that’ll do it for today. If you do have a comment, email to me firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at classycomicsguy and be sure and check out the website classycomicsguy.com. From Boise Idaho, this is your host Adam Graham signing off.