Reviewer : Tim Byrne
Story Title : The Final Curtain
Writer : Paul Jenkins
Artist : Mark Buckingham
Color Art : D’Israeli
Letterer : Cory Petit
Editor : Tom Brevoort
Publisher : Marvel Comics
And so, this incarnation of Spectacular Spider-Man comes to an end.
Save for the recent (and best forgotten) ‘Sins Remembered’ story-line, Spectacular Spider-Man and Peter Parker : Spider-Man before it have served as vehicle for Jenkins’ personal take on Peter Parker and the people close to him in his life.
Jenkins’ strength is in his depiction of characters, be it Peter himself or the people around him. You find yourself caring deeply about the people in his best stories, whether it be Peter remembering trips to the baseball with Uncle Ben, or a sick young man watching a battle between Spider-Man and an old foe on a rooftop.
This final issue, more than anything, serves as a coda or epilogue to the time that Paul Jenkins and his artists have spent fooling around with the life of Peter Parker. On Christmas Day, with snow all around him, Peter visits Uncle Ben’s grave, and has a touching and personal discussion while there.
The story is sweet and timeless, taking us through flashbacks of Peter’s (very) young childhood, touching on such universal fears as Peter’s stagefright while performing in a school pantomime. Peter’s more modern fears and worries about his double life are brought into sharp focus, and the reader is naturally drawn to think of all the troubles and stresses in their daily life, and their ability to cope with them.
My only minor quibble, which may be a difficulty in my reading of the story, is that Peter leaves a small gift on Ben’s grave, which is later found by another person. Although we see the box, and other people’s reaction to it, the actual gift was never seen, described or referred to in the larger story. With the space devoted to it, this seemed like a curious omission.
The art is stupendous, moving smoothly between different styles to depict Peter’s childhood, the present day, and dream sequences.
Thank you, Paul Jenkins. Please come again.