MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN #31
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Pop Mhan
OMG! Spidey’s back in black!
OMG! Spidey’s getting divorced/ separated/ Skrulled/ Superboy-punched from Mary Jane!
OMG! Spidey’s gonna see Aunt May die for real this time!
OMG! Spidey’s revealed his secret identity!
OMG! Spidey’s actually a spidey from a mystical totem of arachnid power!
And so it goes. These days it is easy to get caught up in the hype and forget that there are still ways of telling good Spider-Man stories that don’t rely on the cheap wow-factor soundbytes that Marvel has peddled with the likes of “Sins Past”, “The Other”, “Back in Black” and “One More Day”, to name but a few. Yet as the fanboys lather themselves into a frenzy online over all of these vital/trite developments, they overlook things that are equally important, if not more so. Things like MARVEL ADVENTURES: SPIDER-MAN, which has been steadily amassing acclaim from those who take the time to read it. That the intrnetz are lacking in scuttlebutt over this book when compared to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is not at all indicative of poor quality but that most of its readers have not yet been jaded into a state of advanced geekdom. The Marvel Adventures imprint sells poorly in the direct market but is brave enough to stride out into the real world at large, providing a cheery blast of comic book fun for curious newbies who may happen to pick it up at newsagents or in the digest-sized collections.
So, we’re dealing with a book in which story is more important than continuity. Fun is the main priority here. Weird, huh? I mean, what kind of Spidey fan doesn’t want their hero to be a borderline psychopath dripping in emo and crippling self-doubt far beyond the point of no return barring magical intervention? What use is a superhero who is simply heroic and manages to fight evil in superfun fashion? Geez, like that would ever work. I should probably cut out the sarcasm, it’s rather detrimental to my point.
This issue sees the Human Torch pay Peter Parker’s high school a visit for a pre-arranged exhibition of his powers. Liz Allen and the other drama queens are in a moist place over this but neither Peter nor Flash Thomson can understand why the Torch is so popular while Spidey is not. Wait, puny Parker and Flash in agreement over something?? It’s surprising, but of course it isn’t uncommon for two rather different people to share the same sentiment in their own unique manner. Unfortunately for the Torch, a superhuman shares Spider-Man’s disdain for his ego in a rather more confrontational fashion. This leads Spidey into a conventional ‘doing the right thing’ showdown as the Torch’s powers spiral out of control thanks to the mysterious interloper. It’s fun and it’s functional and a timely remember that, hey, it’s only a comic book for the love of Kirby, so why don’t we all just calm down and enjoy ’em again?