The Crawlspace panel will record two podcasts this Saturday starting at 9 pm central. We’ll be recording a news program and then a review show. We’ll review Amazing Spider-Man #2-4. You can watch the podcast live and also interact with the crew and ask us questions. Subscribe to our channel here.
If you haven’t joined the Steve Ditko letter’s Facebook page I highly recommend it. A recent discussion came about from Steve Garland about Aunt May. Garland says,
During one of my visits to Ditko’s studio he told me that Stan Lee originally wanted the Aunt May character to look like (voluptuous ’60s actress) Gina Lollobrigida! Ditko wanted the Aunt May we know, for all the drama/storyline reasons you guys spoke of. I remember he said something about the elderly aunt being a sort of impediment for Peter’s relations to other kids; that Peter would feel awkward inviting kids to his house. Aunt May was a factor that separated him from his contemporaries. As far as I know, that was never part of a storyline, but like a good actor Ditko had imagined his character’s lives and personalities very vividly and in more detail than was seen by the audience!
Spider-Man has often caused trouble for Peter Parker, but not quite like this. Issue 4 tackles who Peter Parker and Spider-Man really are and how they need each other, Mendell Stromm, Tri-Sentinel CD ROMS, the Looter, and even gives us a guest appearance of everyone’s favorite dinosaur man – SSSSSSSSSSTREGRON!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Story Title: Back to Basics part 4
Writer: Nick Spencer
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga
Cover Artist: Ryan Ottley and Laura Martin
Designer: Anthony Gambino
Asst. Editor: Kathleen Wisneki
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published: August 22, 2018
Remedial ASM 101
Spider-Man is disrupting Peter’s life, but not in the usual way. The two became separated after Task Master and Black Ant tried to steal some science, thus causing science to happen to Peter Parker. Now Spidey is living the high life and Peter is left wondering what is going to become of him. Meanwhile, Spidey has hijacked a Tri-Sentinel and is cruising around town!
The Story – Pay Attention, This Will Be on the Test
We start off again with five more seconds of our elephant hunter on the run before getting to the story at hand. The Looter is about to steal a painting, but Spidey stops him with the Tri-Sentinel, and destroys that painting along with several others in the process. He continues to cause massive destruction like a happy sober Hancock when he takes down Hydro-Man, Cyclone, and Stegron.
Looks like Steggy’s tail is no match for the all-new, all-daring Spidey.
It appears that Mendel Stromm is the owner of the Tri-Sentinel and is not at all happy with Spidey stealing it from him. It also turns out that Peter has all the responsibility part of their character and keeps trying to help people – and finds out it is illegal to pay someone else’s parking meter. I looked it up. Go figure. Thanks Marvel for that community service notice. Aunt May and Peter reconcile and after she tries to help him pay his rent, Peter finally gets in touch with Spidey. Turns out that not only did Peter get the responsibility between the two of them, he also got the core memories. Spidey doesn’t know Uncle Ben. Oh, and it also turns out that the rats which were split died and so will Peter and Spidey if they can’t get back together. If you would join me in a moment of silence for Horatio I and Horatio II. We barely knew them, but they touched all of our lives.
Stromm then gets an offer from some disembodied voice, presumably the demon-esque creature that is Mysterio’s evil benefactor. Look at the oxymoron I just dropped here.
The Looter scene was by far the best part of the issue. The Looter storming in like he owns the joint echoes the Ditko panel Adam gave us for panel of the day earlier. Spidey with his mask painted on the Tri-Sentinel is hilarious. I wish I had more of that scene.
Aunt May is in full character. This fits her so well and compliments her earlier appearance (which I also thought was in character, although I know some of you thought she was being too harsh).
OOTI (Onomatopoeia of the Issue)
Only two onomatopoeias in this issue.
On a scale of 1 (POW) to 10 (BLRKBQRKPQRBLNB), BLONK rates a 4. I’m just trying to imagine that sound coming from my computer. That would be bad. Nice Gremlins allusion, though.
One of my early praises for Spencer was that he was following an ‘80s style pacing. By that I mean we would get a full story, but the story was obviously still going and we would get a page or so that kept a subplot moving through the issues. No so last issue or this issue. This is very much a part four of six and I hate paying full price for a part four of six. I’m buying individual issues, not a trade.
Another praise I have for Spencer is his ability to write funny C-list villains, but in this issue he is just flying through them. I wanted more Looter. One panel for each of Hydro-Man, Cyclone, and Stegron are just not enough for me. It’s like I ordered a filet mignon, and I got a good one, only it’s a 2 ounce serving.
This one was not a home run for me. I liked the issue, but when I finished it, there was no feeling of YEAH! like I got after the first two issues.
Spencer has Peter’s character nailed down for us and continues to hammer in what responsibility means to this character. Some are irritated that MJ isn’t there to help him through this process, but I’m not. Peter’s time with Aunt May was important and I feel that putting MJ in the comic would just be redundant.
I’m also intrigued by the Spidey part of him. It is like the Electric Company Spidey, but with no cares about teaching kids to read.
While I do not think there is any animosity between Spencer and Slott, the conversation between Peter and Spidey can certainly be read as Spencer being a bit meta on what was off in Slott’s run. I think that in reality, it is just meant to show us who Peter Parker is, and since I’m fairly certain that Spencer feels that Peter Parker is the more important character between the two, I doubt that we see a Spider-Man narrated story next issue (although how cool would that be?). That said, I’m getting tired of this story and am ready to join them back together and move on.
Mendel Stromm being a villain in anyone else’s hands makes me yawn, but in Spencer’s hands, I’m excited for it! If you don’t know who Stromm is, check out this villain profile.
There is so much in this issue, and that’s a problem. Spencer is packing so much in (and I get it, he is excited about this run and doesn’t want to wait to get to it all) that we end up getting very little. Just look at this issue. We have: a hunter story (probably Kraven), the Looter, Stegron, Tri-Sentinel, Hydro-Man, Cyclone, Aunt May, Mendel Stromm, Peter Parker, Spider-Man, some mysterious demon figure, issues with the person splitter. That’s a lot. It’s all good, but it is so much it feels like I went to Baskin and Robbin and tasted every one of their thirty-one flavors, but only on those little taster spoons. In the end, I would have consumed a lot of ice cream (especially since they actually have fifty-nine flavors), but it wouldn’t feel like it. I got to the end of the comic and I felt narratively empty. Fair assessment? Maybe not, but it is what it is. I feel like this will read brilliantly in the trade. Unfortunately, I’m an issue-by-issue guy and resent it when books are written for the trade.
So Aunt May slips him a birthday present when it is not his birthday. Marvel has announced his birthday, so bonus points for the first one to correctly post Spider-Man’s birthday in the comments section.
The first arc of the epic new run on ASM comes to a climactic finish!
Nick Lowe has asked people to let the Spider office know how they are doing by sending an email to email@example.com and to make sure you mark it “OK to print”. If you get published, make sure to draw our attention to it!
So they keep asking for emails, but we aren’t getting a letters page. What’s up with that? I wrote. Anyone else here do it?
So the African hunting expedition guy trips over a log and it’s obvious that he’s gonna get necked by Kraven. Meanwhile, we learn who reactivated the Tri-Sentinel: Mendel Stromm, the Robot Master. (Ha! Cobwebs is paying off, Dark Mark!) However, given that he’s been in a slump recently, he might not really be the Robot Master anymore. (I mean, he used a subreddit to find a killer robot. He could just… go outside?) Doesn’t help that, for one, the Life Foundation’s computers are old and can’t read the instructions to the Tri-Sentinel on a CD. (Who cares if it breaks the timeline, it’s funny.)
What exacerbates the problem is that a reckless Spider-Man has seized control of the Tri-Sentinel, and has been using it to fight crime, complete with a terrible paint job! He defeats Stegron, (George: REEEEE!) Hydro-Man (No one REEE’d) and Cyclone. (This one is supposed to be dead.) All the while, despite the rampant terror and destruction, he’s getting to go on talk shows and get endorsements. Peter, meanwhile, is overly responsible and gets arrested for trying to pay somebody else’s meter. (That’s actually a law, I looked it up. They actually enforce it, too.) But after a pep talk from Aunt May and watching Spidey sell himself out as a glorified Uber, he confronts Spidey, who in the heat of the argument admits that he doesn’t know Uncle Ben before webbing Peter up and leaving.
Back at Doc Connors’ Lab, it’s revealed the rats they were using had died, due to their genetically incomplete makeup. Peter becomes sad. (Duh.) As Robot Master also becomes a sad man, he is approached by Mysterio’s mysterious benefactor, who in a show of faith gives him a Master Mold that begins crapping out a fleet of Tri-Sentinels.
Mmmmm, yes. I’m liking what I’m seeing here.
What passed? Almost everything. What failed? Almost nothing. What does that mean? I dunno, let’s talk about this comic.
Starting off with the art, Ryan Ottley is getting better and better with each issue. The level of detail he puts on characters while still maintaining a very clean style is very appreciated, as too much “noise” on a picture (One of the few things I dislike about Stuart Immonen’s art) can get too distracting. The Tri-Sentinel, in particular, looks stunning, and the war paint that Spidey puts on it could have been crude; but no, Ottley puts detail into that as well. I love artists who go the extra mile when it comes to the little extra details, and I’m glad that Ottley will be the main artist and coming back when Ramos finishes his arc.
Writing-wise, I’m still loving how Spencer is going to the bottom of the barrel and using all of these old and obscure villains that nobody else would do besides him. We got… let’s see… Robot Master, the Tri-Sentinel, Looter Stegron, Hydro-Man and Cyclone all in one issue! And none of it feels forced! And if that wasn’t enough, we got a friggin’ Master Mold! Even if it’s not a villain that usually hangs around Spider-Man’s corner of the MU, it’s still oozing 80s and 90s and I love it. (And it didn’t really stop it from appearing in Remender’s Secret Avengers.)
There’s also the subtle angle (That later gets unsubtly bashed in with a sledgehammer) that shows that Peter and Spider-Man are something of “two sides of the same coin.” I know this was touched upon in the last issue and seems repetitive, but it’s nice to see Peter having to come to terms that being Spider-Man is a necessity in his life. He has the responsibility right now, and just the responsibility; the power is a balance to keep him from going overboard in his responsibility.
The same can be said about Spidey as a separate entity; sure, being a hero and getting all sorts of endorsement deals and appearances at basketball games without a double life is great. But what happens when it stops being fun? As fun as this comic can get, it’s not afraid to ask those really rough and uncomfortable questions about people with too much power and no compunction about using it with poor judgment. It very much felt like Spencer was taking more shots at Slott’s run, and possibly also making jabs at the worst parts of Iron Man. (Which would make sense, since Peter sadly spent the last few years running around as diet Iron Man.) At the same time, Spidey also makes a good point that Spidey never lets himself have any real enjoyment of being a hero; he’s always sabotaging good things that happen to him (A hint to the marriage, perhaps?) for the moral high ground.
I also really liked the conversation between Peter and Aunt May. While Aunt May isn’t necessarily given a lot to do in the relaunch (The most she does is give Peter a check and reveal she’s been gambling online.) she does get a good conversation (Not to mention implying she’s aware Peter’s Spider-Man) and steers Peter in the right direction. She makes a very good point that Peter has been putting everybody else before himself; he deserves to be selfish every once in a while (Though it’s phrased a lot better than using a negative word like selfish) and find his own happiness. (There we go, that’s better.) It’s an element that Peter has been missing for a while, and it makes for a very human moment in this comic involving a guy with Spider-powers hijacking a giant robot.
One of the things that disappointed me was a lack of MJ. It didn’t kill my interest that she didn’t appear, but her consistent appearances so far have made me a lot more inclined to read the comic. (Though she’s apparently appearing in a more prominent role later on in the Ramos arc, so that’ll be nice.)
Another thing that bears repeating is that I have yet to see more of Boomerang, and have that storyline of “My Supervillain Roommate” (I’d watch that show) expanded upon. And RDMacQ made a very good point in his comment for my review the last issue about how we’re getting something better. Yes, that is very true; however, I’ll continue my insistence that this plotline gets more use because this is the plotline that we were advertised in both the FCBD issue (Those things being loose and sometimes outright false commercials be damned.) and in interviews for Spencer’s run. So while I don’t mind that we’re getting this surprisingly thoughtful and insightful character study of Peter, I would like to see the plotline that I was hooked on and bought the first issue for expanded on a little bit; it’s what was advertised, I just want what I was promised. It’s a small complaint that I’m aware is going to be addressed on, but it could easily become a large problem if it keeps going unaddressed.
Overall? Still a very solid read. Spencer and Ottley are firing on all cylinders, and they’re making one of the best comics on Marvel’s lineup. Buy this book if you aren’t already because you’re missing out on some great stuff.
Hell, I’ll even buy the trade just to prove my point. And that’s the single best endorsement I can give this comic right now.
If you have listened to the most recent podcast, and I recommend you do it’s a great interview, you’ll remember writer Roger Stern talking about what Steve Ditko’s Mary Jane might have looked like. On his run Ditko hid Mary Jane behind various objects in her first few mentions. It wasn’t until Amazing Spider-Man #42 when John Romtia gave us the knocked-out red-head. Stern says he came across this image in some comic years ago and it looks like what he suspects would look like a Ditko imagined Mary Jane. What are your thoughts?
Pop Quiz Time! – how many Spider-Man stories are there in the 616 universe of Spider-Man’s early years (up to his high school graduation)?
Read on, True Believers, the answer you seek is just a scroll away!
Now, before we go over the answer, if you are patient, allow me to entertain you with a clever and witty post. If you if you need to get to the meat of this post right this instant, you need toclick here now!
OK, so time for the answer – If you chose A. 28, then good job! You knew that Amazing Spider-Man #28 was Peter Parker’s high school graduation. However, you are wrong!
That’s right! All you who chose B. 29 remembered to add in Amazing Fantasy #15! Kudos to you! Once again, though, you are incorrect.
Yes, you who chose C. 56 remembered to add in the 25 Untold Tales of Spider-Man plus the two Untold Tales annuals. Great! But you are a bit mistaken still.
Congratulations! Those of you who chose D. 106 knew that there were other guest appearances of Spider-Man in the Avengers and Fantastic Four and Alias and all the stupid let’-go-back-and-tell-stories-of-Spider-Man’s-past issues like Learning to Crawl and With Great Power and all those team ups with Human Torch in Strange Tales! You are truly the masters of Crawlspace counting!
For those of you who chose D. 119, you remembered the thirteen issues of Chapter One. Well, I’m not sure if I should congratulate you or not on that deduction.
What we are doing here is a COMPLETE list of ALL Spider-Man comics/appearances. In order not of when the comic was published, but when it appears in continuity. That’s more that just the equivalent of ordering Star Wars movies by episodes. That’s more than just adding in Solo and Rogue One. This is the equivalent of all of that PLUS adding in the Clone Wars cartoon (both Lucasfilm and the MTV versions), Rebels, the Droids cartoon, the Holiday Special, AND Ewoks (both cartoon and made for TV movie*)
For you Spider-philes, our list will be a good test to see if you HAVE read everything there is to read about Spider-Man. Sure, you know Amazing Spider-Man. You know Untold Tales of Spider-Man. You are probably familiar with Learning the Crawl and With Great Power. If you are a frequent Cobwebs reader, you already know about the Fantastic Four Annual #1. But are you up to date on his Tales to Astonish and Strange Tales appearances? And that’s not all! We have Alias, Spider-Girl, Webspinners and more! If Spider-Man made an appearance, we’ve got it!
Right now, we have every appearance up to his high school graduation. If you like this, we’ll keep updating the list!
Not only do we have them listed, we’ve provided you a link to Marvel Unlimited where you can read it online.
What don’t we have? Non-616 versions flashbacks (we will put those stories where they fit). Plus, I only have up to his high school graduation because this a super time consuming process! So make sure you put a comment to let me know if it is worth continuing to compile. So why are you still reading this? I’m done being witty and clever. Get reading those issues you’ve missed!
OK, you knew something else was coming. You know me too well. OK. I have a challenge for you. There are a few issues that Marvel Unlimited does not have … yet. If later you are looking over this list and find it, email me! Find an issue I missed? It’s possible (I did try to be thorough). Let me know! Don’t agree with where I placed an issue? Leave your reasoning in the comments or email me. firstname.lastname@example.org