Comics : Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #31
This review was first published on: 2008.
Featuring a series of unconnected classically-themed stories of a teenaged Spider-Man that are set in the modern-day, rather when we first actually met him back in '62, this series is developed to evoke the look and feel of a Stan Lee-style action tale, wrapped up and delivered in a contemporary art package. To be sure, older fans who have fallen away over the years and are interested in returning to the fold (and read Spider-Man stories without having to deal with the weight of 45 years of continuity or the messy fallout of Marvel's recent Civil War Event or even the recent Mephisto Incident) will most assuredly enjoy this series.
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #31
Nov 2007 : SM Title
Summary: New Adventures of Spider-Man as a teen
|Reprinted In: Marvel Adventures Two-In-One #5|
As the story opens up, Spidey is playing dodge ball with the Torch, or rather, he is attempting to dodge flame balls being tossed at him by the Torch who is flaming mad at Spidey for some reason. From here we flash back to a day or two earlier where Peter is confronted in the school hallway by a group of girls holding "We Love Torch!" signs and banners. Peter learns that the Torch is making a personal appearance at the school, and that apparently all of the girls are simply ga-ga over him.
Well, unbeknownst to them, Pete (as Spidey) knows the torch, and has a not-so friendly rivalry with him for years. Pete thinks Torch is a glory hound, and Johnny Storm thinks that Spidey is an annoying pest.
When Pete expresses his feelings about the Torch Liz and the other girls not only tell him that he is jealous of the Torch, but then go on to tell resident jock and all-round Parker bully-boy Flash Thompson how Pete feels, Flash ups and does something unusual for him, he actually sides with Pete! (Yeah, that pretty much surprises the heck out of May Parker's nephew as well.) As it turns out, Flash, is a HUGE Spidey fan, and also thinks that Storm is something of an over-rated hot dog.
When the girls walk away, he reveals to Pete that he took Pete's side to a) irritate the girls, and b) that, yeah, he thinks Spidey is the tops. As Flash leaves, Pete's Spidey sense kicks into high gear as a school janitor passes him by. Before he can figure out why, An announcement comes over the loudspeaker for all students to head outside and greet the Torch. Once outside, and seated in the bleachers of the school's football field, Torch begins his routine, flying around and doing aerial stunts.
Suddenly, the torch seems to lose control, and begins flying straight for the kids, who panic and begin to scatter. He just barely manages to avoid a disaster and crashes into the field's turf, meanwhile, Peter ducks out and switches into his fighting togs in a nearby storeroom. During the switch, he discovers the real janitor tied up, and realizes that something is very much amiss, Spider-Man heads outside and confronts Torch from the pitcher's mound of the athletic field. Right away he understands that someone (or something) is controlling his fello hero's actions.
The two of them tussle for a bit and Spidey manages to web the recalcitrant Torch up in his flame-proof webbing. Once this is done Spidey searches out, and finds the individual who is controlling Torch's actions. As expected; it turns out to be the fake janitor who turns out to be a super-villain wannabe named Pyro. After a brief scuffle, Spidey manages to knock the junior-grade torch through a skylight and into the school's pool, thus extinguishing his ability to "flame on." As Pyro exits the pool, he is punched out by a very angry Torch. It is here that we learn that Pyro is simply angry at Torch because Pyro wants some of Torch's glory, and felt that if he could score a TKO on the hero, that he would garner some spotlight for himself.
Needless to say, things didn't work out quite like that, and he was carted off by the cops. Once things are set straight, Torch goes back to his air show, and Pete walks away still dejected over the fame accorded his teen superhero rival. In an effort to salvage his own ego, Pete defaces a poster of Torch by drawing a Spider-Man mask over Storm's face.
In the wake of the grimness of Civil War, and Back in Black, the overall dark nature of Ultimate Spider-Man and the upcoming unpleasantness of the Mephisto Incident, seeing simply-told, all-in-one, lighthearted tales of Spider-Man in Marvel Adventure is a gem of great worth. This episode is light, breezy, easy to digest, and a fun read. Personally, this writer is so glad that when long-time Spider-Scribe, Peter David walked away from the Main Spider titles, he didn't go far, as you can tell that he certainly has a handle on who both Peter and his webbed alter ego truly are.
All of which brings up (on a personal note) a curiosity from this long-time Spider-Fan, why it was important to dissolve Peter and MJ's marriage in such a haphazard and cavalier a manner when it probably would have been simpler to have simply to have spent more effort promoting this series as an alternative to whatever was going on the regular title for anyone (including Joe Q) who wanted to read stories of an un-wed Peter Parker.