Comics : Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #33

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This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

This is another in a series of unconnected stories with a classical-themed teenaged Spider-Man set in the modern-day world, (rather when many of us first met him back in '62). Ostensibly targeted towards a pre-and teen audience, this series has been developed to evoke the look and feel of a Stan Lee-style action tale, wrapped up and delivered in a contemporary art package. Hence making it attractive to both younger readers, as well as older readers who might have fallen away from the main Spider-Titles.

Those Spider-Fans who have fallen away over the years (due to the messy fallout of Marvel's Civil War Event or even the recent Mephisto Incident) will most assuredly enjoy this series. For many, this series is fast becoming a refuge of sorts form the ugliness of those corporate storylines. So, if you are interested in returning to the Spider-fold (and read Spider-Man stories without having to deal with the weight of 45 years of continuity or current editorial malfeasance) this is the series for you.

In Detail...

"The Tenant"
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #33
Jan 2008 : SM Title
Summary: New Adventures of Spider-Man as a teen
Editor:  Mark Paniccia
Writer:  Fred Van Lente
Artist:  Corry Hamscher
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 Reprinted In: Marvel Adventures Two-In-One #7
 Partially Reprinted In: Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #227

The entire premise of this tale is that the evil, rotten, no-good Dr. Octopus has apparently turned over a new leaf and decides rents a room from Peter Parker's beloved Aunt May. Now while our erstwhile hero knows that the good (bad) Dr. is up to no good, he simply can't tell his aunt that because it would require that he reveal himself to be Spider-man (something we all know that he would never do for fear of reprisals from the hoard of evil, rotten, no-good bad guys out there that don't like him very much.)

Needless to say as we begin this issue, young Peter is standing (upside down) on the ceiling of the spare room in his Aunt's house. He is in the process of finishing off painting so that May can rent the room for the added income that it would accrue (and we all know that Peter doesn't know any rich billionaire industrial arms dealers who could "adopt" him and have him and his aunt move into his posh mid-town apartment complex.) Anyways, May calls to Peter to come downstairs as the new tenant has just arrived.

Always mindful of his Aunt, Peter finishes up quickly, and hurries downstairs, only to meet the new tenant, none other than the afore-mentioned Doc Ock. Naturally Peter gasps out the Dr.'s nom de plume, whereupon Ock profusely apologies and indicates that he has reformed and is now associated with a group called "Second Chances" that assists former criminals that are intent on straightening out their oh-so crooked path.

As can be expected Peter doesn't believe Ock, and (also as expected) May defends him, and scolds Peter. The next day at school, Peter can't concentrate on his schoolwork as all he can do is imagine all sorts of horrible thing that Ock is doing to his aunt, so he asks to go to the bathroom during his history class in order to web-swing home and check up on her. When he arrives he spots them both out in the backyard with Ock's tentacles wrapped around May hoisting her in the air near one of the trees in the back yard.

Fearing the worst, Spidey lands in the middle of it all and clocks Ock with a resounding roundhouse, which causes Ock to release May, only she is still in the air, and is forced to grab onto one of the tree's branches. Unfortunately the branch snaps and May falls to the ground, only to be grabbed by Spidey in a last second save. Only May isn't so grateful as she is irritated at our hero, and shows her displeasure by smacking him upside the head with a rake. You see, Ock wasn't attacking her as lifting her up so that she could prune the top branches of the tree.

She then scolds Spidey telling him that Ock also helped her clear the basement of all the accumulated debris down there, something her lazy nephew has been promising but has never done. Meanwhile Ock (curled up in the fetal position) whines about wanting to start his life over on the straight and narrow. Embarrassed, dejected and thoroughly chastised, Spidey heads back to school, only by the time Peter gets back to class, he learns that he's been gone so long that the time-period has changed, and he now has detention.

That night, when peter arrives home May is in the living room having her book club meeting with Ock, and one of her friends and a friend of Ock's from the Second Chances program, a Dr. Horton. Still upset about the entire thing, Peter heads off to his room, but, unable to let it all go, slips out his window, and into Ock's room to snoop around and see what he is really doing. Once in the room he find plans for the burrows' electric grid. Then he is caught by Aunt May who is bringing in the laundry, and Peter is (once again) scolded for being untrusting.

A couple of days later, Peter is wandering around the neighborhood and notices that the Flushing Meadows power plant is locked up and empty with a sign on the front gate indicating that today is the company's picnic. The it hits him like an uppercut from the Rhino; Ock had plans for the electrical grid to this part of the city. He must be up to something nefarious. Rushing home, Peter finds the basement door open and an Octopus-sized hole in the floor. Switching to his fighting togs he heads down the Octopus hold.

As can be expected, the Dr. wasn't so much interested in reforming as in gaining access to the service tunnel that runs beneath the parker house so as to gain access to the nearly empty plant. However, before he can realize the fruition of his plan, he is surprised and jumped by Spidey. Octavius unloads a blast from partial cannon the he whipped together on Spidey, knocking him down. Always the scientist, Spidey spots a container of liquid Nitrogen he cracks the container which spews its contents all over Ock's arms, freezing them instantly. Spidey then punches out the arms, shattering them.

His next punch is a haymaker that lands on Ock's chin, knocking him out, which is followed by him webbing up Dr. Horton (who worked at the plant and was helping Ock). The next day Peter triumphantly shows the headline of the Bugle to his Aunt which loudly proclaims Ock's Guilt. May still has a hard time believing that Ock was anything but sweet. The doorbell rings and May opens it to let in their new tenant...the Rhino.

In General...

with all of the stories from this series. This complete-in-one-issue story manages to be fun, exciting, entertaining, and well written, plus it has the added benefit of not involving deals with the devil. There is the proper mix of humor, pathos, and action. Sure, sure it plays off an existing story from Spidey's past, but it also pays respect to the fact that Peter is a scientist in training as well as a bona fide superhero.

Overall Rating...

As stated, this stuff is always fun, light-hearted and (since it isn't considered as part of Spidey-Cannon) doesn't involve ham-handed, editorial-mandated, mystically-charged retcons precipitated by deals with previously acknowledged purely evil other-worldly manifestations and thus is thoroughly enjoyable to read. My advice to all Spider-fans that are upset over what is going on in Amazing Spider-Man is that they should get their monthly fix by reading this title and The Amazing Spider-Girl (another fine Spider-title that features the one, true Spider-Man within its pages).

Footnote...

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, cavalier and obviously forced 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. Plus, think of all the possibilities that Spider-man living in a post Civil War would of (could have should have) precipitated.