Comics : Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #37

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This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Let's pretend that you publish the on-going adventures of Spider-Man, and then let us further assume for a minute that Spider-Man is the most popular character in the known universe (hey, you're here on this site, so that's not a far stretch). Next, let's (just for a moment) accept the possibility that with some 46 years of continuity (counting a Gazzilian titles, a Bazillian guest appearances a TV show, several animated series, three hugely successful, record-setting, blockbuster films, a forest full of books, and more video and computer games than you can shake a memory stick at, we can then probably agree (in theory, at least) that brand-spanking-new readers might have something of an uphill swing to get into understanding the entire breadth and scope of the fully-formed mythos of the character.

Well, you just might feel that re-imagining the classic version of the character as a modern-day, High School teen, but still with all of the classic components that made it great. Just what would you call it? Well, you might call it Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, but I would call it neigh perfect. Read on, see what I mean.

In Detail...

"School of Hard Knocks"
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #37 (Story 1)
May 2008 : SM Title
Summary: New Adventures of Spider-Man as a teen
Editor:  Mark Paniccia
Writer:  Fred Van Lente
Artist:  Corry Hamscher, Terry Pallot
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 Reprinted In: Marvel Adventures Two-In-One #11

As always, the splash page depicts the climax of the story, in this case, Spider-Man vs the Taskmaster. From here we flash back to Monday and drop in on Peter Parker, sophomore at Midtown High School. As he is walking down the hall, minding his own business, He is hailed by a schoolmate and invited to take a sip of water from the nearby water fountain. Only it has (apparently) been rigged to spray him in the face. However, this doesn't quite happen, as his Spider sense alerts him and he ducks. Unfortunately for young Parker, the stream of water arches over his head, and sluices all over [[Flash Thompson, the campus bully.

Not one to find the humor in his own prank punking himself, Flash vows to pound Peter after school on Friday. For just a moment, Peter goes walkabout in his own head, and imagines himself not holding back on his Spider-powers, and giving Flash the clobbering that he so richly deserves. Only he doesn't, and resolves himself to the pounding that he can expect to get at the end of the week.

As Pete walks away, and prepares to switch into his webs to swing off his anger. He is approached by Darin, a fellow nerd classmate who feels Pete's pain. He confesses to Pete that the other geeks and nerds look up to Pete as they feel that he is way cooler than Flash. Then Darin invites Pete to join him at the local dojo where Darin and others practice martial arts. Pete is then persuaded to join the team figuring that he could use what little training he will receive in the coming week, along with his natural Spider abilities to avoid getting his head handed to him, without revealing his big secret.

As the week progresses, Pete does pick up some fighting skills, so much that the instructor invites Pete to join a special group of martial artists. Pete is so thrilled to feel like a part of something, he accidently leaves his back with his Spider-gear inside. When he returns to get it, he overhears the sensei (who is revealed to be Taskmaster) talking to some villains crew about the new group of boys he was training to become thugs.

The following day Pete returns as Spider-Man and challenges the Sensei to throw down with him. During the fight, the Sensei switch over his image inducer to his fighting togs, and stands to-to-toe with Spidey as the Taskmaster. While the two of them fight, Taskmaster reveals that he doesn't care about the kids and is only attempting to recruit and train them to be nameless, faceless thugs in an army of nameless faceless thugs.

Unfortunately for him, the boys all show up and overhear him. In spite of attempting to backtrack on what he said, the boys all decide to mob up against ham and with Spidey's help, take the criminal down. After Taskmaster has been defeated, he is webbed up and carted away. The following day, Friday, Pete and his newfound friends all show up at the appointed time and place to confront Flash. When he first sees them all Flash says that he take them all on (figuring them for members of the Chess Club. Needless to say, as soon as Flash discovers that they are a martial arts club. He decides that discretion if the better part of valor, and claims that no good ever came from fighting.

In General...

Another home run for this series. I really enjoy how everyone can be taken out of continuity and yet still written completely in character. This comic is easily the very best Spider-Man comic ion the stands today. It offers all of the action, pathos, drama and soap opera that any Spider-fan could want.

Overall Rating...

Every time I read this book I enjoy it more. It really doesn't get much better than this.

Footnote...

There is one-page of four Chris Giarrusso mini-marvel strips at the end of this story. These strips are older ones, that are presumably reprinted from back when Marvel ran a Bullpen Bulletins page (hey, why are there no Bullpen Bulletins and/or letters pages in the comics anymore?