Comics : Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #41

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This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

With this title, we have a teen-aged Spider-Man who has been re-imagined into the modern era with all of the same exciting nuances, chills, and fun from the Silver Age of comics. Yep, while it is true that these stories are, for all intents and purposes, targeted for younger fans, but there are those of us "old timers" who find this title is a welcome friend. As stated, in this version of the Marvel Universe, it is the present-day, Peter Parker is still 15, attending Midtown High, and is a part-time freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle. This, my friends, is the Marvel (Adventure) Universe.

In Detail...

"The Need for Stampede!"
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #41
Sep 2008 : SM Title
Summary: New Adventures of Spider-Man as a teen
Editor:  Mark Paniccia
Writer:  Marc Sumerak
Pencils:  Ryan Stegman
Inker:  Gary Martin
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 Reprinted In: Marvel Adventures Two-In-One #15

As we join this story (apparently already in progress) we find young Peter driving some sweet, cherry red ride down the street and cruises by a trio of equally hot young gals, including his classmate Liz Allan. Peter offers Liz a ride, which she happily accepts. Her friends remark that since Peter got his license, he was the coolest kid in Midtown High, even cooler than Flash Thompson. Still, that's not even the weird part, Pete has an over-sized Spider-tracer hanging from his rearview mirror (like a pair of Fuzzy dice).

However, just before Liz can sit her uber-hot bod into Pete's way-cool ride, a news blast comes over the radio that the planet-eating Galactus is back in town and only Spider-Man can save the world (yep, you read that right, and you had better keep reading, because it gets weirder). As Pete peals out, he hits a button on the dash and his car morphs into a Spider-Mobile as Pete himself pulls on his mask, just as he pulls up on the always-hungry cosmic entity (who apparently knows Pete's name, as he is calling for him).

Just when you think that this comic has slipped into some sort of Brand New Twilight Zone, we turn the page and cut to a formerly asleep Peter, snapping awake in class at Midtown High shouting out a challenge to the non-present (and imaginary) Galactus, hence making a total fool of himself in front of the entire class. Realizing that he is not the coolest superhero in town, but rather (still) the biggest geek in Midtown High. As class drags on Peter makes a mental note to himself to not spend so much time late at night fighting crime as Spidey.

As it turns out, this is Driver's Ed, and well, it is Peter's turn to go for a road test with the teacher, as they get out to the parking lot, Pete realizes that the car is a 10+ year-old junker, that is far from the wicked-cool dream car that he was imagining just a few minutes earlier. Once in the car, Pete does all of the Driver's Ed stuff that student drivers are supposed to do. Then he gets out on the road, where his teacher complements him on his good driving skills (needless to say, the teacher, Mr. Cornblum, is totally unaware that it is Pete's Spider-sense that has been guiding the young student through the hazards of driving through Queens).

Then (since this is the Amazing Spider-Man about whom we are reading, not the ordinary, geeky Peter Parker) a pair of cop cars come blazing down the street hot on their way to some sort of disturbance. Peter being Peter feels that he should head out after the cops to help them, but is reminded by his teacher that is the job for the Police, and Peter's job is to drive carefully, and get out of their way.

Moments after the cops whizz past Peter they unexpectedly return, just as fast, because they are being chased by Man-Bull, who is rampaging down the street towards Peter. Realizing that he must do something, Pete fakes a panic attack, causing Mr. Cornblum to (understandably) offer to drive them back to the school. However, no sooner does Mr. Cornblum get out of the car and come around to the driver's side than Peter "freeks" and guns the car in order to get away.

Once out of sight of his teacher, Pete heads after Man-Bull and (unfortunately) get's the brute's attention. Upon seeing Pete's car in the road, Man-Bull charges and demolishes the car. Tapping into his amazing speed and agility, Pete jumps from the car in the nickel of time and is helped to safety by some cops, who then turn their attention to the rampaging beast, while Pete heads for the nearest alleyway to change into his hero togs. Just as the cops confront Man-Bull Spidey swings down from the rooftop and takes matters out of their hands.

After a brawl that works its way up and down the street, Spidey manages to blind Man-Bull with his webbing, and then herd him through a storefront window. When Man-Bull manages to untangle himself from the debris he spots Spidey standing before him matador-like (complete with a red cape) goading him on. Not very bright, Man-Bull reverts to type and charges Spidey only to wind up trapped in a large Spider's web that our hero whipped up to trap the villain.

His job done, Spidey changes back into his civvies and returns to Mr. Cornblum, to be driven back to the school by the upset teacher in the now nearly-demolished car. Upon arriving at school, Pete inquires about his driving test and has the disgruntled teacher tear it up in his face. Upset, but content with his lot, Pete once again pulls on his mask, and webs his way home.

In General...

This story proved to be a bit off-beat for this series, first by starting off with the dream sequence (a nice touch, really), and then by presenting us with an altercation between Spidey and a character that is not known as one of his "regular" villains. I have to say that I liked the interaction and byplay between the characters, as well as the way that the story played out. A really fine job strengthening why this is one of today's preeminent Spidey books being currently published.

Overall Rating...

As stated, the off-beat nature of the story, as well as the use of a non-Spidey villain made this quite enjoyable. Plus, the fact that my own son is currently taking driving lessons and up for his own driving test made this story especially poignant for this reviewer.

Footnote...

There is new one-page of Chris Giarrusso mini-marvel strips at the end of this story, This one doesn't have Spidey in it, but offers up a day in the live of green, blue, and red Hulks as they attend an art class and splatter each other with green, red, and blue paint, resulting in that none of them remembers which color hulk they are supposed to be. Hysterical.

More Chris Giarrusso art can be found at his website.