Comics : Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #31

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Last issue, we were introduced to Peter Parker's new neighbors, Caryn and Barker the dog, and then we watched as Spidey got the tar beat out of him by another new character, Fusion, who possesses seemingly every super power ever seen. After beating on Spidey fairly badly, Fusion proceeded to toss a bomb off the side of the building that the wall-crawler failed to stop, and three hundred people died because of it.

Spidey's probably going to be a little mad about that...

In Detail...

"One Small Break"
Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #31
Jul 2001 : SM Title
Summary: (#129) Fusion
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  Paul Jenkins
Pencils:  Mark Buckingham
Inker:  Wayne Faucher
Cover Art:  Humberto Ramos
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (PPSM) #2
Articles: Flash Thompson, Fusion II, Jameson, J. Jonah, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

At the beginning of the issue, we find a very disgruntled-looking Peter Parker soaking in his bathtub, stewing over the beating Fusion gave him, and feeling guilty for the three hundred people he couldn't save. Peter gets out of the tub and, clad only in a towel, grabs himself a soda. But he clumsily drops his drink, and as he bends down to pick it up, he also drops his towel. It's at this moment that his new neighbor, Caryn, knocks at the door. Pete tells her not to come in, but she misunderstands and opens the door anyway, to catch Peter desperately trying to cover himself up. Caryn tells Peter that she's not offended by nudity, and then proceeds to ask him to take care of her dog, Barker, for a few days while she's in Las Vegas for work. Begrudgingly, Peter accepts.

Sometime later, Fusion turns up on the news, claiming responsibility for the bombing of the Edgar Tower. He goes on to say that he would not have committed the terrorist act if it weren't for Spider-Man, and he then issues a challenge to the wall-crawler: Fusion says that there are a hundred bombs similar to the one that claimed three hundred lives at the Edgar Tower spread across the city, and that they'll be detonated if Spidey doesn't meet him "were the angels fall".

Having seen the newscast, Peter realizes that Fusion is referring to the boy who died emulating Spider-Man by trying to swing from a warehouse with a piece of string. Pete goes to the library to investigate this further. After some searching, he finds the appropriate news story, and now knows the boy's name, Jeremy Markley, and where to find Fusion. On his way out of the library, Pete runs into his old nemesis Flash Thompson, who gives him some ribbing about Mary Jane leaving him. But Flash assures Pete that things will work out in the end, just like that did for Job of the Bible. Turns out Flash has been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, and he's turned to the Bible. Little does Peter know, though, that it's merely the Cliff Notes version of the Bible.

So Spider-Man swings to meet Fusion, and when he gets there, he tells Fusion how sorry he is for what happened to his son. Fusion calls him a liar, though, and takes the fight to the wall-crawler, using the powers of Iron Man, Venom, and the Human Torch, among others. Fusion dominates the battle, but Spidey finally gets a shot in when Fusion turns into Thor. Spidey then leads Fusion on a bit of a chase, but Fusion's too fast for him, and before long, he tosses Spidey off the side of the building. The badly beaten web-slinger climbs back up to face his enemy again, but Fusion shows him how hopeless the fight is, as he combines the powers of the Hulk, Quicksilver, Mysterio, and the Invisible Woman to create someone totally unbeatable. Fusion uses that combination to sneak up behind Spidey and give him a solid shot to the jaw, which puts him down. And this time, Spidey knows that he can't get back up to face Fusion again, because he has a broken neck.

In General...

Paul Jenkins has crafted yet another wonderful installment of "Peter Parker: Spider-Man". The scene with Peter and Caryn was comical, the motivation for Fusion was very believable, and the cliffhanger was just plain mean, because waiting a month to find out how Spidey gets himself out of this mess is not easy.

And let's not forget the art team of Mark Buckingham and Wayne Faucher. I expressed some trepidation last issue with the art in the non-costume parts of the book, and, while it's still not perfect, I enjoyed it a lot more this issue. The action scenes were spectacular yet again, particularly Spidey's slow motion fall at the end of the book.

But the highlight of the issue for me, is without a doubt, the appearance by Flash Thompson. Flash is probably my favorite Spidey supporting character, and I was thrilled to see him. And the best part is that he wasn't acting like the jerk he was the last time he made an appearance (PP:SM #18... possibly my most-hated Spidey book ever)... he was acting sort of like Peter's buddy, which is the point to which the character had progressed before Howard Mackie changed him back into the bully from 1964. Thank you, Mr. Jenkins, for trying to bring back the Flash that I know.

And after reading the ending of the book, I got a chuckle when I went back and noticed the title of the story.

Overall Rating...

As good as the first part was, this one's even better. Once again, five webs.