Comics : Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #26

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Worst of the Worst

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

1992 marked the 30th anniversary of our favorite webbed hero. To commemorate this event, each of the spider-titles took turns with an anniversary issue, complete with a hologram cover. The hologram jacked up the price of each issue, but that's beside the point.

In Detail...

"With Great Responsibility...!"
Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #26 (Story 1)
Sep 1992 : SM Title
Summary: 30th Anniversary, Hologram Cover
Editor:  Danny Fingeroth
Writer:  Tom DeFalco
Pencils:  Mark Bagley, Ron Frenz
Inker:  Al Milgrom, Josef Rubinstein, Keith Williams, Klaus Janson, Mark Texeira, Sam DeLaRosa, Tom Palmer
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Articles: The Burglar, Mary Jane Watson-Parker

A somewhat chunky young man named Stewart Smalls is running down the streets of Manhattan screaming at the top of his lungs for help. As he runs past the pedestrians, he knocks many of them to the ground due to the force field generated by a strange device he's wearing. Following behind Stewart is his older brother Bill, trying desperately to calm him down. They are being followed by John Maxwell, who apparently wants the device Stewart is wearing for as-yet unspecified reasons.

A few blocks away, Peter and Mary Jane are walking along and observe Stewart running past them, still screaming hysterically. Before MJ can turn around, Peter is in costume following Stewart.

Also in close proximity to this excitement is Jimmy Costas. He is unemployed young man and running out of options. One thing to note is that he is wearing a peculiar green flat cap and brown jacket. He hears the screaming and begins to follow the sound to its source.

Stewart has stopped running on the sidewalk and is now in the middle of the street. When a messenger on a motorcycle is unable to stop in time, Stewart instinctively ducks down, inadvertently forming a ramp with the force field. This launches the cyclist high into the air.

Spider-Man catches up to Stewart at this point. He webs two adjacent lampposts and stretches the webbing tightly in an effort to catapult himself up to the airborne cyclist. At this point Jimmy Costas decides to steal a purse from someone in the crowd, hoping it has some money. He runs into Spider-Man seconds before he slingshots himself to save the cyclist. At this point someone screams "Stop him! He's a thief! If he makes it to the corner, he'll get away!". Spidey acknowledges the deja vu moment, but chooses to save the cyclist and his bike.

Using the aerial stunt show to their advantage the Smalls brothers steal a car and escape from Maxwell. Maxwell reports back to Sunset Bain about his failure. She is not pleased and reminds him that he needs to reacquire the device from his former employees or face the consequences.

Later that night MJ notices Peter is acting strangely and gets him to admit this encounter with the purse thief from earlier has him thinking about how he became Spider-Man (suffice to say an origin sequence follows). He tells her that he replays the tragic death of Uncle Ben over and over in his mind, wishing he could correct it somehow. He later goes out as Spider-Man to clear his head.

Elsewhere the Smalls brothers test the force field device by breaking into a grocery store. Spider-Man hears the noise and finds them stealing food. Then Stewart attacks him with the device, driving him through the wall. Outside Maxwell and his goons have tracked them using a device that can locate the generator by its unique frequency. They open fire on Spider-Man. Spidey quickly defeats them and in turn the Smalls brothers.

A short time later, Costas appears and calls out to Spider-Man. He gives the purse to him expressing his disgust at his behavior. He doesn't want to end up like his uncle, so he has decided to turn himself in and hope for the best.

Instead of turning him over to the police, Spidey offers him a second chance, telling him to leave and he'll return the stolen purse. As Costas walks away, Spidey asks who his uncle was. Costas responds that he was nobody, just a simple burglar. At this point Spidey has put all the pieces together.

In General...

Yeah, like you didn't see that little revelation coming from a mile away. DeFalco makes the comparison with "the" Burglar very obvious from panel one. Even readers who would not get the reference immediately know there's some link between Costas and the Burglar as the story practically beats you over the head with it.

One major complaint that I have is the Evel Knievel jump at the beginning. The instant ramp part doesn't bother me, the hang time of the cyclist does. There's no way someone on a cycle can stay in the air long enough (2.5 pages by the way) for Spidey to save him in the way they depicted.

Overall Rating...

2.5 webs. Pretty much a by-the-numbers Spider-Man story. The general story concept is good, it's just poorly executed.

Footnote...

The other 30th anniversary issues for Spider-Man are: