Comics : Spider-Man: Family

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This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

As odd as this may sound, over the past 43+ years there have been several people who have been Spider-Man (Peter Parker, yes, but also Ben Reilly, Miguel O'Hara and even a pig named Peter Porker - not to mention three women who have taken up the name of Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew, Julia Carpenter, and Mattie Franklin), at least one calling herself Spider-Girl, not to mention a numbers of others (Arana) who have shared the Spider-motif. This title unites them all (yes, all) for the very first time in a single title.

The true purpose of this title is to have some fun recycling a number of Spider-reprints while spinning them together with a new 16-page story, at the same time capitalizing on both the newfound popularity of Spider-Woman, and her and Spidey's high-profile gigs as members of the Avengers.

A new story, told from the perspective of May "Mayday" Parker, the daughter of the one, true Spider-Man, which (left-handedly) spins together all of the various Spider-Men. The title also reprints the first issues of Peter Porker Spider-Ham, Spider-Man 2099, and Untold Tales of Spider-Man, plus the first meeting of Spider-Man and Spider-Woman (Drew). Also reprinted is a classic Fred Hembeck bit of silliness Petey: the adventures of Peter Parker long before he became Spider-Man (from 1977).

In Detail...

"Old Enemies Never Die"
Spider-Man: Family (Story 1)
Year 2005 : SM Title
Summary: Original Spider-Girl/Peter Porker Story.
Editor:  Molly Lazer
Writer:  Tom DeFalco
Pencils:  Ron Lim
Inker:  Norm Rapmund
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Family (Giant-Size Reprint)

May "Mayday" Parker is accosted in school by a few of her friends who are waving around a videotape of an old bootlegged cartoon series. The series is Peter Porker: Spider-Ham. Later on that evening, May finds herself watching the old cartoon aghast that her father would have allowed this travesty to have occurred. Just then Peter walks into her room and May asks him about the cartoon. Peter grows serious and rolls his eyes over the 'toon. He explains that some unscrupulous producer knocked out the series, and it was never authorized nor did he ever collect any royalties from it, and he had hoped that he had seen the last of it several years back.

He relates how he (at the behest of J. Jonah Jameson looked into the company producing the series (unbeknownst to JJJ it was actually Spidey who did the investigating, not Peter). Only when Peter arrived at the offices of the production company, what he found was not the company principals, but Arana and her companion/bodyguard/mentor the Spider-Mage, Miguel, who were also looking into the production company.

Arana and Miguel (who had arrived first) brought Spidey into what can only be descried as The Hall of Spiders: a room full of statues of virtually every version of Spider-Man that had ever appeared some sporting different costumes (black, armor, etc.), others that were actually different Spider-Men (The Scarlet Spider, Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Ham), while others that were simply "variant" Spider-men (Spidey with six arms). Without warning, the multiple Spidey's come to life, and attack the trio of heroes.

After a brief battle, Miguel reveals "the man behind the wall" who is controlling the errant Spider-Men. The culprit turns out to be Jack O' Lantern, who turned out to be the niece of the original Mysterio who had taken over the role of Jack. Peter winds up the story by revealing that managed to subdue her. Peter theorizes that she had developed the cartoon (never realizing how close to his actual name "Peter Porker" was, which she obviously chose merely for it's alterative properties) to smoke him out and didn't count to the presence of Arana, which helped tip the battle in his favor.

Determined to learn who is now behind the new release of the video, May changes into her costume and heads off to locate the company's home office, which is located in the city. She arrives at the office only to learn that the female Jack O' Lantern is back at the helm of the firm, and still out for revenge. After a brief battle, May defeats Jack, only to learn that Jack was actually a robot. Confused, but satisfied, Spider-Girl swings off, leaving behind (unbeknownst to her) a grown up Arana and Miguel, who (although they have apparently all but disappeared from the current scene) apparently still very much active.

In General...

At the risk of going all Spider-Geek fanboy here, this reviewer has got to say that the very concept of a "Spider-Man Family" title has me as giddy as a schoolgirl. What a truly great idea! A place where all of the various Spider- Characters can get together and commune in a safe, secure place. I mean, seriously, Imagine this as a quarterly title that not only spins continuity- spanning stories but allows for the reprinting of long out-of-print Spider- Titles, so as to maintain the cohesiveness of the various Spider-characters.

Personally, this reviewer is a big fan of both the concept and the title!

Overall Rating...

To be able to wrap all of the various Spideys into a single tale (and make it more fun than convoluted) deserves five webs all by itself, the only thing bringing this down half a web is that Scarlet Spider is only there as a construct, instead of his own live (revived) self. Actually, also pulling this down (slightly) is the lack of appearance of the other two Spider-Women (sure both the Untold tale and the Hembeck Petey were fun to read, but I would have almost preferred to have read a tale each from both of the Spider-Women, as well as a Spidey Mini Marvel. Had this occurred, this title would have (in this humble reviewer's opinion) truly lived up to the (all-Spidey) blurb on the cover.

Still, this is not to say that the title was not totally fun, it truly was! Here's hoping that sales will warrant that Marvel will continue the title as an occasional (quarterly?) release, where it can continue to cross-pollinate the various Spider titles.

Footnote...

Reprints include Spider-Woman #20, Peter Porker: Spider- Ham #1, Spider-Man 2099 #1, and Untold Tales of Spider-Man #1. According to Mike P. (who contacted me via. the Internte) the Petey story ("The Devil and Mrs. Parker" ) was reprinted was from Untold Tales of Spider-Man Annual 1997