Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #4

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Filling Gaps

This review was first published on: 2006.

In Detail...

"Memory Lane!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #4 (Story 1)
Year 1984 : SMURF 258.700 : SM Title
Summary: Aunt May's past, Johnny Jerome
Editor:  Al Milgrom, Danny Fingeroth
Writer:  Bill Mantlo
Pencils:  Kerry Gammill, Sal Buscema
Inker:  Carlos Garzon
Cover Art:  Al Milgrom
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 Reprinted In: Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #4
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Black Cat, Nathan Lubensky

The black suit is taking Spider-Man for a middle-of-the-night swing - unbeknown to Peter, who unwittingly turns the police on to a bank robbery. Meanwhile, Aunt May is out walking. She remembers a time when she used to go dancing with a man called Johnny Jerome. Meanwhile, the black costume drops Pete off back in his bed.

In the morning, Nathan Lubensky phones Peter and says he thinks May could be in trouble. He swings over to his old house at Forest Hills. Nathan tells him that May was out most of the night, then slumped in her chair, wet-through, after reading through some letters. Nathan adds that, around a week ago, May began to get letters and seemed very distracted by them. Peter reads the letters while she's sleeping - they are love letters from someone called Johnny.

Nathan says he is worried and Peter agrees to follow her - for her own good. He is worried she's going senile. Pete follows her cab to Coney Island. Once there, May remembers a time when Ben Parker warned her away from Johnny Jerome. May is on a carousel that begins to go out of control. Spider-Man stops it but May is oblivious and wanders off. She remembers when Johnny gave her a pearl necklace (get your minds out of the gutter) on top of the ferris wheel. She turned it down, despite Johnny's promise of the high life.

Back in Forest Hills, Peter noses around the attic and finds a valentine's card to May from someone who isn't Uncle Ben. He stumbles across the name Johnny Jerome again, so goes to the Bugle to see what he can find. Peter finds out he's a criminal, convicted of murder, recently released from prison. Back at Forest Hills, May has left again and Pete deduces she has returned to her childhood home. He swings across the city and watches May entering her old house (that's called breaking and entering where I'm, from). Peter interrupts some local thugs who look to follow her, while May finds an aged Johnny. She remembers when he asked her to marry him. He asks her again.

May remembers to the day he asked her to marry him the first time. Ben Parker shows up and reveals that Johnny is wanted by the police for a robbery and shooting. He says the necklace Johnny offered May is stolen. Johnny runs for it as the police close in, while Ben comforts May. Back in the present, May says Johnny can no longer live in the past. She tells him he has to find somewhere to live at peace with his memories. Back at Forest Hills, May tells Nathan she's ready to give him some explanations.

In General...

Boy, that Ben Parker is some snitch isn't he? I mean what kind of stalker follows a woman around, spying on her boyfriend and then interferes when there's a proposal in the open? Not only that but May's into a spot of breaking and entering herself! Looks like those Parkers are quite a slippery lot.

As for the story itself ... it's not intrinsically bad, it's just that nothing really happens. We now have slightly more of an insight into how Ben and May got together but the story is pretty staggered to get that far. Spidey's action scenes are also very contrived. A fairground ride breaking down, some nameless thugs looking to attack May. It's a bit cliched and old-fashioned and the story never really gets going because of it.

Overall Rating...

Overall, there's nothing too offensive here, yet nothing that really inspires either. I think the expression 'meh' was invented for this kind of thing.