Imagine Spider-Man as teen-ager who exists in the world of today, but re-imagined for the modern era with all of the exciting nuances and top-of-the-mark fun from the Silver Age of Marvel Comics. It is important to say that while it is certainly true that these stories are targeted for a much younger audience than the typical Marvel Comic; it should be noted that there are plenty those of us "old timers" who were around during those halcyon days who find this title as a welcome friend. In this version of the Marvel Universe, it is present-day America, and Peter Parker is still 15, attending Midtown High, and a part-time freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle.
This, my friends, is the Marvel (Adventure) Universe, and we are very happy that it is here, as we have come to be entertained.
The day starts as normal, the hapless Peter Parker is (once again) being chewed out by J. Jonah Jameson, his erstwhile publisher who is berating the young photographer for not getting the kinds of photos that JJJ wants. His current rant is that all Peter brings in are pictures of Spider-Man, and no one wants those kind of pics anymore, only as we all know, JJJ really wants photos of the Webbed Wall-Crawler, still, Peter has to listen, and try to give his boss what he wants, whether or not he really wants it. What Jonah seems to want now are photos of this new criminal, The Prowler.
As he is ushered from Jonah's office, Pete laments his financial situation to Jameson's secretary, Betty Brant , wondering aloud how he is going to pay the bills as he was hoping to sell the Bugle more photos of Spidey. While he is doing this, and before he gets an answer, Sheldon pokes his head into the publisher's office shouting that he has a hot tip he wants to run down, and then dashes out the door, with Peter close on his heels.
Switching to Spidey, Pete follows along as Sheldon goes looking for his story, which isn't long in coming as Spidey spots the Prowler sneaking into the window of the top floor of a high rise. On the ground, a patrol car has its spotlight following the Prowler as he leaps to a nearby building. Impressed, Spidey follows the costumed crook. Spidey soon catches up with him and the two scuffle across the roofs of a building, and Prowler escapes from our teen hero.
Not to be stopped, Spidey recovers and chases after the fleeing criminal, catching up with him a couple of blocks later. Only once he manages to stop the Prowler, Spidey becomes convinced that he was mislead as to the Prowlers intentions and realizes that he is not really a crook. Prowler tells Spidey that he is an inventor and that his devices were stolen from him by someone and he was just trying to steal them back.
Just then, the two costumed youths look up to see a flying stone gargoyle that is making off with one of the stolen devices. Prowler takes off after the beast, with Spidey hot on his heels. They chase the gargoyle for a couple of more blocks before catching up to it and then engaging it in a short fight, before the gargoyle breathes fire at the two young men, causing them to dive for cover and lose tract of the stone creature.
Fortunately the Prowler planted a small GPS on the creature so they are able to track him down to his lair, which is actually a lab belonging to Roxxon Oil. There the scientist who is controlling the gargoyle (whom he refers to Dragon Man) and sics him on Spidey and the Prowler. However the scientist is unable to keep track of the tree combatants, and Spidey manages to swipe the controller from the scientist, and calms Dragon Man down.
Their mission accomplished, Spidey leaves Dragon Man in the capable hands of Prowler, and reminds him that he should not believe everything that he reads in the papers.
In this fine story, the writer manages to successfully combine a number of disparate elements that never were really connected in the Standard Marvel Universe. Here Dragon Man is the puppet of a Roxxon employee (and not a Fantastic Four villain) and is left-handedly tied to the Prowler, a Silver Age Spidey friend and foe. Thus, once again proving that while the core elements to 616 Marvel continuity need not be slavishly adhered to, they are most-excellent building blocks for new stories.
How can you not love this stuff? Spidey being a wise guy, superhero action (with Prowler (one of my favorite "friendly" villains), Roxxon as the ultimate corporate bad guy, and the Dragon Man thrown in for good measure. This stuff is totally cool
During his tirade against Peter, JJJ cites Phil Sheldon the main character of Marvels who documented the early days of the Marvel Universe. Not only is there a four-page X-Men: First Class promo snippet in this issue, but a one-page Marvel Superhero Squad short.