Spider-Man Unlimited (Vol. 3) #12

Background

Spider-Man Unlimited seems to focus on stories that aren't important to current continuity, but may (or may not) be worth telling anyway. Written and drawn by guest writers and artists.

Story 'Private Conversation'

Peter sits at the head of his science class and calls out the roll. He thinks to himself that none of these kids share the love he has of science, except for one of his students. He calls out the name, "Sidorsky," and gets no reply. Surprised, he looks up and sees Paul Sidorsky's chair empty...an occurrence that has never taken place before.

After his first class, Pete makes his way to the main office of the school and asks a secretary if anyone had called in for Paul. She informs him that the night prior, someone had broken into Paul's house and shot both his parents before getting away. Peter feels an eerie sense of déjà vu.

Paul reminded Peter almost exactly of himself from his high school days...shy, bookish, extremely smart and extremely nerdy. But Peter recalls that Paul was completely comfortable being the nerdy brainiac, whereas Peter himself was never that comfortable.

Back at the Avengers Tower, Peter eats dinner with his family and relates the tale to them. Aunt May recalls the similarities between Paul's situation and Uncle Ben's death, and Peter says that wants to go over there and talk to him, though he's not sure if it's his place as the boy's teacher. Jarvis tells Peter that he would be surprised how many of the Avengers share a similar experience.

Peter flashes back to an instance where the bell had rung to end class and Paul, lost in his thoughts, still sat in his seat. Paul asks Peter if he's ever wondered what Spider-Man's webbing is made of. Peter suggests Paul goes home to relax, while Paul continues with his thoughts on Spidey's web. Peter tells him that while Paul may not have a wife, he does, and he needs to go home.

A week after Paul's parents' deaths, Spider-Man swings to Paul's apartment window. Paul is shocked to see him, and even goes as far as to make sure that he's not a clone (HA!). Spidey tells Paul that Peter told him about his situation, and invites Paul to come with him to meet other people who have been in similar situations and still come out on top. The two of them swing away from Paul's apartment, and towards Avengers Tower, in which they find Captain America, Iron Man, Daredevil, Luke Cage, The Thing, Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, Kitty Pryde, and Stature. Peter announces that everyone in this room have lost one or both of their parents.

One by one, each of the people in that room talk to Paul about their experiences and how to stay positive in light of this tragedy. Spidey is just as amazed as Paul at his associates' humanity, and how helpful they are. When Spidey bring Paul back to his apartment, Paul announces that that had been the greatest night of his life. Spidey throws Paul a card with Peter Parker's cell number on it, saying that Peter says to call him anytime for any reason, and that he's available after school to talk science. Then Spidey fires a webline onto the wall and tells Paul he has one hour to study it. An excited Paul gets to work.

General Comments

It's stories like these that make me glad they made Peter a high school teacher (even though I was pretty sure he recently got fired in MK: SM, but whatever). Simple stories that don't hang the fate of the planet in balance, but instead, the fate of one person's emotional state. The fact that the Avengers and the Fantastic Four have teamed up to make a young boy feel better about losing his parents rather than teaming up to fight Galactus makes this story much more heartfelt, and the parallels between Peter's own losses do it up one more time. The story isn't epic, but it said exactly what was intended in its fifteen pages, and it didn't need a super-villain to do so.

Overall Rating

I'm gonna give this one four webs. It's not a super-hero story, it's a story about Peter Parker wanting to help someone who reminds him of himself, and doing what he can to do so. Good characterization, I think.