This title is truly a unique experiment; casting a classic version of Spider- Man only set in a modern age, it delivers both the feeling and fun of old- time continuity (for older fans) which has been retro-fitted into Spidey's history, yet (and this is the really cool part), holds no real impact on the current incarnation of the character. So, for us old timers, it simply doesn't get any better than this!
The title is truly one part retro Spidey as a teen (think Marvel Age: Spider- Man), one part Modern Spidey as a teen (Ultimate Spider-Man), and two parts Classic Spidey as a teen (Silver Age Amazing Spider-Man); making it something more than an alternate universe Spidey, but just shy of an actual continuity implant. All of which makes this series not only fun to read, but quite honestly very entertaining.
Mysterio returns to make Spidey's life miserable by turning him into a laughing stock in front of all New York. He does this by pretending to go legit in a Broadway hi-tech "magic" show, while secretly attempting to rob a nearby bank.
While web swinging through mid-town New York City, Spidey flies smack into an enormous version of his foe, Mysterio, who, as a former Hollywood stuntman, has managed to confuse and confound our hero on a number of occasions with his high-tech wizardry. Only, as soon as he gathers his senses he realizes that this "Mysterio" is not another special effect, but an actual oversized statue that stands outside a Broadway theater with a lit-up marquee that proclaims, "Marvel at the Madness of Mysterio!"
Somewhat confused by this turn of events, Spidey drops down to a limo waiting by the curb and strikes up a conversation with the driver. The driver informs the Webbed Wonder that Mysterio has apparently gone legit, and now has the hottest show in the City as he wows audiences night-after-night with his staged magics. Doubtful that this could be at all possible, Spidey lets himself into the show.
Once inside, he observes Mysterio using his high-tech trickery to amaze the audience with the likes of presenting what appears to be a living, fire- breathing dragon on stage. Adding insult to injury he also spots Peter Parker's new photo nemesis, Andy Anderson in the audience apparently taking pictures for The Daily Bugle.
Just as Mysterio bids his dragon to breath fire on the audience, Spidey (who obviously sees the dragon) makes his presence known by webbing its jaws shut, much to the chagrin of the audience. Accompanied by boos and catcalls by the audience, Spidey drops onstage to confront his old foeman. Informing the green- domed villain, Spidey informs him that he is taking him in. Taking it in stride, Mysterio calmly informs the audience that he is now going to whale the tar out of Spidey, effectively teaching him never again to interrupt his show. So saying, from across the stage, Mysterio takes several swings at Spider-Man and, somehow, begins to pummel our hero unmercifully. Now, more confused than ever, Spidey can't figure out how Mysterio is managing to deliver such an effective beat down on him from all the way across the stage. His pride (and self) sorely aching, Spidey swings off, while Mysterio takes a bow to thunderous applause.
The next morning, Daily Bugle Publisher J. Jonah Jameson is beside himself with glee as he holds up the front page of The Bugle with Andy's photo of Spidey getting clobbered by Mysterio. Peter is also there, and as can be expected, is quite glum, while Andy (who arrives on the scene) is as happy as Peter is downcast. For his part, Jonah puts the boys together and shoves them out his door with instructions for Peter to learn how to take pictures like Andy.
As the boys exit The Bugle's offices, Andy reveals that he has been shooting backstage photos of Mysterio and has learned a thing or two about the tricks he pulls on stage (like the long-distance punches were delivered via compress air blasts). Peter tries to warn Andy that no matter what line Mysterio is feeding him, that the man is a criminal and is up to no good. Needless to say, Andy chalks this up to professional jealousy, and blows Peter off. That night, backstage at the show, Andy again meets with Mysterio and learns that because of Spider-Man's appearance the previous night; the show's attendance has rocketed up, making him the hottest ticket in the City.
Mysterio muses that this show will eclipse his fame as a Hollywood stuntman, "Or as a notorious criminal," quips Andy. It is this offhanded comment that gives Andy's first glimpse of the monster that is Mysterio. A few days later, Spidey swings past the theater housing Mysterio's show, only to have a German tourist inquire if he was planning to re-join the newly- crowned NY sensation onstage to once again have his clock cleaned. Backstage, Andy is framing shots for late on, and imagining himself receiving awards for his photojournalistic skills in capturing the true essence of Mysterio; he winds up falling through an illusionary floor.
In Queens, Peter and Aunt May are having dinner when the phone rings. It is Andy who is frightened and desperately calling Peter for help. He needs Spider-Man to come to his rescue, and he desperately needs Pete to locate Spidey to arrange for Andy's rescue. At first Pete plays coy, claiming not to know how to reach Spider-Man, but he not only hears the desperation and fear in Andy's voice, but he loses contact with Andy, and fears the worst (we can see that Andy has been captured by Mysterio).
Quickly, Peter makes an excuse to his Aunt, bolts out of the house, and (after a quick costume change), swings back to mid-town and once again confronts Mysterio on stage. Only this time, when the domed one attempts to bring our hero down with air-blast punches, Spidey is ready for him, and easily avoids the hi-tech air punches by jumping over the blast of air, and landing a couple of roundhouse punches that shatter Mysterio's globed helmet and reveals that he is actually a very sophisticated robot.
This time it is Spidey that is cheered by the crowd. Heading backstage to look for Andy, Spidey quickly locates the fake floor, and descends to the tunnel below the theater. Spidey follows it until he locates another illusionary wall. Walking through it, Spidey discovers Andy tied up in a bank's vault and the real Mysterio, who is calmly emptying all of the safety deposit boxes. Mysterio is gloating that the stage show is merely a cover for his best idea yet.
It is at this point that Spidey reveals himself and engages Mysterio in a fight. Despite some good clips by the villain, and being gassed by him, Spidey manages to deck the career criminal and rescue Andy. The next day, Andy is despondent over the fact that he lost his camera, with all those pictures of Mysterio, in the scuffle. Peter then reveals that he followed Spidey into the vault and managed to rescue Andy's camera, and returns it to him. Ever in character, Andy now gloats what a dufus that Peter is, as the pictures are worth a bundle.
Man-o-man, this stuff just gets better and better with every issue. I seriously haven't this much continuous fun in a Spider-Man comic since Roger Stern was writing Amazing Spider-Man full-time. Spidey's dialogue and characterization is so reminiscent of his early youth, that you can just feel the presence of Stan Lee in the wings. The art radiates a pure, youthful vibrancy and energy that is unfortunately missing in many of today's comics. This title is in the spirit of the "all in color for a dime" ancestors that preceded it - even if there are more dimes in that stack than there used to be there back in '62
Heck, you really can't get comics any better than this!
As an unavoidable aside, I so wish that Marvel artists and/or editors could agree if The Bugle is a tabloid or a broadsheet paper. Tabloids are set up "portrait" (like the New York Daily News) while broadsheets appear "landscape" and are folded horizontally across the center (like the New York Times). In this issue, The Bugle is displayed as a broadsheet, when it really should be (and has been) a tabloid.
Also, during several scenes Peter is wearing a T-shirt that has a saying on it, only the saying is never really clearly seen, only in subsequent panels you can eventually see all of the letters and then can put them together to read what it says, which is "There's always room for pie." Only the last words isn't the word "pie" but is the symbol for the mathematical statement "pi." Knowing what a math geek Peter is, makes this T-shirt totally something that he would wear, and thus stop-in-your-tracks funny. It is precisely this sort of lightness that makes this comic as fun as it is. If you aren't reading it, you certainly should.
If you are looking for a jumping-on point into the Spidey legend, have a friend (or know a child), to whom you are attempting to introduce to Spidey's wondrous mythos, then this is the series you want to pitch. For with this series, Marvel recalls both casual and new (or young) reader need a place to jump on, and get hooked with the magic of Marvel.