I love this book. In some ways, it is the perfect Spider-Man title. Seriously, think about it. No overbearing plots. No storylines that go on endlessly. No self-important writers drenching their stories with relevance. Just a teen- aged, Spidey, cracking wise, and busting up on the bad guys.
The stories are fun to read; every bit as entertaining, as they were when I was 15, and for all intents and purposes, nothing of any real substance or value will take place in this series, because it is designed for light, easy reading. Nothing heavy, nothing too serious, nothing life threatening. No Superpower Registration Act, no "Other," no beautiful blonde girlfriends getting tossed off bridges, just good, clean fun. Seriously, folks, funnybooks just don't get any better than this!
Peter Parker is on a trip to the Florida everglades on a class trip with the ecology club, and, as you could expect, you simply can't be in Marvel Universe Florida without running into Ted Salis, AKA the Swamp Thing. Only while everyone is out clowning around in the pool, he's sitting alone in his room, because while he packed his Spider-Suit, he forgot his bathing suit.
It is then that he notices a plane went down in the everglades. Always the superhero, he reaches for his webs as he heads for the tree line. Out in the swamp, we find a team of Mercs who are tooling around in one of those fan boats you see at the beginning of CSI Miami, sporting all sorts of military ordanance, including a stinger missile launcher. Obviously it was these boyos that brought the plane down, and now they are looking for the passengers. What they don't know, is that they are being not only tailed by Man Thing, but stalked by Spider-man as well.
Meanwhile, Harry (the object of the Mercs' pursuit, and his 11-year-old daughter, are attempting to pull themselves out of the wreckage of their Cessna. Only the dad is not only injured, but stuck in the plane, and gets his daughter to run for help just as the Mercs approach. Before they can acquire Harry, however, Man Thing enteres the picture and burns one of the Mercs, who screams, and alerts Spidey as to their whereabouts. Harry, somehow convinces Man Thing to go after his daughter and save her, which the beast does, then Harry passes out.
He comes to, just as an alligator is about to turn him into lunch, and he is saved by Spidey (who, as we already know, has some experience dealing with reptiles). Our hero makes short work of the walking luggage, webs Harry into the cockpit to keep him safe, and then makes his way after the daughter, who even now, is being tracked by the other two Mercs. They find her, just as Man Thing reaches them and they decided that the monster could have the little girl, as they beat a hasty retreat.
It is at this point that Spidey arrives on the scene, and unaware that Man Thing won't hurt the girl, automatically assumes that the beast is the monster here, and attempts to subdue it the way he would any normal felon, only to learn, that Man Thing is no ordinary felon. As the two protagonists fight each other, the Mercs return and target the unconscious little girl in order to fulfill their original mission, that is to say, kill the girl. When Spidey notices that she is in danger, he rescues her, thus convincing Man Thing that they are both concerned with the same thing, and then they cooperate to save the girl.
Once the girl and her dad are rescued, and the Mercs are turned over to the authorities, Man Thing returns to the swamp, and Spidey to the hotel, where he catches not only the ire of his teacher for leaving the hotel grounds unsupervised, and without permission, but then again from his Aunt May once again when he returns to Queens.
All-in-all a fine story (mostly because we weren't subjected to having to read the Man Thing's catch-phrase-cum-mantra "whatever knows fear...blah, blah, blah" That just gets tiring. The story works well as all the characters are introduced, and brought into the action (even the beleaguered alligator makes a return appearance to threaten the Mercs). Peter is given a reasonable reason to have been in South Florida that doesn't involve chiseling JJJ out of airfare, and he reacts well to discovering this misshapen monstrosity wandering around the swamp.
Peter David truly shines in this title, as there is plenty of room for classic- type storytelling draped with new sensibilities. While it is clear that this book is specifically targeted for new and/or younger readers, it fairly obvious that it is also a perfect for us old-timers as well, as it harkens back to the halcyon days when we first picked up Spidey's books.
The book is fun, breezy, and full of life. A clear winner for any reader.
The all-in-one stories work well in this format, as they set up the story, and then resolve it in short order. There is no reason for long-winded plots, and endlessly unfolding mysteries within crises. This is the type of fast-paced, breezy storytelling that got me hooked on comics (and Spidey) in the first place, and I (for one) am glad to see that it has returned. Plus it is also fun to see some guest stars start to pop up in the book.
Thus, if you are looking for a way to introduce a youngster to Spidey, then this (along with Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four and Marvel Adventures Avengers) is (are) the series that you want to pitch to them. For it is with this family of series, that Marvel recalls it's own colorful (and fun) past and grants new readers a much-need jumping on point, while attempts to hook new readers with the magic that is Marvel comics.
Oh yeah, the comic also has a one-page Mini Marvels story by Chris Giarrusso (www.chrisgcomics.com) which involves Cap, Hulk, and Wolverine attempting to move a couch. Funny stuff.