There is a widely held belief that the kinds of comics you started reading when you began reading comics are the kind of comics that stay with you the rest of your life. Sure, sure, most of us started with Archies, and moved on to other stuff it is this that truly hooked us in. For this writer it was the magic that was wrought by Stan Lee that - much to the dismay of my wife, the chagrin of my father, and the embarrassment of my kids - forever altered my life.
Why do I bring this up now, you may ask, simply because every month that I read MASM, I am magically transported back to those days. Truly, this is the beauty of comics; the ability to make us all kids again. Sure, sure I still love ASM and USM, but there is truly something magical about MASM. Perhaps it is the purity and simplicity of the stories, or the `gosh wow` approach all of the writers have taken with each issue, or perhaps it is that while the entirety of the concept exists squarely within the precepts of the established Marvel Universe, the series itself has been set adrift and is not encumbered by the actual weight of some 45 years of continuity.
As such, this then is the most perfect comicbook that Marvel currently publishes.
As per the norm, we begin in the middle, with Fin Fang Foom soaring over Manhattan and our webbed hero swing up after him. Flash back to the day before, at the New York Natural History Museum where Peter Parker runs into Liz Allan in the gift shop. Peter is there voluntarily while Liz is there because her parents dragged her there. She playfully "scares" Peter with a Chinese Dragon hand puppet (a harbinger of things to come). Pete leaves the gift shop and heads to the main attraction, a very large item (currently covered in a tarp) that had apparently been frozen in a block of ice and recently thawed.
The presentation is being made by "Professor Lee" and "Professor Kirby" (who looks suspiciously like our own Beloved Stan the Man, and King Jack). As Professor Lee explains, the creature was probably flash-frozen during the Ice Age and then thawed due to global warming. The pair of Professors then unveil the object to reveal Gigantus Leekirbyus, a dragon (yes kids, Fin Fang Foom).
As the presentation goes on, a storm begins outside the museum and a stray bolt of lightening strikes the creature, reviving it. Which, naturally enough, causes a panic among the gathered patrons (who include Liz and her parents). Upon his revival, Fin Fang Foom grabs up Liz and questions her as to where is what is going on, and where his vestments have gone. Professor Lee explains that the was tattered cloth at the scene. Enraged, Foom grabs up a curtan and fashions a pair of shorts for himself, and announces himself as Fin Fang Foom. It is this point that Spidey appears on the scene, webs up Foom's eyes, and attempts to rescue Liz. Foom flaps his wings and takes off, crashing through the roof of the building.
After tearing off the webbing - and realizing that it was Spidey that put it there - Foom drops our hero. Spidey manages to stop his downward descent before he becomes street pizza, as Foom winds up high atop the Chrysler building. There, he relates to Liz how he became frozen in a block of ice, and how he will summon his people back to his side. Liz responds by telling him about her "people" (family, friends, etc.), whereupon Foom tosses her off the building, as she is beginning to bore him.
As Spidey before her, Liz's rapid descent is also abruptly stopped; only in her case it is Spidey's webbing that saves the day. After making sure that Liz is okay, Spidey swings up to confront Foom. As he approaches the dragon Foom - who has been attempting to contact his people - breathes fire in Spidey's direction, forcing him back down the building. Recovering from the fire attack, Spidey again ascends the building, and is scooped up by the dragon.
When Spidey gets face to mask with Foom, he tells the dragon that even if Spidey were to die, then there are other heroes on the planet who will follow him and attack the dragon. It is at this point that Foom realizes that he really is alone, and that over the passing centuries, that he truly is alone, and that his people are really gone. Resigned to accept this knowledge, Foom lets Spidey go, and then flies back to the Himalayas and allows himself to be refrozen, as Spidey watches Liz become reunited with her parents and returns home.
I've got to say that this is one of those stories that works on several levels, first we have Spidey meeting up with Fin Fang Foom, one of the classic Lee/Kirby monsters created during the pre-Silver age of Marvel. You have the monster introduced by the dynamic duo of Lee and Kirby themselves, and you have Spidey cracking wise during the entire story. Seriously, what could be better than this? Yeah, yeah, Spidey and Foom really don't have any business in the same story, but you know, why not? Peter David does a most excellent job working these two disparate elements of the Marvel Universe into the same story.
As always, Peter David proves that there is plenty of room for classic-type storytelling draped with new sensibilities. While it is clear that this book is specifically targeted for younger and/or new readers, it rather obvious that it is a perfect vehicle for those of us old-timers who are still a part of the fold. The book is fun, breezy, and full of life. A clear winner for any reader.
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 these comics, 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.