Here we have a teen-aged Spider-Man re-imagined into the modern era with all of the exciting nuances, subtle chills, and top-of-the-park fun from the Silver Age of Marvel Comics. Yep, while it is true that these stories are, essentially, targeted for a younger audience, but there are plenty those of us "old timers" who find this title is a welcome friend. As stated, 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 so happy that it is here.
It is another ordinary day in the life of Peter Parker, teen-aged freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle. Peter is called into the office of J. Jonah Jameson, the publisher of The Bugle. It seems that JJJ wants Peter to expand his range as a photographer. He wants Pete to take photos of an art exhibit of Native American totems and artifacts. As it turns out, the exhibit is being hosted by Thomas Fireheart. (Yeah, you see where this one is going, don't you?)
While shooting the exhibit, Peter naturally runs into Fireheart, and just as Fireheart begins to speak (addressing the audience), the lights go out, and a loud crash is heard. Moments later they snap on, only Fireheart's sacred totem — a sacred puma — is missing. Angry, Fireheart bolts for the door, vowing to capture whoever stole his totem. Meanwhile, Peter decides to help, and looks around for clues. Spotting a skylight open, he switches into his spandex union suit, and webs his way into Manhattan's skyline.
As he swings along, he quickly catches up to a fleeing felon, one that he immediately recognizes. As Spidey descends to the rooftops, he catches up with the thief and calls out to her to stop (it is the Black Cat). As he confronts the Cat he tries to convince her that the wooden statue has no intrinsic value. Only the Cat feels that there is some mystical element to it that will augment her already awesome "bad luck" abilities.
At this point, Fireheart approaches the two of them explaining that the totem has no specific mystical abilities and that he has internalized the power of the puma, which is when he transforms into his own alter ego, The Puma. Enraged by the theft, Puma declares his intention to throw down with Black Cat. Before he can attack, Cat casually indicates that Spidey is her partner — something that our hero vehemently denies. Not that does any good, as Puma launches himself at Spidey.
As the two powerhouses go at it, Spidey tries to explain his way out of the fight, only Puma is only interested in whipping the rooftop with May Parker's favorite nephew. Needless to say, as the two of them tussle, Black Cat puts the totem back in her little black bag, and makes good her escape. Even as she beats a hasty retreat, Spidey manages to get through to Puma and convinces him that Spidey is on his side. Then the two head out after Cat.
When they catch up to her, the pair use teamwork (Spidey shoots out a webline across the Cat's path which Puma catches, causing her to trip over the line and fall. Enraged that she's been tripped up (both literally and figuratively) she launches herself at Spidey who catches one on the chin, and is knocked over the edge of the roof. With Spidey out of the way, she turns on Puma. During their tussle, she drops the totem which Spidey (who has webbed himself back to the roof) retrieves.
With the statue in his position, Spidey restrains Puma from clawing Cat, and gives the totem back to Puma, stating that they no longer need to fight. All of which leaves Cat to exercise the better part of valor, leaps over the edge of the building, and makes good her escape. As she retreats into the night, Spidey and Puma resolve their difference and Puma offers Spidey a Spider totem, which Peter politely declines, even as he heads back to The Bugle to sell his pictures to JJJ. Only, when he arrives he learns that he can't make a sale as a nearby traffic chopper snapped a picture of the fight which Jonah is going to use as Page One.
Another stellar story from scripter Marc Sumerak. By pairing both volatile Puma and cute but unstable Black Cat up with our hero, he has presented an interesting dynamic of having two cat creatures in the same story. This gives us a bit of juxtapositioning of their powers and abilities, all the while displaying them in the same story and seeing how each plays off Spidey.
Not only is nice to see Spidey play against other heroes who aren't out to boil his blood, but the Cat is also fun (this in spite of the fact that she is something of an unstable loon). She is still either under the impression that Spidey is her (sometimes) partner, or she is just another conniving wench who is attempting to use her feminine wiles on the (younger?) hero. In either case, I always enjoy her appearances.
Overall, this is a fine tale to read as it is full of fun, adventure, heroics, and is a pleasure to read.
Black Cat and Puma are both classic Spidey characters of whom we should get to see more of in Spidey's various comics. While I know that they have met (and even dated) in the standard Marvel Universe, this is the first time that they have met in the Marvel Adventures Universe (which as we know, has no real connection to the Standard Marvel U, right?) Anyway, while they didn't play well together here, this time out, I suppose that there is still hope that they will get along better next time out.
There is another new one-page of Chris Giarrusso mini-marvel story at the end of this tale, unfortunately this one doesn't have Spidey in it, but offers up a another look into the lives of green, blue, and red Hulks as they spend it at the pool. Again, it is hysterical.
As always there is more Chris Giarrusso that can be found at his website.