The "All Ages" blurb is still there on the cover but the "Great for New Readers" pitch is history. I guess our extensive letter-writing campaign must have paid off.
This time it's the Sandman that gets the Marvel Age makeover. He fairs a little bit better than the Vulture, the Tinkerer and Doc Ock before him. But not much.
|Plot:||Stan Lee, Steve Ditko|
|Inker:||Pierre Andre Dery|
Spider-Man is smarting over the bad press he is getting from J. Jonah Jameson. He tackles three punks before they actually have a chance to do anything illegal. They respond by accusing the web-slinger of assault and battery and calling for a cop. Still looking to prove himself, Spidey follows a squadron of police cars and comes upon the Sandman. In their fight, the wall-crawler's mask rips and he runs off before anyone can recognize him.
At home, Peter repairs his mask but must quickly cover up his Spidey uniform when Aunt May shows up. In this version, he grabs one of Aunt May's frilly pink robes instead of his own robe and May wonders about "some kind of guilty secret he's trying to hide".
The next day, Pete goes to the Bugle to ask JJJ for an advance. This time, Jonah does more than refuse. He shoves his muffin into Peter Parker's hair.
As in the original, the Sandman ends up at Midtown High School and Spider-Man captures him by sucking him into a vacuum cleaner. At home the next day, Aunt May presents Peter with a surprise... a robe of his own; purple and monogrammed with the initials P.P.
Maybe I'm just getting used to the low quality of this series but it seems like things are on the upswing. As usual, the real strength of the story is the old Lee/Ditko parts that remain essentially the same. This time, the changes work more often than not, though scripter Daniel Quantz still tries too hard to be trendy. Compare the dialogue from the original with the current issue in the scene where Spidey webs up the punks prematurely. The original: "It feels like a piece of web dropped down on us! But... who...?" "Well, it's not Dr. Kildare!" "Spider-Man! We're sunk!" "Shuddup, stupid! I'll handle this!" "If you're thinkin' of puttin' up a fight, brother, let me warn you..." "A fight? The only fight I'll put up is in court! I'm suin' you for assault and battery, and I got witnesses to prove it!" The current: "Who's the wise guy?" "Well, it sure isn't Martha Stewart!" "We're so busted!" "Cool it! Let me handle this!" "What're you gonna do? Head-butt me?" "No, better. I'm takin' you to court! For assault and battery!" Now, with lines like "We're sunk!" and references to Dr. Kildare, there is every reason to update this dialogue. But... Martha Stewart? Head-butt me? There seems to be no reason for these choices except to sound "with it". The lines fall flat and the whole scene collapses.
Other changes in the issue either rise or fall depending on their significance. The scene in which Peter wears May's robe is amusing in and of itself but is further enhanced by the final scene when May gives Pete a robe of his own. Also nice is Jonah Jameson's disbelief that the Sandman is really inside of the vacuum cleaner; a perfectly reasonable doubt when you think about it. JJJ sticking his muffin in Peter's hair, on the other hand, has no purpose and drags the story back down again.
And am I really supposed to take the artwork seriously when the artist's first name is "Jonboy"?
This time, enough is done right (and enough of the original story is retained) to make it the best of the series so far.
It's still not much as Spidey issues go but it may just be the best we can hope for with this series.