Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #20

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Jeff English (E-Mail)


Now that Peter Parker has come to terms with the death of his wife, Mary Jane, he must find a way to carry on in what he has left of a life. And this is why he finds himself at the grave of his Uncle Ben.

Story 'The Best Medicine'

  Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #20
Summary: Memories issue, Uncle Ben
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Pencils: Mark Buckingham
Inker: Dan Green
Cover Art: Mark Buckingham

On a rainy afternoon, Peter Parker beside the grave of his dear, departed Uncle Ben, trying to rediscover one of the only things he has left in this trying time: his sense of humor. He looks back on how he used to have fun catching crooks, and then back further, to his early days living with Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Peter remembers how Ben helped develop the sense of humor that got him through rough days at school. He recalls a war of practical jokes that started when his Uncle dumped a bucket of water on his head, and went on for years, only ending when Aunt May inadvertently sat on a whoopee cushion meant for Uncle Ben.

Then Peter looks back on the bite of the radioactive spider, and his brief show-biz career, and the crook that he failed to stop who put Uncle Ben in that grave. And Peter looks at how he has tried for so long to make up for that one mistake, fighting guys like the Vulture, Sandman, Kraven, Lizard, and Mysterio, and laughing all the way through it, as if to honor his Uncle. His sense of humor survived Gwen's death, and the subsequent battle with the Green Goblin, but now that Mary Jane's dead, Peter doesn't think he can go on. He blames himself, as if he needs the death of another loved one on his conscience. And he doesn't even get a chance to grieve, because the crooks won't give him a day off. At a recent bank robbery, Spider-Man went through the four thieves quickly and viciously, without saying a word. The last one points a shotgun at the wallcrawler and Spidey walks straight for him, just staring him down, until he gives up.

Sitting at his Uncle's grave, Peter talks about the confrontation with the final thug, and how he was almost hoping that the criminal would shoot him, so that it would all be over. He says that with MJ gone, he doesn't know how he can laugh, and if he can't laugh, how can he be Spider-Man? He finally asks his Uncle, "You tell me what's funny". And with that, a car drives by, splashing Peter with mud. He sits stunned for a moment, before wiping off his face and bursting into laughter.

General Comments

Okay, I just want to say this now and get it out of the way. I was very, very, very slightly, to an infinitesimally small degree disappointed with this issue, solely because I didn't think it was quite as touching as Mr. Jenkins' brilliant Webspinners #12.

But that doesn't matter. This issue was spectacular. A moving script by Paul Jenkins with a very simple, yet very appropriate ending. Beautiful art by Mark Buckingham, especially the two pin-up style pages, with Spidey and all his villains (that is a genuinely frightening Green Goblin).

After reading this book, I sat it down and felt good. And it's the first time in awhile that a Spidey book has done that for me.

Overall Rating

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Buckingham have arrived. It's going to be fun. Four and a half webs.

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Jeff English (E-Mail)