On the Panel – Amazing Spider-Man (2014)
This particular issue of Amazing Spider-Man functions nicely as a microcosm of Peter Parker as a character. Structurally the story starts off with everything going very well in his academic, home and Spider-Man life, progresses to his sense of responsibility getting in the way and ends up with everything that was good about his life being lost.
I found it interesting to see a different side of Peter Parker’s early days here where he wasn’t all that interested in crime fighting initially; the use of the other super hero cameos as Spider-Man photographed them from a distance was great as it showed that Peter didn’t feel like he was one of them and wasn’t ready to join them in their mission to help people. Props to the team for showing Iron Man in his bulky golden suit early days too, how far things have come.
It’s a rare thing to see Peter Parker’s personal life going so well, especially in these early days but it’s good to see him happy, mingling with friends and academically being praised. I’ll even forgive the plot convenience of him earning an internship in the exact field that he needs in order to defeat the villain. I liked how quickly Peter jumped into blaming himself for the current problem, he’s aware that Spider-Man directly inspired Clash so feels it is his responsibility to take him down. Using the word “responsibility” is key here because it has always underpinned everything that Peter does ever since his career as the costumed hero began.
His confrontation with Clash was pretty well done as well, it takes place in the offices of the Daily Bugle which is a very familiar arena for Spidey to battle in especially given how much hatred and trouble Jameson’s hostile attitude attracts. There’s a nice callback to Spidey’s first battle with The Vulture where he used a device to simply deactivate his wings in the use of a similar device to disrupt Clash’ mechanically created abilities. The twist here being that it simply doesn’t work and Clash escapes.
As a villain I’m still not sold on Clash and really don’t care to have him reappear in the present day set comics given how irritatingly immature he is. I do like the idea of an arrogant wannabe hero that is inspired by Spider-Man but doesn’t follow his example very well so it’s a shame that the execution of this concept isn’t better. Maybe he’ll get better but the appearances so far haven’t been inspiring.
Following the battle it all comes crashing down around Peter pretty quickly. He is reprimanded at school for stealing the equipment he used to build the device that failed to stop Clash, his new friends shun him quicker than they accepted him, Aunt May receives a call from the school counselor about his behaviour and informing her that they’re liable for the cost of the equipment. To top that off Jameson fires him for being unable to get pictures of a fight happening in front of him. This all causes Peter to retreat inside himself and blame himself for inspiring Clash as well as feeling like he’s let down Uncle Ben. It’s such a familiar Spider-Man thing for Peter’s life to fall apart spectacularly with one event after so much good will being built up, it’s almost tragically funny in a way to see it destroyed so quickly.
Another excellent story from Peter’s early days that doesn’t disrupt the story continuity of the time in any noticeable way. Slott’s story cleverly shows what could be the first -chronologically speaking- instance of being Spider-Man directly ruining every good thing that Peter Parker has built up in his life. It serves as an effective microcosm of the character in general and deals with the fundamentals of who he is and what he stands for perfectly. It’s let down slightly by the use of the limp villain Clash who just isn’t getting better but a strong read nonetheless