On the Panel – The Amazing Spider-Man
After what feels like forever we finally get the conclusion to The Amazing Spider-Man arc “Learning to Crawl” which rounds out the untold story of Peter Parker’s early days as Spider-Man.
Throughout this story Peter has been having trouble growing into his powers as well as dealing with the guilt he’s been feeling over Uncle Ben’s death. In terms of the guilt that is something that will never go away but this story is supposed to tell the tale of how he became able to live with himself.
At first he was meandering around unfocused taking down villains like the Vulture but without any real direction followed by staying out of trouble and photographing other superheroes from the sidelines but this issue really hammers home his identity as a hero as well as his methods. The trigger for this is a simple one where Aunt May tries parenting instead of recommending therapy and really telling him what his Uncle Ben was like as a person. It is made clear through this discussion that his uncle did everything he could to help people, often at the expense of himself. Also he did what he could to make Peter and presumably other people laugh but everything he did was to inspire hope in other people so that they felt that any problem could be overcome.
It was clearly something that Peter really needed to hear because it causes him to forge ahead with renewed determination and a stronger focus on the kind of man he wants to be. Something that’s immediately put into focus in his battle with the ever uninteresting Clash. The villain being fought wasn’t the important thing in this case as it was more about showcasing a Spider-Man who has found himself and knows what he has to do. This is the first time chronologically that we see Spidey use his trademark cheesy one liners while fighting a criminal because it calms his nerves, distracts the enemy and keeps the innocents around him from panicking (at least in this case). Clash is easily defeated because going toe to toe with Spidey isn’t something he’s equipped to do.
Most importantly in this battle is that Spidey is leading by example and inspiring others to have hope. Not to mention the fact that he’s selflessly sacrificing himself for the good of others. It’s well known that Peter takes a lot of inspiration from what his Uncle taught him and it’s great to have it reinforced in this way. The last page excellently sums up Spider-Man in several ways with his declaration that he’ll never quit amid a backdrop of all the moments that defined him as a hero as well as some of the key moments that might have made him quit.
Some might say that this is a story that didn’t need to be told and they’d sort of be right but of all the issues that have went back to earlier times in Peter’s career as Spider-Man I’ve found this arc to generally be the most effective. This last issue in the story did a great job of showcasing a Spider-Man transitioning from being ready to give up and completely unsure of himself to being in a situation where he knows who he is and what he has to do. There was never really an issue in the early days that defined this so clearly so it does feel that a gap has been filled in the mythos.