Comics : Untold Tales of Spider-Man Anthology
This story is part of a Lookback Series: Book of the Month Club
This review was first published on: 2009.
Moving Day takes place on, well, moving day; somewhere on page 20 of Amazing Spider-Man #46, March 1967. (Um... sort of. ) Is this really necessary?
Untold Tales of Spider-Man Anthology (Story 7)
Summary: Peter moves in with Harry Osborn; Mysterio appears!
May Parker looks at the packed boxes in her bedroom and feels a great sadness. Even though she wants to move in with Anna Watson, she knows how much she will miss Peter and she's reminded of her late husband, Ben. "The move made his absence all the more obvious and painful." She shows Peter the last family portrait they all took before Ben's murder. Peter tells her the moving van is waiting outside. (But this isn't a moving van for May's stuff, since, after all, she's only moving next door. This is a moving van for Peter's stuff as he joins Harry in a Manhattan apartment.) Harry Osborn, Mary Jane Watson, and Gwen Stacy are waiting outside. The truck driver, Joe, tells them he has another job after this one and needs to get moving. So, Pete tells May she's riding in the truck with Joe while he, Harry, MJ, and Gwen take the subway.
As the truck heads toward the 59th Street Bridge, Joe regales May with stories, like the time he walked out on New York's master builder Robert Moses (the man behind the Triborough Bridge, West Side Highway, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and so on). May barely listens. She's lost in memories of her house: when she and Ben signed the papers, when Peter came to live with them, Peter's first Christmas there when Ben bought him a bike, which Peter took apart and put back together again.
The traffic comes to a standstill. May's memories proceed up to the night Ben was killed which so wounded her that she never went near Ben's armchair and was never able to open the window through which the Burglar came through again. Joe spies a super-hero battle taking place by the Chrysler Building and hopes it involves Daredevil. "I like Daredevil," he explains. Joe turns on the radio to find out what's what and learns that Spider-Man is fighting Mysterio. May is not thrilled. "Criminals like this Mysterio or the Sandman are captured by the Avengers and the Fantastic Four," she says, "Why is Spider-Man so special?" Joe doesn't know but he thinks, "Spidey's all right." As the battle continues, May can stand no more. She turns off the radio, much to Joe's exasperation. "I can't listen to this anymore," she says, "It's horrible! And to think that Peter is moving into all this! It's bad enough that he takes pictures of Spider-Man to make a living!" Joe is thrilled to learn that Peter takes Spidey photos. Then he tells May about his sister Veronica who wanted to be a trucker even though everyone told her it was not a woman's job. This gets May's back up. "If she's good at driving a truck and fancies it, what's to stop her?" she says. Joe thinks so too. He's joining up with his sister in another month. May doesn't think this all applies to Peter because Norman Osborn will be paying the apartment rent and Peter won't need the money. But Joe says, "Some people work just 'cause they like it."
Suddenly the battle travels in their direction and Spider-Man lands on the hood of Joe's truck. Spidey looks in at May. She thinks there is something almost familiar about him. When Mysterio gets the upper hand, planning to throw Spidey off the bridge, Joe rushes out of his truck and attacks the villain. Hardly fazed, Mysterio grabs Joe, until Spidey wades in again. Mysterio disappears and Spidey shakes Joe's hand. As they continue into the city, May worries that Joe could have gotten himself killed. Joe tells her that "we all have to do what we can to help in this world." May realizes that "Peter is just like his Uncle" and would have stepped in like Joe did to help Spider-Man. This is why she's so worried about him but she also realizes that it is time to loosen the apron strings a little.
May and Joe arrive at the Manhattan apartment and Peter is there to meet them. Harry, Gwen, and MJ show up and wonder where Pete disappeared to when the subways were halted for the fight. Peter "admits" that he snuck out and took pictures of the battle. May starts to lecture him, until Joe interrupts. Taking Joe's hint, she backs off.
That night back at her house, May looks in Peter's empty room. She pulls out the picture of Ben and sheds a tear. "I'm trying, Ben," she says, "but it's so hard." Anna Watson pops in to tell her that it's time for dinner over at her house. May puts Ben's picture back in the crate it's in, then changes her mind, and takes it along with her.
Let's deal with the continuity problem first. I'm not a complete slave to continuity specifics but it seems to me that if you include a Continuity Guide in a book and then say that this story "expands on the events of the last page of Amazing Spider-Man #46" then it probably should expand on the events of the last page of Amazing Spider-Man #46 and not make up events of its own. Let's look at the last page in question. In panel one, Peter walks out the door carrying two suitcases. Anna Watson holds May in her arms while May worries about Peter being all right on his own. In panel two, Peter has his two suitcases hooked onto the back of his motorcycle as he rides into the city. In panel three, he arrives at the apartment and Harry welcomes him in. So, Peter does not pack up boxes and boxes full of his stuff (remember, he stays in his room in May's house later on and most of his stuff is still there), there's no need for a moving van, Harry is not along since he's waiting at the apartment, Gwen and MJ aren't there, and Peter does not take the subway. And he certainly doesn't encounter Mysterio. I suppose you could argue that this story does not take place on this last page but sometime after, when Peter comes back to get the rest of his stuff. But then why is May going through the empty nest syndrome again when she clearly went through it before? (Or maybe she's still going through it.) And why is Harry talking like this will be a new experience for both of them when Peter has already moved in? So, twist it and turn it as you like. It doesn't work. So why bother?
Well, this is one of the problems with long-running characters whose custodians need to churn out continual storylines. Eventually, they start probing around in all sorts of nooks and crannies and write a story simply because they are being paid to write one, not because the nook or cranny needs to be filled. Especially if they're putting together an anthology that purports to present stories that take place in the character's past. I sympathize with the writer. He's got to find an angle, some furrow in the past to exploit. I can picture him stumbling on the idea of Pete's moving day. "Here's something I can use!" (Unless it was simply assigned to him.) Sure looks promising. But, no, it's not. It's an unnecessary tale that only muddies what we've already got. This happens far too often in the comics. We don't need it happening in the books too.
I don't know anything about the author, John S. Drew, except that he appears to have written some Star Trek books. His style is serviceable enough and he does try. He does mention that May can't bring herself to sell the house even though she's moving into Anna's house which helps a bit to explain the confusion over the years of who's in whose house. He gives us a sympathetic look into May's excessive mothering, tying it into Ben's death and showing her trying her best to let go a little bit. And Joe is a nice enough character. (Though what's with the details about Robert Moses is anybody's guess.) And the story begins with a nice Pat Olliffe illustration. But it's still one of the most unnecessary Spidey stories I've ever read so, for whatever pluses it has, I'm only giving it two webs.
Next: Former Daredevil writer Ann Nocenti tries her hand.