Dan Slott continues to tackle the behind the scenes exploits of Silver Age era Peter Parker with this five issue Learning to Crawl mini-series. The first two issues took place during the events of Amazing Fantasy #15 and Amazing Spider-Man #1. This time around, Amazing Spider-Man #2 serves as the backdrop to the new adventures of young Peter Parker. Last issue, Parker made an enemy out of his biggest fan, Clayton Cole. After staging a fake battle with his hero, Cole (who also puts on a mask and calls himself Clash) was humiliated by Spidey. Just like a myriad of other forgettable Marvel villains, Cole vowed revenge.
Peter's been gone at odd hours, he's been coming home with envelopes full of money and he’s been making strange things in his room. Aunt May might seem doting and naive, but she's wiser than she looks. She knows that Peter's been dealing drugs. Peter combats the accusation by explaining that his webfluid is a Science Fair project and May asks for forgiveness from her nephew for ever doubting him.
Tracing the events of Amazing Spider-Man #2, we see a fantastic montage of Spidey's first battle with the Vulture through the pictures that Peter sells to J. Jonah Jameson. When asked by his aunt how he made so much money taking pictures for a local newspaper, Peter replies that he sold "bird pictures."
Not wanting to reveal his connection to Spider-Man through the Science Fair, Pete decides to not use his webfluid for the big show but instead shows off the same anti-magnetic inverter that he defeated the Vulture with. Nobody finds it overly impressive though, that is nobody but the bubbly co-ed Polly. Clayton Cole (our villain) is also vying for the attention of Polly and when he sees Peter talking to her he decides to make an entrance as his alter-ego, Clash.
Fearing that Clash's sonic blasts could endanger everyone, Pete strips down to his blue and reds and attack the fellow teenager. Clayton was only trying to show off but now that Spider-Man has humiliated him again, he turns on his powerful sonic blasts and ends up caving the roof of the gym in the process.
Spider-Man saves everyone, including his Aunt May, but that doesn't keep the wall-crawler from looking like the bad guy. May says that Jameson's scathing articles about Spider-Man are true and that he really is a menace. Peter Parker declares, for the first of many times, that Spider-Man is done.
More than halfway through the series and we finally get the big brawl between Spider-Man and Clash that we've been waiting for. Or at least I think we've been waiting for it. I'm not really sure how interested other people have been in Clayton Cole and his story that so obviously mirrors that of Peter's, but I for one find him to be an awfully forgettable character.
I know the idea behind the creation of Clayton. What would happen if Peter Parker was a privileged rich kid living in a two parent home when he found a way to make himself into a super hero? Well, I guess we would have Clayton Cole, with more personality. I see the parallels between the two characters, but all I'm learning from them is that I'm sure glad Uncle Ben died so Pete could learn responsibility. If Clayton Cole the Amazing Clash would have debuted in 1964 instead of Spider-Man, I'd be writing about Cornish Game Hens right now.
Ramon Perez and Ian Herring are again on top of their game as far as the art goes. Perez's classic linework is complimented wonderfully by Herring's bright colors. They give the book a decidedly retro feel, which makes the updated time setting that much more unsettling. Then again, I'm the kind of guy that feels as if the best idea for a Spider-Man movie would be a period piece set in the 1960's (make it happen Sony).
Slott's modernized version of Spider-Man's origin is dragged down by uninteresting characters and a predictable plot. On the other hand, Perez's artwork is perfectly nostalgic and just damn beautiful. I wonder if Peter Parker is really going to quit being Spider-Man?