Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #38

Background

If you haven't heard about 'Nuff Said month, here's a brief synopsis: this month, most Marvel books are being told entirely in pictures. No words allowed. So if you were approached on the street by a guy asking for money who looked suspiciously like PP:SM letterer Richard Starkings, it's because Marvel had no work for him this month.

Story 'Make Mime Marvel'

  Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #38
Summary: (#136) 'Nuff Said - Silent Issue
Editor: Axel Alonso
Plot: Paul Jenkins
Pencils: Mark Buckingham
Inker: Wayne Faucher
Cover Art: Humberto Ramos

Remember the mimes Spidey briefly tangled with in PP:SM #21? Well, it seems there's a whole gane of them, and they're having a meeting in their secret mime headquarters. Their Leader is showing them slides of how they've been repeatedly humiliated by Spider-Man, and the mimes are becoming quite hostile, throwing vegetables at their leader. The Leader demands that they stop, and he illustrates his plan to kill the web-slinger. The mime gang is overjoyed.

Meanwhile, the afore-mentioned web-slinger, Peter Parker, makes his way home with no idea of the looming mime attack. He's struggling to tote a large stack of school books home when he's knocked over by Barker the wacky dog who's stolen a clothesline full of his owner's underthings. Peter works at collecting his things as he spots Barker's owner, Caryn, and shows her where the dog has gone. Peter manages to get back to his apartment, and he is unknowingly greeted in his refrigerator by Kevin, the Living Cheese. Pete shuts Kevin back into the fridge, and sits down to start grading the schoolwork he brought home, but an open window beckons him.

Out on the street, Caryn continues to pursue Barker the underwear thief, just as Spider-Man swings by overhead. Spidey happens upon a mugging, but when he drops down to intervene, he discovers it was a setup. Mimes start appearing from nowhere, firing all kinda of heavy ordnance at the wall-crawler. Spidey manages to web most of them up, but not before the Mime Leader arrives driving a tank. He tries to blast Spidey, but the web-slinger manages to get away.

Now, do you remember the two monks that tried to protect William in PP:SM #34? Well, they're back as well. They're sitting in the Monkmobile, stopped at a red light, when some momes in the Mimemobile pull up next to them. The two drivers nervously look at each other, and when the light turns green, they try to take each other off the line. The mimes win, and the Mimemobile and Mime Tank take off in pursuit of Spider-Man. The Monkmobile, however, falls apart at the intersection.

The army of mimes catches up to Spidey, and they relentlessly try to blast him to pieces. Spidey manages to sneak into the Acme Plexiglass Factory without the mimes' knowledge. Once inside, Spidey feverishly works at building something. After taking a moment to admire his craftsmanship, he heads back outside where the mimes have been conducting a war with the police. Spidey gets their attention by making a giant web arrow that points to himself, and then moons them. The furious mimes follow Spidey into the factory, where Spidey turns out the lights. The mimes stumble around in the darkness, until one of them lights a match to find Spidey busting a gut laughing at them. Spidey has managed to trap the mimes in a giant plexiglass cube that he just built. Some time later, the mimes are escorted out of the factory by the police and arrested, as Spidey looks on from nearby and taunts the Mime Leader.

That night, Barker the dog sleeps happily with his clothesline of stolen underwear. Caryn sleeps soundly with the giant teddy bear that Peter won (ie, shot in the head with an arrow) for her at the fair in issue #34. The mimes sleep in a jail cell. And Peter works at grading homework until he passes out on his couch and dreams of Mary Jane... while Kevin the Living Cheese dreams of cows.

General Comments

When I first heard about 'Nuff Said month, I didn't think very much of it. I figured that telling a story entirely in pictures would add nothing to an issue of a comic book, and would probably detract from it by making it unnecessarily hard to follow. The first two 'Nuff Said books I read (Punisher and Daredevil) were perfectly decent books, but they didn't do much to prove me wrong. But then Peter Parker: Spider-Man came along.

It seemed to me that the Punisher and Daredevil books looked at the 'Nuff Said gimmick as an obstacle to overcome. But instead of seeing it as an obstacle, Paul Jenkins saw the 'Nuff Said concept as a tool to tell a unique story. Whereas the writers in Punisher and Daredevil tried to tell regular comic book stories with the workds removed in their books, Paul Jenkins has crafted a story that doesn't need words... in fact, it wouldn't work at all if it had words.

When I realized that the mime issue was the 'Nuff Said issue, the first thing I thought was "Brilliant". In a way, the mime is the embodiment of the 'Nuff Said concept: telling a story only through actions, or in the case of comic books, pictures.

Paul Jenkins' wordless story is just hilarious. It's full of great gags, and it was wonderful to see Caryn and Barker again. But most of the praise deservingly goes to Mark Buckingham, who tells the story clearly, and pulls off all of the great sight gags that Mr. Jenkins' warped mind comes up with.

Overall Rating

I was originally only going to give it four webs, but once I got going, I realized what a fantastic job these guys did with this issue, so it really deserves five webs. You know how mimes applaud? By moving their hands close together, but not actually touching? That's what I'm doing right now. Good job, guys.