This story is set in the time of the mid-70s early 80s. Last issue, a worn out Peter Parker fell asleep while a blizzard struck New York City. The power of the city went out when a tree branch fell on a power line. Then, the window of Aunt May's window was broken by a branch, leaving her freezing and hopeless. Thankfully, her favorite nephew sensed that something was wrong and went into the cold as Spider-Man.
Also, a building caught fire with a mother, son, cancer victim, and her caretaker inside. The firefighters were having some trouble operating in the blizzard.
Our story begins with Spider-Man standing on the roof of a building amid the blizzard, worried about his aunt across the city. Although he can’t feel his face, he sets off on his mission. Sadly, before Peter’s journey even begins, he spots the Alfred E. Smith House Projects on fire. He’s worried about time, but figures that May would want him to help and descends.
The firefighters below cannot reach the civilians in the building and the fire hydrant is frozen. Quickly, Spidey kicks open the hydrant and saves the mother and son trapped inside. The firefighter is concerned that the civilians will freeze to death, and Spider-Man decides to send them into the subway tunnel. Spider-Man hears a scream from the building, quickly swings to assist, and lowers the cancer victim from the building. As he’s swinging to the street with the caretaker, he loses his grip on the webbing and falls.
Spider-Man thanks the police and quickly leaves. Peter’s spider-sense becomes extremely strong as, at her house, Aunt May loses consciousness because of extreme coldness. (I think.) While swinging, Spider-Man sees an ambulance trapped in snow on a bridge. He looks in and finds a woman in labor. Our hero grabs a sign and begins to clear the way, but soon finds that he won’t be able to unblock the whole bridge. The man in the ambulance is worried about running out of gas and freezing.
Luckily, a snow plow drives towards the ambulance. Unluckily, the driver falls asleep and the plow crashes into the ambulance. It is about to plummet off the bridge, but Spider-Man uses his webbing to rescue it. The man in the snow plow offers Spider-Man a ride and soon, with the ambulance following, it forges its way to the hospital.
Peter, realizing the plow is headed in the direction opposite to May’s house, exits and begins walking back on his expedition. Spider-Man is surprised when he is hit with a snowball, finding Hobgoblin threw it. Then, his whole rouges gallery is participating in the snowball war, he falls. Just when he’s about to give up, Uncle Ben appears and encourages his nephew to continue “one step at a time.” Peter is concerned about the possibility that May might die because he helped others, but Uncle Ben restates, “With great power comes great responsibility.” (Obviously, this is all Peter hallucinating.)
Before long, Peter has reached his aunt’s house. He props May up in a chair, lights many candles, and gives her tea. She doesn’t wake yet, but Peter is relieved to see that the electricity has been restored. He tucks May into her bed as the furnace begins again.
The house becomes warmer and the blizzard ends. May wakes and Peter tells her that he hitched a ride on a snowplow to reach her. Then, he makes breakfast for his aunt, repairs the window, and mops up the bathroom floor. As he leaves to clear a path through the snow from May’s front door, May makes sure that he’ll rest when he’s finished.
As May tucks Peter into bed, she reminds him that November is “nature’s way of telling us to slow down.” She says, “How I wish he [Ben] were here to see what a fine young man you turned out to be.” As she thanks him, Peter dreams of Uncle Ben cutting roses in the snow.
Before I begin, I must point out that David Morrell said that there were some dialogue errors in this issue that will be fixed in the trade paperback republishing. “Someone at Marvel changed my captions, added weak jokes, repeated captions, deleted captions from panels that needed them, and inserted one caption that contradicts the theme,” Morrell claimed on a Facebook post. These mistakes take away from the “poignant tone” of the first issue, as Morrell said.
Even though there are a few mistakes in dialogue, the main theme of the issue is evident: Spider-Man needs to save Aunt May, but is side-tracked when others need his help. This presents a moral dilemma for Peter because, if Aunt May was killed while he was helping others, he would hate himself. When he’s about to collapse, the memory of Uncle Ben motivates him to continue and he saves his aunt.
Let me begin with what I enjoyed about this issue: I feel like this plot was successfully formatted to Peter and would only work with him. If Wolverine needed to save somebody he loved, he probably wouldn’t have stopped to save the civilians. Peter’s sense of responsibility is far greater, though, and he needed to stop to fill his moral obligations. While it’s a simple story, it’s captivating and satisfying.
Also, I enjoyed the Peter/May moments in the story. It’s funny how May fussed for Peter’s dreariness last issue while Peter fretted over May’s sickness this issue. Then, May gets angry when Peter starts doing everything he can to help her as she recovers. This story successfully shows how they compete in worrying about each other.
Now, my main problem with this issue is that some elements of it are a bit clichéd. It seems like every month Uncle Ben shows up to encourage Peter in spirit. It’s nice to be constantly reminded why Peter does what he does, but it gets tiresome. Also, although it provided an interesting story, the theme of Peter having to stop to save others before accomplishing a main goal has been used various times.
Once again, Klaus Janson’s storytelling is top-notch. You can understand exactly what is happening without reading the dialogue. Perhaps the most effective sequence is Page 10, where Peter hurries to help Aunt May as she passes out. I also enjoyed how accurately the body language of each character is too: Peter is concerned and determined, May is loving and grateful, Ben is encouraging and understanding.
Although this issue was a bit clichéd, it was successfully formatted for Peter and displayed the May/Peter relationship fantastically.