Spider-Man Unlimited #1 (Story 2)

Story 'Playback'

  Spider-Man Unlimited #1 (Story 2)
Summary: Spidey relieves his High School days while battling the Scorpion
Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Writer: Mike W. Barr
Artist: Jerry Bingham

In a darkened room, Peter awakes with that "run over by a truck" feeling that all the kids are talking about. He can't remember what caused him to feel this way. He detects the smell of Aunt May wheat-cakes and is pleasantly surprised.

A door opens and another pleasant surprise occurs: Aunt May and Uncle Ben enter his room to wake him up. May mentions a doctor's recommendation to let him sleep, but Ben thinks otherwise. Peter knows that Ben is dead, but pretends as if nothing is wrong. He looks in the mirror and discovers that his sixteen-year old face is staring back at him. He's back in Forrest Hills with his aunt and uncle, and in need of his glasses.

Peter is partly convinced that this is the work of Mysterio or another one of his enemies. The other part of him doesn't care and scarfs down more wheat-cakes. When he gets lost in thought, May snaps him out of his trance and suggests that he not think about the "accident". When he asks what they're talking about, neither will give a direct answer. They want him to work that out for himself. When May recommends that he stay home from school, Peter convinces them he should go, just to have some time to himself.

On his way to school, he has more visions of his life as Spider-Man and begins to wonder if it was all a dream. While looking at the front of Midtown High, he is run over by a group of jocks playing football. This triggers another vision of someone attacking him. When he snaps out of it, he sees Flash Thompson in all his former glory.

After school Peter mindlessly walks toward the science hall and discovers that the accident Ben and May referred to was the spider bite. This is the day after he originally gained his powers. In this case, it just made him temporarily sick. As he returns home, he has visions of Spider-Man being buried under a ton of bricks.

Ben tells Peter that he's noticed something different about him and reminds him that if he has a problem, they're willing to listen. Ben is able to read his nephew and correctly guess that Peter's trying to make a decision. He reminds him that decisions always involve change. Peter thanks him for his advice and takes a walk to think.

Peter is quickly stopped by a patrolman warning him about a series of armed robberies in the neighborhood. He immediately returns home and finds Ben alive. At this point he hears a window open. Over Ben's protests, Peter tells his uncle that he will see what it is. Being fully aware of what is about to happen, Peter confronts the burglar without his powers. At this point Ben arrives and is shot when he stands between Peter and the burglar.

Peter awakens from his dream in time to dodge an incoming attack from the Scorpion. They fight back and forth in the construction site as before. It's revealed that Scorpion managed to bring down a wall on Spider-Man – and himself – temporarily knocking both of them out. Spider-Man ultimately defeats the Scorpion and delivers him to the authorities.

He returns home and gets some much needed rest. When he awakens he smells wheat-cakes again, but this time Mary Jane is cooking them.

General Comments

This was a pleasant flashback-type story that revisits Peter's life with his aunt and uncle. It should not surprise anyone that this was a very vivid dream. The creators didn't try to hide that fact as they made Peter aware of his life as Spider-Man and that he was sixteen "again". The question wasn't "is this a dream", because it obviously is one. The question was, however, when is he going to snap out of it?

The charm of this story is found in the very believable recreation of Peter's high school years. Nothing is omitted, and no scene takes more than its fair share. It all blends together nicely. This is also one of the rare stories to really showcase Uncle Ben as the caring and wise father-figure that Peter remembers.

Overall Rating

3.5 webs. Barr & Bingham created a great short story. It doesn't redefine Peter's life nor does it shed light on a forgotten (or forgettable) part. It does exactly what it should do: work within the alloted space, tell a good story, and not insult the reader's intelligence.

Footnote

Peter stopped wearing glasses in Amazing Spider-Man #8