Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man #9

Background

Three dates. A showdown with Flash Thompson. Sandman mutated beyond belief. It's prom night at Midtown High and Spidey's going out on the town!

Story 'The Bridge - Part III'

  Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man #9
Summary: Sandman
Arc: Part 3 of 'The Bridge' (1-2-3)
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Writer: Joe Kelly
Pencils: Andy Smith
Inker: Mark Pennington
Cover Art: Andy Smith

Things have gone from bad to worse. Flash has whipped himself into a near-murderous rage of Peter stealing "his" girl for the prom, Betty is willing to quit her job rather than miss said prom, Liz is trashing all of Flash's momentos and is dreaming of a future life with Peter, and the Sandman is now a three-story hulk of sand spending his time discussing his problems with a stray cat. But worst is Peter, being stuffed into the ultimate indignity of his late uncle's powder blue, ruffled tuxedo. Not to mention the fact that he's now stuck taking three girls and may be killing the Sandman. Hoping to find his missing notes at Flash's house, he slips into the ol' union suit and heads right over, not finding the notes but witnessing a brief encounter between Flash and his abusive father.

Failing that, Spider-Man tries (and fails again) to reconstruct his experiment from memory while the Sandman wanders the streets wanting nothing more than death. Meanwhile, both Betty and Liz visit the Parker homestead and let a very confused Aunt May know her darling nephew has three dates. As for Peter, he's wandering the streets with the knowledge that he has no other option than to show at the bridge, despite knowing how Flash's father would react. Along the wya he runs into his science teacher, the man supervising his grant, and reveals that he heard him promise it to Blake. The teacher, Mr. Del, tells him that he was coddling Blake "so he gets his diploma and gets out," but believes Peter's the frontrunner. The first bit of good news for Peter in days quickly evaporates, however, upon returning home to a livid Aunt May. Insult to injury: Mary Jane canceled out claiming she "wouldn't be caught dead at some square prom with someone I don't even know." Ouch.

Later that night at the bridge, Peter finally has decided on a course of action. In front of everyone, he uninvites Liz to the prom, admitting he only agreed because he wanted to stand up to Flash Thompson. He reaction is predictable, but before the red handprint fades from Peter's cheek, Flash loses his balance and falls, barely managing to snag a support beam. All eyes are on Flash as he slowly slips off, saved from certain death by a certain red-and-blue-covered wall-crawler who set set the world's record for fastest change of clothes.

The prom goes on as scheduled, with Flash and Liz being crowned as royalty. Betty has a change of heart (and finds out about Liz) and goes back to work, prom dress and all. And Spider-Man? He spends prom night in the lab, cooking up an antidote for the Sandman's condition. It works, and Sandman expresses his appreciation by pounding him into the ground and slithering off. (Hey, he didn't kill him, it's a start!) In Peter's own words, "a fitting end to the high school career of Peter Parker. Filled with chaos, heartbreak, disappointment ... action, ingenuity, a last-minute save, and through it all one nerdy, albeit responsible guy, just trying to get by in red and blue long johns."

General Comments

"Who knew being irresponsible was going to be so tough?"

Absolutely great finish. Now we remember once again exactly why Spider-Man takes responsibility so strongly, and what happens when he shirks it. Fortunately no one died this time. But this one storyline did more to present the character of Spider-Man - who he is, why he does what he does - than Chapter One ever did. And bravo to Kelly, Smith, Pennington, and everyone involved for doing it so well.

Not only Spider-Man, but Kelly & company also give us a good look at Flash Thompson, Betty Brant, Liz Allen, and even the Sandman. A fresh look at classic characters... isn't that what Webspinners is supposed to be about?

And if that weren't enough, Peter in a powder blue, ruffled tuxedo was the cherry on the sundae.

Overall Rating

Best Webspinners story by a mile and one of the best Spider-Man stories to come around in the last few years. Five webs.