Enrique V. Vegas is a bit of an alt-comics star in Spain. Starting in the early 2000's, he released various runs of parody comics, featuring a drawing style he calls "Cabezona" (Big-Head). The early books predominantly spoofed Marvel characters, but he has recently stretched further afield into DC and other pop-culture icons.
This five-party Spider-Man parody "Es-Piderman" (later "Espiderman") was released every couple of years over the course of nearly a decade from 2002 to 2011. It is available in the original Spanish, and in a 2011 Italian translation – Speederman.
The second issue of the series opens two full years after the first episode introduced our big-headed alternate-universe hero. Pedro "Pedrito" Nuñez has learned much as Es-piderman – swinging through the city, encountering many enemies, finding both victory and defeat along the way.
But now he faces his greatest challenge – finding a girlfriend. And whom does our hero have in mind, but the wonderful Mary-Jane!
It is in fact Espiderman, not Pedro, who swings to MJ's apartment window to ask her to come with him to see the latest Jackie Chan film. MJ happens to be changing clothes at the time, and her response to the window-peeking visitor is... not entirely positive.
¡¿Pero tú estàs TONTO?!
"How she's beautiful when she's angry," thinks Spidey. "But obviously she doesn't like Jackie Chan."
His next encounter is slightly more promising, as his meandering web-path through the city criss-crosses that of the Black Cat. There's a flurry of serious flirting between the two as they discuss tight-fitting costumes. Black Cat has definitely been hitting the catnip, and she's ready to prowl. But Spidey's web-line gives way just as things start to look promising, and our hero free-falls down to land smack right on top of...
...Juggernaut. A villain! A brutal, violent... actually no. Juggernaut has turned over a new leaf and now firmly declares himself against violence in all its forms. But Espiderman is a hero, and he knows his duty. Even pacifist villains must be dragged off to face justice! Except of course that we're talking about Juggernaut. And when Juggernaut doesn't want to be dragged, he doesn't get dragged. Intractability is his defining characteristic, remember.
Espiderman exhausts himself attempting to stop Juggernaut, and ends-up bouncing back at the feet of the Black Cat – who is still feeling rather frisky. But our hero will not be tempted by her feline flutterings! He returns to battle, where Juggernaut is now helping a blind man across the road (clearly as part of some dastardly scheme.) Espiderman swings down to intervene – and promptly gets collected by a bus. But that is a mere distraction, and Espiderman turns that to his advantage, webbing the bus and returning to drop it on top of Juggernaut.
Now, Juggernaut is indeed a reformed character after two years of intensive therapy. But having a bus dropped on you is a pretty tough thing to bear. Everyone has their limit, and Juggernaut has found his. His Zen is overwhelmed. Grabbing Spider-Man in one hand, Juggs goes on a rampage down to the Fantastic Four Plaza, and things become rather unruly at this point. A mess is made. Damage is done.
As the battle rages, Espiderman manages to slip free and observe from high up a building. The Black Cat watches with interest...
This is, at last, a comic book story. 'Tis a silly one, to be sure. But a story it is nonetheless.
The characters at last have personalities. Yes, those personalities are also, as mentioned, silly.
But it's a start! There is dialog. Dialog (silly, naturally) which connects the actions of the characters to their identities!
Am I setting the bar too low?
A chain of events, clearly depicted, featuring district personalities with identifiable characteristics?
These are the fundamental building blocks of a story. The sine qua non of fiction. Am I being over-generous if I give a three-web rating to a comic book which meets the absolute bare minimum standards?
Well, if I am, perhaps you can excuse me. But I did so much want to like this series, and I had so much hope for the first issue – hopes which were not rewarded. And now that we have finally made it to "actually qualifies as a proper comic book", I'm just a little excited and overwhelmed.
Three Webs it is.